Module code: BMS2070

Module provider

School of Biosciences and Medicine

Module Leader

BREDE E Dr (Biosc & Med)

Number of Credits


ECT Credits



FHEQ Level 5

JACs code

Module cap (Maximum number of students)


Module Availability

Semester 2

Overall student workload

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting

Alternative Assessment

Assessment 1 (IS1): If IS1 fieldwork component is missed (with extenuating circumstances), model data sets will be provided for the student to complete the analyses. The student will be required to complete a Phase 1 survey of a local habitat. Assessment 2 (IS2): If IS2 computer lab practical is missed (with extenuating circumstances), it will be possible to complete this task on-line during the tutorial session of week 38 and submit electronically. Assessment 3 (IS3): If the group work sessions of the IS3 component are missed (with extenuating circumstances), the student will be required to produce a) a 2000 word essay detailing an environmental disaster and b) an Environmental Impact Assessment [EIA] (1000 words) based upon this disaster. It must be remembered though that no support will be available and so the student will be required to do additional reading prior to these assessments. Reassessments of components as per standard procedure.

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module overview

This module considers the place of both plants and animals in the environment, looking at the dynamics of organisms within an ecosystem and role that disturbance and succession play in the evolution of ecosystems. It then develops the basic theoretical and practical skills required for their sampling, monitoring and reporting.

Module aims

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Module content

Indicative content includes:

An Introduction to Key Concepts in Ecology:

             Community structure & trophic interactions

             Food chains & webs

             Species diversity & measurement

             Ecological change & succession

             Population concepts (growth, dispersal & dispersion)

Field methods in Ecology (animals)

Animal species identification (morphology), ID keys & collation

General habitat types & ecology of animal classes

Direct/indirect species monitoring

Specific survey methodology (dependent on species)

             Practical skills/experience

Field methods in Ecology (plants)

Plant species identification (morphology), ID keys & collation

Habitat types & their classification

Phase 1 & Phase 2 surveys

Survey methodology (Transects & Quadrats)

             Practical skills/experience

Theoretic/Analytical methods in Ecology

The legislated obligation for surveys

Action plans & Impact assessments

Biological records centres and national databases as a resource

             GIS within the field and within the office

 Plus fieldwork/site visits, computer lab tutorial sessions

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to give students a broad understanding of

plant and animal community ecology, whilst providing a foundation set of skills required to survey and report on these communities.

Ecology lectures will focus on three areas: community ecology, population ecology, and  habitat/community change (and the interaction of factors responsible for this), and thus provide the foundation for the development of professional survey skills.

The delivery of the skills element will be two-fold, being both class/lab and field-based.

The class/lab component will be based upon student focussed learning, with the intention that there will be a variety of mini ecological exercises on the campus with additional simulations via computer lab practicals/tutorials.

The fieldwork component will focus on study design, species id, data analysis/reporting and practical field experience. Discussions on the range of methods and techniques used professionally will be given during lectures, with students then having the opportunity to apply these via field work and site visits. This will involve working in teams that will allow peer-peer interaction, thus aiding personal understanding and developing transferable/ social interaction skills.

For students undertaking the Biological Sciences programme, the practical element builds upon identification skills developed in module BMS1040. This will not only prepare them for optional final year ecology/zoology modules, but enable them to gain a basic skills set required for a PTY placement within this field. In addition, the foundation provided in this module will give a head-start to those students considering this area for their final thesis/project in year 3. Students enrolled on other programmes who may not have taken BMS1040 will receive adequate training in the formative practical session and can be offered additional support at this time.

The learning and teaching methods include:

Lectures: 19h
Computer practicals: 3h
Tutorials: 2h
Field work/site visits: 19h
Group work/presentations: 7h

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate:-

Theoretical subject knowledge and report based skills (LO1-6) will be predominantly tested via the fieldwork (IS1) and individual write-up documents (IS3), with a computer based exercise (IS2) testing additional IT lab-based skills (LO2/5/6) and some aspects of their application to plant and animal ecology/surveys.

The field exercise with accompanying report/survey (IS1) and an individual write-up (IS3) of a group task (GF1) will test the application of knowledge introduced in lectures and formative practical sessions (LO 1-4), as well as analytical/cognitive skills and transferable skill in data presentation and interpretation (LO7-10).

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

IS1 - Individual summative assessment [40%] - fieldwork write-up/report (1500 words) plus survey (500 words). Date of submission: 4 pm on Tuesday of week 36.

Fieldwork report covering three plant surveys [Lichen distributions in relation to pollutants], plant distribution in relation to aspect [line & point transect], plant distribution in relation to slope/drainage [line & quadrat transect]. In addition, student to produce Phase 1 Veg. survey of one of the sites.

IS2 -Individual summative assessment (3hr)[20%] - Database/GIS exercise, handed in at end of practical.

Write-up of Database/GIS exercise as part of computer lab practical.

IS3 - Individual summative assessment [40%] - write-up of group environmental scenario task (1000 words) plus Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) (1000 words). Date of submission: 4 pm on Tuesday of week 38.

Individual write-up of a group-based ecological scenario (based upon Torrey Pine oil spill disaster). Write-up/task will be used to produce Environmental Impact Assessment.

Formative assessment and feedback

Students can obtain formative feedback from a variety of sources:

GF1 - Group formative assessment  - Group will consist of four students working on an ecological scenario. At the end of the exercise the group will present their work detailing what they asked, what they found out and what their suggestions were - (16 min presentation, [4 students x 4 min]). Written feedback will be given.

verbal feedback following lectures or during the tutorial.
verbal feedback from academics during fieldwork.
feedback to specific queries via email, with responses being made available to all via SurreyLearn or during tutorials as appropriate.
further guidance and feedback on the structure of the field report will be provided via a discussion group to be operated via SurreyLearn.

Reading list


Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2017/8 academic year.