Module: Field Ecology

Module details

  • Module code

  • Module leader

    Kelly Swallow
  • Module Level

  • Module credits

  • Min study time

    200 hours
  • Contact hrs

    50 hours
  • Teaching Period

    Semester 2

Module content

For a career in conservation or management of land, you will need to be competent in field ecology skills, which are in high demand from employers. Field Ecology comprises the knowledge and skills needed to survey biodiversity and their interactions at the ecosystem scale. An accurate survey of ecosystems and species is essential in providing a baseline against which to measure impacts of threats, or success of management interventions. In this module, students will learn applied and practical ecological skills that will continue to be developed through their programme of study. The module includes:

  • The characteristics of global, and British regional and local scale, biotopes and their dominant species. 
  • Field mapping and survey of biotopes and their species. 
  • Ecological field survey design, implementation, statistical analysis and report writing. 

Module outcomes

To achieve credit for this module, students must be able to:

  1. Explain the distribution and characteristics of British biotopes and recognise their wider global context.
  2. Conduct and report a Phase 1 habitat survey.
  3. Understand the principles of ecological survey design, sampling and introductory statistical analysis.
  4. Conduct a quantitative field investigation and analyse and report the results.


Assessment Description Weighting
Coursework Phase 1 habitat survey and report (2000 words) 50%
Coursework Field report (2000 words) 50%

Key texts

Students should be familiar with the following:

  • Begon, M., Howarth, R.W. and Townsend, C.R. (2014) Essentials of ecology. John Wiley.
  • British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, Brooks, A. and Agate, E. (2005) Sand Dunes: a practical handbook. Revised edn. BTCV.
  • Crane, N. (2016) The Making of the British landscape: from the ice age to the present. Weidenfeld-Nicolson
  • Henderson, P.A. and Southwood, T.R.E. (2016) Ecological methods. 4th edn. Wiley Blackwell.
  • Joint Nature Conservation Committee (2007) Handbook for phase 1 habitat survey - a technique for environmental audit, JNCC.
  • Lake, S., Liley, D., Still, R. and Swash, A. (2015) Britain's habitats: a guide to the wildlife habitats of Britain and Ireland. Princeton University Press.
  • Maun, M. (2009) The biology of coastal sand dunes. Oxford University Press
  • Proctor, M. (2013) Vegetation of Britain and Ireland. Harper Collins
  • Rose, F. (2006) The wild flower key: how to identify wild plants, trees and shrubs in Britain and Ireland. Warne
  • Sterry, P. (2008) Complete guide to British wildlife. Collins
  • Wheater, C.P. (2011) Practical field ecology. Wiley-Blackwell

Supporting texts

  • Allaby, M. (ed.) (2010) A dictionary of ecology. [Reference material] 4th edn. Oxford University Press.
  • Averis, B. (2013) Plants and habitats: an introduction to common plants and their habitats in Britain and Ireland. Ben Averis.
  • Levin, S.A. (ed.) (2013) Encyclopedia of biodiversity. 2nd edn. Elsevier. [E-book] Available at:
  • Hill D., Fasham, M., Tucker D., Shewry M. and Shaw, P. (eds) (2005) Handbook of biodiversity methods: survey, evaluation and monitoring. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
  • Holmes, N. and Raven, P. (2014) Rivers. British Wildlife Publishing.
  • Peterken, G. and Ackroyd, C. (2013) Meadows. British Wildlife Publishing Ltd
  • Rackham O (2010) Woodlands. London: Collins
  • Sutherland W. J. (2006) Ecological census techniques: a handbook. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.