Field Courses

One of the most exciting aspects of our degrees is the range of opportunities for fieldwork on offer. Field courses offer valuable opportunities to apply your knowledge and practical research skills outside of the lab, so we offer the option of a field course in every year.  The locations range from North Yorkshire to the Mediterranean and Pembrokeshire to Kenya. 

Field Course Locations

Scarborough beach

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Field Courses

Year 1 - Coastal and Uplands Habitats, Scarborough, North Yorkshire.

The Scarborough field course takes place over the summer, after the end of first year exams. It is compulsory for all students studying Biology, Ecology and Conservation Biology and Zoology. It is optional for those studying Biology with Enterprise and Genetics.

Field courses provide a great opportunity to put the skills learnt during your first year of study into practice, as well as to work and socialise with other course members.

Students on the field course are exposed to a wide range of natural systems: moorland plants and birds, intertidal invertebrates, freshwater fish and insects and sea bird colonies. In addition to providing a taste of Yorkshire's natural history, the field course gives students a first taste of field research in a group setting. It also helps prepare students for more independent field work as part of their final year research.

Dale Fort Pembrokeshire view photo gallery

Field Courses

Year 2 - Marine Zoology Field Course, Dale Fort, Pembrokeshire

The field study to Dale Fort is in September at the beginning of year 2, immediately after the summer break. The course is compulsory for students who are studying Zoology, but unfortunately is not usually available to any other students due to space limitations.

Dale Fort is located on the Pembroke coast, close to Milford Haven, and is a fantastic location for the study of zoology, with excellent marine biology and bird study opportunities.

Studies at Dale Fort mainly focus on marine biology, including rockpool studies and invertebrate studies. The bryozoan that the students are inspecting in the picture above is an example of the types of invertebrates that are found at Dale Fort. In addition, the field course provides a great location for continuing experimental developmental biology.

Malham Tarn Caving view photo gallery

Field Courses

Year 2 - Terrestrial Ecology and Behaviour Field Course, Malham Tarn, Yorkshire Dales.

The field course to Malham Tarn is typically in June of year 2, after the summer exam period. It is available to students studying Biology, Ecology and Conservation Biology and Zoology. This course aims to give you a taste of the pleasures and the challenges of field research, and to reinforce and expand upon the ecological, behavioural or field-based training you have received over your first two years at Leeds.

The estate is a National Nature Reserve and RAMSAR site of international importance. The field centre is in woodland on the edge of an upland tarn, with an adjacent raised bog and a plant rich fen. The estate is surrounded by a magnificent limestone plateau, with some of the most spectacular upland landscape in the UK. Malham Cove and Gordale Scar - impressive limestone features with an interesting geological history - are close by. This wide range of habitats offers a rich fauna and flora: internationally rare plants and invertebrates are found in the fen, peregrine falcons nest on Malham Cove, little owls feed in broad daylight above the cove and 200 Pipistrelle bats roost in the roof over the bedrooms; you can catch as many as five bat species in a single night!

This makes it an ideal location to study a wide range of topics in behaviour and ecology. The course is project-based with options including habitat preferences of small mammals, behavioural patterns in bats, foraging and territorial behaviour of birds, the bioacoustics of bat echolocation and bird song and web-building in spiders.

We run a number of other activities, including a caving trip for the bold as well as the infamous field study pub quiz and treasure hunt!

Mediterranean field course view photo gallery

Field Courses

Year 2 - Mediterranean Ecology Field Course

The Mediterranean Field Ecology course is taken during the Easter vacation period in year 2. It is compulsory for students who are on the Ecology and Conservation Biology degree programme.

It is important for ecologists to be exposed to a wide range of habitats and field techniques. With this in mind we offer the opportunity of a second field course as an integral part of the Ecology degree, usually to the Iberian Peninsula. It makes a great microcosm to explore the issues and trade-offs that confront biodiversity conservation throughout Europe: expanding human populations and development pressures, habitat restoration, invasive species, and the benefits and risks of ecotourism.

Students work in small groups (typically of two or three), designing, carrying out, and analysing independent research projects.

Recent projects have included work on the social interactions within macaque troops, the effects of feather parasites on bird performance, and thermoregulation in lizards. A substantial proportion of recent students have used these field course projects to explore issues they mean to work on in greater depth in their final year research projects.

South Africa sunsetview photo galleryField Courses

Year 3 - African Ecology Field Course (South Africa).

The African Field Ecology study is available to students on Biology, Ecology and Conservation Biology and Zoology. It takes place in September of year 3, before teaching resumes at the end of the summer vacation. The site chosen for the study is The Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It has been specifically chosen due to the different types of habitat that it offers and the large number of diverse species of animals and plants alike, with many species that are unique to this location.

Students will be required to take part in group projects collecting data and samples and analysing them with help from University lecturers and demonstrators, as well as staff from the nearby Rhodes University. Past projects have included study into the diet of the black rhino, small mammal diversity and distribution, kudu-vegetation interactions and ungulate density and distribution.

As part of the field study, students visit the Addo Elephant Park and the "Big Seven" (elephant, rhino, lion, buffalo, leopard, southern right whale and great white shark). A visit to a private game reserve in Kwandwe provides great access to large mammal fauna.

The African Field Study provides students with a fantastic opportunity to refine their skills for their final year project and, later on, the world of work.

If you'd like to see what the trip is like, MBiol Biology student Claire has written a fantastic blog post about her South African experience.

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Year 4 - Mpala Research Centre, Kenya Field Course

On the MBiol Biology, Ecology and Zoology programmes there  is also the option to visit the Mpala Research Centre in Kenya in your fourth year.

Visit Mpala Live! to see round-the-clock views of hippos, elephants, and other incredible species in Kenya’s Laikipia County, the area that surrounds the Mpala Research Centre and see where you could be studying.

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