skip to primary navigationskip to content

Physiology of Organisms

Programme Specification: Part IA Physiology of Organisms

This course is taught jointly by the Departments of Plant Sciences, Physiology, Development, & Neuroscience, and Zoology.


  1. to provide a course of basic comparative physiology, introducing students to the principles of normal biological function in a wide range of organisms;
  2. to prepare students for subsequent biological courses that require an understanding of the physiology of organisms;
  3. to show how animals and plants maintain an internal steady state, how they acquire and dispose of nutrients and how they detect and respond to changes in their environments;
  4. to outline the physiology of bacteria and fungi;
  5. to investigate the evolution of physiological mechanisms in vertebrates, and the influence that body size has on physiology;
  6. to develop practical biological skills.

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course students should

  1. have an enhanced knowledge and appreciation of the physiology of organisms;
  2. be able to develop cogent and critical arguments based on the course material;
  3. be able to perform, analyse and report on experiments and observations in physiology;
  4. be able to integrate related topics from separate parts of the course.

Teaching and learning methods

These include:

  • lectures, practical classes;
  • feedback on practical notebooks containing records of practical work (for aim 6 and learning outcome 3);
  • College-based supervisions.


Assessment for this course is through

  • a written examination consisting of one practical paper and one theory paper (for aims 1-6 and learning outcomes 1-4);

Courses of Preparation

Essential: None.

Recommended: AS or A Level Biology and/or Physics.

Additional Information

Further information on each subject is available in the Subject summary and on the Course Websites pages.