This course contains content from both the ‘AS’ and ‘A’ Edexcel B Biology specifications and includes:

  • An introductory session.
  • Sampling methods of Core Practical 15, abiotic factor and species distribution of Core Practical 16a and abiotic factor and species morphology of one species of Core Practical 16b.
  • Practical endorsement which includes opportunities to assess students across all 5 CPACs with further opportunities to assess higher level competencies.
  • The study of at least three different ecosystems.
  • Coverage of ecological content from Topic 3 and 10 with opportunities to make synoptic links to other units.
  • Coverage of a wide range of maths and graphical skills covered including Index of Simpson Diversity Index and up to three different stats tests.

Example Timetable

Day 1


Arrive Midday
  • Students greeted by FSC staff.
  • Welcome talk and Centre tour.
  • Pre-course meeting with FSC staff and teachers.
  • Allocation of wellies/waterproofs.

Afternoon and Evening

Introduction to Ecology (AS/A).

Students will:

  • Carry out immersive activities to connect them to local habitats.
  • Practice observational and sampling skills and look for ecological patterns so that they can pose relevant questions needed in good field investigations.
  • Investigate the taxonomy, ecology and adaptations of some common species.
  • Agree on class and individual course objectives.

Day 2

Morning, Afternoon and Evening

Biodiversity and Classification (AS/A).

Students will:

  • Complete Core Practical 15: Investigate the effect of different sampling methods on estimates of a population size (quadrat comparison).
  • Use field sampling methods, such as random sampling, to investigate and calculate biodiversity in contrasting habitats.
  • Practice looking for ecological patterns and posing relevant scientific questions.
  • Consider how biotic and abiotic variables and human impacts (such as climate change), may affect biodiversity.
  • Build upon their knowledge of phylogenetic classification and modern techniques for identification.
  • Consider anatomical, physiological or behavioural adaptations of key species.
  • Do an annotated biological drawing of a named organism.
  • Use a range of data analysis methods. (inc: Student’s t-test for Core Practical 15)

Day 3

Morning, Afternoon and Evening

Succession and Ecosystems (AS/A).

Students will:

  • Complete Core Practical 16a: Investigate the effect of one abiotic factor on the distribution of one species.
  • Use field sampling methods, such as non-random sampling, to determine the distribution and abundance of organisms in a named habitat(s) where succession may have occurred.
  • Practice looking for ecological patterns and posing relevant scientific questions.
  • Understand the stages of succession from colonisation to a climax community.
  • Explore how ecosystems are maintained and dynamically change over time with abiotic, biotic and human factors (such as climate change).
  • Understand how the concept of niche accounts for distribution and abundance of organisms in a habitat.
  • Further develop taxonomic skills and explore adaptations of key species.
  • Use a range of data analysis methods. (inc: Correlation Co-efficient for Core Practical 16a)

Day 4

Morning, Afternoon and Evening

CORE PRACTICAL 16b: Investigate the effect of one abiotic factor on the morphology of one species. (A).

Students will work in small groups to:

  • Research relevant information on the chosen species and habitats and link to appropriate biological ideas.
  • Develop an ecological question/testable hypothesis (based on the habitats and species investigated or observed earlier in the course).
  • Identify the variables in the investigation including those that, where possible, may need to be controlled.
  • Devise methods to collect data using IT where appropriate. Identify potential sources of error and how they may minimised. Consider how the data will be statistically analysed.
  • Complete a risk assessment.
  • Trial the method and make any modifications necessary.
  • Carry out the main data collection.
  • Analyse, present and interpret the data using IT where appropriate.
  • Draw conclusions from the results using biological principles and concepts.
  • Discuss the limitations of the results and conclusions based upon them, and suggest modifications that you could make to the procedure.

Day 5


Energy and Ecosystems (A).

Students will:

  • Measure the abundance of different organisms from different trophic levels within a named ecosystem (freshwater, marine or terrestrial).
  • Understand gross and net productivity.
  • Use primary and secondary data to quantify the efficiency of biomass and energy transfer.
  • Use a range of data analysis methods.


Depart at Midday
  • Review of the course.
  • Signposting further actions and opportunities with the FSC and beyond.
  • Final farewell from FSC staff.

Please note: to ensure safe and quality learning experiences for students, the timetable may alter depending on weather conditions and local factors at centres.

How this course fulfills the specification

Specification Links

Practical and Maths Skills

Practical Skills, Apparatus and Techniques

As well as through completing the Core Practicals, there will be multiple other opportunities to practice apparatus and techniques (esp. a, e, h, k and l) and to cover the key practical skills that students will be directly assessed on in their exams.
These skills will be integrated and contextualised into the whole day themes dependent on the habitats and species available.

Practical Endorsement

There will be multiple opportunities to assess all 5 CPAC skills areas through the completion of the Core Practicals and during other practical activities, including those that require demonstration of individual competency 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).

Maths and Stats Skills

The course will include a wide range of maths and graphical skills and can cover the following statistical tests: Student’s t-test, Correlation Co-efficient and Chi-squared test.
The days that these tests work best with will depend on the available habitats and species at each Centre.
Students will also calculate the Simpson Diversity Index.

Added value of this course

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

Why Choose FSC?

  • 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