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Plants Sciences

For more information on Environmental Sciences modules please contact botany@tcd.ie
 

 

Module Code & Name ECTs credits Duration and semester Prerequisite Subjects Course Description and Learning Outcomes Assessment Contact Hours Contact Details

(BO3100: Plant Physiology)

(05 ECTS credits) S1 P2 Wks12-16 NA

This module covers major biochemical and physiological aspects of photosynthesis, respiration, resource capture and growth at both the cell and whole plant level. Supporting practicals are designed to examine both the light and stromal reactions of photosynthesis and to investigate the role of light in seed germination and plant development. Continual assessment will be through a programme of practicals, tutorials and student presentations.

Learning Outcomes:

Having successfully completed this module, students should be able to:

  • Describe how plants perceive light.
  • Explain how plants use light as both a source of energy and an environmental signal.
  • Describe the various pathways of photosynthesis at the level of the cell and the whole plant.
  • Describe the interplay between photosynthesis and respiration in a plant cell.
  • Describe the role of light in controlling germination, growth and flowering in higher plants.
  • Use up-to-date methodology for measuring photosynthesis in chloroplasts and intact leaves.
50% Examination, 50% Continual Assessment
  • Lectures: 20 hours
  • Tutorials: 4 hours
  • Practicals: 24 hours
Professor Michael Williams

(BO3105: Fundamentals of Ecology)

(05 ECTS credits) S1 P1 Wks6-10 NA

This module describes how organisms interact with their environment and the role that they have in ecosystem and community structure. There is an introduction to the concepts and models that help to explain and predict organism distributions and interactions.

Learning Outcomes:

Having successfully completed this module, students should be able to:

  • Define what we mean by ecology and describe its principles and practice.
  • Show a firm methodological and theoretical understanding of the study of the distribution and abundance of species.
  • Describe and evaluate unifying concepts of distributions and ecological processes (e.g. feeding strategies, interspecific interactions, etc.).
  • Show, through practical exercises, a good approach to project work.
  • Show enhanced communication skills through a variety of techniques.
50% Examination, 50% Continual Assessment
  • Lectures: 18 hours
  • Practicals: 24 hours
  • Mini Project: 20 hours
Professor Ian Donohue

(BO3107: Plant Molecular Biology)

(05 ECTS credits) S2 P1 Wks21-25 NA

Plant Molecular Biology plays a major part in most fields of botanical research including ecology, systematics and physiology. The aim of this module is to cover the fundamentals of plant molecular biology and to explore applied aspects, including molecular systematics, molecular ecology, conservation genetics and genetic engineering.

Learning Outcomes:

Having successfully completed this module, students should be able to:

  • Discuss core elements within the field of Plant Molecular Biology that will enable them to build upon this knowledge and help them better understand other modules.
  • Show laboratory skills in molecular biology.
  • Analyse molecular data for phylogenetics, population genetics and a range of other applications.
Assessment: 50% Examination, 50% Continual Assessment
  • Lectures: 18 hours
  • Practicals: 24 hours
Professor Trevor Hodkinson

(BO3108: Plants and the Irish Environment)

(05 ECTS credits) S1 P1 Wks6-10 NA

This module combines an introduction to the Plant Sciences and Environmental Sciences moderatorships with a series of field-based activities including a residential field-trip during the first week of term. There will also be a lecture given during the field trip and three following it on specific aspects of the Irish flora.

Learning Outcomes:

Having successfully completed this module, students should be able to:

  • Collect and accurately record various types of data from a range of local habitats using several different methods.
  • Identify native species.
  • Interpret relationships between plants, and between plants and the physical environment.
  • Contrast ecological sampling techniques and assess their relative merits.
  • Analyse in detail the natural and cultural landscape.
Assessment: 100% Continual Assessment
  • Lectures: 4 hours
  • Practicals: 40 hours
Professor John Parnell

(BO3109: Seminars, Tutorials and Workshops)

(05 ECTS credits) Wks 6-10, 12-16, 21-25, 28-32. NA

The aim of the seminars is to introduce undergraduate students to current research topics on key issues related to the Plant Science curriculum. The aim of tutorials and workshops is to develop skills in communication and analysis of scientific information. The module is divided into a series of interactive tutorials and workshops with themes such as, essay writing, problem solving, graphics, thesis writing, journal article analysis.

