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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Biological Sciences : Biology

Undergraduate Course: Evolution and Ecology of Plants 3 (BILG09011)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Biological Sciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 9 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryAcclimation and adaptation of plants to diverse environmental stresses; competition and niche capture by plants; origin, evolution and biodiversity of plants, from algae to angiosperms (based on up-to-date molecular relationships); their reproductive and breeding mechanisms; their anatomy. How the earliest plants colonised the land, and what they can tell us about ancient climates. Laboratory and field work is integral to the course, including work at the Royal Botanic Garden.
Course description The course covers aspects of the acclimation and adaptation of plants to diverse environmental stresses, both biotic and physical; competition and niche capture by plants; the origin, evolution and biodiversity of plants; their reproductive and breeding mechanisms; and their anatomy. The course mainly focuses on land plants. A comparison of morphological, physiological and molecular approaches will be introduced to study the ecology and evolution and plants, from algae to angiosperms. Plant-environment interactions also feature in the context of the colonisation of the land by early plants. We hope that the evolution and ecology of plants (past and present, wild or cultivated) will be seen to be indissolubly linked. The earliest land plants and their modern descendants are described, with an examination of ancient environments and what plants can tell us about them. The sequence of evolutionary novelties that drove land plant evolution and culminated in the radiation and success of angiosperms is described and current angiosperm diversity is surveyed, based on up-to-date molecular relationships.

Suitable laboratory and field work will accompany all units of the course. It will involve the greatest possible use of living plant materials, both wild and from the RBGE collection.

This course therefore aims to deliver a broad understanding of how plants evolved, how they interact with the world, and why these things matter.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Evolution in Action 2 (BILG08005) OR The Green Planet 2 (BILG08016)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs Students should provide a notebook and marker pen.

Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesEquivalent of the courses listed above
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2022/23, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 22, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 40, Fieldwork Hours 4, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 127 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 15 %, Coursework 85 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) 4 LEARN SAQ Tests each worth 8%
Collection of Botanical Plates 8%
Practical Report 20%
Course Essay 25%
Whole Course MCQ Test 15% (In Exam Diet)
Feedback A practical report, the course essay and the plant photo collection will receive written feedback. Formative feedback on practical work will be provided throughout the course.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)1:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand and give examples of how individual plants acclimate, and how plant populations adapt, to environmental stresses.
  2. Possess a modern overview of how the first plants colonised the land, and of how we classify and work out the evolutionary relationships of present-day plants.
  3. Appreciate the construction and functions of different plant tissues and organs.
  4. Describe evolutionary relationships with special reference to agriculturally and ecologically important families of flowering plants.
  5. Conduct wet experimental bench-work, and make accurate and informed observations on living and preserved plant material, recording the results in coherent notes. Interpret experimental and observational data to reach logical conclusions about plant evolution and ecology. Critically analyse the scientific literature, and debate the issues in an essay.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Knowledge and Understanding: All components of the course provide this to some degree but your lectures, in particular, provide an important framework upon which you can build these attributes. This University considers itself to be a research-led Institution and you will be exposed to cutting edge information and ideas as you progress through your degree course. In this course you will develop a comprehensive knowledge of acclimation and adaptation in plants, possess a modern overview of how the first plants colonised the land and understand evolutionary relationships of present-day plants.

Research and Enquiry: These skills are enhanced by encouraging further reading of books, research papers and electronic materials. An essay will allow you to improve your enquiry skills and develop your own views of the subject. This will allow you to search the literature and condense your views.

Personal and Intellectual Autonomy: By reading and preparing materials for the essay and the plant photo collection, you will learn to synthesise your own views, develop reasoned arguments and further refine your scientific judgement. Such skills will enhance your capacity for life-long and independent learning.

Communication: It is important that you develop skills to interact constructively with others and convey knowledgeable and balanced scientific views. In the practical classes you will be working within small teams, requiring collaboration with your peers. The practical report and the essay will develop skills in conveying knowledge, encouraging logical argument and concise writing.

Personal Effectiveness: The ability to organise and summarise your thoughts and material in a flexible and accessible way is a core feature required for personal effectiveness. Planning, time management and reflection are central to this. By providing you with a timetable where key submission dates are highlighted, we encourage you to develop your effectiveness throughout this course. These same skills extend to other courses and also to your overall ability to maximise your achievement while studying at this University.

Technical and Practical Skills: In order to continue in a scientific career it is important that you not only understand the conceptual basis of how experiments are designed and carried out but also have the underpinning practical skills required for employability. You will carry out ¿wet¿ experimental bench-work, and make accurate and informed observations on living and preserved plant material, recording the results in coherent notes. The lab skills you develop from your practical sessions, in critical observation, investigation and interpretation, careful recording, quantification and analysis should serve you well in any future employment.

Additional Class Delivery Information Most weeks:
Lectures are 1330 - 1430 hrs
Practicals are 1430 - 1700 hrs
(2 days per week).
KeywordsEEP3,evolution,ecophysiology,plant science,biodiversity
Course organiserProf Stephen Fry
Tel: (0131 6)50 5320/5321
Course secretaryDr Edward Dewhirst
Tel: (0131 6)50 8649
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