Surrey University Stag


Module code: BMS2070

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 provider

School of Biosciences and Medicine

Module Leader

PIRIE Tara (Biosc & Med)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

JACs code: C180

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 120

Lecture Hours: 13

Seminar Hours: 1

Tutorial Hours: 1

Laboratory Hours: 4

Practical/Performance Hours: 11

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


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

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Video (group - 30%) and written article (individual - 20%) 50
Coursework Methods and write up proforma 50

Alternative Assessment

Assessment 1 (IS1): If the group work is missed (with extenuating circumstances) the student can submit a piece to camera reporting on the article they have written, but no support will be available. If the individual work is missed (with extenuating circumstances) the student will submit an article based on a paper as outlined in the original brief. Assessment 2 (IS2): If IS2 fieldwork component is missed (with extenuating circumstances), model data sets will be provided for the student to complete the analyses. If computer lab practical is missed (with extenuating circumstances), it will be possible to complete this task on-line during the semester, but no support will be available.

Assessment Strategy

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

The application of knowledge introduced in lectures and formative practical sessions will be tested in both aspects of the assignment  (IS1) LO4, LO7 as well as transferable skills in knowledge/ interpretation and data presentation.

The field exercise with accompanying report/survey and analytical/cognitive skills will be predominantly tested via the individual write-up proforma (IS2) LO6, LO8, LO9, with a computer-based GIS exercise (IS2) as well as the application of knowledge introduced about plant and animal survey methods in the write-up.

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • IS1 - Group and individual summative assessment [50%] - Date of submission: 3 pm on Tuesday of week 27 (Sem2:05).

  • IS2 - Individual summative assessment [50%] - Fieldwork write-up proforma/report and GIS exercise. Date of submission: 3pm on Tuesday of  week 37 (Sem2:12).


Formative assessment and feedback

Students can obtain formative feedback from a variety of sources:

  • 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.

Module aims

  • • to consider the place of both plants and animals in the environment, looking at the dynamics of organisms in ecosystems
  • • to investigate plant communities/habitats and what dictates their assembly/ distribution
  • • to introduce a range of common UK animal species and their basic ecology
  • • to introduce the methods by which ecosystems and their diversity can be surveyed, monitored and reported
  • • to provide the student with a skill set applicable to professional practice.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Discuss the mechanisms by which plants and animals respond to their environment. KP
002 Discuss the factors responsible for specific plant communities and their distribution. KP
003 Identify and illustrate the principles ways in which individuals and species, including man, interact within an ecosystem. KP
004 Apply knowledge of plant and animal communities to suggest appropriate actions/approaches to mitigate environmental impacts. KP
005 Apply learnt skills (both field and computer lab-based) as a management tool to report previous, monitor present and predict future plant and animal populations. KP
006 To select appropriate strategies/methods/tools to survey plant and animal communities, and to analyse, present and interpret the datasets generated. KP
007 Work co-operatively in teams, all contributing to a single common goal. CPT
008 Design, plan, conduct and report on investigations. CPT
009 Analyse and interpret numerical data. CPT
010 Undertake field investigations in a responsible/ethical manner whilst demonstrating an awareness for health & safety. CPT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

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: 13h

  • Computer practicals: 3h

  • Tutorials: 2h

  • Field work/site visits: 11h

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: BMS2070

Other information

Please note, this module has a significant amount of fieldwork and for some sessions there is a need to walk 5km/on uneven ground/up hilly terrain. If you are unsure of this aspect please contact the module leader to discuss this component.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Veterinary Biosciences BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biological Sciences BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

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 2021/2 academic year.