AP2AE45-Methods in Ecology and Environmental Management

Module Provider: School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Autumn / Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites: Please Note: Restricted places (preference will be given to BSc Environmental Management and BSc Ecology & Wildlife Conservation students)
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr Simon Mortimer

Email: s.r.mortimer@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:

This module is designed to allow the development of skills necessary to gather, interpret and present information about the natural environment. It provides students with an opportunity to design and implement an ecological field experiment, to carry out ecological survey work and to develop skills in statistical analysis and GIS.


The module aims to develop students’ scientific skills through practical experience of methods used in ecology and environmental management. It covers the stages of the scientific method: literature review, hypothesis generation, experimental design, sampling methodologies, data collection, data presentation, statistical analysis, and report writing. It also introduces students to a range of field survey methods and the use of Geographical Information Systems for habitat mapping. The module also aims introduce students to a range of organisations working to manage or conserve the environment.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module students will be able to:
- Design and undertake ecological field experiments and monitoring in the natural environment
- Collate and statistically analyse a range of types of environmental data.
- Use Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to map habitats and linear features using aerial photograph interpretation
- Summarise and effectively communicate the results and conclusions of research
- Describe the function of a number of environmentally oriented research organisations and the type of work they undertake

Additional outcomes:
Students develop their teamwork skills as they work together on a group experimental field project spanning the autumn and spring terms. The module is designed to deliver the skills necessary to undertake independent scientific research, whether through experimentation or survey approaches, so students should be able to conduct field and laboratory work in a professional and safe manner.

Outline content:
- The scientific method, the nature of data, and experimental design
- Reading and interpreting scientific literature
- Group work to design and undertake an ecological field experiment
- Laboratory work to identify and process field samples
- Biodiversity and habitat survey methodologies (bird census techniques, hedgerow habitat condition assessment, river corridor survey)
- Use of GIS for habitat mapping and survey design
- Data presentation and the principles of statistical analysis
- Presenting scientific findings (report writing, presentations)
- Field visits to environmental organisations (Chilterns Chalk Stream Project, National Trust, Linking Environment and Farming demonstration farm)

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The module uses a variety of teaching methods including lectures, seminars, computer practicals, laboratory practicals and field visits. Students will work in small groups and encouraged to design and evaluate their own experiments and surveys with help from tutors.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 8 2
Practicals classes and workshops 6 10
Fieldwork 8 8
External visits 4 8
Guided independent study 74 72
Total hours by term 100.00 100.00
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 20
Report 60
Practical skills assessment 20

Other information on summative assessment:

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.

  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    By re-examination.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    1) Required text books: 2) Specialist equipment or materials: 3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear: Students will need sturdy footwear, warm clothing and waterproofs for field visits. 4) Printing and binding: 5) Computers and devices with a particular specification: 6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 31 March 2017

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