Undergraduate Course: Origin and Diversity of Life 1 (BILG08001)
|School||School of Biological Sciences
||College||College of Science and Engineering
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 8 (Year 1 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||A theoretical and practical study of the diversity of living organisms and the evolutionary forces that created it. The course examines the form and function of micro-organisms, animals and plants in terms of their behavioural, physiological and structural adaptations to habitat, and how these evolved. The course also covers genetics, and how organisms combat attacks from pathogens.
The skills that you will develop include first-hand experience in the laboratory learning how to handle living organisms, how to observe and record accurately and make sensible deductions; and from the lectures and tutorials an understanding of biological diversity. There is also a particular focus on scientific writing: how to use the scientific literature and assess biological data, how to explain what you have observed, and how to write in good scientific English.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2020/21, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 30,
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 5,
Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 24,
Fieldwork Hours 6,
Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1,
Summative Assessment Hours 2,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
1. Weekly Quizzes (45%)
2. Quizzes on practical skills and writing workshops (10%)
3. Evolution Investigation report (20%)
4. Portfolio (25%)
||Hours & Minutes
|Resit Exam Diet (August)||2:00|
| Increased understanding of biological processes.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||The University has identified six groups of abilities, listed below, that should be developed as part of the University of Edinburgh training experience, and to enhance your employability as a graduate. These abilities take your skill-base beyond simply academic knowledge and are enhanced at each stage of your degree.
Knowledge and Understanding: This course is designed to provide a high degree of knowledge of the diversity of living organisms and how they function. It aims to provide an understanding of how evolution has generated the diversity that we see today, by covering the subjects listed above.
Research and Enquiry: This course provides an introduction to the process of scientific research and enquiry. Support for this is provided in Workshops, which will teach you how to locate and identify primary sources of information (research papers), to cite in your work. This is a vital skill for any scientist. In addition, practical sessions will introduce students to the art of hands-on research and enquiry, and the vital skill of keeping a detailed record of ideas, observations, results and conclusions obtained in the lab.
Communication: This is a critical attribute for all scientists ¿ there is no point conducting excellent research if no one else ever hears about it. In this course we will instruct you in the crucial art of scientific writing: how to communicate your thoughts, ideas and discoveries clearly and concisely, and how to incorporate sources into your writing. Your first write-up will receive detailed feedback, which will give you further instruction on how to improve your work.
Technical and Practical Skills: Any successful scientist combines an intellectual understanding of his or her topic with the technical skills required to carry out research. These skills can be broken down into the physical skills to generate data, and the ability to analyse that data. Physical skills such as observation, microscopy and dissection are taught, together with good and safe practice, in the series of practicals throughout the course. Data analysis is touched on in most of the practicals and Workshops, with a particular focus during the genetics section of the course. All of these skills will be vital in subsequent courses, and will serve you well in any future career.
Personal Effectiveness: At University, every student is responsible for their own learning. The job of staff is to provide teaching materials in the form of lectures, practicals, Workshops and online resources; however it is the responsibility of the student to convert these into an understanding of the topics covered. Hence you will need to develop skills in recording information in a way that captures the key points, and will be useful for you at a later date. Workshops and practicals will help you with this. For all University courses you will need to manage your time effectively, which means first getting to your classes, and second being awake enough to get something from them when you are there. Time management will also be crucial as your assignment deadline approaches ¿ to do yourself justice with an assignment like this, it is vital to give yourself sufficient time to complete and proofread your paper, as those written at the last minute never do the writer justice. You are at this University because you have shown tremendous potential, and good time management is one way to ensure that your potential is realised, both at University and in whatever you choose to do afterwards.
Personal and Intellectual Autonomy: The single most important skill for a scientist, or anyone working in a field connected to science, is critical thinking. Hence while learning established facts and theories is an essential part of your training, you must also begin to learn how to test and challenge accepted ideas. Theories such as evolution stand strong precisely because they have survived such challenges. Hence we will encourage you to investigate for yourself whatever you are being taught. If something does not appear to make sense, try to find out why ¿ this will deepen your understanding of the topic. Lecturers will not always present hard facts ¿ sometimes, instead, they will present to you an unproven hypothesis, or questions that are not yet answered. These are opportunities for you to form your own opinions, but remember that opinions only become facts when backed by hard evidence!
|Additional Class Delivery Information
||Lectures: 3 x per week
Tutorials: 2 x per week
Investigations throughout course
|Course organiser||Prof Jonathan Silvertown
Tel: (0131 6)50 7923
|Course secretary||Ms Karen Sutherland
Tel: (0131 6)51 3404