BIOL10140 Life on Earth

Academic Year 2023/2024

Life is the defining feature of our planet. In BIOL 10140 Life on Earth, we will consider how life arose and evolved into the myriad of forms it takes today.

We will introduce the principles of evolution and explore the tree of life, highlighting the major evolutionary advances that have enabled organisms to exploit every habitat on Earth. The major living groups of microbes, plants and animals will be presented and the key features of their biology will be discussed and illustrated. A wide range of examples will be given, spanning microbial parasites, plants, fungi, jellyfish and corals, worms, insects, crustaceans, fish, birds, mammals. We will examine how they feed, survive and reproduce, and, importantly, how they impact our daily lives.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module a student should be able to:
(1) classify protists, fungi, plants and animals into their major groups and describe the basis of that classification,
(2) recognise fundamental characteristics of selected groups of protists, fungi, plants and animals,
(3) demonstrate a knowledge of the nature and origins of biodiversity,
(4) explain the key components of evolutionary theory,
(5) demonstrate a practical understanding of the use of a microscope,
(6) use a dichotomous key to identify an unknown organism,
(7) recognise and explain mechanisms of adaptation,
(8) handle, dissect and make accurate drawings of biological specimens.

Indicative Module Content:

Lecture 1: Introduction to module and BrightSpace
Lecture 2: Origin of life on Earth
Lecture 3: Darwin’s theory of natural selection and the Tree of Life
Lecture 4: Macroevolution and Biogeography; mass extinctions and Paleontology
Lecture 5: Adaptive radiation and comparative anatomy
Lecture 6: Microbes
Lecture 7: Fungi and fungal biotechnology
Lecture 8: Algae and their contribution to biotechnology
Lecture 9: Plants colonisation of land- Bryophytes and Ferns
Lecture 10: Plant Diversity- Gymnosperms and forest importance
Lecture 11: Plant Diversity- Angiosperms from food security to medicine
Lecture 12: Animal Diversity- from Protists to multicellular animals; Introduction to Germ layers
Lecture 13: Animal Diversity- “Radiata” vs. Bilateria
Lecture 14: Animal Diversity- worms and coelom development
Lecture 15: Animal Diversity- from Annelids to Molluscs
Lecture 16: Animal Diversity- the wonderful world of insects (Arthropods)
Lecture 17: Animal Diversity- fishes
Lecture 18: Animal Diversity- amphibians, reptiles and dinosaurs
Lecture 19: Animal Diversity- mammals I
Lecture 20: Animal Diversity- mammals II
Lecture 21: Biodiversity

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures; pre-lab assignments; recordings and laboratory practicals. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations
Learning Requirements:

Leaving Certificate Biology H5 or higher

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
BIOL10010 - Animal Biology and Evolution, BIOL10120 - Cell Biology & Genetics (NUin)

Biology - Diversity of Life (BIOL10100)

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Examination: Mid-term online quiz Unspecified No Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No


Continuous Assessment: Pre-practical assignments and laboratory practical classes Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Examination: Final Exam 2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Alternative linear conversion grade scale 40% No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Spring Yes - 1 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment
• Self-assessment activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Feedback will be given to the class, post-assessment, for lab reports. Feedback will be automatically given to students, post-assessment, for online continuous assessment.

Name Role
Dr Tancredi Caruso Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Professor Tasman Crowe Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr John Finarelli Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Ms Ciara Graham Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Professor Mary Kelly-Quinn Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Olga Lastovetsky Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Professor Paul McCabe Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Sonia Negrao Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Dr Serena Sgarzi Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Professor Emma Teeling Lecturer / Co-Lecturer