NNMK24000U Animal Diversity and Evolution

Volume 2024/2025

MSc Programme in Biology
MSc Programme in Biology with a minor subject


Come study the entire spectrum of diversity covering marine, freshwater, and terrestrial organisms that make up the Animal Kingdom. You’ll be instructed on this course by a host of experts on different groups, based at the Natural History Museum and the Department of Biology. It features detailed and well-illustrated lectures covering nearly all animal phyla, integrated with hands-on practicals. Across the lectures, you’ll be updated on the most recent developments in topics such as phylogeny, classification, life cycles, embryology, larval development, organ systems, motility, and reproduction—all in a comparative evolutionary context. You’ll get to dissect and examine representatives from most animal phyla, from the very exotic to the most common. You will also get hands on training using innovative morphological instruments and learn how to interpret the digitalized results. We make extensive use of the specimens in the Natural History Museum’s scientific collections, including a tour through the collections and information on their use in research and outreach to the public. Based on the zoological part of base course ‘Organismernes diversitet’ and by integrating the latest research, the course will bring you to the frontiers in modern zoology.

Learning Outcome


The student will gain:

  • knowledge of the diversity, anatomy, and evolution of the Kingdom of Animals.
  • the ability to compare and contrast the anatomy of focal animal groups.
  • the ability to discuss anatomical features relevant to the ecology of focal animal groups.
  • understanding of convergent evolution and homology.



By the end of the course, the student should be able to:

  • list and compare features that characterise focal animal groups.
  • identify presented organisms to phylum-level or further, based on their knowledge, and argue where they should be placed in the animal tree of life.
  • account for aspects of the morphological, fossil, and molecular background for current hypotheses concerning animal evolution and classification.
  • explain convergent evolution and homology and hypothesise on the possible role of each in the generation of various functionally or anatomically similar structures.
  • operate specialised equipment used in modern zoology and understand and analyse data or images from this equipment.
  • dissect various organisms from across the Animalia, and identify their external as well as internal organs, and discuss their functional role and analogues/homologues in other taxa.



The student will gain:

  • a broad perspective on the diversity and evolution of the Animal Kingdom, both modern and extinct; useful as support for studies in biology and palaeontology.
  • understanding of the context of modern diversity.
  • an overview of the latest research on a broad diversity of animals.
  • the ability to impress friends and strangers alike with an enormous array of random animal facts.

See Absalon.

Lectures and practical exercises
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Lectures
  • 66
  • Preparation
  • 89
  • Practical exercises
  • 50
  • Exam
  • 1
  • Total
  • 206
Continuous feedback during the course of the semester
Feedback by final exam (In addition to the grade)
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Oral examination, 20 minutes (no preparation)
Exam registration requirements

At least 80% participation in lectures, exercises and presentations.


Without aids
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
No external censorship
Several internal examiners

Same as the ordinary exam.

If the exam registration requirements is not fulfilled they can be fulfilled before the re-exam if the student hand in an assignment 2 weeks before the re-exam at the latest, about the subjects that have been covered in the classes where the student has not participated. The assignment must be approved by the teacher.



Criteria for exam assesment

See Learning outcome