Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)


Department: Biosciences


Type Tied Level 4 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap 60 Location Durham
Tied to M.Biol Biosciences C107


  • BIOL2461 Ecology and at least one level 2 module from the following list: BIOL2511 Behaviour; BIOL2451 Evolution; BIOL2571 Plant and Algal Physiology. At least two level 3 modules from the following list: Behavioural and Evolutionary Ecology BIOL3561; Conservation Biology BIOL3551; Global Change Biology BIOL3541; Stress and Responses to the Environment BIOL3491; Crops for the Future BIOL3611.


  • •None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • Level 4 Workshop L4 (BIOL4111); Level 3 Field Course (BIOL3161).


  • To allow students to undertake a series of practical exercises to investigate the influence of the environment on the distribution, adaptations and behaviour of plants and animals.


  • Field investigations of the impacts of a range of environmental parameters upon the distribution, adaptations and behaviour of plants and animals in their natural environment.
  • Training in application of data field-based techniques underpinning the above.
  • Field-application of organism identification and classification.
  • Analysis and interpretation of data collected in the field.
  • Training in health and safety aspects of fieldwork.
  • Project design and execution in a field environment.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge of the application of a variety of fieldwork methods to investigate ecology and behaviour of plants and animals.
  • Knowledge of the role of the environment in determining the patterns of distribution of plants and animals, including organismal interactions and community structure.
  • Understanding of key issues related to the role of the environment in the adaptions and behaviour exhibited by plants and animals.
  • Critical understanding of relevant research to the limits of current knowledge.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Ability to undertake supervised field-based research and appreciate the importance of safe working practice in field environments.
Key Skills:
  • Literacy, in being able to consult and extract information from printed and on-line archives.
  • Data analysis, in interpreting the patterns of distribution and abundance of species, species’ ecology and behaviour, and the structure and composition of communities.
  • Communication skills, in presenting oral and written report.
  • Team work, in carrying out practical work in the field.
  • Self-motivation, in independent work on report.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Field Courses: extended experimental work in an area of biological sciences in which the student works as a member of a team. The course involves practically-based training in a residential setting. These courses are taught to smaller groups. The student is given the opportunity to gain experience of a range of practical techniques, often involving the use of state of the art equipment, and is required to produce an extended report involving data analysis, and knowledge of relevant research to the limits of current knowledge.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Fieldwork 1 100
Tutorials attached to Fieldwork 1 1 hour 1
Preparation & Reading 99
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Continous Assessment Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Field note book 10%
Field skills test 15%
Fieldwork report and literature analysis 40%
General test 35%

Formative Assessment:

Oral presentation of aspects of work undertaken during each day of the field course period, plus oral presentation of the findings of the group project undertaken.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University