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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Ecological Science

Undergraduate Course: Ecological and Environmental Analysis (ECSC08008)

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
SummaryThis course provides 2nd-year students with a foundation course in the collection and analysis of data relevant to biological, ecological and environmental problems. Topics dealt with in the course involve:
- Recognising variability and uncertainty in environmental and ecological systems and their importance;
- Gathering data suited to explain environmental and ecological systems through surveys and sampling;
- Establishing and describing relationships between different environmental and/or ecological variables;
- Design, analysis and interpretation of controlled experiments;
- Use of dynamic simulation models
Course description Later in their degree and beyond, Ecological and Environmental Sciences (EES) and other GeoSciences students will need to recognise and understand variability in the environment. They will need to know how to gather data appropaitely in the face of variability, how to quantify uncertainty in their results and to know how error might have been propagated. They will need to understand how, what and why different factors should be related to measured variables, feeding back into their hypothesis formation, experimental design and sampling. Their purpose may be to find association, to assess causality, or to describe the dynamics of the interactions (on various time-steps). They may be seeking evidence for a mechanism or quantitative prediction of environmental or ecological response.

EEA seeks to equip studenets to address these future needs. It introduces concepts incrementally. Each concept is developed by directly engagement with various software tools, real data and research contexts. In the course we seek to distinguish tha range of enabling software tools that are available from the centrality of basic concepts. This is partly through demonstrating fluency in moving between alternative tools (noting their commonality) and focusing on a clearly defined purpose and goal.

For EES and Biological Sciences (Ecology) students principles of hypothesis formation and an awareness of spatial heterogeneity will have been gained in Semester 1 by the compulsory Yr2 course Principles of Ecology ECSC08006 (and Field Ecology). EEA will prepare EES students for the 3rd-year Ecological Measurement course, including Firbush field course / project work in the preceding summer.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2016/17, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  60
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 44, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 6, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 146 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 60 %, Coursework 40 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Coursework (40%):
- Designing a survey (25%)
- Experimental design (15%)

Examination (60%):
Two-hour examination at the end of Semester 2 based on short and long answer questions
Feedback - The extended interactive sessions that follow each lecture are guided by teaching staff and supported by demonstrators, providing opportunity for 1:1 verbal interaction and feedback;
- Many of the tutorial sessions and oriented around assignments for in-course assessment, structured to encourage peer feedback and tutor interaction;
- Detailed and general written feedback on assessed work will be provided electronically via Learn
- Exam marking includes comments to students that can be reviewed in Year 3.

Feedback on the course can be provided to the CO directly or via one of two student representatives, who will also participate in the staff¿student liaison committee. Course survey data from previous years¿ students has been considered and feedback will be sought for the current course in Week 10.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Specify a sampling strategy that best deals with variability
  2. Know the main (different) goals of data analysis and statistical tools that fit
  3. Undertake experimental design for their own purpose, correctly seeing it as a strategy to define treatments and collect data driven by a particular goal
  4. have an awareness of tools available to undertake quantitative tasks, with some fluency in their selection and use.
Reading List
Ford E.D. (2000) Scientific Method for Ecological Research. Cambridge University Press;

Barnard C, Gilbert F & McGregor P (2001) Asking Questions in Biology. 2nd Edition. Pearson;

Feinsinger P (2001). Designing Field Studies for Biodiversity Conservation. Nature Conservancy, Washington;

Hughes IG & Hase TPA (2010) Measurements and their Uncertainty, Oxford University Press, Oxford;

Fowler J, Cohen L & Jarvis P (1998) Practical Statistics for Field Biology, 2nd Edition. John Wiley;

Grafen A & Hails R (2002) Modern statistics for the Life Sciences. Oxford University Press, Oxford;

Ennos R (2007) Statistical and Data Handling Skills in Biology. Pearson;

Ruxton GD & Colegrave N (2006) Experimental Design for the Life Sciences. 2nd Edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford;

Haefner JW (1996) Modelling biological systems, Chapman & Hall, New York;

Smith J & Smith P (2007) Environmental Modelling: An Introduction, Oxford University Press.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Goal definition in experimental design.
Strategies for data collection.
Fluency with a range of statistical software tools .
KeywordsEEA year 2,experimental design,ecological survey,data analysis,environmental modelling
Course organiserDr Saran Sohi
Tel: (0131 6)51 4471
Course secretaryMr Matthew Hathaway
Tel: (0131 6)50 5430
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