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Module DXX-3304:
Tropical conserva field course

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Simon Valle

Overall aims and purpose

This module aims to expose students to tropical conservation and ecology in a real-world setting and to provide insights into conservation issues that cannot be taught in a classroom. The course also aims to build up basic fieldwork skills (including field observation, species identification and bushcraft). The module will also provide an excellent opportunity for students to develop confidence in designing and implementing a small independent research project.

Course content

The students will have a series of introductory sessions during which they will select a general research topic to work on in Uganda with a small group and a research guide. The field course will be based in Kibale National Park, Uganda, and will be delivered in association with Makerere University (Uganda). Teaching in Uganda will be delivered by staff from Bangor University and Makerere University with expert input from the expert field guides. The majority of the teaching will be in the field in small groups but there will be occasional classroom sessions and discussions in the evening. Students will cover: ecology and species identification, survey techniques (especially camera trapping and distance sampling), plant phenology and forest structure, primate behaviour, social research methods (pitfalls and practicalities), human wildlife conflict and protected area management.

Assessment Criteria


Grade A- and above Excellent knowledge of subject, ability to research and critically review information, ability to design and carry out high quality research and present this in an informative way with excellent discussion and interpretation.


Grade D- to C+: Basic knowledge of subject with some misunderstandings, ability to research and present basic information, ability to design and carry out basic research and present this with only small errors.


Grade B- to B+ Sound knowledge of subject, ability to research and present information, ability to design and carry out research and present this well.

Learning outcomes

  1. Demonstrate effective verbal and written communication skills and the ability to make and effectively use good quality field notes.

  2. Demonstrate accurate knowledge of the ecology and conservation issues relating to the sites visited.

  3. Be able to design and implement a short research project on a topic of ecology or conservation.

  4. Be able to research a tropical ecology or conservation issue, critically reviewing the available literature.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Presentation on project 40
Field note book 20
Kibale National Park, Uganda: history, current management and suggestions for the future 40

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Study group

Students will work with others to develop a small group research project and then collect pilot data in the field.

Practical classes and workshops

Students will attend some preparotory sessions and watch panopto lectures over the summer.

Private study

Students will have to work alone to research and write their essay and to prepare their individual presentation.


Staff will run small group tutorials in the field to help with the design or analysis or project data and how to take good field notes.


Students will be in the field in Uganda for 11 days. Teaching will be intense throughout this time (apart from during their pilot data collection).


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • 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
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • 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
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

Subject specific skills

  • Develop and identify research question(s) and/or hypotheses as the basis for investigation.
  • 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.
  • Understand the provisional nature of information and appreciate competing and alternative explanations.
  • Recognize the moral, ethical and social issues relating to the subject.
  • Collect and record data generated by a diverse range of methods.
  • Demonstrate awareness of the importance of risk assessment and relevant legislation


Resource implications for students

Students will have to cover their own costs. Students will have to ensure they have up to date passports (6 months validity), appropriate visas, vaccinations and decent field clothes (drab colours, boots and long trousers). They will need to bring luggage they can carry inlcuding a day pack. They will need a light sleeping bag or sleeping bag liner. Insurance will be through the university insurance.

Talis Reading list

Reading list

We will prepare a tallis reading list (not available yet-will be developed when validated). NB We will only use freely available journal articles, books we allready recommened or occassional chapters which will need scanning.

Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module