Learning Outcomes:

Having successfully completed this module, students should be able to:

  • Outline the basics of a wide range of research issues from within and outside the Plant Science curriculum and be able to critically assess the information presented to them.
  • Show laboratory skills in molecular biology.
  • Work better in teams.
  • Prepare and present their work in an appropriate academic written or oral format.
Assessment: 100% Continual Assessment
  • Lectures: 6 hours
  • Tutorials: 24 hours
  • Seminars: 16 hours
  • Essays & Exercises: 14 hours
Professor John Parnell

(BO3110: The Plant Kingdom – Evolution and Diversity)

(05 ECTS credits) SEMESTER 2. PART 1 (Weeks 21-25) NA

This module traces the broad sweep of plant evolution, from its prokaryotic origins through unicellular plankton to the immense diversity of non-flowering plants. We focus on groups of particular evolutionary, ecological or economic significance; also on native or widely-planted species and the features used in their identification. We track the changes brought about by the transition from an aquatic to a terrestrial environment, as we explore the range of morphology and life cycle among the algae, mosses, ferns, cycads and conifers. A field trip to the Powerscourt area focuses on bryophyte ecology and conifer diversity.

Learning Outcomes:

Having successfully completed this module, students should be able to:

  • Describe all the major groups of non-flowering plants.
  • Tackle the identification of plants of any group.
  • Discuss the evolutionary relationships among the major groups of the plant world.
  • Explain the changing spectrum of plant groups through geological time.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the ecological roles of plants in marine, freshwater & terrestrial environments.
  • Describe the economic significance of different groups of non-flowering plants.
  • Show enhanced appreciation of biological diversity
Assessment: 50% Examination, 50% Continual Assessment
  • Lectures: 12 hours
  • Field Trip: 8 hours
  • Other Practicals: 20 hours
Daniel Kelly

(BO3111: Angiosperm Diversity and Systematics)

(05 ECTS credits) SEMESTER 2. PART 2 (Weeks 28-32) NA

This stand-alone module follows on from Lower Plant Diversity and Evolution (BO3110) which deals with lower plants. By undertaking this module you will become acquainted with the most important group of plants on Earth – the Flowering Plants or Angiosperms. In it we discuss the origin of the Angiosperms, move on to various systems for their classification and discuss various large groups of Angiosperms: concentrating on those that occur in Europe.

Learning Outcomes:

Having successfully completed this module, students should be able to:

  • Describe and discuss higher plant classification, identification and evolution at family and order level worldwide.
  • Describe and discuss higher plant classification, identification and evolution at generic and specific level in Ireland.
  • Know the key characteristics of some of the most commonly encountered Angiosperms in Ireland.
  • Develop team-working and team-assessment skills.
  • Develop an in-depth knowledge of a selected plant family.
Assessment: 100% Continual Assessment
  • Lectures: 15 hours
  • Practicals: 22 hours
  • Peer group marking: 1 hour
  • Presentation: 3 hours
Professor John Parnell

(BO3120: Environmental Dynamics)

(05 ECTS credits) SEMESTER 1. PART 1 (Weeks 6-10) NA

The last 2.6 million years of Earth history have witnessed dramatic climatic and environmental changes. This module provides an overview of these major environmental changes, their causes, and their significance for human development. It contrasts ‘glacial’ and ‘interglacial’ worlds, examines the nature of the transitions between them, explores some potential causes of change, and illustrates their environmental impacts. In the process, a range of key environmental records are considered, along with the “proxies” used to develop them.

