The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.
Global Environmental Processes
You’ll be given a general understanding of the interactions of organisms with one another and with the physical and chemical environment. You’ll learn about different levels from the biosphere to the population and learn how an understanding of ecology can help us manage our environment.
Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour
This module provides you with an introduction to the fundamentals of evolution, ecology and behaviour. Evolutionary processes are explored from the fossil record, through adaptation, speciation and the study of phylogenetics and how it shapes the tree of life, right up to the cutting edge of genomic evolution. Modern ecology has never been a more important subject than now, a result of our major environmental problems. In this module ecological topics are explored by examining ecosystem processes, competition, predation, pathogens, parasites and disease, life histories, resources, niches, demographic processes, and sustainability. Understanding animal behaviour in response to their ecosystem begins with asking rigorous questions about foraging, signalling, sexual selection, parental care, altruism and also allows us to understand human behaviour in an evolutionary context. You will have lectures, practicals and workshops.
Environmental Science and Society
This module introduces you to the role and limitations of environmental science within the context practical environmental decision making. The three themes of the module which will be illustrated through a series of environmental case studies are: 1. General scientific methods. 2. The limits and assumptions of science 3. The social context of science based decision making. You’ll have a two hour lecture each week to study for this module.
Tutorials in Environmental Science
This module will enable you to study effectively at university. Through lectures, practical's and tutorials you will develop your written presentation and data handling skills. You will learn how to use the library and other sources to retrieve information; read, understand and synthesise primary literature producing a literature review on your chosen topic.
Life on Earth
This course will introduce you to the vast range of living (and many extinct) species to be found on Earth. The various domains of life will be explored with due attention to the two prokaryote groups, the archea and eubacteria. The course will emphasise our current understanding of biodiversity and how a simple morphological-based taxonomy has been shaken up by current molecular techniques. The module concentrates on the unity and This course will introduce you to the vast range of living (and many extinct) species to be found on Earth. The various domains of life will be explored with due attention to the two prokaryote groups, the archea and eubacteria. The course will emphasise our current understanding of biodiversity and how a simple morphological-based taxonomy has been shaken up by current molecular techniques. The module concentrates on the unity and diversity of life set in an evolutionary context and how the genotype gives rise to both phenotype and behaviour diversity of life set in an evolutionary context and how the genotype gives rise to both phenotype and behaviour. You will have lectures and practicals.
Managing Tourism and the Environment: Conflict or Consensus?
In this module you’ll examine and explore: the interactions between and the management of tourism and the environment from the perspective of key stakeholders; debates surrounding the environmental and economic impacts of tourism and the role played by pressure groups in influencing tourism development. You’ll have a 90 minute lecture and spend two hours in seminars each week to study for this module
Micro-organisms and Disease
You’ll be introduced to a range of important human pathogens, their interactions with the immune system, mechanisms of disease causation and the laboratory procedures involved in diagnosis and treatment of infections. Each week you’ll spend four hours in lectures to study for this module.
In this module you’ll be introduced to plant evolution and the cellular structure of plants, in particular seeds, leaves, flowers and roots, and how these multicellular tissues are constructed. You’ll become familiar with the techniques used to study plant science, including genetics and the use of mutants. Using model plants, such as Arabidopsis, you’ll look at the development of modern plant biology and genetics and then explore the applications of biotechnology in plant science. You’ll also examine the importance of plant nutrition and how the interaction with pathogens is crucial to plant growth and production. You’ll have a mix of lectures and practical laboratory sessions to apply your learning.
This is an introductory module which provides a basic understanding of the nature and properties of soil and the application of soil chemistry, biology and physics to land management and environmental science. Broadly, the topics covered include: soil formation; clay mineralogy; soil organic matter (microbiology and chemistry); soil texture and structure; characteristic soil reactions (acidity, redox); the major and minor plant nutrients (chemistry and microbiology); soil fauna and flora; water relations (irrigation and drainage). You’ll spend around five hours in lectures each week to study for this module.
Environmental Management Field Course
This residential field course in south Devon involves studies of various communities and ecosystems using a range of field techniques to investigate factors which determine the distribution and function of living organisms. Particular focus is on understanding the cycling of nutrients within catchments and how these cycles are affected by land management strategies. The residential component takes place in June at the end of the first year.
Environmental Science in Practice
This module will help you prepare for your third year project and start thinking about possible future careers. The module will
focus on developing your communication and project management skills you will undertake a variety of tasks working as a group to solve problems, design experiments, collect, analyse, interpret and present information.
Introduces the study of populations and communities from an evolutionary point of view, and considers critically the extent of our understanding of ecological ideas. Study for this module consists of a 4 hour lecture once per week.
Tropical Environmental Science Field Course
This residential tropical field course module is based on Tioman Island of the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and involves studies of various tropical communities and ecosystems using a range of field techniques to investigate factors which determine the distribution and function of living organisms in tropical ecosystems.
