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BIO2003 : Field Identification Skills

  • Offered for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Mark Whittingham
  • Co-Module Leader: Dr Mark Shirley
  • Lecturer: Dr Janet Simkin
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


To provide a concentrated training in the field and laboratory skills required to identify a variety of species in the British flora and fauna.

Outline Of Syllabus

Entomology: collection, curation and identification of insects using taxonomic keys;
Ornithology: field identification of birds by sight using field guides, with demonstrations of identification in the wild, from photos and in the hand (captured for ringing);capture, inspection and ringing;
Higher plants: collection, curation and identification of flowering plants, trees and ferns using field guides, taxonomic keys and other resources.
Lower plants: collection, curation and identification of bryophytes, lichens and other non-flowering plants, using field guides, keys and other resources.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion322:3067:30Preparation revision material for birds and plants. Students need to ID birds or plants
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials11:001:00Non-synchronous introduction to on-line course
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical52:0010:00Field course (PiP)
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study121:3021:30Background reading and independent research
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The timing of these weeks between academic years allows for the intensity of work required to train students in taxonomic expertise, whilst the weeks are selected as the best times of year in which to find the target taxa in the field with relative ease and in diverse forms.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Practical/lab report1M1001 piece of assessment from 2 options. Each assessment comprises a combination of class test,specimen collection and field notebook.
Formative Assessments
Description Semester When Set Comment
Practical/lab report1MMultiple practice tests (similar format to final assessment)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Students are required to spend some time preparing for the activities each day and for the end of unit test.

Students take one unit from a choice of two (Birds or Plants)with each unit being assessed by a combination of the following (a subset of these are used for some units, e.g. no collections of birds) tests, collections and/or field notebooks. The exact composition of the assessment differs between units depending on the subject. The tests will assess knowledge of the identity of common species and the ability to identify others using keys and field guides.

Reading Lists