Learning Outcomes:

Having successfully completed this module, students should be able to:

  • Explain why global climates have varied dramatically over the last 2.6 million years.
  • Describe the spatial and temporal variation in past climate change.
  • Describe the long term impact of climate change on ecosystems.
  • Describe the techniques used to reconstruct past climates.
  • Describe the techniques used to reconstruct past ecosystems.
  • Evaluate the contribution of climate and human activity to ecosystem dynamics.
  • Relate the relevance to past ecosystem change to current and future ecosystem function.
Assessment: 50% Examination, 50% Continual Assessment Lectures: 24 hours Professor Fraser Mitchell

(BO3121: Field Skills in Plant and Environmental Science (Canary Islands)

(05 ECTS credits) SEMESTER 2. PART 1 (Weeks 21-25) NA

There are four main aims of this module: 1. To introduce students to highly diverse subtropical island flora, with complex biogeographical composition; 2. To record the plant communities across a range of environments, differing in rainfall, altitude, degree of disturbance, etc. and to investigate the ecophysiology of the native flora over the range of habitats studied; 3. To assess the threat to biodiversity posed by human activities; and 4. To develop students’ knowledge of field-based plant and animal identification, and how to conduct field research. This module combines a lecture series with a residential field trip to the Canary Islands. The Canary Islands represent very different environments to Ireland: they have different ecology, different threats and pressures. They also contain highly variable landscapes and there are lots of different types of habitats in small area. In addition, they are home to many endemic species, particularly plants, which are not found anywhere else in the world, and face many man-made environmental challenges. The lecture series explores the geography, flora and fauna of the Canary Islands, as well as the history of the islands, and the impacts that humans have and continue to have on its ecosystems.

Learning Outcomes:

Having successfully completed this module, students should be able to:

  • Describe the link between environmental conditions and vegetation community composition and structure (i.e. understand why certain plants grow in different places – what morphological, physiological and ecological traits have evolved for live in particular environments and how are plants affected by human activities?).
  • Sample vegetation in the field accurately and representatively in a diversity of natural and anthropogenic ecosystems (i.e. be able to design appropriate sampling according to different habitat types to make ecological assessments).
  • Outline what should be in an Environmental Impact Assessment Scoping report and conduct a scoping exercise for a hypothetical development in the Canary islands.
  • Design, conduct and analyse a field experiment and present the results in both written and oral format.
  • Demonstrate transferrable field skills including making accurate and appropriate field notes, team work and risk assessment.
Assessment: 100% Continual Assessment
  • Lectures: 10 hours
  • Practicals: 40 hours
Professor Jane Stout (Spring Field Course leader)

BO3123: Soil Science)

(05 ECTS credits) SEMESTER 1. PART 2 (Weeks 12-16) NA

Soils are important for plants as they provide the key resources required for growth and also essential structural support. This module will provide an overview of the fundamental concepts of soil formation and characterisation; how soil characteristics influence plant distribution and productivity through water and nutrient availability; how soil organisms (bacteria, fungi) interact with plants and how soils influence global biogeochemical cycles (carbon and nitrogen). Particular focus will be given to the role of soils in the production of food, fuel and fibre and how sustainable land management practices are required to ensure the long-term health and fertility of soil systems.

Learning Outcomes:

Having successfully completed this module, students should be able to:

  • Describe the nature of soil and the terms used to describe the major physical and chemical characteristics of soil.
  • Understand how soils are formed and how they are influenced by natural and anthropogenic processes.
  • Understand the issues of sustainable soil management and the impacts of intensive land use on soil quality and fertility.
  • Develop an understanding of biogeochemical cycling within soil systems and the role of soils in the mitigation of climate change.
Assessment: 50% Examination, 50% Continual Assessment
  • Lectures: 10 hours
  • Lectures: 10 hours
  • Practicals: 12 hours
Dr. Matthew Saunders

(BO3122: Entomology)

(05 ECTS credits) SEMESTER 2. PART 2 (Weeks 28-32) NA

There are more species of insects on Earth than any other group of organisms and they are of massive ecological and economic importance. This module will address behavioural, social, ecological and applied aspects of entomology, including their role in delivering ecosystem services (such as biocontrol and pollination), invasive species (such as fire ants and harlequin ladybirds) and conservation (both in Ireland and internationally). The practicals will provide students with the skills for sampling, identification and preservation of insects. Students will complete an independent case-study on an inset taxon of their choice.

