Human Biology BSc/MSci

Investigating Biological Function 4B option BIOL4064

  • Academic Session: 2021-22
  • School: School of Life Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

This course will provide students with practical experience of designing and executing in vivo experiments in anaesthetised animals. Participants will undertake in vivo experiments to measure cardiovascular parameters in anaesthetised animals. Other experiments will require students to analyse data from behavioural experiments or to perform techniques using animal cadavers, e.g. stereotaxic surgery. 


This option is assigned to block S2-B. The course consists of experimental days which may be up to 6-7 hours as well as some lecture and tutorial content. Teaching is on Tuesdays. 

Excluded Courses



The course will be assessed by a 1-hour examination (30%) and in-course assessment consisting of a portfolio of laboratory reports (40%), an oral presentation (15%) and a practical skills assessment (15%).

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

The aims of this option are to: 

■ provide students with a theoretical basis for interpreting studies that undertake functional and morphological assessments in diverse biological systems; 

■ provide some preliminary experience of study design and avoiding bias in in vivo studies;

■ provide the students with practical experience in undertaking functional assessments in mammals;

■ explore alternatives to using animals in research and the principles of the 3Rs.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course, students will be able to: 

■ Appreciate the ethical debate surrounding the use of animals in scientific research;

■ Demonstrate proficiency in tracheostomy and cannulation of blood vessels in a cadaver or an artificial animal model; 

■ Demonstrate proficiency in the induction and maintenance of anaesthesia, tracheostomy, arterial and venous cannulation, intravenous injections of agents which affect cardiovascular parameters and sampling of venous blood in a rat; 

■ Perform in vivo experiments where the cervical vagus nerve is stimulated to observe effects on cardiovascular parameters; 

■ Employ the rat brain atlas and use stereotaxic surgery to target brain regions for dye injection in cadavers;

■ Analyse data from behavioural experiments using techniques such as the tapered beam test; 

■ Prepare and present results of experimental work.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.