School of Biological Sciences


The School of Biological Sciences runs a variety of field trips, ranging from one day excursions to residential field courses of a week or more in duration. These trips are scheduled throughout the undergraduate degree, as well as some of the taught units of our MSc. On this page, you can see a listing of our current field trips.

First Year

Marine and Terrestrial Ecology:

  • Urban trees

Students are actively involved in measuring trees and calculating how many trees it would take to ‘offset’ the carbon dioxide emitted by the university. This work is carried out in parks local to the university and also involves students identifying many of our native trees and some weird and wonderful exotic species.

  • Lulworth Cove

The intertidal rocky shore is common habitat around the UK and Europe. The composition and abundance of species present is dependent on a range of factors, of which the position on the shore in relation to tidal height and exposure (wave action) are critical.  Around the world, shores with similar wave exposure levels have remarkably similar zonation patterns. During this first year trip to a rocky shore (Lulworth Cove) students gain skills in levelling the shore and intertidal ecological survey techniques. A quadrat based transect of the vertical shore profile is used to gather data on the shifts in species biodiversity and community composition with tidal height (rocky shore zonation patterns).

  • Fort Cumberland

We explore the hugely important role of soil organisms in ecosystems during a trip to Fort Cumberland. Students sample soil from different habits, identify many of the organisms present in the leaf litter, students also then consider the different functions of these organisms and their varied roles in supporting the ecosystem.

fort cumberland
  • Lock Lake

Students take part in surveys to determine abundance of crabs using quadrat surveys in Langstone Harbour. Students develop skills in sampling techniques and marine taxonomy.

lock lake

Second year

Community Ecology

  • Slapton

A seven day residential field course hosted by the Field Studies Council in Devon enabling students learn about sampling techniques for key marine habitats (e.g. rocky shores and estuaries) and to be able to identify key flora and fauna.

  • Spain

Students in the Biology pathway have the opportunity to study Plant Ecology and Evolution in two Natural Parks in the SW of Spain, a melting point of Biodiversity within the Mediterranean Region. In the trip, we visit the Natural Parks of “Los Alcornocales” and “Grazalema”, which harbour many endemic species and relic species from the Tertiary and Quaternary. We study patterns of species distribution and the particular abiotic and biotic factors responsible of the extraordinary diversity of Mediterranean plants. Students have the opportunity to learn techniques to conduct ecological surveys and species identification, and integrate these skills into a research project.

  • Mexico

Students studying Community Ecology have the amazing opportunity to study the structure and function of marine tropical habitats here at the University. In the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico, we will be studying the connectivity of marine tropical ecosystems. The field trip is an expedition involving biodiversity surveys, biomass measurements and studying the ecology and interactions of the flora and fauna. We will be venturing into the mangrove forests, sea grass beds and coral reefs. Being a qualified SCUBA diver will be useful! 

Further information on the Mexico and Slapton residential courses can be found in our 2nd year Residential Marine field course additional information PDF.

suba diver

Marine Research Skills:

  • Sampling from RV Chinook II

Students obtain an introduction to benthic sampling of subtidal communities aboard our research vessel, with emphasis on developing their skills in species identification.


Third year

Applied Marine Biology:

  • Marina Practical

A visit to Southsea marina, collecting samples of the organisms that grow on the floating structures. Identification of samples at IMS Lab, and determining which factors affect their distribution within the marina. 

chinook boat
  • Trout Farm

Visiting a commercial aquaculture facility to understand the challenges facing aquaculture production of fish and the environmental impacts and management of this industry.

Coastal Ecosystems:

  • Benthic sampling from RV Chinook II 

Students taking Coastal Ecosystems are taken on a trip aboard our research vessel Chinook II. They collect grab samples of Langstone Harbour benthic communities as part of an introduction to multivariate analysis of community structure.

chinook sampling
  • Farlington Marshes

A trip to a Marine Protected Area to assess the management methods utilized to protect internationally important species of wading birds and wildfowl and the associated habitats. This field trip enables the students to see coastal marine conservation and management in action and understand the challenges faced by conservation managers.

farlington marshes

MSc Applied Aquatic Biology

Research Toolkit:

  • Freshwater sampling

Students take part in freshwater stream surveys comparing the invertebrate fauna of clean and urbanised waterways. Students develop skills in kick sampling and water quality assessments using invertebrates, and collect water samples for DNA analysis.

freshwater sampling
  • Marine Sampling from RV Chinook II:

Students spend a day on Chinook II, learning sampling techniques including beam trawling, benthic grab sampling and plankton sampling. Water samples are also collected for DNA analysis for comparison with samples from freshwater environments.

chinook marine sampling

Subtidal Marine Ecology:

  • 9 day diving field course on Favignana Island (Sicily)

MSc students with appropriate SCUBA diving qualifications can take a unit in Subtidal Marine Ecology, which culminates in a field course run on the island of Favignana (Sicily). The course comprises training in various underwater sampling techniques and a mini research project using the skills learned on the course.  


Ecotoxicology and Pollution:

Students visit the Oil Recovery Pollution Unit to discover real life approaches to dealing with oil pollution.