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

  • An introductory session.
  • Coverage of required practicals (RP12, RP7 and RP10).
  • Practical endorsement which includes opportunities to assess students across all 5 CPACs and higher level competencies.
  • The opportunity to practice practical skills, apparatus and techniques and the chance to progressively develop and repeat skills and techniques.
  • The study of at least three different ecosystems.
  • Detailed coverage of ecological content from units 3.4, 3.5 and 3.7 with opportunities to make synoptic links to other units.
  • Coverage of a wide range of maths and graphical skills covered including Index of Species Diversity, Mark-Release-Recapture and up to three different stats tests.
  • Investigative skills.

Example Timetable

Day 1

Morning

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 pose relevant ecological 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

Species, Taxonomy and Biodiversity (AS/A).

Students will:

  • Use field sampling methods, such as random sampling, to investigate and calculate biodiversity in contrasting habitats.
  • Consider the impact of human activities such as farming and conservation on biodiversity
  • Build upon their knowledge of phylogenetic classification and modern techniques for identification.
  • Consider anatomical, physiological or behavioural adaptations of key species.
  • Estimate the size of a population using a mark-release-recapture method.
  • Use a range of data analysis methods.

Day 3

Morning, Afternoon and Evening

Populations, Ecosystems and Succession (A).

Students will:

  • Use field sampling methods, such as non-random sampling, to determine the distribution of organisms in a named ecosystem(s).
  • Understand concepts of primary succession, from colonisation by pioneer species to climax communities.
  • Understand that conservation of habitats frequently involves management of succession.
  • Carry out a biological drawing of a named organism.
  • Build upon their knowledge of phylogenetic classification and modern techniques for identification.
  • Consider anatomical, physiological or behavioural adaptations of key species.
  • Use a range of data analysis methods.

Day 4

Morning, Afternoon and Evening

Energy and Ecosystems (A).

Students will:

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

Day 5

Morning

Investigative Skills (A).

Students will work in small groups to:

  • Plan and carry out an ecological investigation based on Required Practical 12.
  • Choose how to use IT for data collection and analysis.
  • Carry out referenced research (this may happen before, during or after the course).

Afternoon

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

Required Practicals

Any of the investigations can be designed to cover the practical skills, apparatus and techniques needed for Required Practical 12 (Investigation into the effect of a named environmental factor on the distribution of a given species).
The course can also include Required Practical 7 (Use of chromatography to investigate the pigments isolated from leaves of different plants) and Required Practical 10 (Investigation into the effect of an environmental variable on the movement of an animal).
These can be integrated and contextualised into the whole day themes dependent on the habitats and species available.
There will also be opportunities to further practice apparatus and techniques through other practical tasks including: ATa, ATEe, ATh, ATk and ATl.

Practical Endorsement

There will be multiple opportunities to assess all 5 CPAC skills areas throughout the course 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 an Index of Species Diversity.

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