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Biosciences at Penryn Campus: New students

Undergraduates: Penryn Campus

Undergraduates: Penryn Campus

Undergraduates: Penryn Campus

Undergraduates: Penryn Campus

Undergraduates: Penryn Campus

A very warm welcome to the Centre for Ecology and Conservation at the University of Exeter. Congratulations on securing your place here – we look forward to meeting you, and hope you will enjoy a rewarding and challenging academic experience as part of the College of Life and Environmental Sciences.

Please take time to look through the induction information on this page to prepare you for the start of term.

On this page: Welcome to the CEC | Academic inductionWho we are | Teaching and learning | AssessmentsContacts and links

We will be updating this page regularly as new details of induction and welcome activities are released. We're also working within Government guidelines meaning information and activities may change as that guidance changes as well.

Please ensure you check back here frequently for updates, as well as your personal email account, new University of Exeter email account, and your My Timetable for the most up-to-date information from us. (Please note you need to register with the University and activate your IT account to access My Timetable.) If you have any questions about your induction or starting your studies, please contact your Info Point using the details on this page.

Welcome from the Director of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation

Meet your Head of Department, Professor Dave Hodgson.

Your student experience during Covid-19

Find out about our plans to provide a safe studying and campus experience on our dedicated Coronavirus webpages.

Welcome from Professor Richard Winsley

Richard is Associate Dean for Education in the College of Life and Environmental Sciences.

Welcome to Biosciences Cornwall: the Centre for Ecology and Conservation

On behalf of everyone at the Centre for Ecology and Conservation, welcome to the University of Exeter’s Penryn Campus. This is a very special place, brimming with expertise and passion for Zoology, Marine Biology, Conservation and Ecology, Animal Behaviour, Evolutionary Biology and Human Sciences. As you embark on your university adventure, I would like to reassure you that all our staff and students will do their utmost to help you with the transition to university life. We are here to support you while you gain your independence! We will do our best to inspire and entertain you during your time with us, and provide you with the skills and scholarship required for your chosen career.

The University of Exeter provides a supportive and challenging environment for all its students, and although you have only just arrived, your time here will pass quickly – so please do not waste it. Engage in all the opportunities on offer and give your best at all times. In return, we will give you our best and together we will solve a wide range of biological, environmental and social problems. Our campus is also a place of diversity, dignity and respect, so please show care and consideration for staff and your fellow students.

We wish you all the very best during your studies and hope that you enjoy your stay here just as much as we enjoy hosting you.

Best wishes,

Professor Dave Hodgson

Head of Department and Director, Centre for Ecology and Conservation


Your academic induction

During Welcome Week (14-20 September) you will have some scheduled induction meetings. These will include an opportunity to meet staff in an online welcome talk, and a socially-distanced treasure hunt to get to know campus.

The first week of term (21-25 September) will involve a week of activities designed to get you thinking about the scientific process and also familiarise yourself with work conducted in the department. This will be a chance for you to get to know your peers and staff while conducting your own independent research project.

Please check your timetable in the iExeter app for the times and locations of these activities. 

Who are we?

The Centre for Ecology and Conservation (CEC) is comprised of a group of academic researchers and students who pride themselves on delivering cutting-edge education and research designed to address the factors that influence biodiversity and complexity in the natural world.

Our academic staff typically split their time between teaching and research and you will be able to learn more about the research activities of different academics as your degree progresses. Some staff members also take on key teaching roles, including:

Drs Sarah Hodge and Andy McGowan are the Directors of Education and they have overall responsibility for the all programmes and modules in the Centre for Ecology and Conservation. You’ll be able to meet with them during Welcome Week, and most of your contact with them will probably be in their regular role as an academic member of staff teaching you on modules. If you encounter any significant difficulties with your studies, Andy and Sarah will be able to work with you to resolve these.

Each programme is led by a Programme Director, whose job it is to oversee the running of the programme and to liaise with all of the module leads to ensure that you make good progress. You might need to contact them with any programme-level concerns, and they may also be able to advise you on your module choices.

Our Programme Directors are:

As soon as you arrive, you’ll be allocated your own dedicated academic tutor who’ll be your first point of contact if you have any queries or concerns about your overall progress and wellbeing. Across the university you may also see these referred to as ‘Personal Tutors’ or ‘Academic Personal Tutors’, but it’s all the same role.

You’ll be invited to attend regular meetings with them throughout the academic year, and it’s important that you go along, even if for a very quick chat to confirm that all is well. You can also contact your tutor at any time by email or by visiting them during their weekly office hours.

