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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
SummaryThe course covers aspects of the acclimation and adaptation of land plants to diverse environmental stresses, both biotic and physical; competition and niche capture by plants; the origin, evolution and biodiversity of land plants; their reproductive and breeding mechanisms; and their anatomy. The course will introduce a comparison of morphological, physiological and molecular approaches to study the ecology and evolution of plants. Plant-environment interactions also feature in the context of the colonisation of the land by early plants. We hope that the course will make clear the close linkage between the evolution and ecology of plants - past and present, wild or cultivated.
Course description The radiation of land plants over the last 475 million years transformed Earth to the green planet we know today. Land plants have not simply survived during this time but have instead thrived, leading to a plethora of botanical form spanning minute mosses, creeping lycophytes and ferns, towering gymnosperms and flamboyant flowering plants.

The aim for the course is to provide an overview of this remarkable radiation. This will be done by focussing in on some of the key anatomical, physiological and genetic changes that have underpinned the diversity of land plants.

To tell this story requires an interdisciplinary approach spanning the investigation of fossil plants, living plants and genetic networks. Fossil plants will be examined in the collections of National Museums Scotland and in the field. The diversity of living plant species will be examined at Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. Plant anatomy and genetic networks will be covered in lectures and practicals.

The course will therefore provide a broad overview of plant evolution through time, set out how lessons from the past can reveal information about the future and highlight some of the remaining outstanding questions in the study of plant evolution.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed The Green Planet 2 (BILG08016) AND Biology 2B: Genetics and Evolution (BILG08025) AND Biology 2C: Systems and Regulation (BILG08026)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Biological Sciences students are automatically eligible to take this course by having completed the compulsory Year 2 courses [Biology 2A (BILG08024), Biology 2B (BILG08025) and Biology 2C (BILG08026)].
Students from other Schools are advised to enquire with the Course Organiser if you are not sure whether this course is suitable for you.
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 2024/25, 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 35 %, Coursework 65 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) ICA:
Practical Report 25%
Tribes or Traits Report 25%
Whole Course MCQs 15%
Whole Course SAQs 20%
Feedback We will provide written feedback on all assessed work. Please feel free to discuss this feedback further with the relevant members of the teaching team.
We also offer formative feedback on the practicals that you are not required to write up for assessment, to help you towards your learning outcomes. This feedback can take several forms. You can discuss your work with members of the teaching team, including your demonstrators, during the relevant practical sessions. You can hand in written work that will not be assessed and get written feedback. Your colleagues can also be a valuable source of feedback. Please remember that the teaching team is there to help you, but it is up to you to ask for feedback on work that is not formally assessed for additional feedback on assessed work.
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. 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, of how we classify and work out the evolutionary relationships of present-day plants, and how plant structures and functions can be considered adaptions to life on land.
  3. Describe evolutionary relationships with special reference to agriculturally and ecologically important families of flowering plants.
  4. Conduct wet experimental bench-work, and make accurate and informed observations on living and preserved plant material, recording the results in coherent notes.
  5. Interpret experimental and observational data to reach logical conclusions about plant evolution and ecology.
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 Andrew Hudson
Tel: (0131 6)50 3383
Course secretaryDr Edward Dewhirst
Tel: (0131 6)50 8649
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