Invertebrate Zoology Online Course

From: $50.00 Inc GST / week for 16 weeks




Tutor Support


What are invertebrates?

An invertebrate is simply an animal without a central spinal column (such as the human spine). Because of this they are generally small animals, however that’s not always the case as an example the Colossal squid is the largest invertebrate on the plant and its comparable to a whale in size.  Invertebrates are the most populous group of animals on the plant, and some would say, the most important.   Anyone with an interest in animals, agriculture, ecology and the environment need to have a strong understanding of the invertebrate family.

Invertebrate zoology course covers insects, arthropods, mollusks, echinoderms, worms (and worm like animals), a range of microscopic invertebrates and more.  The course should take approximately 100 hours of study over 12 months and is self-paced.  You will receive full tutor support from our friendly and experienced tutors.

Why Study Invertebrate Zoology?

Invertebrates form an essential part of not only general ecology food chains, but are absolutely vital to the production of our food.  For example bees are responsible for pollination of many of our crops, with bee populations dwindling world wide it is essential that we understand them in order to learn how to protect them and maintain their populations.  Ants play a very important role in seed distribution and so on.


There are 9 lessons in this course:

1. Scope and Nature of Invertebrate Animals

    • Introduction
    • Significance to humans
    • Comparative studies – invertebrate animals
    • Important terminology
    • Overview of Invertebrate Phyla
    • Microscopic phyla -Tardigrada, Kinorhyncha, Loricifera, Placozoa
    • Worms – Acanthocephala, Annelida, Hemichordata, etc
    • Corals and relatives – Cnidaria, Ctenophora, Ectoprocta, Porifera
    • Echinoderms and Molluscs – Echinodermata, Mollusca, Brachiopoda
    • Complex Invertebrates – Arthropoda

2.  Microscopic Animals

    • Protozoa or Animalia
    • Phylum Nematoda
    • Mites
    • Phylum Tardigrada
    • Adaptability and Survival
    • Anhydrobiosis
    • Cysts
    • Phylum Kinorhycha
    • Phylum Loricifera
    • Phylum Placozoa

3. Worms & Worm Like Animals

    • True worms vs Worm like organisms
    • Worm evolution
    • Bilateral symmetry
    • Cephalisation
    • Body organisation
    • Characteristics and systems showing complexity
    • Phylum Platyhelminthes (Flatworms)
    • Free living flatworms
    • Parasitic flatworms
    • Significance to Humans – Liver fluke, blood flukes, tapeworms
    • Beef tapeworm
    • Phylum Nematoda (Roundworms)
    • Phylum Annelida (Segmented Worms)
    • Other Worm Like Animals – Acorn worms, ribbon worms, Spiny headed worms, etc.
    • Coelomate Worms

4. Sponges, Corals, Anemones, Jellyfish

    • Introduction
    • Phylum Cnidaria
    • Hydrozoa
    • Scyphozoa
    • Cubozoa
    • Anthozoa
    • Cnidaria and Humans
    • Phylum Ctenophora
    • Phylum Porifera – Location, Internal & External Structures, Reproduction, Toxicity
    • Classes within Porifera
    • Finding food

5. Molluscs and Echinoderms

    • Phylum Echinodermata
    • Crinoidea – Sea Lilies and Feather Stars
    • Ophiuroidea -Brittle stars, Basket Stars
    • Asteroidea – Sea stars or Starfish
    • Case Study – Crown of Thorns Starfish
    • Echinoidea -Sea urchins, Heart urchins, Sea dollars
    • Chass Holothuroidea – Sea Cucumbers
    • Phylum Mollusca – general characteristics and types

6. Arthropods 1

    • Classification into Arachnida, Crustacea, Myriapoda and Insecta (insects)
    • Origin
    • Terminology
    • Characteristic body parts
    • Ecdysis
    • Digestion, Respiration, reproduction and other systems
    • Phylum Arthropoda
    • Chelicerata (Chelicerates)
    • Arachnida (Scorpions, Spiders, Mites and Ticks)
    • Scorpiones (Scorpions)
    • Araneae (Spiders)
    • Acari (Mites and Ticks)
    • Opiliones (Daddy Long-Legs)
    • Merostomata (Horseshoe crabs)
    • Pycnogonida (Sea spiders)

7. Arthropods 2

    • Terminology
    • Crustacea (Crustaceans)
    • Class Malacostraca -Crayfish, Crabs, Shrimp etc
    • Branchiopoda – Fairy shrimp, Water fleas
    • Cephalocardia
    • Remipedia
    • Maxilopoda
    • Sessile Crustaceans
    • Sub Phylum Uniramia – millipedes, centipedes and insects

8. Insects 1

    • Origin of insects – winged vs non winged
    • Class Entogantha -Collembola, Diplura, Protura
    • Class Insecta
    • Insect features
    • Mouthparts
    • Insect classification into 29 orders
    • Specialised organs
    • Reproduction
    • Lifecycle
    • Senses – vision, comminication
    • Odonata -Dragonflies and Damselflies
    • Mantodea – Mantises
    • Orthoptera – Grasshoppers, Crickets, Katydids

9. Insects 2

    • Significance to man
    • Clean air and water
    • Pollination by insects
    • Edible insects
    • Case Study – Grasshoppers save lives
    • Order Diptera – Mosquitos and Flies
    • Order Hymentoptera – Bees, wasps, ants, sawflies
    • Order Coleoptera – Beetles, weevils

Your Tutor

Karen Huntley MSc Marketing Management (Food Related Industries), PDC, PG Dip Organic Farming, Cert Marketing, BA. Professional Development Diploma in Social and Therapeutic Horticulture (Coventry University/Thrive, UK)
Karen Huntley

Karen has a strong background and passion for organic food production systems, nutrition and community agriculture. Karen also has experience and training in Permaculture (PDC), horticultural therapy, community organic enterprises as well as being an experienced bee keeper.