Module Provider: School of Biological Sciences
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring / Summer term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2019/0

Module Convenor: Dr Manuela Gonzalez-Suarez


Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module provides an overview of the general principles of ecology, covering topics such as altruism and fighting through to predation and mutualisms.


This module aims to provide the student with an understanding of the local and global patterns of the distribution and abundance of living species, and the processes that have resulted in these patterns. Students will also gain experience in practical field ecology data collection techniques.

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module, the student will be expected to be able to:

  • Describe the basics of population and community ecology.

  • Describe the fundamental interactions among organisms, and between organisms and their abiotic environment.

  • Review how the fundamentals of ecology can be applied to questions of conservation and pest management.

  • Develop testable hypotheses.

  • Recognize and correctly apply diverse field sampling techniques including taxonomic identification.

  • Collect ecological data from the field, organise and reproduce this information.

  • Carry out simple statistical tests.

  • Make deductions and derive conclusions from the data.

Additional outcomes:

Students will be provided with an opportunity to develop insights into field ornithology and, through this, to gain an understanding of the critical link between field taxonomy skills and field ecology.

Outline content:

In this unit, we will consider different types of interactions among species, and how an understanding of these interactions may help lead to a more scientifically based programme of conservation and pest management. Core topics include: population dynamics, herbivory, predation, parasitism, mutualisms, food web structure, biogeography, global climate change and other anthropogenic impacts on biodiversity.

During the practical sessions conducted on campus, we will consider different field techniques and how they can be applied to gather data in order to test a hypothesis.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

There will be 20 lectures, covering the fundamentals of ecology. The practical component will be based around a series of field classes introducing students to the diversity of bird life on campus and using this to illustrate how basic field surveys are carried.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20 5
Practicals classes and workshops 45
Fieldwork 15
Guided independent study: 60 55
Total hours by term 0 80 120
Total hours for module 200

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written exam 70
Report 30

Summative assessment- Examinations:

One-and-a-half hours

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

One written report (proforma provided) due in the summer term.

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener 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:
    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:

    Re-examination in August/September only

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    1) Required text books: 

    2) Specialist equipment or materials: 

    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear: 

    4) Printing and binding: 

    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification: 

    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 21 October 2019


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