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Unit information: Plant Evolution, Development and Diversity in 2021/22

Unit name Plant Evolution, Development and Diversity
Unit code BIOL30007
Credit points 10
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 4 (weeks 1-24)
Unit director Dr. Jill Harrison
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims


Land plants originated from their aquatic algal ancestors around 470 million years ago. This unit explores how plants originated and diversified. It aims to give students a framework to discover the developmental and genetic basis of changes in plant form and function that occurred during evolution, discuss the ecological context for such changes, and identify their relevance to engineering the architecture of future plant forms.


The unit is structured to give an overview of the evo-devo research field and introduce core principles of the evo-devo field. Teaching will take place on how genes enable the major organ systems of vascular plants to arise and will then build on these principles to explain how seed and flowering plants originated and diversified, with a focus on the radiation of flowering plants.

Intended Learning Outcomes

After taking the unit students will be able to:

  1. Describe the organography of diverse plant forms sampled across the plant tree of life
  2. Discuss the developmental and genetic mechanisms by which plant form arises
  3. Design rigorous testable hypotheses of morphological change in plant evolution
  4. Explain why the mechanisms regulating plant form are relevant to humans.

Teaching Information

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

Assessment Information

Summative written assessment, 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. BIOL30007).

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.