Postgraduate Course: Ecology and Field Studies (EDUA11120)
|School||Moray House School of Education and Sport
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||An understanding of the ecological principles which underpin both natural and managed ecosystems is vital for a full understanding of the countryside as a recreational and teaching resource. Furthermore, direct multi-sensory experiences are an ideal way of engaging with the natural heritage and the physical environment. Awareness of the potential impact of outdoor recreational and educational activities is also important for those who work in the countryside, and increasingly an expectation of such educational programmes. In many outdoor and environmental education contexts techniques ranging from formal field studies through to experiential environmental exercises are employed. This course provides an understanding of the principles of ecology, and explores the application of a wide range of teaching techniques in a practical context. The approach taken is an interdisciplinary and holistic residential programme located in a National Nature Reserve on the West Coast of Scotland.
Ecological principles: energy flow, trophic levels, nutrient cycling etc
Populations: natural selection and speciation, population dynamics
Communities, habitats, feeding relationships, biological diversity
Biotic and abiotic influences on communities
Influence of European legislation on the landscape
Preservation and management of the natural heritage
Traditional field studies survey and sampling techniques appropriate to a range of terrestrial and aquatic habitats
Experiential environmental education techniques (their use and critical evaluation)
Design, practice and evaluation of selected outdoor sessions
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
|| It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed
Interpreting the Landscape (EDUA11119)
||Other requirements|| None
Information for Visiting Students
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2022/23, Not available to visiting students (SS1)
||Block 5 (Sem 2) and beyond
|Course Start Date
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10,
Fieldwork Hours 46,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||The course will be based primarily on field experience (traditionally on the Island of Rum, Inner Hebrides), supported with a range of lectures, seminars and discussions. Practical teaching sessions will include a range of techniques appropriate for the habitats available during the course. These activities will be discussed and reviewed and additional theoretical input will support student learning. Students will be expected to complete background reading and independent study in order to meet the level required to complete the course successfully.
Satisfactory completion of a log of field studies activity is a requirement of this course. In addition either (a) develop and critically evaluate appropriate resources or a short programme of field studies appropriate to a selected group, or (b) write an essay on a relevant aspect of environmental management (4000 words or equivalent).
|No Exam Information
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
- understand basic ecological principles as applied to global and local ecosystems and be able to apply an understanding of ecological principles to issues of environmental concern
- understand relevant aspects of natural selection, adaptation, population growth, etc. and the effect on these of climate and human activity
- have experienced and used a variety of modern, experiential, and traditional field studies techniques during practical investigations of a range of natural and managed terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Students will therefore be able to make critical evaluations of appropriate techniques and develop a teaching programme suitable for introducing others to ecology and environment
- recognise aspects of the preservation and management of natural and semi-natural habitats of conservation importance
- understand the rationale behind and the practical consequences and management of key aspects of legislation that protect the natural heritage (e.g. in National Nature Reserves, Sites of Special Scientific Interest, Special Areas of Conservation, etc.)
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Attenborough, D. (1979). Life on Earth. London: Collins/BBC.
Attenborough, D. (1984). The living planet. London: Collins/BBC.
Atterton J, Carroll T, Thompson N. (2007). Social and human capital on Rùm and the Small Isles. Report to Scottish Government. University of Newcastle upon Tyne: Centre for Rural Economy. http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/Doc/1051/0054853.pdf
Brady, E., Holland, and Rawles, K. (2004). Walking the talk: philosophy of conservation on the Isle of Rum. Worldviews, 8 (2-3), 280-297.
Cameron. A. (1997). Bare feet and tackety boots: a boyhood on the island of Rhum. Edinburgh: Luath.
Clutton-Brock, T. & Ball, M. (1987). Rhum: The natural history of an island. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
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Dressler, C. (1998). Eigg: the story of an island. Edinburgh: Polygon.
Fielding, A. & Haworth, P. (1999). Upland habitats. London: Routledge.
Fife, H. (1994). Warriors and guardians: native highland trees. Glendaruel: Argyll Publishing.
