Principles of Biology and Ecology | Abertay University

Principles of Biology and Ecology


The module provides a greater level of detail on key concepts in biology and ecology for students with varied academic backgrounds and interests (e.g. biologists, engineers, etc.). It explores biological phenomena that underpin responses to environmental change.


The aim of this Module is to provide the student with a firm underpinning to key biological, physiological and ecological concepts and themes, which are essential for a broad understanding of modern environmental science.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module the student should be able to:

1.  Explain the fundaments of how cells and organisms are put together, how they work and how they sense and react to the environment

2.  Describe the meaning of the term physiology, explain core biochemical and physiological concepts and apply those concepts to understand how organisms meet environmental challenges

3.  Describe ecological concepts regarding organism interactions and how these can be modified by natural and human driven environmental change. It can be difficult to predict outcomes in complex systems

4.  Differentiate between adaptation/phenotypic plasticity,recognise importance of selection/drift in evolution and how processes produce population responses to the environment

5.  Appreciate physiology is integrative, physiological capabilities influence individual/species tolerances and underly species ranges they can occupy in different environments

6.  Describe and evaluate methods for monitoring abundance, diet and habitat preference and recognise that these approaches underly population management and conservation efforts

Indicative Content

1 Cell Biology

Cell biology, including structure, division, communication, and sensing and reacting to the environment

2 Physiological concepts

Physiological concepts including homeostasis and homeostatic mechanisms, phenotypic plasticity and physiological ecology

3 Evolutionary principles

Evolutionary principles, including genetics and epigenetics, inheritance, selection and drift

4 Ecological principles

Ecological principles including succession; competition; abundance and distribution

5 Field trip

Field trip to examine environmental impacts on animal distribution, abundance and physiology

Statement on Teaching, Learning and Assessment

This module will be delivered through a series of lectures, tutorials and a whole-day field trip in which the interactions between organisms and their environment will be investigated. The tutorials will be used to support the field trip and development of the portfolio. Assessment will be through submission of an online test and a portfolio, built up of a report on the field trip and an experimental design intended to explore further the observations and outcomes of the field trip plus key reading material discussed in tutorials.

Teaching and Learning Work Loads

Total 0
Lecture 0
Tutorial/Seminar 0
Supervised Practical Activity 0
Unsupervised Practical Activity 0
Assessment 0
Independent 0

Guidance notes

Credit Value – The total value of SCQF credits for the module. 20 credits are the equivalent of 10 ECTS credits. A full-time student should normally register for 60 SCQF credits per semester.


We make every effort to ensure that the information on our website is accurate but it is possible that some changes may occur prior to the academic year of entry. The modules listed in this catalogue are offered subject to availability during academic year 2018/19 , and may be subject to change for future years.