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Unit information: Green Planet in 2019/20

Please note: Due to alternative arrangements for teaching and assessment in place from 18 March 2020 to mitigate against the restrictions in place due to COVID-19, information shown for 2019/20 may not always be accurate.

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Green Planet
Unit code BIOL20013
Credit points 10
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2D (weeks 19 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Franklin
Open unit status Not open




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

Description including Unit Aims

The aim of the unit is to equip modern life science students with the essentials of plant biology so that they may build on this information by taking further units in year 3. The unit will illustrate how important plants are and have been to life on earth, and will demonstrate their importance to humanity. The unit will cover a wide range of plant biology from cell biology and genetics through whole plant biology and ecology, considering mechanisms that have played out over millions of years of evolution as well as issues that arise in our daily lives (e.g. environmental signalling, nutrient cycling, reproduction, plant –animal interactions, ecosystem function, crops and GM). Through a combination of lectures and hands-on practical sessions, students will learn about the frontiers of plant science and the potential of plant research to address global problems, including climate change and food security.

Intended Learning Outcomes

General: a broad grounding in plant biology and an understanding of the importance of plants to life on earth.

Specifically students will acquire an understanding of:

  1. Environmental signalling I – how plants use light.
  2. Environmental signalling II- How plants control water use via stomata.
  3. How plants obtain water via their roots and how roots interact with the soil and soil organisms.
  4. The role of plants in making ecosystems and proving ecosystem services.
  5. How plants reproduce and products of reproduction - seeds and fruits.
  6. Plant animal interactions.
  7. Plants and human evolution - agriculture and the concept of food security.

Transferable skills: ability to work as part of a team via the practicals.

Teaching Information

  • 3 x 1-hour weekly lectures
  • 2 x 3-hour laboratory-based practicals

Assessment Information

Continuous Assessment - 40% (consisting of two practicals).

End of year exam - 60%.

Reading and References


There is no essential reading, but you will find that one or more of the recommended textbooks on general plant biology useful.


  • Smith AM et al. (2010) Plant Biology. Garland Science.
  • Taiz L et al. (2015) Plant Physiology and Development, sixth edition. Sinauer.