Kursussøgning, efter- og videreuddannelse – Københavns Universitet

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Kursussøgning, efter- og videreuddannelse

Animal Morphology (from Sea Sponges to Vertebrates)

Practical information
Study year 2016/2017
Block 4
Programme level Full Degree Master
Course responsible
  • Jørgen Olesen (7-6e73706977697244777271326f7932686f)
  • The Natural History Museum of Denmark
  • Department of Biology
Course number: NNMK15004U

Course content

In this course we study marine, freshwater, terrestrial animals from the simplest forms to vertebrates. In the classes we integrate laboratory practicals and lectures. We dissect and demonstrate representatives from most animal phyla with emphasis on their morphology, development, and general biology. In the lectures, we put emphasis on topics such as embryology, larval development, life cycles, body skeletons, motility, reproduction, and managing of body functions in general. We emphasize an evolutionary approach, where animal structure and function is seen in the context of both phylogeny and adaptation. You will also get hands on training using modern morphological instruments and learn how to interpret results from videos of live animal and from electron and confocal microcopy. We make much use of the specimens in the Zoological Museum, including show around in the magazines and information on the use of the collections in research and outreach to the public.

Learning outcome


The student will gain knowledge about marine, freshwater, terrestrial animals from the simplest forms to vertebrates.


After having participated in the course the student can describe the variation in body organization and function within the Animal Kingdom and give examples on how non-related organs can serve the same function (convergence), as well as on how the same original structure through evolution can end up serving quite different functions (homology). The student will also be able to dissect specimens of most larger animal groups and present arguments for how they should placed in the Animal Kingdom and account for aspects of the morphological, fossil and molecular background for current hypotheses concerning animal classification


The student will obtain a broad knowledge of the diversity and evolution of the entire Animal Kingdom from the simplest forms (e.g., sea sponges) to mammals and birds. The course has its basis in classical zoology and at the same time cover the newest research within morphology, systematic and evolution of all important animal groups. The course provides an ideal background for other courses in biology (e.g., ecology and physiology) and is also a useful supporting course for palaeontologists. The course provides a useful basis for many types of professions within biology where basic knowledge about animal biodiversity is required (e.g., marine biology or conservation).

Recommended prerequisites

Open for students with a bachelor in biology and others with a comparable background in zoology.

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MSc Programme in Biology


Study Board of Biology and Animal Science

Course type

Single subject courses (day)


Department of Biology: J.T. Høeg, A. Garm, Katrine Worsaae. Natural History Museum of Denmark: J. Olesen, R.M. Kristensen, M.V. Sørensen.


1 block


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Teaching and learning methods

Lectures and practical exercises


40 students




See Absalon.


Category Hours
Exam 1
Preparation 89
Lectures 66
Practical exercises 50
English 206


Type of assessment

Oral examination, 20 min
No preparation time.


Without aids

Marking scale

7-point grading scale

Criteria for exam assessment

Se målbeskrivelsen

Censorship form

No external censorship
Several internal examiners.


As the ordinary exam.

If the exam registration requirements is not fulfilled they can be fulfilled before the re-exam if the student hand in an assignment about the subjects that have been covered in the classes where the student has not participated. The assignment must be approved by the teacher.

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