In line with good practice, module content is regularly updated and module titles may on occasion change to reflect updated content in the advances in the field of study.
As a complete ecologist an understanding of what is happening in organisms at the molecular level is increasingly vital. The aim of this module is to introduce to you the basic concepts and chemical foundations of biochemistry and cell biology. We will also develop your understanding of structure and function at the molecular level. This module prepares you for further study in more advanced cell and molecular modules.
Diversity of Life
The ability to identify organisms accurately is one of the keystones of ecology. This module can equip you with a fundamental understanding of evolutionary relationships between living things, their shared evolutionary history and the physiological and anatomical features that groups of organisms have in common. The module also aims to develop skills in identification of organisms and the use of dichotomous keys.
Genetics and Evolution
The extra dimension of molecular biology will give you depth and versatility as an ecologist. From eDNA to population genetics and use of microsatellites, molecular biology will only become more relevant to ecology as we move into the future. This level 4 module aims to give you the necessary background in genetics and evolutionary biology, providing broad knowledge of Mendelian genetics and the mechanisms of evolution, which are essential for the study of biological and environmental sciences.
Introduction to Ecology
Another pillar of ecology is learning how to carry out high quality investigations in the field. The module will develop your field skills and introduce a range of ecological sampling methods. We will also develop your wider appreciation and understanding of the range of different ecosystems and the effect of different environments on organisms.
Science Skills and Introduction to Statistics
Lovely satisfying statistics! In this module we will gently introduce you to all the beauty of nature rendered down to numbers for the purpose of analysis. This module could mark the start of your journey to independent competence as an investigator of nature. We aim to develop the necessary background in science communication, skills and methods essential for the study of the biological sciences (in your case, ecology). This module will also aim to provide the background knowledge and self-belief required for the Level 5 Data Handling module.
Soil Science and Plant Nutrition
A much under-appreciated and hugely understudied component of ecology is the soil, and the interactions between soil and plants. The aim of this module is to introduce the basic concepts of soil science, focussing on the physical properties of soil, the fundamentals of soil chemistry and hydrology, and the way in which soils and plants are inextricably interlinked. This module will prepare you for further study in more advanced aspects of soil science, plant physiology and land management. You may also get muddy at some point in the module.
Animal Behavioural Ecology
Underpinning much of ecology is behaviour. The behaviour of different organisms, coupled with their physiology, dictates factors such as where they sit in the food chain. This module aims to introduce you to the ecological side of animal behaviour. You will learn about the main influences on behaviour and how these can influence animal behaviour at an individual, group and species level. You will be able to use the content of this course to design and carry out animal behaviour studies in an ecological context.
Chemistry of the Environment
This course aims to provide you with an understanding of the fundamental theoretical concepts and practical applications of environmental chemistry. You are introduced to the chemistry underlying the aquatic, terrestrial and atmospheric environments. It will also aim to add an extra dimension to you as an applied ecologist by making you familiar with some of the different chemical analytical methods that can be used in the monitoring of these environments. We will foster in you a critical approach to these methods as part of your journey towards becoming a deep thinking, self-aware scientist. In addition to becoming familiar with the natural chemical processes in soil, water and air, you will also be encouraged to critically analyse and discuss environmental issues, such as smog, acid rain, global warming, ozone depletion and water pollution.
This module aims to develop the techniques necessary to handle quantitative biological data analysis and introduce the beginnings of bioinformatics. Central to the first aim will be introducing the powerful statistical programming language, R. This “programming” language is critical to current approaches to handling/analysing data, particularly “big data”, and is in the process of becoming an industry standard for complex data analysis. The module will also introduce critical biological sequence analysis techniques that form the foundation of the more complex bioinformatics techniques and knowledge (much of which will be introduced in the level 6 Bioinformatics 1 and Bioinformatics 2 modules). This module will enable you to become comfortable with the console-based software and to use it for your statistical and data display needs.
Options are subject to availability and may change. The work placement module is offered based on suitable work placement being available and the student being accepted by the employer offering the placement.
Animal Pests and Diseases
One of the most exacting habitats is that inside an animal. This module will encourage you to develop the necessary knowledge to enable them to make reasoned arguments on current issues in the field of animal pests, parasites and pathogens. You will be encouraged to develop a holistic view of the relationship between pests, parasites and pathogens, their target host species and their environments. It will also cultivate an understanding that human needs and activities can have a profound effect upon the prevalence and evolution of virulence in pests, parasites and pathogens.
Plant Pests and Pathogens
You will be introduced to the quiet slow, violent contest taking place between plants and the organisms that seek to exploit them. Plants respond in extreme and unexpected ways to invasion by other organisms. This module will enable you to develop a knowledge of common important plant pests and diseases, their effects on plant growth and yield, and how to recognise them in the field. The module also aims develop your ability to analyse and interpret published data through student led discussions about specific pests and diseases and their control.
Plants in the Environment
The aim of this module is to build upon the basic concepts of plant science from level 4, considering how plants differ in space and time and how plant communities are managed. You will have the opportunity to study natural and agricultural systems in the field during the five-day field course section of the module. The module allows you to apply a cross-disciplinary approach to the management of problems in the area of plant ecology. The strong fieldwork element also gives them practical skills that can be used throughout their undergraduate studies and beyond.
This more open and student led module provides you with the golden and employment enhancing opportunity to develop key skills and experience while working in a commercial environment. You should develop critical reflection skills as you review your own competencies and development requirements.
The aim of this module is to further develop and deepen your understanding of ecology and its utility as an aid to plant and animal conservation. The world of conservation is one of regular conflict and The module aims to enable students to develop a deep understanding of the issues, techniques and legislation concerned with conserving plant and animal species.
Current Science Issues
This module aims to develop your wider understanding of how science influences and affects society. You will develop your independent research and analysis skills as you study and comment on important contemporary science issues.
The aim of this module is to develop a conceptual and systematic understanding of molecular ecology as a multidisciplinary research area, as well as its applications, bringing together concepts and techniques from molecular biology, genetics/genomics, population and evolutionary genetics, behavioural ecology, conservation biology, taxonomy and systematics. Many of the really sticky questions in ecology, for example how much are different species affected by habitat fragmentation, can be investigated using molecular methods.
This module is where you showcase your learning from the rest of your degree. You will be let loose (with support and encouragement from your own dedicated project supervisor) to undertake a piece of commercially/socially relevant research.
You will be helped to identify an area of research directly relevant to your degree pathway. You will then design and undertake appropriate experiments and field work to investigate this area. As a BSc (Hons) Ecology student you will be are required to undertake field based research evidencing a minimum of 10 days fieldwork. The module aims to give you experience of independent research, analysis and experience of presenting findings in two styles: a written scientific paper and a presented poster or presentation to a non-specialist audience.
Options are subject to availability and may change
Animal health and husbandry
The aims of the module are to explore the importance of animals in society and the scientific background to animal health and welfare issues, including nutrition, good husbandry, pain perception, the ability of animals to cope with their environments and the physiological and behavioural aspects of health and welfare. It further develops an objective and questioning approach to the evaluation of health and welfare issues.
Animal Reproduction and Development
This module aims to provide you with an understanding of both reproductive and parental strategies, and the various stages of embryogenesis in a range of vertebrate and invertebrate organisms.