Vertebrate Zoology Online Course

Full Fee $595.00 incl GST - Best Value!
Payment Plan $800.00 incl GST
Duration 100 hrs (12 months)
Exam Optional
Tutor Support Yes unlimited by email
Qualification Certificate

This course  will give you a thorough understanding of “higher” animals’ via an understanding of Zoology, Taxonomy and Biology, together with the principles on animal ecology and morphology.

You will learn the essentials of Vertebrate Zoology with the help of highly qualified and experienced zoology tutors.  This course helps anyone who is working with animals or provides a sound basis for further studies.

Course Aims:

  • Distinguish between major groups of vertebrates through a demonstrated understanding of their taxonomic classification and diversity.
  • Describe the distinguishing characteristics of all major groups of fishes.
  • To describe the distinguishing characteristics of all major groups of Ectotherms, Amphibians and Reptiles.
  • Describe the distinguishing characteristics of major groups of birds
  • Describe the distinguishing characteristics of all major groups of Mammals.
  • Describe the distinguishing characteristics of animals in the order Marsupialia and compare mammalian specialisations with those of other vertebrates.
  • Describe the distinguishing characteristics of animals within the grandorders Glires and Insectivora.
  • Explain Ectothermy in a variety of different animals.
  • Describe the distinguishing characteristics of animals within the order Carnivora.
  • Describe the distinguishing characteristics of animals within the grand order Ungulata.
  • Describe the distinguishing characteristics of animals within the grand order Archonta.


Detailed Course Outline

This course is made up a number of lessons or units. Each having self assessment questions, set tasks (practical homework), and an assignment which you can upload online.  Click below to read about each of the lessons and what you will learn.

There are 11 Lessons in this course:

Vertebrate Taxonomy and Diversity Taxonomic classifications (Kingdom, Phylum, Division, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species)

  • Morphology and Evolution
  • Environmental and Genetic Influences
  • Speciation
  • Diversification
  • Convergence
  • Diet
  • Habits
  • Distribution
  • Terminology


  • Fish Diversity (major groups)
  • Class Agnatha (jawless fishes)
  • Class Chondrichthyes (cartilaginous fishes) and
  • Class Osteichthyes (bony fishes)

Ectotherms - Amphibians and Reptiles

  • Definitions, Endothermy, Ectotermic, Tetrapods
  • Class Amphibia
  • Order Anura (Salientia) Frogs and Toads, Salamanders and Newts
  • Order Apoda (Gymnophiona) Caecilians
  • Class Reptilia: Reptiles (turtles, lizards, snakes, crocodiles and the extinct Dinosauria)
  • Order Rhynchocephalia – Tuatara
  • Order Chelonia (Testudines) – Turtles, tortoises
  • Order Crocodilia – Crocodilians
  • Order Squamata – Lizards and Snakes

Birds -Physiology (Structure) and Anatomy, Feathers, Colour, Legs, Skeletal structure, Muscles, Senses, Behaviour (Flight, Diving, etc), Egg formation, Hatchings

  • Bird Taxonomy
  • Ratitae (flightless) birds
  • Carinatea (flying birds)
  • Water Birds (eg. Grebes, divers, Ducks, geese and swans, Storks, flamingoes and herons, pelicans, gannets and cormorants,)
  • Owls, Eagles, falcons and hawks
  • Chickens, turkeys, game birds and mount birds
  • Rails, coots and cranes,
  • Pigeons and sand grouse,
  • Gulls, auks and plovers,
  • Parrots, parakeets, Hummingbirds, swifts, Woodpeckers, toucans, Kingfishers, bee-eaters and hornbills, Trogonos, quetzals, plumed birds
  • Perching birds such as sparrows, starlings, swallows (Passeriformes),
  • Diving birds, loons, Cuckoos, coucals Nighthawks, whippoorwills, Mousebirds, etc.

Mammals (Mammalia)

  • Overview – Taxonomy
  • Sub class Prototheria (egg laying animals) – echidna and platypus
  • Sub class Metatheria (Marsupials) eg. koala, kangaroo and opossum
  • Sub class Eutheria (Placental masmmals -these include such diverse forms as whales, elephants, shrews, and armadillos, dogs, cats, sheep, cattle and horses. Humans, of course, are also placental mammals).

