A 2-day Field Studies Council A Level Biology course offers a fantastic opportunity for students to undertake ecological investigations in a variety of inspiring habitats and complete relevant required practicals. 

Students will develop their practical skills, use various apparatus and techniques, and deepen their understanding of ecological syllabus content and synoptic links through first-hand experience. You can extend the course to 3 days to allow the students to take more ownership of their investigations and cover skills to a greater extent.   

A wide range of mathematical skills are embedded into every course, including a variety of calculations such as an index of diversity, standard deviation, uncertainties and percentage error, and the appropriate use of statistical tests. 

Example Timetable

The following is an example of how this 2-day course might look. This course usually runs from 9.30am – 4pm, but times can be adjusted to suit your group and travel plans. (If you choose to turn this into a 3-day course, more techniques can be covered, in more detail. For example, you could cover succession and ecosystem energetics as well as having a full day to concentrate on the required practical including planning, justification and statistical analysis).

Day 1

Techniques

  • Investigation 1 – Habitat comparison - background information about the habitats to inform hypotheses.
  • Fieldwork – collection of abiotic and biotic data in two contrasting habitats.
  • Data analysis – Time dependent this may include calculation of an index of diversity, statistical analysis (means, standard deviation, and/or t-test), and discussion of conclusions and limitations.
  • Investigation 2 – investigating change along a transect.
  • Fieldwork – collection of abiotic and biotic data along an interrupted belt transect.
  • Data analysis - Time dependent this may include statistical analysis (Spearman’s rank), data presentation, and discussion of conclusions and limitations.

Day 2

Small group investigations

Introductory session to consider different quadrat types and sampling techniques and the advantages and disadvantages of each of these (covers Edexcel B Core Practical 15).

  • Small group investigations - Students will have the opportunity to use skills developed so far, to design and carry out their own investigations and complete assessed practical work (see specification links below).
  • Planning - students will visit sites to make observations and begin to plan their chosen investigation including sampling method, equipment, and assessing the risks involved in the fieldwork.  They will also have the chance to carry out a pilot study. Before collecting the final data, they will return to the classroom and write up their plans, create recording sheets, etc.
  • Data collection - students will carry out their own planned methodologies.
  • Data analysis - data can then be analysed using an appropriate statistical test.  (Time dependent)

Some further work will need to be completed post course to fully cover the CPAC criteria.

Depending on timing, and teacher preference, there may also be time to complete a short freshwater investigation (the data from which can be used post-course to calculate an index of diversity).

Please note: specific timings and activities for your group are subject to change. We go out in all weathers and seasons and will tailor the content of the day accordingly.  There will be some variation between what is offered at specific centres due to habitat availability.

How this course fulfills the specification

  • AQA: 4.5 Species and Taxonomy, 4.6 Biodiversity within a community, 7.4 Populations in Ecosystems.
  • Edexcel A: Topic 4 Biodiversity and Natural Resources, Topic 5 On the Wild Side
  • Edexcel B: Topic 3 Classification and Biodiversity, Topic 10 Ecosystems
  • Eduqas: Ecological elements from Component 1 (Energy for Life) and Component 2 (Continuity of Life) OCR A: 4.2.1 Biodiversity, 4.2.2 Classification and evolution, 6.3.1 Ecosystems, 6.3.2 Populations and sustainability
  • OCR B: 3.1.3 The development of species: evolution and classification, 4.3.2 The impact of population increases

Practical Endorsement

  • Practical Skills: Independent thinking; use and application of scientific methods and practices; research and referencing (post course). Common Practical Assessment Criteria (CPAC) (2) (3) (4) (5 – pre/post course)
  • AQA:  Required Practical 12
  • Edexcel A: Core Practical 10
  • Edexcel B: Core Practicals 15 and 16

Eduqas specified practicals:

  • Day 1: Investigation into biodiversity in a habitat (2.1) and investigation into the abundance and distribution of plants in a habitat (1.5)
  • Day 2: Investigation of continuous variation in a species (2.6)
  • OCR A and B: PAG3 and PAG 12 (pre and post course work required)

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 ATa, ATe (if requested), and ATk.
  • These skills will be integrated and contextualised within the topic and ecological investigation undertaken.

Maths and Statistical Skills

This course includes a range of applied maths and graphical skills and could cover the statistical tests: Student’s t-test, chi-squared, and/or Spearman’s rank correlation coefficient. Students can also calculate Simpson’s index of diversity using their own data. The calculations completed at the centre will depend on the length of day/course; you could use the students’ data to complete different skills after the course.

Added value of this course

  • Develop personal skills
  • Have fun
  • Be inspired by a passion for the subject
  • Build friendships

Why Choose Field Studies Council?

  • Expert tuition by fully trained staff

  • Stunning locations across the UK

  • Outstanding curriculum knowledge

  • Rigorous health and safety procedures

  • Support before and after your visit

  • Free places for visiting staff