Goodenough, K. & Bradwell, T. (2004). Rùm and the Small Isles: a landscape fashioned by geology. Perth: Scottish Natural Heritage.
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Grant, I. (1997). Highland folk ways. Edinburgh: Birlinn.
Hayward, G. (1992). Applied ecology. Walton-on-Thames: Nelson.
Higgins, P., Crowther, N., Nicol, R. & Meldrum, G. (2001). Rùm National Nature Reserve: environmental education plan. Perth: Scottish Natural Heritage and University of Edinburgh.
Hunter, J. (1995). On the other side of sorrow: nature & people in the Scottish highlands. Edinburgh: Mainstream.
Johnson, S. & Boswell, J. (1984) A journey to the Western Islands of Scotland and The journal of a tour to the Hebrides. London: Penguin Classics.
Jones, A. (1997). Environmental biology. London: Routledge.
Kempe, N. & Wrightham, M. (2006). Hostile habitats. Glasgow: Scottish Mountaineering Trust.
Lambert, R. (1998). Species history in Scotland: introductions and extinctions since the last ice age. Edinburgh: Scottish Cultural Press.
Love, J. (2002). Rùm: A landscape without figures. Edinburgh: Berlinn.
Magnusson, M. (1997). Rùm: nature¿s island. Edinburgh: Luath Press.
Manchester City Council and Field Studies Council. (1993). Outdoor and environmental education in the National Curriculum. Shrewsbury: Field Studies Council Publications.
McCarthy, J. (1998). Wild Scotland. Edinburgh: Luath Press.
McKey, C., Shewry, M. & Tudor, G. (1998). Land cover change : Scotland from the 1940s to the 1980s. Edinburgh : Stationery Office.
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Morton-Boyd, J. (Ed.). (1983). Natural environment of the Inner Hebrides. Edinburgh: Royal Society of Edinburgh.
Morton-Boyd, J. & Boyd, I.L. (1996). The Hebrides (Three Volumes). Edinburgh: Birlinn.
Milliken, W. & Bridgewater, S. (2004) Flora Celtica. Edinburgh: Birlinn.
Ramsay, P. (1997). Revival of the land : Creag Meagaidh National Nature Reserve, Perth: SNH.
Rixson, D. (2001). The Small Isles: Canna, Rum, Eigg and Muck. Edinburgh: Berlinn.
Scottish Natural Heritage (2009a). The Story of Rum National Nature Reserve. Retrieved 4 March 2010 from
Scottish Natural Heritage (2009b). The Reserve Plan for Rum National Nature Reserve 2010 ¿ 2016. Retrieved 4 March 2010 from
Thompson, F. (1986). Crofting years. Edinburgh: Luath.
Thompson, D., Hester, A. & Usher, M. (1995). Heaths and moorland: cultural landscapes. Edinburgh: Stationery Office.
Van Matre, S. (1972) Acclimatization. American Camping Association.
Walters, J., Curry, M. & Payne, S. (1998). Rùm National Nature Reserve management plan 1998-2008. Perth: Scottish Natural Heritage.
Warren, C. (2002). Managing Scotland¿s environment. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Wilson, E. O. (1992). The diversity of life. London: Penguin.
Wood, B. (2000). Room for nature? Conservation management of the Isle of Rum, UK and prospects for large protected areas in Europe. Biological Conservation, 64 (1), 93-105.
Wood, E. (2009). Peat-bogs, plague and potatoes: how climate change and geology shaped Scotland¿s history. Edinburgh: Luath Press.
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Additional Class Delivery Information
||This course is run residentially in hostel accomodation on the Island of Rum National Nature Reserve on the West Coast of Scotland. It is run primarily outdoors with additional lab-based sessions. Please reserve a place on this course with Prof P Higgins before registering for this course. Depending on demand this course may run twice.
|Course organiser||Prof Pete Higgins
Tel: (0131 6)50 9796
|Course secretary||Miss Malgorzata Litwinska
Tel: (0131 6)51 6363