Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Marine Biology Field Course
Academic Year
Semester 1
External Examiners
  • Dr Martin Genner (Senior Lecturer - University of Bristol)
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Field Trip 1 x 88 Hour Field Trip
Lecture 3 x 1 Hour Lectures


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Group poster presentation  25%
Semester Assessment Group oral presentation  25%
Semester Assessment Mini-project and write-up  50%
Supplementary Assessment Students must take elements of assessment equivalent to those that led to failure of the module  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.


This is an intensive 6-day residential field course made up of briefing sessions and practical skill development. Practical sessions will introduce students to different benthic marine habitats, including rocky shores, sandy shores and estuaries, and the fauna and flora characteristic of these environments. In small working groups, students will be tasked to formulate hypotheses that can be tested with field collection. Therefore students will have the opportunity to undertake a number of sampling techniques used by field marine biologists for collecting habitat and species data, as well as gaining experience in the analysis and presentation of scientific data via a variety of media. Over the final 2-days of the field course students (working in groups) have the opportunity to design, execute and present a piece of field or lab research that is of interest to them.

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 data using statistics and interpret their results for assignment preparation.
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 the oral exchange of ideas/data. The students will communicate their scientific outcomes via scientific reports, oral presentations and poster presentations as well as question and answer sessions.
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. Feedback will be given where appropriate.
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 for assignment preparation.
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. Feedback will be given where appropriate.
Problem solving Through the lectures and practicals/fieldtrips students will be encouraged to critically analyse information gathered/provided and identify appropriate solutions where problems arise. They will also be expected to critically evaluate these solutions in a biological concept.
Research skills Students across all aspects of the course will use the scientific method. They will also research topics beyond the depth and scope of the field course using independent study, and during the write up of the practical reports. They will be expected to produce academically appropriate reports, 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 Students will learn a range of skills and techniques regularly used by professional field ecologists.
Team work Students will work effectively in 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 for assignment preparation. Student performance within a team is assessed via their peers with marks awarded for the group element weighted by their contribution.


This module is at CQFW Level 6