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BSc Zoology

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:

Unit code BIOL21261
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


The endocrine system synthesises and releases chemical messengers (hormones), to maintain tight homeostatic control of physiological processes in the face of changes to the internal and external body environment. You will learn about the structure and function of the key endocrine tissues, together with the actions and interactions of their hormonal products. You will study the endocrine regulation of a variety of parameters including growth, appetite, blood sugar levels, stress, male and female fertility, pregnancy, puberty, and calcium balance.


To explore and understand the biochemistry, physiology, and pharmacology of endocrine control systems in humans and other mammals.

Learning outcomes

Students will be expected to gain knowledge and understanding of:

  •  the structure and function of mammalian endocrine tissues
  • the manner in which the regulatory control and actions of individual endocrine tissues are integrated to maintain appropriate physiological and metabolic responses to changes in the internal and external environment.


Basic concepts in endocrinology

  • Hormone-receptor interactions and signalling mechanisms
  • Methods used to detect and quantify hormone levels
  • Endocrine control systems and response to environmental change

The endocrine glands and hormones

  • The pituitary gland
  • The thyroid gland
  • The adrenal glands
  • The endocrine pancreas
  • The parathyroid glands
  • Enteroendocrine hormones and control of appetite
  • Reproductive endocrinology

Diseases of the endocrine system

e-Learning Activity

Lecture slides and links to online reading materials will be provided on Blackboard. Five online quizzes will be released on Blackboard during the course.

Optional peer review of essay question answers.

Online discussion board will be open to encourage dialogue between students.


Employability skills

Project management
The course is assessed in part by electronically marked Blackboard quizzes which are released periodically throughout the course with fixed deadlines for completion. Students must manage their time effectively to meet these deadlines.
Oral communication
Students are encouraged to ask and answer questions during lectures.
Written communication
Short note and essay questions in examination; opportunity to attempt an exam-style essay question in weeks 8-10. Contributions to the online discussion board.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 10%
Written exam 90%

Written exam                                                                                   90% of unit mark

1.5 hour written examination comprising of two sections: short answer questions, students must answer all questions (50% of examination mark); and essay questions, students must answer 1 question from a choice of 3 (50% of examination mark).


Set exercises – online coursework assessment                      10% of unit mark

A series of five online quizzes which will be released at intervals throughout the course to provide formative feedback.


Feedback methods

  • Online quizzes will provide formative feedback.
  • Opportunity to work through a model examination essay question, with peer feedback.
  • Publication of a general feedback document addressing general strengths and weaknesses of students’ examination essays, and giving an indication of how questions were answered.
  • Students may attend a post-examination ‘drop-in’ clinic to see examiners’ comments on their answers.

Recommended reading

  • White B & Porterfield SP Endocrine and Reproductive Physiology (4th Edition), 2013, Elsevier London: The Mosby Physiology Monograph Series. Recommended

  • Holt RIG & Hanley NA Essential Endocrinology and Diabetes (6th Edition). 2012. Wiley-Blackwell. Optional.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 1.5
Lectures 22
Independent study hours
Independent study 76.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Karen Cosgrove Unit coordinator

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