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Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Plants: Their Role in Life on Earth

LEVEL I - Introductory Level


DEPARTMENT Centre for the Liberal Arts and Sciences

DESCRIPTION The Unit aims at introducing plant structure for the major evolutionary stages leading to the appearance of flowering plants. It also delves into the development of the plant body and the role of plant hormones on plant growth and development. The process of photosynthesis and how it introduces energy into ecosystems and the essential role it plays in maintaining life on earth is also explored. In this Unit, the factors that maximize plant productivity are identified. The Unit also gives an overview of the role of soils and plant mineral ion nutrition and the importance of plant interactions with bacteria and fungi to maximize their productivity. It will also focus on primary productivity and energy flow through ecosystems. Information on the human prospect, the agricultural revolution and agriculture in the future and the growth of the human populations and sustainable productivity will also be provided.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the Unit the student will be able to:
- Understand the anatomy of the major organs making up the plant body;
- Familiarize themselves with the process of photosynthesis and the adaptations of plants to maximize the efficiency of this process, including alternative metabolic pathways;
- Understand the importance of some major inorganic ions and their roles in plant metabolism;
- Appreciate the major steps in the evolutionary history of the plant kingdom that enabled them to colonise the terrestrial environment;
- Understand plant evolution and the role of these organisms as the basis of life on Earth.

2. Skills:

By the end of the Unit the student will be able to develop the skills required to analyse information regarding the various intrinsic and environmental factors that influence plant productivity.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- Plants, Edited by Irene Ridge, Oxford University Press.
- Raven Biology of Plants 8th ed, by Ray F. Evert and Susan E. Eichhorn.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Practical

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Presentation (15 Minutes) Yes 40%
Assignment Yes 60%


The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
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