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The Biology of Birds: Evolution, Flight and Migration (Online)

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

Immerse yourself in the wonderful diversity of bird life. Study how birds have evolved to become perfectly adapted to fly, with some species able to migrate over incredible distances.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

Students will need to be able to confidentially use videoconferencing software be comfortable with using websites.

Special Information

In order to participate in this course, you will need access to a computer with a speaker and an internet connection.

Content of Course

1. Avian diversity and classification.

Be shown the incredible diversity in the avian world and understand how scientists use modern methods to taxonomically organise the birds of the world.

2. How birds evolve?

Study the evolutionary patterns that have led to the very existence of birds on the planet, touching on evolutionary processes such as natural selection, sexual selection and speciation.

3. Avian flight.

Observe the detailed feather structure and their amazing lightweight yet powerful bodies that enable the very essence of flight, touching on aerodynamics.

4. Migration.

Explore the incredible journeys that many birds make and learn about the methods scientists have used to understand how (and why) they navigate.

Teaching method(s)

This course will be delivered online.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Discuss the origins and diversity of birds

  • Explain how and why birds are able to make such amazing migratory journeys

  • Describe how the features of feathers enable flight


Core Readings


  • Lovette, I. and Fitzpatrick, J., eds. 2016. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology Handbook of Bird Biology. West Sussex: John Wiley and Sons

Copies of the above text will be available in the classroom.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.