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Introduction to Invertebrate Zoology

Module titleIntroduction to Invertebrate Zoology
Module codeBIO1418
Academic year2018/9
Module staff

Dr Ben Raymond (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

The vast majority of animal life on Earth gets by without a backbone. During a series of lectures and practicals you will be introduced to the bewildering diversity of invertebrate life-forms. Field trips to a range of habitats will allow you to study some of this diversity yourself, focusing on animal function and adaptations to different environments. By the end of the module you will have gained a core understanding of the diversity of invertebrate life from a functional perspective that will provide you with an excellent knowledge platform for further modules. The emphasis will be on defining the key characteristics of the main phylogenetic groups and understanding adaptations from a functional perspective.

Practicals will be varied and will predominately focus on specimens in the field and in the laboratory. These will essentially further enforce the material taught during the lectures i.e. range of diversity within and between animal groups, their defining characteristics, and the functional perspective of adaptations – asking the question ‘how do the adaptations we see in the organisms in front of us fit them to life in the environments from which they came?’

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module will provide you with an understanding of the diversity of invertebrate life from a functional perspective. You will be exposed to a suite of lectures encompassing all the major invertebrate groups from protists to cephalopods that will range in content from classification and defining characteristics and will touch on interesting aspects of reproduction, physiology, behaviour and evolution. In practical classes you will be exposed to animal diversity concentrating on function and adaptation to environments and ecosystems. The module will provide you with a core knowledge of animal diversity and macro-evolutionary patterns that will form a platform for future modules. The module complements other biological modules in Stage 1, particularly BIO1419 Introduction to Vertebrate Zoology, Introduction to Conservation and Ecology, BIO1415 Introduction to Evolution and Behavioural Ecology, and BIO1421 Field and Laboratory Techniques, and provides a foundation for Stage 2 modules at the Penryn campus.

Furthermore, you will be encouraged to use the coursework to develop your understanding of the impact of invertebrates more broadly, in real-world scenarios that will better equip you to apply theory to practical situations in the workplace.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Outline the fundamentals of organismal biology and the key defining characteristics of all the major taxonomic invertebrate animal groups
  • 2. Critically examine specimens for key adaptations to ecological niches
  • 3. Evaluate different methods and techniques for generating biological information and data

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Describe essential facts and theory across a sub-discipline of biosciences
  • 5. Identify critical questions from the literature and synthesise research-informed examples into written work
  • 6. Identify and implement, with some guidance, appropriate methodologies and theories for addressing a specific research problem in biosciences
  • 7. With guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within biosciences
  • 8. Describe and begin to evaluate approaches to our understanding of biosciences with reference to primary literature, reviews and research articles

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. Develop, with guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with sound conclusions
  • 10. Communicate ideas, principles and theories using a variety of formats in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 11. Collect and interpret appropriate data and undertake straightforward research tasks with guidance
  • 12. Evaluate own strengths and weaknesses in relation to professional and practical skills identified by others
  • 13. Reflect on learning experiences and summarise personal achievements

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Lectures begin with a background to the module and some of the underlying key concepts and theories that are central to zoology. This is followed by lectures on:

  • Phylogeny, systematics and evolution of major invertebrate taxa
  • Prokaryotes, eukaryotes and the major protist groups
  • Introduction to animal diversity and body plans
  • The concept of adaptation and its relevance to interpreting anatomy and physiology
  • The radiation of the major animal groups in the Cambrian and Pre-Cambrian
  • Sponges and cnidarians
  • Platyhelminthes
  • Rotifers and other pseudocoelmates
  • Molluscs
  • Annelids
  • Arthropods
  • Echinoderms
  • Hexapods
  • Nematodes and Crustacea

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching22 Lectures and help session – introducing and delivering a fundamental conceptual organisation and factual basis for the module
Scheduled learning and teaching6Practical work includes laboratory sessions looking at the diversity and functional morphology of insects and a typical bivalve (2 x 3 hours)
Scheduled learning and teaching6Field visits to a variety of habitat types around Cornwall, including rocky shore and freshwater streams (2 x 3 hours)
Guided independent study116Additional reading and research for the laboratory reports and the examination


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short answer questions during lectures and fieldtripsOngoing throughout the moduleAllOral
In class feedback for rocky shore practicalLabelled diagrams produced during practical1-4, 9-13Oral
Laboratory report 1300 words plus diagramsAllFeedback sheet
In class MCQ test1 hour1, 3, 6-8, 12-13Electronic MCQ grades

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
MCQ examination601 hour1-2, 4, 8, 10Model answers
MCQ test201 hour1-2, 4, 8, 10Model answers
Laboratory report 220350 words1-4, 7-11Feedback sheet


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
MCQ examinationMCQ examination1-2, 4, 8, 10August ref/def
MCQ testMCQ examination1-2, 4, 8, 10August ref/def
Laboratory report 2Not applicableNot applicableNot applicable

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The laboratory report is not deferrable because of its practical nature. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further examination. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Campbell NA, Reece JB (2008) Biology, 8th Ed. Pearson. ISBN 0-321-53616-7/0-321-53616-9
  • Ruppert, EE,  Fox RS, Barnes RD  (2015) Invertebrate Zoology, a functional evolutionary approach 7th Edition. ISBN 978-0030259821 /  0030259827

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Zoology, biodiversity, phylogeny, evolutionary biology, systematics, adaptations

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


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Last revision date