Core Module Information
Module title: Practical Skills in Biodiversity and Ecology

SCQF level: 08:
SCQF credit value: 20.00
ECTS credit value: 10

Module code: ENV08108
Module leader: Sonja Rueckert
School School of Applied Sciences
Subject area group: Animal and Plant Science


Description of module content:

This is a practical module with a strong emphasis on gaining experience with different groups of organisms and different environments. It is designed to teach you some of the skills needed for ecological surveying; what methods to use, what species to record, how to present and analyse the resulting data. You will be working outdoors e.g. at grassland, woodland and urban sites sampling different groups of organisms, including vascular plants, invertebrates, and birds. We will use the data you collect to describe the ecological communities we work on. This will involve identifying organisms to appropriate levels of taxonomic resolution, which will be species for some organisms, such as birds, and families or orders for others. It will also involve summarising data using appropriate descriptive statistics and graphs. We will link what we find with core concepts in ecology – including niche theory, competition and predation, and diversity-abundance relationships – that you will study in other modules in second year.

Learning Outcomes for module:

Upon completion of this module you will be able to:
LO1: Demonstrate the ability to use keys and other aids in the identification of vascular plants, aquatic and terrestrial invertebrates, birds and other vertebrates to an appropriate level of taxonomic resolution.
LO2: Select and justify appropriate sampling methods and equipment for different taxonomic groups.
LO3: Choose and execute appropriate methods of analysis and presentation of survey data, justifying your choice.
LO4: Undertake risk assessments for survey work in a range of different settings, including
description of relevant legal considerations.

Full Details of Teaching and Assessment
2022/3, Trimester 1, FACE-TO-FACE, Edinburgh Napier University
Occurrence: 001
Primary mode of delivery: FACE-TO-FACE
Location of delivery: SIGHTHILL
Partner: Edinburgh Napier University
Member of staff responsible for delivering module: Sonja Rueckert
Module Organiser:

Learning, Teaching and Assessment (LTA) Approach:
Teaching will be based on a combination of classroom-based teaching, fieldtrips, and environmental laboratory sessions. The emphasis will be on developing your practical skills (including census and organism taxonomy), critical thinking and problem solving. Your teachers, all of whom are experienced in the methods and taxa covered, will explain and demonstrate census and analysis techniques, and you will learn from direct experience, independently and via teamwork.

Formative Assessment:
Formative assessment is designed to give you feed-forward to improve your performance in the summative (credit-bearing) assessment, and to facilitate engagement and peer interaction. Critically evaluating the work of others is a good way to see how to improve your own work. Critical feedback on your own work from others is a valuable tool to improve your work.

You will submit a draft report (intro, methods, results) for review by a classmate. You will review a draft report submitted by a classmate and provide critical feedback on that report. Reports will be randomly distributed amongst the class and both the author and reviewer will remain anonymous. The critical feedback from your classmate will act as feed-forward for your assessment, so we expect all students to engage in a critical and helpful manner (as a ‘critical friend’).

Summative Assessment:
(i) Three classroom-based tests (40 mins each) will assess your organism identification skills and ability to use identification tools such as keys. You can bring your field/lab notebooks to this test and it will be restricted to taxa that we have worked on in the module.

(ii) A short online test (40 mins) will assess your learning throughout the labs and tutorials after the final lab.

(iii) A scientific report presenting the results from one of the surveys/labs. This will contain the usual headings for scientific writing – introduction, methods, results and discussion. It will also require succinct justification of the methods, protocols and analyses that were used, explaining why these approaches were the most appropriate.

You will submit your report along with a risk assessment and the earlier formative draft report that you completed. You must provide a ‘self review’ (a separate single-paragraph («100 word) explanation of how you used peer feedback to inform the preparation of your summative submission). These materials will not be marked, but must be present and deemed competent for you to complete the module. This is to encourage you to make best use of feed-forward.

Student Activity (Notional Equivalent Study Hours (NESH))
Mode of activityLearning & Teaching ActivityNESH (Study Hours)
Face To Face Practical classes and workshops 32
Face To Face Lecture 6
Face To Face Tutorial 8
Independent Learning Guided independent study 154
Total Study Hours200
Expected Total Study Hours for Module200

Type of Assessment Weighting % LOs covered Week due Length in Hours/Words
Class Test 15 1 4 HOURS= 0.75, WORDS= 0
Report 40 2,3,4 14/15 HOURS= 0, WORDS= 2000
Class Test 15 1 6 HOURS= 0.75, WORDS= 0
Class Test 15 1 9 HOURS= 0.75, WORDS= 0
Class Test 15 1, 2, 4 12 HOURS= 0.75
Component 1 subtotal: 60
Component 2 subtotal: 40
Module subtotal: 100

Indicative References and Reading List - URL:
Contact your module leader