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Module BSX-2035:
Local Field Trip

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Daniel Thornham

Overall aims and purpose

The local field courses module is designed to enthuse and motivate students to learn further about wildlife, animal behaviour, conservation, ecology and fieldwork, making use of the unique habitats available on our doorstep in Gwynedd and Anglesey. We aim to give students the opportunity to study a wide range of taxa in their local environment and emphasise field-based practical skills.

Course content

The programme of local field courses is intended to give students an experience of a breadth of habitats, flora & fauna around North Wales. The diversity of environments in which you will work is mirrored in the expertise of the staff, the diversity of activities. Expect to get wet, dirty, work late and (hopefully) have fun. Activities (and timing) varies a little from year to year depending on the input and availability of key staff but in general, the Local Field Courses are comprised of a series of small (1-2 day) courses that run throughout both Semesters: examples of previous activities have included: exploring changing land use in Anglesey, the behavioural ecology of ravens, small mammal trapping, recording mammal behaviour with the wild ponies in the National Park, exploring island biogeography concepts using rock pools as a model; invertebrate sampling and ID skills. The module will be taught entirely through field trips. Several activities involve preparatory lectures, labs and follow-up work at home or in the laboratory at Treborth. Students are also expected to carry out independent study in support of the taught parts of the course.

Assessment Criteria


-D (40%>) Threshold:

Can record observations in a reasonably clear and systematic fashion and have some grasp of the practical issues relating to collection and presentation of data/observations. Considerable inconsistencies in notetaking remain. Exhibits some knowledge of habitats and biota visited and the relevant conservation/management issues, although this may be very incomplete and contain significant errors. Present findings and questions via oral presentation and written work largely accurately and clearly. Able to identify most organisms at least to the level of major group.


-B (50%>) Good:

Can record observations clearly and systematically, with a grasp of the practical issues relating to collection and presentation of data/observations, and few major omissions. Exhibits strong knowledge of habitats and biota visited. Shows awareness their ecological, biogeographical and environmental context. Able to identify a majority of organisms to the appropriate level (usually species). Presents findings accurately and with flair, clarity and originality


-A (70%>)

Can record observations thoroughly, systematically and clearly, without significant omissions, 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. Clear evidence of original, unguided observations. Exhibits clear awareness of the ecologica, biogeographical or environmental context of observations. Presents findings accurately and succinctly with clarity, imagination, originality and strongly-developed aesthetic sense. Able to identify most organisms to species level, with evidence of thoroughness and awareness of potential pitfalls.

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.

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

  4. Demonstrating skills in communicating about science and natural history

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Field Notebook 50
Presentation 20
Post-fieldwork exercise 30

Teaching and Learning Strategy


Fieldwork involving working in natural habitats in Gwynedd (in a range of conditions!) including: invertebrate sampling, evening excursions, all-day field trips, coastal rock-pool habitats.

Private study

Students will be required to complete follow-up work to supplement field notebooks or logs in the field, including identification of species observed using literature and field guides, to research presentations and to prepare post-fieldwork exercises. Preparatory and background reading will be expected.


Preparatory lectures, help sessions for statistics, post-fieldwork discussions 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
  • 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

Subject specific skills

  • PS1 Communication skills, covering both written and oral communication with a variety of audiences
  • PS3 Problem-solving skills, relating to qualitative and quantitative information
  • PS8 Time management and organisational skills, as evidenced by the ability to plan and implement efficient and effective ways of working
  • PS6 Information technology skills which support the location, management, processing, analysis and presentation of scientific information
  • PS14 Independent learning skills required for continuing professional development

Conduct fieldwork and/or laboratory work competently with awareness of appropriate risk assessment and ethical considerations Recognise 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 will need to have sturdy walking boots/wellingtons and adequate cold and wet weather gear. Students will be required to bring their own packed lunches.

Reading list

Currently under the BSX2025 reading lists as 'Local Field Courses' - will be transferred to this module when list is made available via library.

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: