Biodiversity Undergraduate Programmes



First year

SBIO011: Introduction to Biological Sciences Credits: 12 Co-requisite / Prerequisite: Grade 12 Life Sciences
An introduction to biology with the emphasis on the scientific method, introduction to fields of biology, biological terminology, characteristics of living organisms, chemistry of biological molecules, classes of biological molecules, cell types and cellular structure, groupings of organisms and the kingdoms of life, cellular transport, energy storage and release during chemical reactions, enzymes regulating chemical reactions in living organisms, ATP as primary energy carrier, introduction to the fundamental processes of photosynthesis and cellular respiration, mitosis and meiosis, Mendelian genetics and an introduction to developmental biology

SZOO012: Animal Biology Credits: 12 Co-requisite / Prerequisite: SBIO011
An introduction to Zoology at organism level, with a review of phylogenetic relationships, structure and function of selected invertebrate and vertebrate fauna. A comparative study of anatomy and physiology of selected vertebrate systems. Lectures and practicals are used to illustrate the multiplicity and diversity of animals in their environment.

SBOT012: Plant Biology Credits: 12 Co-requisite / Prerequisite: SBIO011
The diversity of plants in form, growth, habit, reproduction, ecology, metabolism, and genetic composition.  The emphasis is on how the structure and anatomy of plants enable them to:  carry out certain functions, adapt to certain ecological habitats, carry out different physiological processes; and modes of reproduction.

Second year

SZOA021: Biodiversity of Invertebrates Credits: 20 Co-requisite / Prerequisite: SBIO011 SZOO012
Systematic review and adaptive biodiversity of the invertebrates and non-vertebrate chordates: Animal-like Protists, Porifera, Cnidaria, Ctenopohora, Platyhelminthes, Nemertea, Nematoda and other minor pseudocoelomates. Coelomate phyla; Mollusca, Annelida, Arthropoda, Echinodermata as well as the minor coelomate phyla: Sipuncula, Echiura, Priapulida and Pogonophora. Non-vertebrate chordates; Urochordata, Cephalochordata and Hemichordata. The economic importance and effect on humans of parasitic forms will be highlighted. Poisonous or venomous animals in each group will be studied in terms of: the poisonous or venomous structures, type of toxin, effect on humans and possible treatment of toxin.

SBOA021: Plant Taxonomy &
South African Flora
Credits: 20 Co-requisite / Prerequisite: SBIO011 SBOT012
Concepts of plant taxonomy, sources of taxonomic information, taxonomy in practice, origin of the Angiosperms, the Monocotelydons, the Gymnospermae.  Plant diversity in southern Africa (vegetation types and characteristics of each), plant diversity in South Africa (origin and affinity, biomes, veld types, rare and threatened species, plant endemism), plant diversity in Limpopo province (biomes, vegetation types, endemism), plant conservation (international conventions, local environmental laws, conservation status of SA vegetation types.


SZOA022: Biodiversity of Vertebrates Credits: 20 Co-requisite / Prerequisite:
The module comprehensively illustrates the diversity of animal life at vertebrate level (Pisces, Amphibia, Reptilia, Aves and Mammalia). Relationships among groups, basic body plans and adaptations to make the most of and be successful in their respective environments are examined. The module is based on review, morpho-functional and adaptation studies of vertebrates. Additionally, specific examples of poisonous and venomous animals in each group will be highlighted as well as their poisonous or venomous structures, effects and possible treatment.

SBOA022: Plant Physiology -1  Plant Metabolism &Stress Credits: 20 Co-requisite / Prerequisite: 
SBOT012 AND any module of 1st year Chemistry
Water and mineral nutrition in plants (solute transport, hydroponics culture and its application). Plant metabolism: photosynthesis (light reactions, carbon metabolism, and translocation in the phloem); respiration and lipid metabolism; assimilation of mineral nutrients; secondary metabolites and plant defense against herbivores and pathogens. Plant stress physiology and biotechnology, responses to various abiotic and biotic stresses.


Third year

SZOA031: Ecology
Credits: 32 Co-requisite / Prerequisite: SZOA021 and any 1st year module Chemistry
(1) Basic ecology, in which the fundamental ecological concepts are illustrated with a balanced overview of the applications of these concepts in populations, communities and ecosystems.  Animal associations are discussed as the relationships among members of populations and communities within an ecosystem.
(2) Freshwater ecology: freshwater ecosystems with the emphasis on interactions among animal and plant species, structure, biotic and abiotic components and water quality standards. The role of fish in the ecosystem is studied from the point of view of resource partitioning, physiological adaptations, fish health and the ecosystem and pollution.
(3) Wildlife Management:  introduction to ecological principles of wildlife conservation and the rationale for conservation management.  It deals with the practical applications of ecological principles in the design of management plans for conservation purposes and commercial wildlife farming.

SBOA031: Ethnobotany &  Plant  Ecology Credits: 32 Co-requisite / Prerequisite: SBOA021
Introduction to Ethnobotany, data collection and hypothesis, Collecting and identifying plants, herbarium specimens, phytochemical analysis and plant screening, participant observation, surveys and analytical tools, qualitative and quantitative ecological approaches, economic surveys of forest products, community and households, ethnobotancial research and community development.  Background and basic concepts of ecology, species and communities as ecological units, environmental factors, major vegetation types of South Africa.

SZOA032: Conservation
Credits: 32 Co-requisite / Prerequisite: SZOA022 and any 1st year module Chemistry
Part of this course deals with the fundamental principles of evolution and evolutionary analysis. The accent in this part is on an introduction to basic evolutionary concepts, mechanisms of evolutionary change, Mendelian genetics in populations, evolution at multiple loci, adaptation, mechanisms of speciation, continental drift, the geological timetable and human evolution. The second part of this course deals with aspects of conservation genetics, particularly evolutionary genetics of natural populations, effects of population size reduction and applications from theory to practice. The last part of the course includes introductory aspects to biodiversity.

SBOA032: Plant Physiology
 11 Growth and    Reproduction
Credits: 32 Co-requisite / Prerequisite: SBOA022
Basic aspects of plant growth, differentiation and development:  Plant life cycle (sexual and asexual reproduction) - seed development and germination; root, shoot, flower (pollination, fertilization), and fruit development; senescence and programmed cell death. Different levels of control of plant growth and development: Intracellular (genetic control) - plant genome, changes in gene expression and protein synthesis; Intercellular (hormonal regulation) - plant growth hormones and their applications; Extracellular (environmental regulation) - photo morphogenesis, phytochrome, blue and UV light responses, control of flowering, photo- and thermoperiodism in plants.