Studying online

There are now 2 possible online modes for units:

Units with modes Online timetabled and Online flexible are available for any student to self-enrol and study online.

Click on an offering mode for more details.

Unit Overview


This is an advanced-level unit reviewing the diversity, structure and functioning of vertebrates set in an evolutionary context. Particular attention is devoted to evolutionary history of the vertebrate groups. The major groups are then discussed in terms of their structure and function. This includes life history, physiology, osteology and soft anatomy. Assessment integrates the theoretical and practical components of the unit. The unit provides a level of experience to those students intending to progress to higher degree studies involving vertebrate zoology, and also those intending to seek employment in biological areas, both private and governmental.

6 points

Students are able to (1) understand the diversity of form of vertebrates; (2) understand the function of vertebrates; (3) understand the evolutionary links among the vertebrate groups; (4) understand the ecology of selected groups; (5) recognise vertebrate animals and assign them to class, sub-class and order in selected cases; (6) recognise and describe the distinguishing characteristics of each of these taxonomic levels; and (7) dissect a representative vertebrate from each class and recognise the major organ systems and their relationships and connections to the rest of the body.


Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) theory examination; (2) a vertebrate phylogeny report; and (3) an adaptation report. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Student may be offered supplementary assessment in this unit if they meet the eligibility criteria.

Unit Coordinator(s)
Professor Phil Withers
Unit rules
Enrolment in
72520 Master of Biological Science (ID 165)
or BH004 Bachelor of Science (Honours) (ID 4)
Advisable prior study
a major in Conservation Biology, Marine Science
or Zoology or equivalent
Contact hours
6 days (1 day per fortnight). The total workload for the unit is 150 hours.

Hickman, R., Keen, E., Larson A. and L’Anson H. Integrated Principles of Zoology: McGrawHill 

Recommended Reading: Pough, F.H., C.M. Janis and J.B. heisler. Vertebrate Life: Pearson.

  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Unit readings, including any essential textbooks, are listed in the unit outline for each unit, one week prior the commencement of study. The unit outline will be available via the LMS and the UWA Handbook one week prior the commencement of study. Reading lists and essential textbooks are subject to change each semester. Information on essential textbooks will also be made available on the Essential Textbooks. This website is updated regularly in the lead up to semester so content may change. It is recommended that students purchase essential textbooks for convenience due to the frequency with which they will be required during the unit. A limited number of textbooks will be made available from the Library in print and will also be made available online wherever possible. Essential textbooks can be purchased from the commercial vendors to secure the best deal. The Student Guild can provide assistance on where to purchase books if required. Books can be purchased second hand at the Guild Secondhand bookshop (second floor, Guild Village), which is located on campus.
  • Contact hours provide an indication of the type and extent of in-class activities this unit may contain. The total amount of student work (including contact hours, assessment time, and self-study) will approximate 150 hours per 6 credit points.