Learning Outcomes:

Having successfully completed this module, students should be able to:

  • Categorise insects according to their key features into the main order groups; know the distinction between insects and other arthropods.
  • Describe some of the range of behaviours employed by insects for foraging, defending and reproducing.
  • Develop understanding of the role of insects in ecosystem processes and their interactions with other organisms.
  • Explain their value as providers of ''ecosystem services''.
  • Quantify the economic importance of insects (both positive and negative) to humans.
  • Evaluate the conservation biology of insects at national and international levels.
Assessment: 50% Continual Assessment 50% Examination
  • Lectures: 12 hours
  • Practicals: 12 hours
Professor Jane Stout

(BO3124: Economic Botany)

(05 ECTS credits) SEMESTER 1. PART 1 (Weeks 6-10) NA

This module represents a review of the economic importance of plants, ranging from the commercial use of algae in the food and biofuel industry, agriculturally important crops, plants as sources of pharmaceuticals to the use of non-food crops in industry. Continual assessment will be in the form of a desk-based study using FAO data on global food production, student talks on key economic crops from around the globe to practicals on brewing and tissue culture.

Learning Outcomes:

Having successfully completed this module, students should be able to:

  • Understand the importance of plants in a wide range industries
  • Describe the major food crops of the world and their cultivation
  • Use meta-analysis to answer key questions on sustainability of food production
  • Have a working knowledge of brewing and the use of botanicals in beer making
  • Produce plants from callus tissue.
Assessment: 100% CA
  • Lectures: 12 hours
  • Tutorials: 4 hours
  • Practicals: 8 hours
Professor Michael Williams

(BO4103: Plant Conservation and Biodiversity)

(05 ECTS credits) SEMESTER 2. PART 1 (Weeks 21-25) NA

Loss of biodiversity is one of the major problems facing humanity. The theoretical background to the evolution of plant diversity is firstly developed, and the principles of conservation are then used to develop approaches to conserve plant diversity.

Learning Outcomes:

Having successfully completed this module, students should be able to:

  • Identify key processes that lead to the development of higher plant diversity.
  • Explain how patterns of plant diversity have arisen.
  • Describe the processes that threaten plant diversity, and evaluate the degree of threat.
  • Evaluate national legislation and policy related to plant diversity and its conservation.
  • Evaluate global and national initiatives to conserve plant diversity.
Assessment: 50% Examination, 50% Continual Assessment
  • Lectures: 16 hours
  • Practicals: 18 hours
Professor Stephen Waldren

(BO4105: Global Environmental Change)

(05 ECTS credits) SEMESTER 1. PART 1 (Weeks 6-10) SEMESTER 2. PART 2 (Weeks 28-32) NA

The global environment is changing more rapidly at present than at any time during the human occupancy of the planet. This module reviews the existence of the changing environment and the predictions for the future.

Learning Outcomes:

Having successfully completed this module, students should be able to:

  • Understand the various elements of current global environmental change and the contribution of the major drivers of these changes.
  • Understand the prevailing hypotheses as to the mechanisms and ultimate causes of global environmental change and the extent to which processes operate at different temporal and spatial scales.
  • Appreciate the nature of the interactions between environmental change and ecosystem processes.
  • Use analytical procedures in the laboratory and field to investigate the impacts of global change.
Assessment: 50% Examination, 50% Continual Assessment
  • Lectures: 21 hours
  • Tutorials: 2 hours
  • Practicals: 12 hours

(BO4106: Seminars, Tutorials and Workshops)

(10 ECTS credits)
  • SEMESTER 1. PART 1 (Weeks 6-10)
  • SEMESTER 1. PART 2 (Weeks 12-16)
  • SEMESTER 2. PART 1 (Weeks 21-25)
  • SEMESTER 2. PART 2 (Weeks 28-32)
NA

The aim of the seminars is to introduce undergraduate students to current research topics on key issues related to the Plant Sciences curriculum. The aim of tutorials and workshops is to develop skills in communication and analysis of scientific information. The module is divided into a series of interactive tutorials and workshops with themes such as, essay writing, problem solving, graphics, thesis writing, journal article analysis.

