APS 255 Environmental Interpretation Field Course

Level 2
Semester 2
Credits 10
Pre/Co Requisites APS 246
Recommended Requisites -
Teaching Staff Professor Jonathan Leake, Professor Duncan Cameron
Co-ordinator Professor Jonathan Leake
Restrictions Compulsory for Environmental Science Students, spare places made available, by application, to students on degree courses in Animal & Plant Sciences.


This unit will provide an interdisciplinary training in interpreting processes that have shaped the surface of the Earth and have affected human landuse and ecosystems, through field-based studies in Western Ireland. The main skills include:
• Observation and interpretation of evidence of past and present environmental controls on ecosystems and communities- including effects of human management.
• Characterisation of plant communities, soil processes and eco-hydrology.
• Field observations and field-based research in environmental bio/geo sciences.
• Palaeoenvironment interpretation of major processes that have shaped the surface of the Earth over hundreds of millions of years.
• Interpretation of landforms and processes such as glaciation that have shaped the landscape, and their legacy effects on contemporary ecosystems and landuse.


This module provides interdisciplinary training in skills for environmental interpretation and assessment through field work, lectures and mini-projects based for 8 days in the west of Ireland, during the Easter vacation. It will include visits to woodlands, bogs and upland and coastal grasslands, limestone pavement, lake-shores and sandy beaches of biogenic carbonates. It will include an in-depth study of some important habitats, major rock types and landscape processes. The work includes training in species identification, habitat surveys and conservation value assessments, and studies of the effect of bedrock on the chemistry of water draining into rivers, lakes and underground through cave systems. The course will provide training in methods for description, sampling, quantification and data analysis in the environmental sciences. The field studies will be complemented by lectures that explain key concepts and techniques, together with an overview of the geological, climatological, historical, political and economic factors governing land usage and the impact of human occupation on the landscape. Prior knowledge of geosciences is not essential for students not registered for degrees in Environmental Science.

Delivery Method: Seven field excursions and evening laboratory work and lectures. 48h field work, 18h laboratory work, 8 lectures.

Student Contact Hours: 74

Assessment Method: Field Notebooks, Project Reports, Oral Presentation, Short Reports and Data Synthesis and Analysis.  All the assessment work is done during the course.

Feedback: Students will receive feedback frequently during the Field Course and written feedback on Notebooks and Reports.

Further information on the Field Course for 2018-19

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