Timetable information in the Course Catalogue may be subject to change.

University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Ecological Science

Undergraduate Course: Field Ecology (ECSC08007)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis 20-point level 8 course is compulsory for students of Ecological and Environmental Sciences, Ecology and Environmental Sciences with Management, and Biological Sciences (Ecology track). Students will engage in a two week long field course (excluding weekends). There will also be an extended assessment handed in during Semester 1 following the course.

Please note, Field Ecology is held late May/early June. As it runs outside the regular academic year, students are registered onto the course for the following academic year. For example, a student who takes this course May/June 2024 will be registered into the course for the 24/25 academic year.

Please do not register for Field Ecology in your current academic year. Once you have completed this course you will be officially enrolled onto it.

The next instance of Field Ecology will run from Monday 27th May to Friday 7 June 2024. Please ensure you are in Edinburgh. This may require having to extend accommodation arrangements as most University Accommodation typically ends at the end of the academic year (late May).
Course description The ability to identify organisms in the field, and to collect, organise and present ecological data, are essential skills for a professional ecologist. This course aims to develop those skills, taking place in and around the Edinburgh area. The course introduces students to the major habitats of Scotland, how to identify plants and animals in those habitats and how to design and execute ecological studies.

At the end of this course you should have a broad knowledge of how to apply a range of routine professional techniques employed in the study of biological organisms and ecosystems in the field. You will also gain detailed experience in methods of identification and classification of organisms.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  72
Course Start Block 5 (Sem 2) and beyond
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 9, Dissertation/Project Supervision Hours 1, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 29, Fieldwork Hours 34, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 123 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Written Exam: 0%, Course Work: 100%, Practical Exam: 0%.

Intermittent (60%): There are three assignments that are completed during the running of the field course: the field notebook (35%), a guide to Scottish plants (15%), and a data analysis exercise (10%). The field notebook is marked progressively over the duration of the course. The latter two assessments are marked after the course ends and available to students when they return to university in the autumn.

Post-course (40%): students will also complete an ecological project over the summer and write up the results in standard scientific format. The report should be submitted online to Learn and any hard copy e.g. biological collections materials handed into the Programme Administrator, Undergraduate Teaching Office, room 344, Grant Institute Building, by 12noon on the Wednesday of the second week of Semester One.

Assessment deadlines

Field Notebook ¿ submit to Turnitin (TII) on Learn, Due by 10am on Friday June 9th.

A Guide to Scottish Plants ¿ submit to TII on Learn. Due by 10am on Friday June 9th.

Data Analysis Exercise ¿ submit to TII on Learn. Due by 11am on Thursday June 9th, except in cases of learning adjustments for timed exercises.

Please email Kyle AND Francesca at least 3 days in advance of a deadline if you wish to request extra time for submission due to an approved adjustment on your Learning Profile.

Please read the Student Field Work Code of Conduct in the Course Information section of the Learn
Feedback Students will receive formative feedback from staff and demonstrators on their field notebooks during the first two days of the course. This will improve note taking and collecting of ecological data. The last six days of the field notebook will be marked and returned with feedback. This will help the students in successfully writing up their summer projects. Those projects will be handed in the autumn and receive feedback.
During the course, students are constantly with staff members and demonstrators and receiving help and feedback on identifying natural organisms and collecting ecological data.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Identify common plant species, from herbs through to trees, in a variety of Scottish habitats
  2. Identify invertebrates in the field to the level of order
  3. Systematically collect ecological data
  4. Design and conduct simple surveys and field experiments in ecology
  5. Write up the results of simple ecological studies in a concise and informative manner
Reading List
Useful texts

Mitchell, A. (1988) Trees of Britain and northern Europe. Collins, London.
Rackham, O. (1976) Trees and woodlands in the British landscape. Dent,

Rodwell, J. (1991). British Plant Communities. Volume 1, Woodland and
scrub. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Additional reading

Peterken, G.F. & Mountford, E.P. (1998) Long-term change in an unmanaged
population of wych elm subjected to Dutch elm disease. Journal of Ecology,
86, 205-218.

von Oheimb, G. & Brunet, J. (2007) Dalby Soderskog revisited: long-term
vegetation changes in a south Swedish deciduous forest. Acta Oecologia, 31,
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Additional Class Delivery Information Field course (no class delivery during semester time)
KeywordsField Ecology
Course organiserDr Kyle Dexter
Tel: (0131 6)51 7065
Course secretaryMiss Francesca Nadal Finnegan
Tel: (0131 6)50 4842
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information