Learning Outcomes:

Having successfully completed this module, students should be able to:

  • Discuss a wide range of research issues from within and outside the Plant Sciences curriculum and critically assess the information presented to them.
  • Describe how work being carried out in Botany contributes to global research
  • Work better in teams.
  • Prepare and present their work in an appropriate academic written or oral format.
Assessment: 50% Examination, 50% Continual Assessment
  • Lectures: 6 hours
  • Tutorials: 24 hours
  • Presentations: 10 hours
  • Seminars: 16 hours
  • Essays & Exercises 14 hours
Professor John Parnell

(BO4107: Plant-Animal Interactions)

(05 ECTS credits) SEMESTER 2. PART 2 (Weeks 28-32) NA

Plant-animal interactions have increasingly become recognized as drivers of evolutionary change and important components of ecological communities. This module will focus on herbivory (the consumption of plants by animals) and pollination (the transfer of pollen between male and female reproductive structures in flowers).

Learning Outcomes:

Having successfully completed this module, students should be able to:

  • Synthesise and summarise aspects of the ecology and evolution of mutualistic and antagonistic plant-animal interactions, from individuals to communities, interactions between native and alien species, and applied issues.
  • Carry out laboratory work investigating pollination syndromes, plant-pollinator interaction networks and plant and animal adaptations to herbivory, and analyse and interpret data collected.
  • Work as a team to obtain, organise and present material on current topics in the field.
Assessment: 50% Examination, 50% Continual Assessment
  • Lectures: 12 hours
  • Practicals: 9 hours
  • Presentation: 3 hours
Professor Jane Stout

(BO4108: Plant-Environment Interactions)

(05 ECTS credits) SEMESTER 1. PART 2 (Weeks 12-16) NA

Plant growth is significantly influenced by the surrounding physical, chemical and biological environment. This module will address the key inter-related concepts of carbon assimilation and sequestration, plant water relations and energy balance components across the soil-plant-atmosphere continuum. The physiological response of plants to respond to a broad range of environmental conditions including abiotic and biotic extreme events will be explored, and the implications for natural and production based systems will be assessed.

Learning Outcomes:

Having successfully completed this module, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of how environmental factors influence the physiological performance of plants at various stages of growth and across multiple spatial scales (leaf, whole plant and ecosystem scale).
  • Identify suitable methodological approaches to monitor and quantify the impacts of key environmental drivers on physiological processes observed at the leaf, plant and ecosystem scale.
  • Understand how plant systems respond to external drivers such as future climatic variability and land-use pressures.
  • Show an understanding of how these concepts can be utilised in the development of sustainable land management practices.
Assessment: 50% Examination, 50% Continual Assessment
  • Lectures: 11 hours
  • Practicals: 15 hours
  • Tutorials: 4 hours
Professor Matthew Saunders

(BO4109: Vegetation Description and Analysis)

(05 ECTS credits) SEMESTER 1. PART 1 (Weeks 6-10) NA

This module will describe how to sample, record and lead up to detailed multivariate analyses to help define vegetation communities. Though some theoretical and historical framework will be given in lectures, the emphasis will be on practical collection, analysis and interpretation of vegetation data. Various data sets will be utilised in computer-based sessions, and field work will be used to generate a novel data set, the analysis and interpretation of which will form part of the continuous assessment for this module.

Learning Outcomes:

Having successfully completed this module, students should be able to:

  • Employ effective methods to collect vegetation data
  • Understand the theory and practice of vegetation description
  • Employ a variety of measures to describe plant diversity in sampled vegetation
  • Use multivariate statistical techniques to develop hypotheses about vegetation communities
  • Utilise remotely sensed data and GPS in the field to map vegetation communities
Assessment 50% Examination and 50% Continual Assessment
  • Lectures: 6 Hours
  • Practicals: 24 Hours
  • Field Work: 12 Hours
Professor Stephen Waldren