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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Biological Sciences : Biology

Undergraduate Course: Field Zoology 3 (BILG09017)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Biological Sciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 9 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThe course consists of taught material including cases studies and a residential field course, based around animal diversity, animal physiology and study design.
Course description Field Zoology 3 runs on Wednesday mornings in Semester 2, with a one-week residential field course in Millport, Isle of Cumbrae, during the Easter break (usually the first week of the vacation - check before making your plans for the vacation).

The Wednesday morning slot consists of 2-3 hour sessions until the Easter break. During these sessions, a series of case studies from a wide variety of field systems will be examined through lectures and group problem-solving exercises. In preparation for the field course, there will also be lectures on the marine and coastal system and on experimental design. There will also be a practical where students get experience of matching experimental design and statistical analysis.

The first two days of the field course are based around the collection and identification of specimens from different marine environments to teach diversity, higher-order systematics and diversity gradients. During the second part of the field course, students undertake a group project to answer a specific set of questions using a combination of field and/or laboratory studies on field-caught specimens. A wide range of habitats on the island is used for these projects. At the end of the week, groups present their results to the class and after the field course students write individual project reports for assessment. Throughout, the emphasis is on how to solve novel problems in the context of field studies and on the wide range of techniques which may be applied.

Assessment is based on project work and an exam that includes assessment of the case studies covered during semester.

Requirement for Ecology Honours and Zoology Honours. Enrolment for Field Zoology 3 is restricted to those on graduating programmes in the School of Biological Sciences.

There is a cost associated with attending the field course (around £120 in recent years).
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Students MUST NOT also be taking Ecological Measurement (ECSC09004)
Other requirements Enrolment is restricted to those on graduating programmes in the School of Biological Sciences.
Additional Costs About £120-150 per student.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 26, Supervised Practical/Workshop/Studio Hours 3, Fieldwork Hours 42, Online Activities 3, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 1, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 119 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 40 %, Coursework 60 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Project Work 60%
Exam 40%
Feedback Students will receive feedback on the written project reports. Feedback will be individual and will focus on students can improve their skills at producing written reports.
Exam Information
Exam Diet Paper Name Hours & Minutes
Main Exam Diet S2 (April/May)2:00
Resit Exam Diet (August)2:00
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the pivotal roles of experimental design and statistical analyses in addressing problems in field biology.
  2. Provide an oral presentation outlining the designs and methods of planned work and the results of completed work.
  3. Write a written report in the format of a scientitific paper that is comprised of the following parts: Title, Abstract, Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion and References.
  4. Understand the six basic steps of doing research: asking a question, formulating a hypothesis, planning experiments, collecting data, analysing data and presenting data.
  5. Understand the biotic and abiotic factors influencing animals and plants living in the coastal system of the West Coast of Scotland.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills The University of Edinburgh has identified six attributes (see below) that you should develop during your education to enhance your employability as a graduate for the 21st century. These attributes take your skill-base beyond basic academic knowledge, and the ways by which you will develop these attributes in Field Zoology 3 is outlined below:

1) Knowledge and understanding: The course will provide you with comprehensive knowledge about the planning and design of field experiments, and about animals and plants that live in the marine and coastal system. The case studies will provide you with knowledge about experimental design and methodology applied to specific field systems, while the lectures will provide you with general knowledge about experimental design and the marine and coastal system. The fieldcourse will, among other things, provide you with knowledge about traditional and modern molecular methods used to identify animals, techniques and metholodology used in field research, and the animals and plants that live in the marine and coastal system.

2) Research and enquiry: The course will provide you with comprehensive knowledge about the planning and design of research projects, and the collection and statistical analyses of field data. The case studies will allow you to gain experience in developing experimental designs and thinking about the choice of appropriate methodologies through group discussions centrered on specific zoological problems and particular field systems. The fieldcourse will provide you with further experience on the planning and design of research projects and the collection of data in a group research project based on animals and plants living in the marine and coastal system. Furthermore, you will learn about research by reading books, research papers and electronic materials. These readings will support your lecture material and will also underpin your ICA during and after the fieldcourse. Such skills will among other things help you prepare for the Senior Honours year in Zoology.

3) Personal and intellectual autonomy: You will learn to synthesise your own views, develop reasoned arguments and refine your scientific judgement by reading the course materials and by engaging in group discussions. Such skills will enhance your capacity for life-long and independent learning.

4) Communication: Communication is a key attribute of all scientists and it is therefore important that you develop such skills to convey knowledge and balanced scientific views to others. You will get experience in oral presentation skills during the case studies and at the fieldcourse, while you will get experience in written presentation skills when you write up your project report after the fieldcourse. This project report is based on the data that you collected while doing the group projects during the fieldcourse. Such skills will enhance your capacity for communication whilst studying at the university, and will be helpful in your future career whether in science or elsewhere.

5) Personal effectiveness: Planning, time management and reflection are central aspects of your personal effectiveness. You will learn these skills while conducting the group projects during the fieldcourse, and when writing up the project report after the fieldcourse. The writing of the project report requires that you work towards a submission date highlighted in the timetable below. Such skills will help improve your overall ability to maximise your achievement whilst studying at the university, and will also be helpful for other aspects of your current and future life.

6) Technical and practical skills: In order to continue in a scientific career it is important that you not only understand the conceptual basis of how experiments are designed and carried out but also that you have the underpinning practical skills required for employability. During the fieldcourse, you will learn practical field skills, basic molecular techniques and safe conduct during fieldwork. Such skills will assist you in your future Honours course projects and will also be valuable in any future employment.
Additional Class Delivery Information The residential field course will take place in Easter Vacation. The field course is usually in the 1st week of the Easter Vacation but students should check this before making plans for the vacation. A financial contribution towards the cost of the field course will be requested from students.
Course organiserProf Thomas Little
Tel: (0131 6)50 7781
Course secretaryDr Caroline Aspinwall
Tel: (0131 6)50 5521
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