Zoology BSc/MSci

Physiological Ecology of Marine Animals 4Y option BIOL4100

  • Academic Session: 2020-21
  • School: School of Life Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course reviews the physiological adaptations of marine animals, and their ability to react to change. The course reviews the methods used to study marine animals in the laboratory in the field and develops students' abilities to understand physiological data and design research studies.


This option is assigned to block S2-Y. Lecture material will be presented as videos on Moodle. Each topic will include small group tutorials on Fridays (during a two-hour scheduled time period).

Requirements of Entry

Normally, only available to final-year School of Life Sciences students in a Degree Group A (Animal Biology group) programme. Visiting students may be allowed to enrol, at the discretion of the School of Life Sciences Chief Adviser and the Course Coordinator. 

Excluded Courses



The course will be assessed by a 2-hour examination (70%). In Course assessment will consist of data analysis and interpretation exercises (3 x 5%), and an experimental design exercise (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 course aims to develop the students' understanding of the physiology of marine animals and the interactions of physiological processes with marine ecology. The course introduces a wide range of current theories about animal physiology and shows how these can be applied in ecology and conservation.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

Critically evaluate the evidence for and against key physiological theories, in particular those about how temperature and body size affect physiological processes;

Discuss the physiological means used by animals to resist and compensate for the effects of varying levels of temperature, salinity, oxygen availability, pressure, light and food supply; 

Evaluate the main ways in which animals change through adaptation, acclimatisation and acclimation in order to survive and compete under new conditions; 

Discuss and compare the adaptations to diving and effects of pressure and breath holding on humans and other animals;

Discuss the main adaptations of animals to intertidal and deep sea environments;

Discuss how physiology can be applied in conservation and management;

Evaluate the different approaches to physiological data collection and experimental design.

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.