The relationship you build up with your tutor is an important one, not least because they will sometimes be the person who writes references for you when you start applying for jobs or other positions such as internships.

This short video outlines some of the benefits of our tutoring system:

Dr Andy Pye is the senior tutor and he makes sure that our academic tutoring system meets your needs. Andy is also another point of contact if you'd like someone to discuss any concerns you have about your progress or wellbeing.

Your degree is composed of different short courses called ‘modules’. Most of these modules are 15 credits and you complete 120 credits in each year. Each module is led by a named academic member of staff, but some are taught by a team of academics who share the lectures and seminars. You can seek advice from your module leads during their weekly office hours (which will be displayed on the module’s ELE page).

Contacting us

You can find a list of all academic staff in the Centre for Ecology and Conservation here, including office locations and contact details.

Teaching and learning

The classroom teaching you’ll have on your timetable is just a fraction of the time you’ll spend learning. Our expectation is that you are (or are becoming) an independent learner, and you should expect to take on the responsibility for much of your learning while at the University of Exeter.

Your timetabled sessions are chances for you to benefit from the expertise of our academic staff, who are there to inspire and guide your exploration of the module content rather than closely dictate what you need to do to pass your assessments. Most of your work towards achieving the learning objectives of each module will be done during private study time, either alone or in groups, so you’ll need to develop good time management skills to succeed. This way of studying might be quite different to how you’ve learnt in the past, so you might find that it takes a short while to adapt. Do speak with your tutor if you need help with this transition.

Online teaching

The teaching will be a mixture of online and face to face. Each module is structured on a week by week basis that you can follow on the module's ELE (the University's Virtual Learning Environment) page.

Find out more about the overall teaching and learning approach on your course here, and please be aware that this information may supersede the specified teaching and learning activities within individual modules.

Lectures often provide an overview of a subject and form the basis for further reading and thought in your own study time. You should also expect to complete some prior reading on the designated topic. This year, lectures will mostly be provided as shorter recorded sessions that you can watch in your own time to help you prepare for the interactive sessions.

These are classroom-based sessions that focus on a particular topic or piece of assigned work, and where students interact with each other and the academic as they work through tasks. You may need to prepare for these sessions by completing an activity beforehand. These will sometimes be provided online and sometimes on campus.

Many modules will have associated practical sessions. These may be on campus in our teaching laboratory, or they may be a field trip on campus or locally, or they may be a desk-based exercise for you to complete in your own time. Ensure you read the module's ELE page to let you know what you need to prepare to take to practical sessions.

Along with meeting your tutor to discuss your progress, you will also be scheduled to meet with other tutees in your tutee family. This will include students in your year group, but also students in other years. This is a great opportunity to discuss different topics, but also to learn from other students.

You can find suggested texts for this course in the module descriptors (see Penryn Campus: Stage 1 modules) and/or on individual module ELE pages. All recommended reading should be available through the university library.

Types of assessment

In the first year of your degree much of the summative assessment (i.e, assessments that contributes to your mark for the year) is by multiple choice tests. However, there will be the opportunity to practise your written skills with short reports and essays. This will help prepare you for later in your degree when you'll be assessed by a mixture of essays, scientific reports, presentations and various other methods.

Early in your degree you will be asked to complete training in academic honesty, to ensure you act with integrity, both during your degree and beyond.

Contacts and links

Ask a question

The Penryn Info Point is your first port of call for the Education Support Services Team, the Welfare Team and the Student Records/Exams Team or anything else related to your academic studies.

The Compass is your first port of call for non-academic support and access to Student Services.

Keep in touch

Ensure that you keep up to date with what is going on in the department by checking your emails regularly and following your year's Facebook page.

You can find a list of all academic staff in the Centre for Ecology and Conservation here, including office locations and contact details. You can also find out what is going on the CEC more generally by following us on Twitter or Facebook.

There are many different societies you can join during your time at the Penryn campus. There are a range of different sports and general interest societies, but also many that relate to your degree and enable you to gain valuable skills which will contribute to your university experience.

EcoSoc runs many different ecological-focused activities including moth trapping, mammal trapping, bird walks, bat walks, ID sessions and habitat management.

If you're interested in science communication, Wild Doc Soc is focused on learning how to create fantastic wildlife documentaries.

For all the different societies you can join in order to get the most out of your time here, look at the Societies page.

The new students guide includes everything you need to know about starting University, with a handy checklist of tasks to help you through your first term.

» New students guide

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