Accessibility statement

Organisms in their Environment - BIO00036I

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  • Department: Biology
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Pen Holland
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

Topics covered in this module include the practical and theoretical aspects of plant and animal sampling, and the experimental design, data analysis and interpretation for populations and communities in different environments.

A set of taught workshops in the Autumn term is assessed via a written report based on practical work and data analysis carried out in the Spring term. Students then prepare for and undertake a residential field course in the Summer term, with a York-based non-residential option available as required. This is assessed via a poster.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Autumn Term 2022-23 to Summer Term 2022-23

Module aims

The module builds on ecological knowledge and skills from Stage 1 modules Animal and Plant Biology and Scientific Skills.

We aim to:

-Develop practical skills and relate these to theory

-Extend knowledge of the applications and limitations of methods used for ecological data collection and analysis

The acquisition of field, practical and analytical skills in this module will support research projects and further field courses in Stage 3/4.

Module learning outcomes

1. Choose, use and critique sampling techniques for plants and animals in their environment.

2. Choose, use and critique analysis methods for ecological sample data.

3. Interpret and discuss (with reference to theory) patterns of ecological populations and communities in their environment.

4. Work in a small group to develop and carry out a field research project.

5. Communicate and discuss ecological field work methods, results and implications to a scientific audience via written and poster presentation.

Module content

The module is taught using a blended approach, with online resources, practicals, and preparatory work before workshops that include brief presentations to introduce and contextualise the topics under consideration. Workshops focus on active learning by the students to build their own skills and mental models, and this is developed through structured private study and formative work using Lego communities and an online repository of class outputs.

During the field course, the students will have the opportunity to discover more directly how plants and animals live in their environment, and to develop and execute an ecological investigation in small groups for approximately five days. After introduction to a range of habitats, the students, under the supervision of a member of staff, will be responsible for (1) defining the aim of their study, (2) coming up with a sensible scientific design in one of the available sites, (3) carrying out the survey or experiment, (4) processing the samples and analysing the results, and (5) communicating their findings from the field course and taught course by means of an individual poster presentation.


Task Length % of module mark
Individual Open Assessment
N/A 50
N/A 50

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Formative work includes workshop tasks (collecting/analysing data, producing graphs, interpreting statistics) and a practice report, to prepare students for summative work.


Task Length % of module mark
Individual Open Assessment
N/A 50
N/A 50

Module feedback

Marks for open assessments will be made available to you and your supervisor via e:vision. Individual comments will be added to your script and/or on separate summary feedback document. Histograms of module marks will be posted on the notice boards outside the Biology Student Services office. You should take the opportunity to discuss your marks and feedback with your supervisor.

During the teaching of the module you will receive feedback that may be at a whole class or individual level. Forms of feedback may include: model answers and discussion of workshop questions, summaries of performance in practicals, VLE-based quizzes, individual spoken comments during workshops, individual written comments on formative work.

Indicative reading

These are available through the VLE module site.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.