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Undergraduate

Functional Biology - the comparative physiology of organisms

B.A.

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What is Comparative Biology?

Comparative Biology involves the study of how different complex organisms (animals and plants) function; how their anatomy and physiology are specialised for their fitness and survival. Many of the mechanisms organisms use for survival are shared across species, so a comparative approach reveals key functional principles.

Comparative 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.

Comparative Biology: The course for you?

The distinguishing feature of this degree specialisation is its breadth and the integration of ideas across different disciplines; Zoology, Plant Sciences and Genetics. So if you are fascinated by the amazing feats of the biological world, from the construction of organisms as specialised as desert plants to animals that have adapted to life in all environments, this specialisation gives you the training and knowledge to pursue these questions from multiple angles.

The specialisation in Comparative Biology is designed to integrate the different aspects of biology that are important in investigating how the form (structure) and function of animals and plants is established.

Comparative Biology @ Trinity

Trinity College is the only Irish University to offer a Science degree specialising in Comparative Biology and students have specifically come to Trinity to pursue this line of study, although internationally, there are a number of Graduate Programmes in this area (e.g. The American Museum of Natural History, Cornell University, University of California, Berkeley). The comparative approach has a long history in evolutionary biology from the time of Darwin, but now encompasses modern methods of understanding molecular and cellular level establishment (development) and physiology of biological systems. The student studies modules in Comparative Physiology, Animal and Plant Developmental Biology, Molecular Genetics and Biotechnology as well as modules in generic research and communication skills.

Graduate skills and career opportunities

The unique combination of modules equips our graduates for very diverse opportunities and careers. As a relatively new course there are just four graduating classes to date but these show that our students have either gone on to a) further research as PhD or MSc students, research assistants or involved in clinical research in pharmaceutical companies; b) to graduate level Medicine, Pharmacy, Veterinary or Dental Science; or c) to science education or communication including wildlife filming. Examples of our graduates in further research are a PhD student at the Pasteur Institute in Paris working in heart development, research assistants at the University of Colorado, USA and NUI Maynooth and clinical research with Quintiles and Java Clinical Research Ltd.

Your degree and what you’ll study

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

FIRST AND SECOND (FRESHMAN) YEARS

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

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

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

THIRD AND FOURTH (SOPHISTER) YEARS

Selected modules from Zoology, Plant Sciences and Genetics, focusing on comparing and contrasting animal and plant physiology.

Third year: The Junior Sophister 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. Work in the Junior Sophister (third) year provides a broad overview of comparative biology and includes core modules as follows

  • Tutorials: Current topics in Comparative Biology
  • Genetics for Comparative 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 http://www.tcd.ie/Broad_Curriculum)

- Fourth year: 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 biology as well as through lectures.

Tutorials in specialist areas are selected from the following:

  • Genetics: Developmental Genetics of Drosophila, Genetics of Neural Development, Plant Developmental Genetics, Plant Molecular Genetics II
  • Tutorials in Zoology: Developmental Biology, Evolution, Biomedical Parasitology
  • Tutorials in Plant Science: Plant Molecular Biology, Plant Physiology
  • In addition there are mandatory modules in
  • Research Comprehension – Interpretation and Discussion of Research Data
  • Plant Breeding and Biotechnology
  • Plant Environmental Interactions
  • Data Handling

GET IN TOUCH!

naturalscience.tcd.ie/undergraduate/comparative-biology.php

Course Director: Paula Murphy

Ms. Fiona Moloney, Executive Officer.

Email: fimolony@tcd.ie

Tel: +353 1 896 1366


What our graduates say

Daniel Darby B.A.(mod) 2014, 1st year PhD student in Heart Morphogenesis at the Pasteur Institute, Paris

“I found the versatility of subjects within the course to be of great value going forward in my scientific career. It really gives an excellent perspective on how different fields of biology operate while at the same time I received top of the range training in developmental biology, my current area of research, through the final year thesis and elective modules on the subject. The knowledge and skills I acquired during my time in Comparative Biology (formerly Functional Biology) still stand to me today and I have no doubt that they will continue to do so in years to come.”

What our current students say

Catriona Twomey; currently a student in 3rd year

“Comparative (Functional) Biology was definitely the best moderatorship for me as it allowed me to study all the areas of biology that I enjoyed. I think this course would be great for anyone who is interested in the differences and similarities between the plant and animal worlds and who is looking for a wider knowledge of the field of biology. After second year I was still very unsure about what area I wanted to specialise in, but knew it should be biology.”

Course Options

Award

B.A.

CAO code (Central Applications Office code) is

TR071

Options

Students who wish to study Comparative Biology apply to the Science degree (TR071) and may select Comparative 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).


Admission Requirements

For general admission requirements please click here


Apply

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

EU Applicants

Read the information about how to apply, then apply directly to CAO.

Mature Student – Supplementary Application Form

Read the information about how to apply as a mature student then select the link below to complete the TCD Supplementary Application Form for mature students.

Science, 4 years full-time Closing Date: 01/02/2017

Non-EU Applicants

  • Science, 4 years full-time Closing Date: 30/06/2017
  • CAO code (Central Applications Office code) is

    TR071

    Options

    Students who wish to study Comparative Biology apply to the Science degree (TR071) and may select Comparative 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).