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Unit information: Sensory Biology in 2021/22

Unit name Sensory Biology
Unit code BIOL20016
Credit points 10
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2D (weeks 19 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Holderied
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Biological Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences

Description including Unit Aims

Sensory Biology is the study of how different organisms acquire, process and respond to information using their specific sensory capabilities. The unit will provide a direct link between the sensory ecology taught in year 1 (in BIOL12000 Life Processes and BIOL10002 Key Concepts for Biologists) and in year 3 (in BIOL31132 Sensory Ecology). Together they provide a logical sensory biology pathway through the biology degree.

Intended Learning Outcomes

The emphasis during this unit will be on understanding the breadth of Sensory Biology. By the end of this course you will:

  • have an understanding of the key concepts of sensory biology
  • have acquired knowledge of the physical stimuli underlying the sensory transduction processes
  • understand sensory transduction and processing mechanisms
  • understand sensory bias and how this links to a species' ecology
  • understand the use of psychophysical experiments
  • be able to read, understand and evaluate scientific papers on sensory ecology
  • have gained insights into the interdisciplinary nature of sensory biology

Teaching Information

Lectures, directed reading, research and/or problem-solving activities; practical exercises and independent study.

Assessment Information

Coursework (40%) plus summative written assessment (60%) with one essay question to be selected from a choice of two.


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. BIOL20016).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.