SCIU2FS: Practical Science Skills II: Field Skills

CO-ORDINATOR: Dr Paul Adderley

Module Description

Thia module aims to provide students registered for degrees in the Biological and Environmental Sciences with practice in field skills which they will require to pursue subsequent more advanced modules and a career in science. The programme assumes no previous experience of working in the field and includes a range of experiences at both a practical and intellectual level.

Module Objectives

Acquired skills

  • Practical skills; the pursuit of data collection in the field and the laboratory.
  • Application of number; data collection and its subsequent analysis.
  • Written communication; directed data presentation.
  • Information technology skills; word processing and use of spreadsheets; plotting of graphical data.
  • Working with others; group work in the field.
  • Fieldwork safety; assessment of hazards in working outdoors and minimisation of risk.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module students will have demonstrated their ability to:

  • pursue methods for collecting data on a range of important environmental and biological parameters.
  • pursue methods for locating and sampling different aquatic, aerial and terrestrial sites including methods for site selection which minimise subjective bias.
  • report and analyse the results obtained from their investigations, and discuss their value and limitations.
  • be able to undertake practical tasks and written exercises in a time-limited manner.
  • appreciate the environmental and biological diversity associated with the Stirling Campus.


Scheduled Teaching: 69 hours
Independent Study: 131 hours
Placements: 0 hours


Coursework: 50%
Examination: 50%
Practical: 0%

Computation of Final Grade

Reports from practical sessions (equal weighted)
Two practical tests (equal weighted)

Lecture topics 



Maps and their uses 

Map scaling, locations and grid references. Bearings. Using a magnetic compass. Precise spatial mapping of individual trees on campus   

Maps; Their function and interpretation. The importance of precision and accuracy in locating position in field work. Digital maps

Campus microclimates

Use of field temperature probe at different locations

Methods for measurement of temperature. Effects of vegetation on soil temperature. Importance of random sampling.

Species identification  

Use of Field guides.

Using and constructing  keys.

The binomial classification system.  The  importance of taxonomy. The role of collections. Introduction to dichotomous and other keys.

Water quality indicators

Field measurements of water conductivity  

Calibration and use of a field conductivity meter. Taking surface water samples. Sample site selection. Repeat sampling and variability.

Stream sampling

 Stream sampling for invertebrates

Identification of invertebrates using simple keys. 

Philosophy of Science


The importance of asking questions in science; Empirical v Deductive science. Hypotheses and theories.


Species recognition and sp accumulation methods in time and space

Intro to the concept of Biodiversity. Methods for estimating the numbers of species in different locations.

Experiments in Science


Elementary experimental design.  Systematic sampling Replication. 

© University of Stirling FK9 4LA Scotland UK • Telephone +44 1786 473171 • Scottish Charity No SC011159
Portal Logon