Skip to main content


NES1304 : UK Wildlife

  • Offered for Year: 2023/24
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Richard Bevan
  • Lecturer: Dr Mark Shirley
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Mixed Location
  • Capacity limit: 60 student places

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System


Through the lectures the course aims:
• To introduce stage 2 students to the major terrestrial vertebrate groups in the UK, namely the amphibians,
reptiles and mammals (but excludes birds).
• To introduce the characteristics of the various groups within the classes as well as their ecology and some
of the threats to the different groups/species
• To instruct the students in the various survey techniques used to study the animals.

The practicals provide the students with an opportunity to undertake some of the field surveys outlined in the lecture material while the preparation of the Wildlife Documentary Proposal provides the students with the opportunity to apply the information provided in the lectures and practicals to a particular species or habitat and to work collegiately within a group.

Outline Of Syllabus

The lecture material will introduce the students to UK Wildlife and could cover:
•       Amphibians
•       Reptiles
•       Rodents
•       Shrews, moles and Hedgehogs
•       Rabbits and hares
•       Bats
•       Marine mammals
•       Ungulates
•       Carnivores
•       Invasive species

For each animal group, the identifying characteristics for the group and those for the different species making up that group will be outlined (morphology, markings, footprints etc.). The ecology of the various groups will be examined as will their conservation status.

Practicals will introduce field skills such as:
•       Survey techniques
•       Diet analysis
•       Radio tracking

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials180:309:00Online via Canvas - A combination of short recordings of lecture material etc. published on canvas
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture221:0022:00Weekly in-person lectures used to consolidate the material provided online (includes module intro)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion115:0015:00Wildlife Documentary Proposal (60%)
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion18:008:00Online quiz via Canvas (40%)
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading116:0016:00Lecture follow-up
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching31:304:30Small group sessions to discuss group proposal
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork23:006:00Practicals linked to small mammal trapping at Cockle Park
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study119:3019:30Researching literature
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

The online lectures will provide information on the identification of the different species as well as their biology, ecology and conservation. The in-person lectures will support the on-line material and will also introduce the different survey and analytical techniques used in monitoring the species in the wild. The practicals will provide an opportunity for the students to undertake some of the techniques commonly used to survey for the animal groups such as small mammal trapping, spraint analysis and radio tracking. The main seminar will explore the issues surrounding human-wildlife conflict. The shorter seminars will be used for the student groups to work on their Wildlife Documentary Proposal; providing them with time and space to discuss their ideas between group members and with teaching staff.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Prof skill assessmnt2M60Wildlife documentary proposal (10-15 powerpoint slides in note format)
Computer assessment2M40Canvas assessment
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The lecture and practical material will be assessed through an online test via an online test using a variety of question styles (MCQ, matching answers etc.).

The Wildlife documentary proposal is the main assessment for the module. For this piece of assessment, students are expected to design a TV nature documentary based on a particular environmental or ecological subject, in the style of something they might see in a programme such as ‘Horizon’ or any of the David Attenborough series. The concept of this practical follows the idea of “learning by teaching”. By being required to present their material in such a way that it would be understood by a general, educated audience, the students have to have a thorough understanding of the material. Additionally, they learn more about field techniques by planning and justifying the practical elements that would be necessary to produce such a film. The students are encouraged to make their documentary interesting – not just a film version of a textbook – by presenting a particular angle or story, for example, following a particular animal’s or plant’s life, presenting the “story of a day” or “story of a year”, following researchers through a field season, or any other original idea.

The assessed output of the documentary proposal is the storyboard of the documentary, including all narration and interview text, and a list/description of the resources and fieldwork techniques required to accomplish the film. Students work in groups and are told that their documentaries should be aimed at 15 minutes in length. The assessed work will be based on a group submission but with a peer assessment component.

Reading Lists