NBIB13008U Physiology of Aquatic Animals

Volume 2024/2025

BSc Programme in Biology


The course aims to provide the student with detailed knowledge of different aspects of the physiology of aquatic animals – from shellfish to whales. The course will provide an understanding of the respiratory and circulatory system of these animals, as well as how oxygen is transported. In addition effect of - and physiological adaptation to - a variety of environmental factors, i.e. hypoxia, salinity, CO2, pH, hydrogen sulfide, salinity and temperature, will be described. The course will also provide understanding of the physiology affiliated with fish swimming as well as feeding and digestion.

The course consists of a mixture of traditional textbook lectures and examples describing the different environments, as well as case-studies.

Theoretical hands-on research projects, each with 2 – 3 students, will carry out independent studies (project work) of i.e. oxygen consumption and hearth rate in response to hypoxia, how does a fish swim and how much it cost, hearth physiology etc.

During the course articles are presented by the students and the teachers. In addition, the students functions as opponents to the presented articles.

Learning Outcome

A student who has met the objectives of the course will be able to:

  • Explain and describe the respiratory and circulatory systems, and oxygen transport in fish and shellfish and how these transport oxygen.
  • Describe feeding and digestion.
  • Explain and describe the possible effects of hypoxia on metabolic rate.
  • Describe oxygen consumption of exercising fish.
  • Explain how animals osmoregulate.
  • Describe the differences between aquatic air and water breathers.
  • Describe and explain the effect of temperature on metabolism.
  • Describe the anatomy of fish.
  • Analyse data and report the results.


The student can describe and reflect on a given research topic related to the physiology of aquatic animals. The student is able to identify methodological problems and can place them in a comprehensive experimental overview.



The student can analyse and explain experimental results and put them into a scientific context. 



The student will gain experience and competence working independently with an experimental research project. The student can design, initiate and manage an experiment. The student can evaluate and utilize obtained results in a scientific perspective. The student will gain experience working in groups to solve a scientific problem.

In addition the student will get competence in a variety of aquatic animals physiological questions in context with environmental variables.

See Absalon.

Lectures, demonstrations, and project-based teaching, with 2 – 3 students per group. The experimental or theoretical projects are organized and implemented under individual supervision. The project's findings are presented in a written report organized as a scientific paper.
The course is aimed at KU bachelor students AND DTU-Aqua AST (Aquatic Science and Technology) master students.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 20
  • Class Instruction
  • 4
  • Preparation
  • 120
  • Project work
  • 58
  • Guidance
  • 2
  • Exam
  • 2
  • Total
  • 206

Written feedback to the group for their written report.

7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
On-site written exam, 2 hours (multiple choice)
Written assignment, (report)
Type of assessment details
The student must hand in a written report structured as a scientific paper, explaining the scientific basis for the experimental or theoretical project made during the course, discuss the results, and compare the findings with other studies. The student must include up-to-date literature associated with the project.

The student will be given a total grade. The written assignment (report) and the written examination (multiple choice) are assessed with 30% and 70% respectively. The two exams must be passed in the same exam-period.
Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
One internal examiner

Same as the ordinary exam.

The written report can be reused or revised no later than three weeks before the reexamination.

Criteria for exam assesment

In order to obtain the grade 12 the student should convincingly and accurately demonstrate the knowledge, skills and competences described under Learning Outcome.