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Module BSX-2032:
India Field Course

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 1

Organiser: Dr Anita Malhotra

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 a wide range of 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 areas of particular interest to them, and thus develop their own learning.

Course content

Prepare for field courses by background reading and attending peer-group meetings. Carry out field excursions to habitats, including both managed and unmanaged environments. Learn about flora, fauna and conservation issues (particular human-wildlife conflict) by a variety of means, normally including personal observations, and talks by BU and local staff. Observe and record animal behaviour and habitat by various means that may include photography, video, audio recording and/or sketching. Carry out species identification using field guides and keys. At the end of the fieldwork, an assignment will be set which will include using data and observations collected from the field to propose a research project that could be carried out in the environments visited.

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, Although this may be very incomplete and contain significant errors.. Presents findings largely accurately and clearly.Grade D & C (40-49%)


Can record observations in clearly and systematically, with a good 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 and the relevant conservation/ management issues. 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. Grade B (60-69%)


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 ecological, biogeographical or environmental context of observations.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. Able to identify many organisms to species level, with evidence of thoroughness and awareness of potential pitfalls. Grade A (70-100%)

Learning outcomes

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

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

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

  4. Demonstrate the ability to work in groups

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight

This assessment will focus on field notes and field identification skills.

Written assignment, including essay Research project proposal

A short proposal describing a field-based research project that could be carried out in the environments visited, based on literature and personal observations.

GROUP PRESENTATION Video based on group projects

Groups of 3-5 students will plan, film and edit a short (5 minute) video to illustrate the background and work done on their projects in the field (ie., c. 3 days of fieldwork). The same mark will be allocated to all members of the group.


Teaching and Learning Strategy

Group Project

Students will work in groups of 3-5 to design, test and refine hypothesis and methodology in the field.

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.

Private study

Private study relating to project proposals and field observations.


Guided visits and talks by BU and local staff with opportunities to observe and learn a wide range of flora, fauna and conservation issues.


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
  • 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

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
  • 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
  • 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
  • PS13 The ability to make decisions in complex and unpredictable situations
  • PS15 The ability to think critically in the context of data analysis and experimental design
  • SK9 Read and engage with scientific literature
  • SK11. Reading and engaging with scientific literature.
  • SK12. Planning, including evaluation of hazards and environmental effects.
  • SK13. Making oral presentations and writing reports, including critical evaluation.
  • SK16. Recording of data and their critical analysis.
  • SK15. Implementation of planned experiments.

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 the cost of the excursion, which is c.£1800-£2000. This covers all necessary costs, with optional extras such as snacks, drinks (other than water) , entrance fees for some cultural excursions and camera fees for national parks and sanctuaries.

Reading list

The reading list will be communicated to students via Blackboard or other suitable means

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: