Plant Biology and Ecosystems

The details
Life Sciences (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Monday 13 January 2020
Friday 20 March 2020
05 September 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BSC C100 Biological Sciences,
BSC C101 Biological Sciences (Including Year Abroad),
BSC C102 Biological Sciences (Including Placement Year),
BSC CD00 Biological Sciences (Including Foundation Year),
BSC C161 Marine Biology (Including Foundation Year),
BSC C164 Marine Biology,
BSC CC60 Marine Biology (Including Year Abroad),
BSC CC64 Marine Biology (Including Placement Year),
MMB C160 Marine Biology

Module description

Living life on a knife's edge - explore the vital role of plants play in our biosphere, their diversity and intricate relationships that support our planet; know the value of these natural resources; examine the consequences we face when the balance is disturbed.

From studying how plants affect and are affected by their environment you learn what we can expect from a changing world. Examine how we influence the world around us. You apply this knowledge to the field, learning to collect, present, analyse and eventually interpret data.

Understanding the fundamentals of ecology and plant diversity allows you to explore possible solutions to our environmental problems.

Module aims

To introduce students to the diversity, importance and wonder of plants together with an awareness of the biotic and abiotic factors influencing their distribution patterns in the biosphere.

Module learning outcomes

To pass this module, students will need to be able to:

1. Demonstrate an understanding of the importance of plants;
2. Describe the diversity, evolution and distribution of plants;
3. Explain how abiotic factors and biotic interactions relate to adaptations in anatomy and morphology of angiosperms;
4. Explain primary production and nutrient cycling;
5. Explain the unique features of plant biochemistry and metabolism including photosynthesis;
6. Describe the processes that determine Earth's climate (past, present and future), the links between the earth-atmosphere-ocean system and the role of organisms in climate;
7. Demonstrate competence in observation, experimentation and recording, analysis and presentation through laboratory field, group and individual work.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

Lectures (24 x 1 hour lectures includes information on directed learning material or equivalent) plus 1 revision class before MCQ and 1 revision class before summer exam; 4 x 3 hour practical plus one 1hr and one 3hr in in PC lab sessions.


  • Campbell, Neil A. (c2018) Biology: a global approach, New York: Pearson.
  • Charles J. Krebs. (2014) Ecology: the experimental analysis of distribution and abundance, Harlow: Pearson.
  • Waugh, David. (2009) Geography: an integrated approach, Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes.
  • Ricklefs, Robert E.; Relyea, Rick. (2014) Ecology: the economy of nature, New York: W.H. Freeman and Company.
  • Jones, A. M.; Reed, Robert; Weyers, Jonathan D. B. (©2016) Practical skills in biology, New York: Pearson.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Practical 1    25% 
Coursework   Practical 2    25% 
Coursework   Practicals 3 & 4    30% 
Exam  50 minutes during Early Exams (Multiple Choice) 
Exam  60 minutes during Summer (Main Period) (Main) 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
33% 67%


Coursework Exam
33% 67%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Ulrike Bechtold, email:
Dr Ulrike Bechtold, Dr Nicola Slee, Mr James Stevens
School Undergraduate Office, email: bsugoffice (Non essex users should add to create the full email address)



External examiner

Prof Anne Borland
Newcastle University
Available via Moodle
Of 136 hours, 28 (20.6%) hours available to students:
108 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Life Sciences (School of)

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