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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Ecological Science

Undergraduate Course: Principles of Ecology (ECSC08006)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryAn introduction to the factors determining the distribution and patterns of abundance of organisms, and which relate plant and animal populations to their environment. It includes the physiological ecology of plants and animals, the life history strategies by which organisms adapt to their environments, and the ecological significance of genetic variability. The importance of evolutionary history for understanding patterns of distribution will also be emphasised. A practical project report must be submitted as part of the course. The course will include basic statistical methods training.
Course description Please see course Learn page for full syllabus
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Biology, Ecology and Environment 1 (BILG08017)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2015/16, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  99
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 25, Dissertation/Project Supervision Hours 20, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 15, Fieldwork Hours 15, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 3, Formative Assessment Hours 2, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Revision Session Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 112 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 67 %, Coursework 33 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Written Exam: 67%, Course Work: 33 %, Practical Exam: 0%

The exam in the December diet will cover the theoretical and statistical aspects of the course. The course work assessment takes the form of the field project report.

Both practical and exam have a minimum pass mark of 40%. An overall aggregate mark of 40% is required.
Feedback Students will receive formative feedback from the Course Organiser (CO) and practical demonstrators on their hypotheses and experimental design for a six week group practical field project. This will take the form of a personalised one page sheet addressing specific issues relevant to each group¿s project proposals. As projects proceed students will receive weekly feedback from laboratory demonstrators and where necessary the CO. Students will receive formative feedback from the course statistics lecturer concerning the proposed statistical analysis of their project data. Formative feedback will be received following a group oral presentation of the project work. This feedback will immediately follow the presentations and will take the form of written peer assessment and oral suggestions from the CO and project demonstrators. Project reports will receive a written half page sheet of summative feedback from project demonstrators. Feedback will be given on summative assessment at the end of the course and all students will be invited to an examination feedback session following release of course results. Examples of feedback can be found here:
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S1 (December)Principles of Ecology2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)Principles of Ecology2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. demonstrate a broad knowledge of the defining principles of ecology and understand the factors controlling the abundance and distribution of organisms globally.
  2. understand and use introductory statistics; hypothesis testing, basic experimental design and field sampling.
  3. demonstrate a broad knowledge of the ecological theory explaining patterns of spatial and temporal variations in species numbers.
  4. carry out a scientific research project related to an ecological question: they will learn how to formulate clear, precise and potentially answerable questions; to collect unbiased data and to test hypotheses.
  5. communicate by means of an oral presentation and a written scientific research report the basis of their research findings ¿ and through this critically analyse mainstream concepts within Ecological Science.
Reading List
The following are generally useful as sources of first reference on many topics. They cost £20-35 each.

Begon, M., Townsend, C. R. & Harper, J. L. (2006). Ecology (4th edn).

Blackwell Science, Oxford. (The recommended text for this course)
Townsend, C.R., Begon, M. and Harper, J.L. (2006). Essentials of Ecology (2nd Edition). Blackwell Publishing. (Highly recommended).

Colinvaux, P. (1993). Ecology 2. Wiley, New York. (Readable and very good on some aspects)

Krebs, C. J. (1994 & 2001). Ecology. (4th & 5th edns). Harper Collins, New York. (Good on animal populations)

Ricklefs, R. E. & Miller, G. L. (1999). Ecology. (4th edn). Freeman, New York.

Ingrouille M. (1995). Historical Ecology of the British Flora. Chapman and Hall.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information Lectures: Mon, Thur, Fri (weeks 1-11)
Practicals: Wed (weeks 1-9)
Presentations: Wed (week 10)
Statistical methods training will be taught via 3 lectures and 3 three hour practicals.
KeywordsPrinciples of Ecology
Course organiserDr Gail Jackson
Tel: (0131 6)50 5436
Course secretaryMiss Christine Lee
Tel: (0131 6)50 5430
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