Comparative Physiology

Undergraduate course

Course description

Objectives and Content

  The Comparative physiology course introduces the students to basic principles of form and function in animals, plants and micro-organisms, with main emphasis on critical physiological mechanisms (function) in the adaptation to the environment and the maintenance of homeostasis. Within the section on plant physiology, emphasis will be put on the physiology of both higher plants and phytoplankton. Animal physiology will have main emphasis on the function of vertebrates, with brief discussions of invertebrate physiology in areas where they provide interesting models/questions/mechanisms. Microbial physiology addresses basic physiological processes at the cellular level and interactions with the environment. Topics are microbial transport mechanisms, responses to oxygen, extreme pH and temperature, adaptive responses to nutrient availability, signal transduction and microbial chemotaxis, energy harvesting (cellular respiration, fermentation, photosynthesis), communication at cellular level. In addition to addressing problems which are specific to the three organism groups we will seek to discuss common topics in physiology addressed across the organism groups (selected from Campbell - Reece). These will include (maybe not all, others may be substituted):

  • temperature
  • energy
  • excretion and osmoregulation
  • homeostasis
  • gas exchange and circulation
  • signalling hormones/nerves
  • sensing (visual, chemical, sound and vibrations¿)

The course is given in the spring term and counts 10 study points. The course consists of 32 lectures (16 double lectures) and experimental laboratory classes. Lectures will focus on the main physiological processes in relation to the environment (adaptation) and the processes involved in the maintenance of homeostasis.


Experimental practical classes form an integral part of the Comparative physiology course. Students are required to write a laboratory journal which will be assessed and which will count in the final grade. We propose to run min. one lab exercise for each group of organisms. The extent of lab exercises must be weighed against the number of lectures, reading required and the total study points (10) of the course.

Learning Outcomes

 After completing this course the student should
  • know and understand the fundamental scientific concepts relating to key physiological processes in animals, plants and micro-organisms
  • know and understand the basic factual information concerning critical biological mechanisms and functions of animals, plants and micro-organisms
  • have gained basic knowledge in a selected range of practical laboratory techniques used in the studies of physiological processes in animals, plants and micro-organisms

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction


This course has a limited capacity, enrolment is based on application. The application deadline is Wednesday in week 2 for the spring semester. Please see this page for more information. You will receive confirmation of whether you received a seat in Studentweb no later than Monday the week after the deadline.

It is compulsory to attend the first lecture/orientation meeting, or you risk losing your seat. If you are unable to attend the first lecture, you must contact the Study Section email: . The time of the first lecture/orientation meeting can be found in the schedule on the course website or on Mitt UiB.

Place of Instruction

Recommended Previous Knowledge
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
BIF101: 4 ECTS
Compulsory Assignments and Attendance
Attendance on laboratorycourse.
Forms of Assessment
Written home examination instead of written examination on campus
Grading Scale
The grading scale used is A to F. Grade A is the highest passing grade in the grading scale, grade F is a fail.
Reading List
The reading list will be available within July 1st for the autumn semester and January 1st for the spring semester.
Course Evaluation
Students will evaluate the course in accordance with the quality assurance system at UiB and the Department. You can find courseevaluations in the Quality Assurance Reports.
Examination Support Material
Programme Committee
The Programme Committee is responsible for the content, structure and quality of the programme and courses.