A 5-day FSC A Level Biology course offers an unrivalled opportunity for students to undertake a range of ecological investigations in a variety of inspiring habitats and complete relevant core practicals. Students will develop their practical skills, use of apparatus and techniques, and deepen their understanding of ecological syllabus content and synoptic links through first-hand experience.
A wide range of mathematical skills are embedded into every course, including a variety of graphical forms, calculations such as Simpson’s index of diversity, standard deviation, uncertainties and percentage error, and the appropriate use of statistical tests.
The following is an example of how a 5-day course might look. Our courses are as flexible as possible to meet your requirements, with other topics and skills able to be substituted into this timetable. There will be some variation between what is offered at specific centres due to habitat availability.
Welcome by FSC staff, centre tour and introduction, pre-course meeting of FSC staff and teachers, allocation of wellies and waterproofs as appropriate.
Afternoon and evening - Immersion in Ecology (including Core Practical 15)
A half day introductory session which is used to immerse, engage and inspire students in ecological skills and environments. Current ecological ‘hot topics’ and synoptic links are introduced, and students are challenged to question the world around them. Core Practical 15, investigating different sampling methods, can also be covered in this session.
Students will use random sampling to compare two habitats, calculate species diversity and investigate variation within a species using Student’s t-test. This could be done in various habitats, including rocky shore, woodland, heathland or moorland depending on the centre visited.
Succession (including Core Practical 16a)
A full day session investigating succession using systematic sampling. Students will measure abundance and distribution of species and analyse the data using Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient. Core Practical 16a, investigating the effect of an abiotic factor on the distribution of a species, can also be covered in this session.
An investigation looking at energy flow and the efficiency of energy transfer within an ecosystem, either in freshwater or on the rocky shore, depending on the centre. Data will be analysed using a chi-squared test.
Investigative Skills (Core Practical 16b)
A half-day session in which students will plan, justify and carry out their own ecological investigation into the effect of one abiotic factor on the morphology of one species. They will collect, process and analyse their own data, and research and reference their findings.
How this course fulfills the specification
How this course fulfils the specification
Detailed coverage of ecological content from Topics 3 and 10, with opportunities to make synoptic links to other units, for example transport in plants and photosynthesis.
Our courses will include Core Practical 15 and 16 and can also include Core Practical 11.
There will be multiple opportunities to assess all five CPAC during practical activities, including those that require demonstration of independence and some degree of choice (e.g., CPAC 2).
Students will be encouraged to use IT for data collection and analysis, and to carry out referenced research (CPAC 5). Students will undertake risk assessment for all environments visited and techniques used (CPAC 3).
Practical Skills, Apparatus and Techniques
The ‘hands on’ nature of our courses provide multiple opportunities for students to apply the practical skills on which they will be assessed and develop and demonstrate their use of apparatus and techniques including: 1, 5, 8, 11 and 12.
These skills will be integrated and contextualised within the topics and ecological investigations undertaken.
Maths and Statistical Skills
Our courses include a wide range of applied maths and graphical skills and, depending on the topics covered, can cover the following statistical tests: Student’s t-test, Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient and the chi-squared test. Students can also calculate Simpson’s index of diversity using their own data.
Added value of this course
- Develop personal skills
- Have fun
- Be inspired by a passion for the subject
- Build friendships