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Module BSX-2036:
Florida 2 Field Trip

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Christian Dunn

Overall aims and purpose

Develop basic field skills in coastal and inland wetland subtropical habitats. Promote enthusiasm for observing biodiversity, ecological and behavioural interactions and understanding conservation issues in situ. Develop important skills necessary for self managed and lifelong learning, including teamwork, presentation and written communication skills. Develop students abilities to ask and address research questions on the environmental, ecological, or behavioural factors governing the distribution and abundance of biodiversity in subtropical ecosystems.

Course content

10 day field course in Florida, focused on biodiversity and ecology of flora and fauna across marine, brackish and terrestrial wetlands. The students are expected to prepare for the field course by performing background reading and preparing presentation material. We carry out field excursions to different habitats and students experience combinations of self-guided, seminar based and guided explorations of different subtropical habitats. Students learn about the different habitats and biodiversity by a combination of personal observations, talks by BU, guides, mentors and local staff. Students observe and record flora and fauna and their context in different habitats using different media, including field notebooks, photography, video and drawings. Students carry out species identification using field guides, online searching and keys. Students deliver oral presentations prior to the field course and undertake numerical exercises during their field sampling, in addition to preparing and finishing a Blog and Poster Presentation, that is handed in approximately four weeks after returning to Bangor.

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.


-A (70%>) Excellent:

Can record observations thoroughly, systematically and clearly, without significant omissions, including finer details of identification to find taxonomic level or to uncover theories of the function, evolution, ecology or the behavioural adaptations observed. Clear evidence of original, unguided observations. Exhibits clear awareness of the ecological and environmental context of observations. Presents findings and questions via oral presentation and written work 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.


-B (50%>) Good:

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

Learning outcomes

    1. Demonstrate identification skills and knowledge relating to flora and fauna of visited study sites.
    1. Demonstrate understanding and the ability to address research questions regarding the environmental and ecological factors governing the distribution of biodiversity in subtropical habitats and prevailing conservation challenges.
    1. Demonstrate skills necessary for self managed and lifelong learning (undertaking directed reading, time management, teamwork, presentation skills, working to a deadline).
    1. Demonstrate the ability to make detailed, thorough and original field observations and to record and present them systematically

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
INDIVIDUAL BLOG Blog-format field notebook

Field notes of habitats, species seen, behaviours observed etcetera during the trip, In Blog format and featuring the biomes and organisms visited during the course of the field trip.


Poster presentation on the biodiversity of the region, encapsulating environmental, ecological and conservation context.


Teaching and Learning Strategy


Talks and workshops in Florida on topics relevant to the days activities and preparing for assessments. Fieldwork involving walks, seminars and self-guided biodiversity exploration.


Pre-departure lectures on background, preparations, safety, aims and objectives and assessments.


Fieldwork involving walks, seminars and self-guided biodiversity exploration.


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

Subject specific skills

  • PS1 Communication skills, covering both written and oral communication with a variety of audiences
  • PS2 Skills in the employment of common conventions and standards in scientific writing, data presentation, and referencing literature
  • PS3 Problem-solving skills, relating to qualitative and quantitative information
  • PS4 Numeracy and mathematical skills, including handling data, algebra, functions, trigonometry, calculus, vectors and complex numbers, alongside error analysis, order-of-magnitude estimations, systematic use of scientific units and different types of data presentation
  • PS5 Information location and retrieval skills, in relation to primary and secondary information sources, and the ability to assess the quality of information accessed
  • PS7 Basic interpersonal skills, relating to the ability to interact with other people and to engage in teamworking
  • PS8 Time management and organisational skills, as evidenced by the ability to plan and implement efficient and effective ways of working
  • PS11 Problem-solving skills including the demonstration of self-direction, initiative and originality
  • PS6 Information technology skills which support the location, management, processing, analysis and presentation of scientific information
  • PS12 The ability to communicate and interact with professionals from other subjects
  • PS13 The ability to make decisions in complex and unpredictable situations
  • PS14 Independent learning skills required for continuing professional development
  • PS15 The ability to think critically in the context of data analysis and experimental design
  • SK1 Are fully conversant with major aspects of chemical terminology
  • PS9 skills needed to undertake appropriate further training of a professional nature


Resource implications for students

Students pay for field course through deposits/payments spread through their Year 1 and the Summer before Year two. Typical costs in recent years (2017 and 2018) have been between £1100-£1200, contingent on exchange rates and airfares. This includes flights, accommodation, local transport, fuel, entrance fees to state and national parks. We also recommend that the students bring an additional $200 for self catering food, snacks, tourist activities etcetera. Students are also responsible for acquiring suitable field clothing and sun protection (appropriate footwear, clothing, sun hat, screen etc.)

Reading list

To be provided in class and via field course study guides.

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: