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Functional Biology - the comparative physiology of organisms

  • Course Type: Undergraduate
  • CAO Course Code: TR071
  • Min Entry Points for 2014: 515* points
  • Duration: 4 Year(s) Full Time
  • Award: B.A.
  • Course Options:

    Students who wish to study Functional biology apply to the Science degree (TR071) and may select Functional biology as their specialist area for the 3rd and 4th years.

    Junior Freshman (first) year prerequisites: Biology 1101 and 1102, Mathematics or Mathematical methods

    Senior Freshman (second year) prerequisites: Biology BY2201, BY2202, BY2203, BY2208.

    For details of the first two years of the Science course, including entry requirements, see TR071: Science (common entry).

  • How to apply: See how to apply

Admission Requirements

For Admission requirements please click here


To apply to this course, click on the relevant Apply Link below

What is Functional biology?

Functional Biology is the comparative physiology of plants and animals; i.e. comparing the way different kinds of organisms function in the context of their structure (anatomy). Many of the mechanisms organisms use for survival are conserved across species, allowing the revelation of key functional principles.

Functional Biology provides a broad education in the comparative physiology of animals and plants. It integrates physiology, developmental biology and genetics approaches to understanding how organisms function.

Our understanding of how animals and plants function and interact has grown rapidly in recent years, bringing important insights about how they have evolved. Such discoveries influence society in many ways from medical applications to global politics.

What will you study?

This course integrates selected modules from Zoology, Plant Sciences and Genetics, focusing on comparing and contrasting animal and plant physiology. The Junior Sophister (third) year provides a broad knowledge and understanding of animal and plant biology with an emphasis on comparative physiology, developmental biology and evolution. A series of small class tutorials, led by academic staff across the disciplines, is designed to enhance integration. In the final year a major component of the course is a lab-based research project chosen from the disciplines of Plant Sciences or Zoology. Final-year teaching also occurs through small-group tutorials in areas of specialisation in plant or animal functional biology as well as through lectures.

Work in the Junior Sophister (third) year provides a broad overview of functional biology and includes core modules as follows

  • Tutorials: Current topics in Functional Biology
  • Genetics for Functional Biology: Neurogenetics, Gene Expression, Plant Molecular Genetics I
  • Plant Physiology
  • Comparative Physiology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Plant Molecular Biology
  • Parasitology
  • Plant Structure, Anatomy, Metabolism
  • Experimental Design and Analysis
  • Broad Curriculum (see

A major component of the Senior Sophister (fourth) year is the research project. Tutorials in specialist areas of functional biology are also selected as well as taught modules:

  • Research project
  • Genetics for Functional Biology: Developmental Genetics of Drosophila, Genetics of Neural Development, Plant Developmental Genetics, Plant Molecular Genetics Ii
  • Research Comprehension – Interpretation and Discussion of Research Data
  • Tutorials in Zoology: Developmental Biology, Evolution, Biomedical Parasitology, Eyes and Vision
  • Tutorials in Plant Science: Plant Molecular Biology, Plant Physiology
  • Environmental Physiology
  • Data Handling


Functional Biology acts as the perfect springboard for undergraduate students to go on to post-graduate bioscience degrees, e.g. Masters and PhDs in biological/physiological disciplines, including molecular biology and biomedicine. Graduates of Functional Biology are also ideally placed to contribute to the knowledge economy/society through careers with biotechnology companies and/or industry, having gained unique and valuable experience and training. The course also provides an excellent background for students who want to pursue a career in teaching biology or pursuing a medical or veterinary qualification at the graduate level.

Further information

Tel: +353 1 896 1366