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Duration (approx) 100 hours
Qualification Statement of Attainment

Study Invertebrate Zoology - learn about the largest group of all living animals.

This course will take you on an evolutionary journey as you move through the lessons from simple invertebrates to complex invertebrates.

  • Learn about the structure and function of different types of invertebrate.
  • Understand the relevance of invertebrates within ecological systems.



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Learn about Invertebrate Animals.

  • Learn about the different types of invertebrates - from microscopic invertebrates to more common types of insect.
  • Learn about invertebrate anatomies and their form.
  • Understand how invertebrates form part of the planet's ecology and their relevance to man.

A course for:

  • Students of Biology.
  • Farmers, Gardeners, Pest Controllers.
  • Environmental managers.
  • Anyone working in human health, veterinary care.
  • Anyone else with an interest in or passion for invertebrate animals.


Invertebrate Zoology can be studied online or by eLearning. You can start the course at any time. As our courses are self-paced it is up to you how long your studies take, but generally this type of course will take around 100 hours of study.

There are 9 lessons in this course. Each lesson features an assignment which the student completes and submits to the school for marking. The tutor will provide feedback to the student on their assignment including comments and suggestions for any further reading.

Students have access to our tutors for the duration of their studies.

The lessons for the Invertebrate Zoology course are as follows:

  1. Scope and Nature of Invertebrate Animals
  2. Microscopic Animals
  3. Worms and Worm Like Animals
  4. Sponges, Corals, Anemones, Jellyfish
  5. Molluscs and Echinoderms
  6. Arthropods 1
  7. Arthropods 2
  8. Insects 1
  9. Insects 2


  • Describe the scope and nature of invertebrate animals; including similarities and differences between different groups of invertebrates.
  • Describe and compare the structure and function of animals that cannot be seen readily with the naked eye.
  • Describe and compare the structure and function of a variety of different worms and worm like animals.
  • Describe and compare the structure and function of a variety of different sponges, corals and anemones.
  • Describe and compare the structure and function of a variety of different molluscs and echinoderms.
  • Describe and compare the structure and function of a variety of different arthropods.
  • Explain the significance of arthropods to man 
  • Describe and compare the structure and function of a variety of different insects.
  • Explain the significance of insects to man.


The simplest invertebrates tend to come from the microscopic world. Some microscopic animals belong to taxonomic groups that are not represented in the visible world; but others (e.g. Arachnids and worms) are animals that have both large visible representatives, as well as tiny microscopic representatives. Many of these microscopic animals are found in aquatic habitats, where they feed on algae and organic detritus. They play an important role in the carbon cycle of our oceans and water bodies,  recycling organic matter and providing food sources for animals higher up the food chain.  They also display fascinating anatomies and biological processes, uniquely adapted to the biological niche they occupy. Their body structures and unique biological processes may also provide insights in  evolutionary biology, and the early stages of life on earth.

Most insects have an exoskeleton which is usually comprised of chiton, and this contributes to protection of the internal systems as well as provides attachments for muscles.  Insects are approximately 0.2 to 20mm in size.  Many insects have wings to fly, or wing like structures at some stage of their life, but not all species.  Flight in insects is thought to be twice as efficient as the flight of birds.  

Insect bodies consist of the head, segmented thorax and segmented abdomen.  All species have a complex digestive system and also contain a respiratory system.  Insects are extremely diverse, not only in species diversity, but also geographically and in their feeding habits.  Their mouths are usually designed to their feeding habits.  Winged species are placed into the subclass Pterygota and wings are one attribute which has allowed their success.  Most primitive winged species will hold their wings over the back of their body, or out to the side.  Some species have four wings which work independently such as Stoneflies (Plecoptera), Cockroaches (dictyoptera), Web spinners (Embioptera), Locusts and Grasshoppers (Orthoptera), Termites (Isoptera), Earwigs (Dermaptera) and Stick insects (Phasmida).  

Metamorphosis occurs and in many species is quite variable.  Mayflies (Ephemeroptera) larvae are aquatic and will thrive in freshwater streams feeding on available algae.  Once maturity is reached, Mayflies will moult twice, and they will mate then die.  Dragon Flies and Damsel Flies (Odonata) are predacious as both the larvae stage and as an adult.  
Females usually release pheromones to allow males to know they are receptive for reproduction.  Fertilisation is usually internal and many female species can store the sperm within their abdomen.  

Once hatched some species are of their adult form and will require a series of ecdyisis to take place.  This process involve the shedding of the exoskeleton.  In most species however the young appear nothing like their adult form and will require metamorphosis to take place before maturing.  

Insects can be prey for predatory species.  As humans, we can utilise insects as decomposers, pest control agents, pollinators and producers of products such as honey or silk.  They can also have a negative impact on humans by being disease transmitters.  Some main are outlined below, however there are many which affect a variety of species. 

  • Malaria is a protozoa and its vector is the Mosquito (Culicidae).  
  • Bubonic Plague, a bacterium, killed around 40% of the European population around 1347.  Its vector was primarily the rat flea. 
  • Lyme disease is also a bacterium which is vectored by some species of the Tick.
Many people underestimate how much of the animal life on this planet is made up of invertebrates - in fact over 90%!

Unlike vertebrates, invertebrates also include a wide array of types. 

This course covers invertebrates from those you cannot see to those that you will be more than familiar with.  As such, it provides a great subject to study for personal as well as professional development.

Enrolling on the course is easy, just go to the top of the page and select your payment option and learning method (there is a 5% discount for the online option).  If you have any questions or would like help in choosing the right course for your studies, please do get in touch with our specialist tutors who will be more than happy to help you.  Use our FREE COURSE COUNSELLING SERVICE.

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Meet some of our academics

Alison Pearce (animal)B.Sc.(Hons) in Animal Science. Masters Degree in Ecotourism. P.G.Cert. Ed. (Science). Alison's first job was in 1982 as a stockwoman, working with pigs in Yorkshire. Within a few years she of that she was working for the University of Western Australia as a Research Technician and instructor with their school of Agricultural Science.In 1989 she moved to Melbourne University as Unit Manager and Instructor in Animal Husbandry. By the mid 1990's she moved back to England to work in Animal Care and Veterinary Nursing at Cambridgeshire College of Agriculture. Throughout her career, Alison has developed and delivered courses in veterinary nursing and animal sciences for vocational colleges and universities in Australia, New Zealand and Australia. She has built a high level of expertise and an outstanding international reputation as an expert in animal sciences.
Dr. Gareth PearceGraduated from the University of Nottingham in 1982 with a B.Sc.(Hons) in Animal Science. Between 82 and 85 worked as Research Assistant and Demonstator in Animal Science at the University of Leeds. Over more than 30 years he has furthered his studies, obtaining eight significant university qualifications including degrees in Veterinary Science, Wildlife Conservation and Animal Behaviour. Gareth has significant teaching experience around the world as a faculty member at eight different universities including Associate Professor at Murdoch University and Director of Studies in Veterinary Science at Cambridge University. He has over 100 prestigious research papers published, and enjoys an outstanding international reputation in the fields of animal and veterinary science.

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