This module provides a comprehensive introduction to the study of animal behaviour, from the physiological and genetic bases of behaviour to its development and adaptive significance in the natural environment. Using examples from across the animal kingdom, it emphasizes how predictive modelling, experimental and observational approaches integrate to explain how and why animals behave as they do. You’ll have a weekly three hour lecture to cover material for this module.
Climate Change Science
This module presents a broad overview of the science behind climate change and its effects. These topics are: historical climate change; the principles of climate forcing; the role of modelling; responses of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, including impacts on humans; the political environment; and options for climate stabilization. You’ll have a two hour lecture each week to study for this module.
Biological Photography and Imaging 1
Through practical sessions, you will learn the techniques of biological image production and manipulation, including the ability to generate biological images of the highest technical quality and scientific value. You'll spend around 6 hours per week in lectures studying this module.
We will consider the principles underlying the structure and higher organisation of natural systems. This encompasses diversity theory, community ecology, ecosystem functioning and biogeography. As this is a rapidly developing area, much of the material is recent and often controversial, so the content is updated every year to keep track of new findings. You’ll have a weekly three hour lecture to cover material for this module.
Patterns of Life
This module focuses on patterns in the distribution of organisms in space and time, and the theories proposed to explain these patterns. You’ll spend two hours per week in lectures studying for this module.
The course will focus on the processes that govern terrestrial ecosystem function. We will identify key ecosystem drivers and processes and explore how these have shaped the biosphere. You will gain an understanding of the mechanisms that control changes in the physiochemical environment and their impact upon communities. Particular topics include primary productivity, decomposition, herbivory, biodiversity and human impact on ecosystems. Classes comprise a mix of lectures, laboratory practicals, a computer practical, a seminar and fieldwork.
Soil and Water Science
The aim of the module is to provide a sound understanding of important physical and chemical processes that take place within soils and fresh water systems. This includes providing a basis for the understanding of more applied aspects of the behaviour of these systems (e.g. plant-soil interactions, pollution and its remediation). You will take lectures, two practicals and two computing sessions.
Computer Modelling in Science: Introduction
Modern biological and environmental science includes the study of complex systems and large data sets, including imaging data. This necessitates the use of computer models and analyses in order to understand these systems. This module contains an introduction to computer programming and modelling techniques that are used in the biological and environmental sciences.
Evolutionary Biology of Animals
In a series of lectures, this module aims to provide a general introduction to key evolutionary concepts in different fields of animal biology including human.
Plant Pests and Diseases
Sugarbeet root aphids feed on the sap in the roots, causing damage and production losses. But how does this pest work and what can be done? In this module, you’ll explore how microbes and insects cause disease in plants and the effect of interactions between plants, microbes and insects. Looking globally, you’ll be able to explain the importance and the nature of the organisms that are pests and diseases of plants, including population dynamics and epidemiology. You’ll also assess the main approaches for control and management of pests and diseases, including chemical interventions, resistance breeding in plants and biological control. You’ll have lectures complemented by practical laboratory sessions, videos and demonstrations.
You will carry out an experimental or literature based research project. This project is often linked to current research being carried out in the school. Project areas include animal ecology, plant responses to environmental stress (eg drought, salinity) and air pollution.
Examples of recent research projects include:
- a field study of beetles in Central America
- a laboratory study of the response of wheat roots to saline soils
- a desk-based study on the potential role of secondary biofuels in the UK.
Read BURN the Biosciences Undergraduate Research at Nottingham web pages to find out more about undergraduate research projects. BURN is a freely accessible e-journal which showcases final-year research projects undertaken by biosciences students.
Applied Bioethics 1: Animals, Biotechnology and Society
Animal-human interactions raise some prominent ethical issues. In this module, you’ll examine the ethical dimensions concerning animal agriculture, modern biotechnologies and research in the biosciences, in relation to both humans and non-human species. You’ll learn about the ethical frameworks used to analyse specific dilemmas raised by the human use of animals. Using specific animal and biotechnology case studies, you’ll interpret the main ethical theories and principles and apply them to the case studies to inform professional decision-making. You’ll have a mix of lectures and seminars to explore these concepts.
Environmental Pollution Field Course
Through a one week field course you’ll gain practical experience of environmental pollution and its long term effects in a heavily polluted area in central Europe. You’ll gain practical experience of foreign field work, working in teams, chain-of-custody issues concerning field samples, in situ and ex situ analysis of samples, oral presentation techniques and report writing.
Arctic Ecology Field Course
This module focuses on the function of arctic ecosystems. You’ll identify key terrestrial ecosystem drivers and processes in order to gain a broad understanding of arctic areas. During the field course, you’ll put ecological methodology into practice in projects that analyse landscape patterns and processes in different habitats.
