BSc Zoology with a Modern Language / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
British Conservation Ecology & Behaviour

Unit code BIOL10662
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Biological Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? No


The unit aims is to provide students with a robust overview of the methods used to study behavioural ecology in the field. The unit will introduce students to foundational concepts in ecology, animal behaviour, conservation biology and evolutionary theory, with a focus on UK species and ecosystems. This unit will introduce students to core concepts regarding sampling animals in the wild, assessing biodiversity and species abundance, recording animal behaviours and critically testing hypotheses with experiments.

**There is no cost for this field course**


Upon successfully completing this unit, students should:

  • understand how researchers design experiments and test hypotheses in behavioural ecology
  • understand the major sampling techniques used to assess animal behaviours and abundance and understand when these methods are best applied
  • be comfortable with collecting data and be able to correctly analyse behavioural data
  • gain an appreciation for the importance of evolutionary processes in shaping animal behaviour


The unit will consist of:

  • four-day trips to a range of ecosystems where students will use a variety of field sampling techniques to determine species distributions/abundances and assess animal behaviour.
  • Students will then be divided into groups for a three-day field research project where they will design their own experiment, analyse their data and produce a research report.
  • Lectures will precede all field trips to provide context for the field activities. Lecture material and additional resources will be provided on iPads for students to review on bus trips to field sites.

Knowledge and understanding

A detailed understanding of the methods used to study and test behavioural hypotheses in the field. Students will understand the challenges of performing field work on animals and the ways that researchers overcome these challenges. They will learn how evolution is key to understanding and studying behaviours in the field.

Intellectual skills

The ability to critically assess animal behaviours and evolutionary processes within the context of the field of behavioural ecology.

Practical skills

The ability to perform behavioural observations, sample animals in the field, and draw conclusions by statistically analysing data.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

Using logic and critical thinking skills to develop and test evolutionary idea and statistical skills to analyse data.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 20%
Written assignment (inc essay) 20%
Project output (not diss/n) 50%
Oral assessment/presentation 10%
Assessment Length How and when feedback is provided Weighting
Short answer assignment with questions based on analysing and interpreting data collected during field sampling Assigned on day 1, submitted 1 week after the unit ends Reports will be marked with detailed comments and returned within two weeks 20%
Exam focusing on experimental design and sampling techniques 1 hour Marked and returned at the end of the unit 20%
Oral Presentation 15 minutes Marked during unit 10%
Project report Submitted 2 weeks after the unit ends Reports will be marked with detailed comments and returned within two weeks 50%


Recommended reading

A unit field book will be created that summarizes relevant information and provide detailed background information to students. Field guides for species identification will also be provided.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 0

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jo Wimpenny Unit coordinator

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