Module Information

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

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Field Trip 1 x 60 Hour Field Trip


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Group project.  Presented as a poster during field course.  33%
Semester Assessment Field course report 1.  33%
Semester Assessment Field course report 2.  34%
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. operate safely and effectively a wide variety of sampling and environmental sensing equipment in field conditions.

2. apply appropriate analytical techniques to aid interpretation of the data they obtain, and they should have improved their ability to communicate their conclusions in poster form.

3. identify a variety of freshwater organisms to species level.

4. attempt the identification of almost any unknown specimens from freshwater habitats.

5. through field experience, demonstrate an improved understanding of the benthic and open water communities in lakes.

Brief description

The course is residential. The location is chosen to provide access to a large lake, with adjacent laboratory facilities. In each part of the course practical work is preceded by lectures introducing the practical assignments. The material covered may vary with location, but will generally include analysis of littoral and sublittoral benthic communities, a study of open water biology (water column and plankton) and examination of freshwater fishes.


A part of the course is devoted to the investigation of the relationships between physical conditions and the distributions of macrophytes and invertebrates in the littoral lake environment. This involves sampling and data collection by a variety of techniques and identification of material using 'professional' keys. Students work in groups and prepare a group poster and a reference specimen collection during the course. Peer assessment is part of this element.
Again working in groups, students also work on open water limnology. Here they prepare depth profiles for temperature, light and dissolved oxygen, taking additional samples for measurement of conductivity, pH, nitrate and phosphate. Biomass of phytoplankton is estimated by chlorophyll a analysis, and zooplankton distribution and abundance are also quantified. This part of the course is assessed on the basis of individually-written reports submitted during the first semester.
The remaining section of the course focuses on fish biology and aims to give students experience of sampling, identification and analysis (e.g. weight/length relationships, growth rates, dietary analysis etc.) of a variety of fish species. This part of the course is assessed on the basis of an individual report submitted at the end of the course.

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Through the analysis of quantitative data collected in the littoral and open water parts of the module
Communication Through reading and listening in a variety of contexts. Preparation of the assessed materials, which include individually written reports, jointly prepared posters, and individually produced leaflets and web pages, as appropriate
Improving own Learning and Performance Through discussion of performance within groups, subsequent peer assessment and feedback following submission of assessed work
Information Technology Through the use of appropriate software for the analysis and presentation of results, and through use of additional literature sources provided in electronic format or sought through e-search
Personal Development and Career planning Develop awareness of personal skills and interests in relation to potential careers or further courses
Problem solving Through identifying problems in acquiring relevant data, design of appropriate sampling strategies and selection of methods
Research skills Through planning and conducting field sampling, producing academically appropriate reports and evaluating the research outcomes
Subject Specific Skills Use of field equipment specific to fresh water biology. Taxonomic skills with respect to freshwater organisms. Appreciation of health and safety issues relevant to freshwater field work.
Team work Through the littoral survey, which is entirely group work, and through the collection of open water data, which is also group-based. Groups are required to set their own goals, plan and carry out a variety of activities and to monitor their own performance


This module is at CQFW Level 6