Biological Photography and Imaging 2
This module extends and develops your skills of creative and critical biological photography. You’ll continue to develop the practice and experience gained in Biological Photography and Imaging 1. You are encouraged to demonstrate increasing expertise in selected subject areas and/or specialist photographic techniques such as digital imaging and manipulation (using Photoshop CS software), digital video photography and editing, ecological and environmental photography, landscapes, macro and long lens photography and specialist lighting. Field and studio work continue to be essential elements of the module. You will have around 6 hours of lectures per week studying this module.
Considers current knowledge of, and research into, the ecological causes and evolutionary processes that govern natural selection, adaptation and microevolution in natural populations. You’ll examine three approaches to the study of evolutionary ecology; theoretical and optimality models; the comparative method; and direct measurement of natural selection in the wild. You'll have 2 hours of practicals as well as 2 hours of seminars per week studying for this module.
Environmental Pollutants: Fate, Impact and Remediation
This module is concerned with the behaviour and effects of pollutants in terrestrial and aquatic environments and how their impacts can be ameliorated and managed. The focus is on both the scientific understanding of environmental pollutants and on the intervention strategies currently available. Topics covered include study of the common water and soil pollutants: heavy metal contamination of land; radionuclide behaviour in the environment; persistent organic contaminants and pesticides; nitrate pollution of groundwater; pollution of surface waters by agriculture; eutrophication of lakes; acidification of soils and freshwaters; biological monitoring of rivers; ecotoxicology and environmental epidemiology; quantitative risk assessment; land reclamation, including landfill sites. You will have lectures, tutorials, a field visit and laboratory work and demonstrations.
Applied Bioethics 2: Sustainable Food Production, Biotechnology and the Environment
Building on Applied Bioethics 1, you’ll investigate widely accepted ethical principles and apply your insights to contemporary ethical issues in agricultural, food and environmental sciences. You’ll explore the ethical dimensions of prominent issues raised by the agricultural practices (including the use of biotechnology and GM crops) designed to meet the nutritional needs of the global population. You’ll also learn about how ethical theory can inform professional choices and public policies related to food production and environmental management. You’ll have a mix of lectures, tutorials and team-based exercises to develop a sound understanding of ethical principles.
Geobiology explores the relationship between life and the Earth's physical and chemical environment over geological/ evolutionary time. The module will focus on the geological consequences of evolution and how life has influenced physical and chemical environment. Topics covered will include: origins and evolution of life; evolution of the atmosphere and biosphere; geobiology of critical intervals and palaeobiology and evolutionary ecology.
In a series of lectures, this module provides training in environmental biotechnology, with particular emphasis on the interaction between microorganisms and the environment. The main topics covered will be wastewater treatment, bioremediation of organic and inorganic pollutants, microbes as indicators of risk factors in the environment, microbes in agriculture (biocontrol and biofertilisers) and the role of microorganisms in bioenergy production.
Plants and the Soil Environment
What happens below the ground that affects the water and nutrient uptake by plants? In this module, you’ll examine the acquisition of water and nutrients by plants in both agricultural and natural systems, and how plants interact with the soil environment. You’ll learn about the evolution of root adaptations which enable plants to thrive in environments with limited or excess water and nutrients. In an agricultural setting, you’ll explore how water and nutrient uptake by plants can be used to improve crop productivity and resource management, and use the practical study component to investigate new methods and technologies for below-ground phenotyping of roots. You’ll have a mix of lectures and computer-based practicals to gain a fundamental understanding of how water and nutrients are acquired by plants from the soil environment, and their influence on plant growth and development.
Plant Disease Control
In this module, you’ll gain an understanding of the applied aspects of plant disease control, in particular transmission, epidemiology, detection and diagnosis and control strategies. You’ll analyse the problems of plant diseases and be able to describe the options available to control losses due to disease and the strengths and weaknesses of these options. You’ll examine control strategies based on a range of approaches – including application of fungicides, biological control, deployment of disease resistant varieties and biotechnological approaches. Importantly, you’ll learn about the strategies used by plant pathogens to spread between plants and cause disease epidemics. You’ll have lectures and a field visit, as well as practical laboratory sessions to develop laboratory skills associated with disease diagnosis.
Computer Modelling in Science: Applications
The aim of this module is to show the range of techniques for computer-based models applied to the biological and environmental sciences using suitable important examples. You’ll have a 2 hour weekly lecture and a 2 hour practical. The module is designed for students with relatively little mathematical or computing experience.
In a series of lectures, this module presents an advanced review of the role of genetics in the conservation of endangered species. The course aims to give you an advanced knowledge of the effects of limited population size upon genetic structure; the theory of inbreeding and inbreeding depression in captive and wild populations; the use of genetic technology to investigate population structure; ways of managing endangered species to maximise their genetic variability; and modern views of specific concepts.