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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Biological Sciences : Biology

Undergraduate Course: Biology 1D: Environment (BILG08023)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Biological Sciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 1 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course takes an ecological approach, emphasising interactions between different organisms and all aspects of their environment. All environments are now changing under the influence of human activities and many species are under threat as a consequence. In this course we aim to equip students with the knowledge and tools to begin to scientifically address such issues themselves.

Course description Students will work in teams, learning how to frame an ecological research question, generate testable hypotheses to address the question and devise methods to test the predictions of the hypotheses. In the lab, students will experiment with a simplified aquatic ecosystem to investigate some of the fundamental mechanisms in ecology that govern population growth, community dynamics and the carbon cycle. Student teams will then choose a project topic to investigate, reporting their results orally and as a written report. Workshops and practicals will help develop skills. A programme of lectures will deal with the following five major questions, across different levels of biological organisation:
- Why are species found where they are? (Distribution)
- Why are big fierce animals rare on a green planet? (Abundance)
- How do communities change? (Communities)
- What happens when the forests go? (Ecosystems)
- How do we save the world? (Global ecology)
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites Students MUST also take: Biology 1A: Variation (BILG08020)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 196 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 25 %, Coursework 65 %, Practical Exam 10 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Written exam: 25%
Quizzes: 15%
Practical report: 10%
Project paper: 25%
Portfolio: 25%

To pass the course, students must:
- pass the exam at 40%
- pass the portfolio at 40%
- pass the ICA (project, practical and quizzes) at 40%
- obtain a course mark of at least 40% overall
Feedback Feedback will be given through the portfolio, project presentations and other script review meetings.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Describe the mechanisms, interactions and constraints that have shaped life at levels from organisms to ecosystems.
  2. Synthesise knowledge of biological processes across organismal and population levels by using case studies/themes
  3. Work productively in a group in a practical environment to generate an hypothesis and to ethically design and implement a range of approaches to test it
  4. Analyse, visualise and interpret data, and gain a conceptual grasp of appropriate quantitative principles
  5. Critically evaluate relevant scientific literature and communicate biological reasoning and information
Reading List
Core textbook will be 'Biology: A Global Approach, Global Edition' (11th edition) by Campbell et al,
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Research and Enquiry
The formative assessments are designed to provide opportunities to develop critical judgement and assessment skills, which are essential for, not only scientists but, any member of the general public, particularly in an era where so much information is readily available. The projects allow the student to develop new knowledge and to place it within the broader context of society at large - tying in social, economic, cultural and ecological issues. The practical written report is crucial in providing an insight into the standards and methods utilised by the scientific community.
The oral project presentations will not only provide an opportunity to develop oral communication skills, but, through the question-and-answer session, will be important for gaining and coping with immediate feedback, which may come from a different perspective. The use of peer-feedback will also develop the ability to critically communicate the strengths and weaknesses of others' work, while accepting and reacting positively to critical evaluation.
Personal Effectiveness
The ability to organise and summarise thoughts and material in a flexible and accessible way are core features that are required for personal effectiveness. Planning, time management and reflection are central to this. By providing a timetable where key submission dates are highlighted, students are encouraged to develop their effectiveness throughout this course - the onus is on them to manage these effectively. The group project aspect will provide the opportunity to develop skills in working with others, while encouraging participation and engagement with all members of the group. It will also develop skills in acknowledging and benefiting from the different skills or experience that other group members can provide. Quizzes will allow students to assess understanding of material regularly, allowing them to effectively engage with the course content.
Personal and Intellectual Autonomy
Through working on the group project, students will learn to synthesise their own ideas and present and/or defend them in a group environment. These projects also provide a key opportunity for creativity. The portfolio will allow the student to take responsibility for their own learning through self-reflection
Course organiserDr Deirdre McClean
Course secretaryMs Karen Sutherland
Tel: (0131 6)51 3404
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