Skip to main content


Tenerife Field Course

Module titleTenerife Field Course
Module codeBIO3417
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Professor Tom Tregenza (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks



Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

The Spanish Island of Tenerife, in the Canary Islands, is located over 1000 kilometres from the mainland, and is crowned by the volcanic Mount Teide, the highest mountain in Spain. It has a diversity of over 600 endemic species.

This field course will demonstrate the adaptations of plants and animals to habitats ranging from arid scrublands to humid laurel forests, and coniferous woodlands. You will examine behaviour and interactions of animals and plants in these habitats, conducting observational and experimental studies. The course involves walks, tours, small-group projects, discussions and presentations. Once back in the UK, you will present a poster on your projects, and a short video on a topic of interest to you.

Due to the fact that this is a field-based unit in remote environments with some mountainous routes, it may present a challenge for students with impaired physical abilities. Such students wishing to choose this module should seek advice from the module co-ordinator – details of accessibility issues are provided on the module ELE page.

When participating in field courses, you will be required to cover any visa costs and, if necessary, purchase anti-malarial medication and relevant immunisations. You will also need to provide your own specialist personal equipment appropriate to the field course destination, eg. walking boots, rucksack, mosquito net, sleeping bag, binoculars. You may incur additional costs dependent upon the specific demands of the research project chosen. Details of specialist equipment, vaccinations and visas that you must supply at your own expense are provided at

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module aims to develop your scientific knowledge and understanding within three main areas – evolutionary ecology, behaviour, and conservation, as they apply to a volcanic island with high endemism:

  • Introduction to a range of habitats on the island.
  • Group observation, data collection, discussion and data synthesis based on visits to protected areas.
  • Independent research projects in characteristic regional habitats or nature reserves.

The activities on this field course are driven by research that is currently taking place in Tenerife, and you will have the opportunity to learn from local experts and researchers; and engage in projects of relevance to the environmental challenges faced on such a small and diverse island, with a large tourism industry.

The teaching contributions on this module involve elements of research undertaken by module staff, such as work on insect behaviour in the wild (Tregenza) and population genetics (Lowe). Moreover, you are encouraged to undertake enquiry-led learning, specifically through practicals we will design as a group and through your research project.

This module will strengthen employability potential, through the application planning and execution skills in the design of your research project, and through skills acquired in the design and execution of your poster and video assignments.  It will provide you with skills in ecological sampling and survey techniques beneficial to a career in the environment or conservation. The opportunity to design and carry out your own project is good preparation for future employment in research-led jobs. Overall you will learn transferable skills such as team-working, how to present ideas using a variety of media, and time management skills which are beneficial in most working environments.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Design and execute a study to test a specific hypothesis about the behavioural ecology, distribution or adaptation of animals or plants in the field
  • 2. Identify and discuss the diversity of habitats, and animal and plant life on a volcanic island
  • 3. Describe in detail the adaptations and constraints on adaptation of biodiversity across a range of environmental conditions within a single geographical region

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Describe in detail and analyse essential facts and theory across a sub-discipline of biosciences
  • 5. Analyse and evaluate independently a range of research-informed literature and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature into written work
  • 6. Identify and implement, with limited guidance, appropriate methodologies and theories for solving a range of complex problems in biosciences
  • 7. With minimal guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within biosciences
  • 8. Describe and evaluate in detail approaches to our understanding of biosciences with reference to primary literature, reviews and research articles

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 9. Devise and sustain, with little guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with sound, convincing conclusions
  • 10. Communicate effectively arguments, evidence and conclusions using a variety of formats in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 11. Analyse and evaluate appropriate data and complete a range of research-like tasks with very limited guidance
  • 12. Evaluate own strengths and weaknesses in relation to graduate-level professional and practical skills, and act autonomously to develop new areas of skills as necessary
  • 13. Reflect effectively and independently on learning experiences and evaluate personal achievements
  • 14. Work in a small team and deal proficiently with the issues that teamwork requires (i.e. communication, motivation, decision-making, awareness, responsibility, and management skills, including setting and working to deadlines)

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

One preparatory lecture in Term 2

This two week field course will take place in September on the volcanic island Tenerife. It will include visits to a number of characteristic habitats and conservation areas to learn practical techniques and conduct independent research on adaptations, phenology, animal behaviour, insect – plant interactions and conservation.

Indicative plan:

Week 1: we will visit a range of sites, exhibiting the diversity of habitats on the island including the cloud and laurel forests, the arid scrub on the volcanic slopes, the Teide National Park and the developed coastal region.

Week 2: You will do independent supervised projects on some aspect of behavioural ecology or other self-generated hypothesis about adaptation, and you will create a video on a topic of interest or conservation importance.  We will take a whale-watching trip and if weather permits will visit the laurel forest on the neighbouring island of La Gomera

Accommodation will be in hostels and apartments on the island, transport using people carriers will be organised by the Centre for Ecology and Conservation (CEC). CEC staff will provide leadership and tutoring throughout.

Throughout the course you will participate in practical exercises and discussion groups, and you will be clearly notified as to which of these will be assessed.

On return to the UK you will individually produce a poster based on the results of the project which will be assessed about 2-3 weeks after return from the trip. You will also prepare a short video piece as a group which will be presented in later in Term 1.

There will be a final examination in Term 2, in which you will be expected to write 2 essays within 2 hours.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities2Pre-field course lectures to prepare you academically and practically for the module
Scheduled learning and teaching activities103Field-based tutoring from members of CEC in taxonomy, behaviour, ecology, conservation and evolution
Scheduled learning and teaching activities10Seminars /discussions whilst on the module
Guided independent study185Additional reading, research and preparation for module assessments


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
General discussion and questions during field courseShort answer questions during field courseOngoing throughout moduleAllOral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Contribution to practical10Ongoing during the field courseAllOral
Presentation during field course108-10 minutesAllOral
Post-fieldwork video153 minutes1-11Written
Post-fieldwork poster25Poster1-11Written
Essay examination401 hour1-11Written on request


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Contribution to practicalPracticalAllAugust assessment period
Presentation during field courseNot applicableNot applicableNot applicable
Post-fieldwork videoPost-field course press release (individual work)1-11August assessment period
Post-fieldwork posterPost-fieldwork poster1-11August assessment period
Essay examinationEssay examination1-11August assessment period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The project presentation is not deferrable because it takes place during the field course and the mark comprises both group and individual components. If you are not able to participate in the presentation during the field course, and you are successfully granted mitigation, you will be awarded the group component marks for your presentation and this mark will be scaled accordingly. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further essay examination and/or redo the practical and/or re-submit the poster, and/or submit a press release in place of the video as necessary. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Ashmole and Ashmole Natural History of Tenerife Whittles Publishing  ISBN: 978-1849952255
  • Flora and Fauna sections of good guide books to the Canary Islands, e.g.:
    • Farino, T (2009) Wild Spain New Holland Publishers Ltd ISBN 978-1847731265
    • Sutherland, W J (ed) (2006) Ecological Census Techniques ISBN 978-0521606363
    • Bramwell, D and Bramwell, Z (2001) Wild flowers of the Canary Islands (2nd edition) ISBN 84-7207-129-4 [out of print but can be found at antiquarian booksellers]

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Animal behaviour, environmental biology, climate change, biodiversity, field observation, insect behaviour, conservation biology, ecology, island biogeography

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

BIO2426 Analysis of Biological Data

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date