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Unit information: Insect Biology in 2020/21

Unit name Insect Biology
Unit code BIOL20204
Credit points 10
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2D (weeks 19 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Wall
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Biological Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences



To introduce you to the morphology and physiology of insects, their development and life-cycles, their evolution, behaviour and ecology.

There are more species of insect on earth than all other animals combined. Dazzlingly beautiful, behaviourally complex and ecologically essential, they play fundamental roles in almost all biological communities and ecosystems. This unit will introduce you to the morphology and physiology of insects, their development and life cycles, their evolution, behaviour and ecology. The unit will adopt an ecological perspective and emphasise the intimate relationships between insects, their behaviour and their environment.

Topics include: insect diversity and abundance, external morphology, the cuticle and moulting, digestion, nutrition and feeding, excretory systems, the tracheal system, the circulatory system, reproductive systems, flight and locomotion, sensory systems, and receptors, the naming and classification of insects, insect evolution, insect development and insect reproduction.

Intended learning outcomes

Successful completion of the unit will enable you to:

  • Demonstrate that you understand the key morphological and physiological features of insects by writing definitions of terms, annotating and/or labelling drawings.
  • Demonstrate that you understand the important characters which distinguish representative specimens of the most abundant insect orders by correctly labelling and identifying drawings or specimens.
  • Demonstrate that you understand aspects of insect physiology, morphology and sensory biology in relation to insect evolution, ecology and behaviour by writing short notes and/or essays on the functioning and/or evolution of insect organs and organ systems.
  • Demonstrate that you have a broad appreciation of the diversity, anatomy and morphology of insects by incorporating examples into short notes and essays.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the evolutionary pressures and adaptive solutions which equip insects for life in a variety of habitats by writing notes or essays.

Teaching details

Lectures, directed reading, research and/or problem-solving activities; practical exercises and independent study.

Assessment Details

Coursework (40%) plus summative written assessment (60%) with one essay question to be selected from a choice of two.

Reading and References

Insects. An Outline of Entomology 3rd edition, PJ Gullan & PS Cranston. Blackwells, Oxford.