Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Marine Biology Field Course
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 6 x 1 hour (given during the week)
Other Field days, 6 days


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Mini-project report.  40%
Semester Assessment Field report 1.  20%
Semester Assessment Field report 2.  20%
Semester Assessment Field report 3.  20%
Supplementary Assessment Resubmission of mini-project and essay.  100%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Be able to identify, to species level, a range of common organisms found in N.W European coastal waters.

2. Demonstrate the use of standard quantitative biological methods for the collection of benthic organisms.

3. Develop testable hypotheses and an appropriate experimental design in order to undertake an experimental study in order to understand aspects of either the ecology, physiology or behavior of shallow-water marine species/systems.

4. Employ appropriate statistical tests to analyse data gathered, and using this information, evaluate the results in the context of published literature.

5. Communicate scientific results via reports, posters and field/lab books.

Brief description

The course is residential and will be hosted at a field station chosen to offer opportunities for both intertidal and benthic surveying with excursions to a range of coastal habitats (e.g. Millport Marine Station, Scotland, Faro, Portugal). The field-course is heavily weighted toward practical biology sessions, supplemented with a series of lectures and laboratory sessions for analysis of material. Throughout, the student is expected to discuss data collected from field sampling and laboratory analysis in the context of the specific hypotheses being tested, established ecological/physiological theory and current thinking within the scientific peer-reviewed literature.


Students will be introduced to different benthic marine habitats, including rocky shore, sandy shore and estuaries, and the fauna and flora characteristic of these environments. Practical sessions will include ecological, physiological and behavioral analyses of intertidal and subtidal animals in the context of abiotic variables relevant to regular emmersion and immersion cycles, predation, position maintenance, disturbance etc. Identification (to species level using dichotomous keys), distribution, density and biomass of organisms will be determined during field and laboratory sessions undertaken throughout the week. Students will therefore, have the opportunity to experience firsthand how surveying methods are used in marine research and for collecting habitat and species data that can be applied by a range of authorities for management purposes. In small working groups, students will be tasked to formulate hypotheses that can be tested with field collection and, where necessary, laboratory investigation. These mini-projects (over 2 days) aim to engage students in the design and execution of field research and interpretation of data. In addition, these projects will allow sufficient flexibility for the students own ideas to be tested.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Collection and scrutiny of data in terms of quality and quantity. They will be expected to analyse their laboratory data using statistics and interpret their results.
Communication Students will be expected to listen effectively in the lectures, practicals/fieldtrips and initiate/contribute to subsequent discussions. They will have the opportunity to work in small groups during the practical classes/fieldtrips which will require collaboration. The students will be expected to produce coherent written documentation for their examinations and field trip/practical reports.
Improving own Learning and Performance Outside the formal contact hours, students will be expected to research materials, manage time and meet deadlines. The practical classes/field trip will provide an opportunity for students to explore their own learning styles and preferences, and identify their needs and barriers to learning. Students will be able to review and monitor their progress and plan for improvement of personal performance through self-awareness and reflection.
Information Technology The students will be required to access online databases such as ISI Web of Knowledge and Google Scholar to find primary literature. They will also be expected to be competent in the use of word processing programs, spreadsheets and statistical software.
Personal Development and Career planning Students will gain confidence in their ability to evaluate marine biological problems through an awareness of their personal skills and objectively assess the quality of proposed solutions. They will also gain experience in techniques used by research scientists, consultancy organizations, NGOs etc.
Problem solving Through the lectures and practicals/fieldtrips students will critically analyse information gathered/provided and identify appropriate solutions where problems arise. They will also critically evaluate these solutions in a biological concept.
Research skills Students will research topics beyond the depth and scope of the field course using independent study, and during the write up of the practical report. They will be expected to produce academically appropriate report, and where necessary comment, evaluate and scrutinize the information obtained/experiment conducted. Practical classes will utilise marine biological research skills at an early stage of their academic careers.
Subject Specific Skills Subject specific skill relating to Marine Biology will be developed.
Team work Students will work effectively in pairs/small groups during field trips/practical classes. They will be expected to contribute to the planning and organisation of the practical exercises, delegation of tasks through persuasion and negotiation, and the execution of techniques relevant to the practicals/fieldtrips with the cooperation of group members.


This module is at CQFW Level 6