BIOU8FC: Biology Field Course

COORDINATOR: Dr Luc Bussière

Prerequisites: Animal Ecology (BIOU6AE) or Plant Ecology and Physiology (BIOU6PE)

Module Description

This module includes a residential field component that takes place in the summer preceding the fourth year of study. The location of the course, timing, logistics and precise content may vary from year to year, and will be announced during an information meeting to which interested students will be invited early in their 5th semester. Students will be responsible for a deposit covering some of the operational, accommodation, and food costs of the course, which is to be paid in full by the end of the 5th semester. Students will also be responsible for their own travel costs to and from the field station. Upon completion of the field component students will write a report on their small group project as a scientific paper to be submitted early in their 7th semester regardless of whether the module code selected for timetabling purposes is 7FC or 8FC.

Teaching Programme

  • A four-day assigned large group project and a five-day small group research project developed by the students themselves.
  • A day-long field trip to the Grands Causses between the large group and small group projects. This trip will include guided demonstrations of biodiversity in a strikingly different habitat from the one featured near our station.
  • A series of lectures/demonstrations throughout the ten days on practical skills relevant to the projects. This may include lectures on taxonomic identification, statistical analysis, paper writing and presenting a scientific talk.
  • Demonstrations of various ecological sampling techniques

Module Objectives

Aims of this module:

  • To develop skills in hypothesis generation, experimental design, data collection, data handling, statistical analysis and data interpretation.
  • To gain experience in presenting scientific project work both orally and in the form of a paper.
  • To gain experience in teamwork over an extended period.
  • To provide students with the necessary skills for performing their final year Honours project.
  • To develop the skills required for conducting independent research.
  • To understand how to use taxonomic keys.
  • To develop skills in field techniques, including methods of collecting invertebrates, sampling methods and measurement of environmental variables.

Learning Outcomes

  • Understanding how to carry out an independent research project.
  • Enhanced practical skills in making observations and carrying out a field experiment.
  • Understanding how to present the results of an evolutionary or ecological research project both in the form of an oral presentation and a scientific paper.
  • The ability to use taxonomic keys and to identify insects to order and flowers to family.

Acquired Skills

By the end of this unit, students should be able to demonstrate skills in:

  • Hypothesis generation
  • Experimental design
  • Data analysis
  • Oral presentation
  • Scientific writing
  • Arthropod identification to order
  • Flowering plant identification to family


Scheduled Teaching: 101 hours
Independent Study: 99 hours
Placements: 0 hours


Coursework: 75%
Examination: 0%
Practical: 25%

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