Marsupials -Subclass Theria

  • kangaroos
  • koalas
  • wombats
  • bandicoots
  • opossums
  • phalangers, etc
  • Marsupials Physiology and locomotion, Reproduction

Grandorders Glires and Insectivora

  • Rodents
  • Rabbits
  • Pikas
  • Hedgehogs
  • Moles
  • Shrews and Tenrecs
  • Taxonomy, structure, Adaptations.


  • dogs
  • wolves
  • bears
  • racoons
  • cats
  • weasels
  • hyenas
  • seals, sea lions and walruses
  • Taxonomy, Physiology, Adaptations.

Hoofed Mammals (Ungulata: Includes seven orders)

  • Order Artiodactyla. This includes: Hippopotami, Deer, Giraffe, Sheep, Cattle, Antelope, Camelids
  • Order Cetacea. This includes: Dolphins, Porpoises, Whales
  • Order Perissodactyla. This includes: Horses, Rhinoceroses, Tapirs
  • Order Tubulidentata. This includes: Ardvarks
  • Order Hyracoidea. This includes: Hyraxes (or Conies)
  • Order Proboscidea. This includes: Elephants
  • Order Sirenia. This includes: Manatees and Dugongs

Primates and other Archonta

This grandorder is sub divided into four sub orders:

  • Scandentia e.g. Tree Shrews
  • Dermoptera e.g. Flying Lemurs, Colugos
  • Chiroptera. This order comprises the bats.
  • Primates (Or Order Primates and sub order Strepsirhini) e.g. humans, monkeys, apes and lemurs

Problem-Based Learning Project

When you have completed the lessons of your Certificate course, you will be given the option of taking the optional exam. It's okay if you don't want the exam, we still issue your Careerline Certificate. For Advanced Certificates however, the exam is compulsory (per module) and are included in the course fee.


Course Tutors

Dr Karen Catchpole  B.VSc. (Hons)

Karen brings to Careerline great experience and expertise in animal Science. Karen is a practicing veterinarian, now in her own small animal hospital, after working in varied roles over 17 years since graduation from Sydney University with first class honours.  Karen continues to maintain active involvement in education in both professional development and in tutoring both vocational and university students.  Karen's field of expertise is in internal animal medicine & surgery of cats & dogs.

Dr. Karin Dreyer-Haasbroek  B.V.S.   M.Sc.  (Parasitology)

Karin’s love and passion for animals stem from growing up on a farm in South Africa. After gaining her Veterinary Science degree she worked in mixed general practice while completing a master’s degree in Veterinary Parasitology. Living and working in South Africa exposed Karin to a vast range of experiences in the clinical veterinary field: treating patients ranging from marmoset monkeys to lions to the everyday cat, dog or horse. Two years as a Laboratory Vet resulted in helping farmers tackling livestock health problems in a variety of farm production systems. Since her move to Western Australia with her family, Karin has been working in a small animal practice.  During her 20 years as a vet, she has been involved in several research projects and the tutoring of students in various fields of animal science. She enjoys mentoring students and sharing her knowledge and she loves helping students flourish and realise their full potential.

How It Works

1. Learn Online

Get access to your course content anywhere, anytime and study at your own pace.

2. Get Help & Support

Connect with other like-minded students and get help from the teacher whenever you have a question.

3. Receive Certificate

Graduate from your course knowing that you have what it takes to reach your next step.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I pay in installments?

Yes! We offer great payment plans, however full payment up front is the cheapest. You can choose the best payment plan for you from the course page, or call us on 07 55368782 to talk to one of our course consultants for a custom plan.

Can I study from anywhere in the world?

We have many international students. Careerline's range of courses are suitable for any one, anywhere in the world.

Do I get a discount if I enroll in a second course?

Yes. You may claim a 5% fee discount when you enroll in a second course, and a further 10% off a three-course package.


Do I have to sit an Exam?

No. If you are enrolled in a Certificate course (100hrs), the exam is optional. You will be issued with a certificate which proves that you are competent in all units, if you choose not to sit the exam.

Do you have set start dates?

There are no set start dates, you may start at any time. Our courses are all self-paced. As our home page says, ‘Courses for Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime’. ‘Anytime’ includes the start time of your choice. However, we do encourage our students to submit assignments on a regular basis. Wherever possible, we suggest developing a study routine.