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

Module Leader

PIRIE Tara (Biosciences)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

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

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 69

Lecture Hours: 20

Tutorial Hours: 2

Practical/Performance Hours: 22

Guided Learning: 7

Captured Content: 30

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • An Introduction to Key Concepts in Ecology:

             Community structure & trophic interactions

             Species diversity & measurement

             Ecological change & succession

             Population concepts (growth, dispersal & dispersion)

  • Field methods in Ecology (animals and plants)

Species identification (morphology), ID keys & collation

General habitat types & their classification 

Direct/indirect species monitoring

Specific survey methodology (dependent on species)

              Practical skills/experience including survey methodology (e.g. camera trapping)

  • Plus fieldwork/site visits

  • Computer lab tutorial sessions for analytical methods in Ecology

                 Basic analysis             


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Assignment 1 - Group Video 30
Coursework Assignment 2 - Individual short written article 20
Coursework Assignment 3 - Individual methods and write up proforma 50

Alternative Assessment

Assessment 1 & 2 (IS1): If the group work is missed (with extenuating circumstances) the student can submit a video produced individually 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 (IS2). Assessment 3 (IS3): If IS3 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 using self-help videos during the semester, but no support will be available.

Assessment Strategy

Thus the summative assessment provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate:

The application of knowledge introduced in lectures and formative practical sessions along with transferable skills in different forms of communication, as well as interpretation and data presentation. This will be tested in assignments 1 and 2 (IS1 and IS2) LO1, LO2, LO3.  

Reporting/survey and analytical/cognitive skills via the individual write-up proforma of assignment 3 (IS3) LO4, LO5, LO6, LO7, with a computer-based GIS exercise as well as the application of knowledge about plant and animal survey methods in the write-up.

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.

  • MCQ questions and quizzes on SurreyLearn and in class

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
  • 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 Identify how plants and animals are adapted to their environmental conditions KC
002 Describe the factors responsible for specific communities and their distribution. KC
003 Assess the principles ways in which individuals and species, including humans, interact within an ecosystem. KC
004 Critique strategies/methods/tools to survey plant and animal communities. KCP
005 Conduct and report on investigations. KCPT
006 Analyse and interpret numerical data. KCPT
007 Undertake field investigations in a responsible/ethical manner whilst demonstrating an awareness for health & safety. KCPT

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.

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 fieldwork 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:


Interactive tutorials

Practical sessions – field and computer lab

Formative MCQ tests delivered via SurreyLearn and in class

Summative assessments

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. If you are unsure of this aspect please contact the module leader to discuss this component.

Resourcefulness & resilience: The assessments for this module rely partly on the ability to interpret and understand primary research literature. The assignments which have individual and group elements will allow students to develop problem-solving, decision-making, self-efficacy, self-regulation and confidence. 

Global & cultural capabilities: Students will work in small groups during the practical sessions and for an assignment which will encourage and engage students in working with other students from different cultures and abilities to achieve an end goal.

Sustainability: Principals of ecology underpin what is meant by sustainability and how it can be achieved. Therefore, the ecological theory covered in the module will allow students to engage in and understand the fundamentals of sustainability.

Digital capabilities: Students engage with self-help videos and in-person class demonstrations to introduce and improve the use of statistical software, excel, and GIS. The skills learned will be applied in the assignments undertaken to equip the students for a variety of modern professions.

 Employability: The practical and theoretical knowledge learned during the module are included specifically to equip the students for a variety of ecologically based professions. Transferable skills such as the ability to explain concepts to the public are included to equip students for a variety of modern professions.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Environment and Sustainability BSc (Hons) 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Veterinary Biosciences BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biological Sciences (Infection and Immunity) BSc (Hons) 2 Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biological Sciences (Animal Biology and Ecology) 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 2025/6 academic year.