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:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Prof Simon Mortimer

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

Type of module:

Summary module description:

Develop the skills necessary to gather, interpret and present information about the natural environment. Learn through lectures, seminars, computer practicals, laboratory practicals and field visits. Take the 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.

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 resea rch

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

  • Biodiversity and habitat survey methodologies (e.g. plant identification, invertebrate sampling, bird census techniques, hedgerow habitat condition assessment)

  • Use of GIS for habitat mapping and survey design

  • Data presentati on and the principles of statistical analysis

  • Scientific report writing

  • Visits to fieldsites and environmental organisations

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 100 100
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 25
Report 50
Practical skills assessment 25

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

(a)  Literature review on a specific research question (25%)

(b)  Report on methods and initial results for a field experiment (25%)

(c)  Report on results, statistical analysis and conclusions for a field experiment (25%)

(d)  Practical task using GIS (25%)

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:

The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (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.

Assessment requirements for a pass:
A mark of 40% overall.

Reassessment arrangements:

By re-submission of coursework.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

1) Required text books:  None

2) Specialist equipment or materials: None

3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:  Students will need sturdy footwear, warm clothing and waterproofs for field visits.

4) Printing and binding: None

5) Computers and devices with a particular specification: None

6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence: None

Last updated: 27 July 2020


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