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BIO3003 : Ecological Modelling (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2021/22
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Stephen Rushton
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0


To introduce students to the methodology of designing and implementing ecological models for tactical and strategic research. Introduce students to programme design and developments.

Outline Of Syllabus

The timetable has two blocks of teaching activities: lectures and practicals in the computer laboratory.

The course will consist of three components:

i) Introduction to the theory behind ecological modelling. This will comprise 5-6 hours of lectures where students are introduced to different approaches and different applications. The emphasis will be on when, where and how one models different systems. During the course of developing their own model, students will be assessed on defining the problem, scoping the problem, formulation of conceptual diagrams and mathematical formulation of the problem.

ii) Introduction to use of R as a programming language.

iii) Development, testing and application of a model tailored to the individual students interests. This element of the course involves computing, analysis and write up of reports. The majority of this work including the writing is undertaken under supervision. Students are trained to write their reports as an academic publication.

iv) Introduction to problem solving using a modelling approach. This aims to discuss how one would create a model and use it to solve a real ecological problem.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture151:0015:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Report
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesPractical93:0027:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study151:0015:00Post lecture reading, Blackboard, Recap
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study113:0013:00Directed reading and synthesis for project report.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures are used to explain the challenging conceptual framework which underpins different modelling approaches in ecology, backed up by references to the research literature. The extensive computer-based practicals provide the hands-on training experience to enable students to develop a model of their own from first principles.

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Research paper1M100Project report (2000 words)
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The project write-up assesses practical modelling skills primarily; scoping the problem, and designing and implementing a solution. The key objective of the module is to provide translational skills. These are best achieved through practical approaches to problem solving as experienced in the project itself and the write up.

Students are not penalised if the model fails to solve the problem.

Study Abroad students may request to take their exam before the semester 1 exam period, in which case the format of the paper may differ from that shown in the MOF. Study Abroad students should contact the school to discuss this.

Reading Lists