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Module BSX-2025:
Field Courses

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1 & 2

Organiser: Dr Wolfgang Wuster

Overall aims and purpose

This module is designed to enthuse and motivate students to learn further about wildlife, animal behaviour, conservation, ecology and fieldwork techniques. The course aims to build up basic fieldcraft, identification and observation skills, while giving students experience of selected taxa in their natural environment. Furthermore, field courses provide an excellent opportunity for student group working, an important skill in life and work, and social bonding, which helps their personal development (and retention). There will be an element of practical work involving observation of live animals. The module will involve student-led assessments, allowing individuals to explore the literature in areas of particular interest to them, and thus develop their own learning.

Course content

Prepare for field courses by background reading (generally including preparing, presenting and attending peer-group presentations under the supervision of staff). Carry out field excursions to habitats normally including both managed and unmanaged environments. Learn about flora, fauna and conservation issues by a variety of means, normally including personal observations, talks by BU and local staff, signage at local interpretative centres and leaflets. Observe and record animal behaviour and habitat by various means that may include photography, video, audio recording and/or sketching. Where permitted and directed by staff, collect material for preservation and identification, including living plant and animal specimens, remains (e.g. shells, seed pods, tracks), photographs etc. Carry out species identification using field guides and keys. In some cases, quantitative ecological or ethological sampling may be carried out and data analysed quantitatively. Following excursions, there will normally be a review session, sharing experiences and summarising observations. At the end of the fieldwork, an assignment will be set which will include data, observations or material collected from the field.

Assessment Criteria


Can record observations in a reasonably clear and systematic fashion and has some grasp of the practical issues relating to collection and presentation of data/observations. Exhibits adequate knowledge of habitats and biota visited and the relevant conservation/ management issues. Presents findings largely accurately and clearly.


Can record observations in clearly and systematically, with a good grasp of the practical issues relating to collection and presentation of data/observations. Exhibits strong knowledge of habitats and biota visited and the relevant conservation/ management issues. Presents findings accurately and with flair, clarity and originality


Can record observations thoroughly and clearly, taking trouble to find out details of identification to fine taxonomic level or to uncover theories of the function and evolution of the behaviour observed. Exhibits a profound grasp of the practical issues relating to collection and presentation of data/observations, taking a mature approach to the practicalities of competing socioeconomic pressures. Presents findings accurately and succinctly with clarity, imagination, originality and strongly-developed aesthetic sense.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate the ability to make detailed, thorough and original field observations and to record and present them systematically.

  2. Demonstrate knowledge of the flora, fauna and environmental/conservation issues relating to a particular habitat they have visited.

  3. Demonstrate the skills necessary for self-managed and lifelong learning (undertaking directed reading, time management, working to a deadline)

  4. Demonstrate presentation skills.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
LOGBOOK OR PORTFOLIO Assess 1 Field Notebook

This assessment will focus on field notes and field identification skills. Details will vary between different field courses

Written assignment, including essay Assess 2 Second field course assessment

The second assessment will include a variety of assessments, depending on individual field courses, which could include written and data-handling exercises and presentations


Teaching and Learning Strategy


Choice of field excursions to overseas or local destinations. Students will be required to keep field notebooks or logs, to present on aspects of the material covered oraly or visually, and to carry out a piece of analytical or reflective work based on the results of the field excursion. Details will vary depending on field course choice.


Prior to excursion student-centred activities researching fauna and flora, and a range of conservation, behavioural and sampling issues.


After excursion, student-centred writing, analysis and presentation exercises.


Some of the student-centred activities will involve group-working.


Online support for the module will be provided via Blackboard, which will supply
reference material, links to online resources, guidelines for completing assessments etc.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team

Subject specific skills

  • Conduct fieldwork and/or laboratory work competently with awareness of appropriate risk assessment and ethical considerations
  • Recognize and apply appropriate theories and concepts from a range of disciplines.
  • Consider issues from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives.
  • Apply subject knowledge to the understanding and addressing of problems.
  • Collect, analyse and interpret primary and/or secondary data using appropriate qualitative and/or quantitative techniques.
  • Appreciation of the complexity and diversity of life processes through the study of organisms.
  • Undertake field and/or laboratory studies of living systems.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the importance of risk assessment and relevant legislation


Resource implications for students

Students bear total cost of field course except for local excursions, so cost varies from £0 - £2000 depending on destination. Students may also need to purchase field kit (depending on course/destination) and pay for food and optional extras (depending on course).

Reading list

Varies depending on individual field course, will be communcated to students via Blackboard or other suitable means

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: