Field courses

Field courses are a fantastic opportunity for you to carry out your own research and develop an understanding of the ecology and biodiversity of different habitats across the globe.

Ireland field course image

All of our Biology, Ecology and Conservation Biology, Plant Sciences and Zoology students get set up as a scientific researcher from day one: you’ll spend the first week of your first term on a field trip in Sheffield, working on projects throughout the city’s green spaces and out to the edge of the Peak District. You’ll collect data in a spectacular environment, interpret your findings and present your conclusions as any other professional scientist would.

Since Sheffield is pretty much in the centre of England, it’s a great base for visiting scientific spots around the UK. We’ve run trips to:

  • Twycross Zoo, Warwickshire
  • The Deep aquarium, Hull
  • Old Moor RSPB reserve, Barnsley
  • Potteric Carr, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust Reserve, Doncaster
  • Rock pools at Filey, North Yorkshire

As you progress through your course, students will also get the opportunity to go on an optional field course in either second or third year. We give you a choice of fascinating habitats to explore, from dramatic landscapes in remote corners of the globe, to complex ecosystems operating right under our noses:

The field courses are a fantastic opportunity for you to carry out your own research and develop an understanding of the ecology and biodiversity of different habitats across the globe.

You'll also get to improve your analysis and presentation skills, and interact with our expert academic staff alongside other students on your course.


Tropical Rainforest Biology Field Course - Borneo

Location: Danum Valley Field Centre, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo

The Danum Valley Field Centre is at the edge of 400km2 of rainforest, where you can often see orangutans, elephants, gibbons, clouded leopards and many species of bird. You’ll learn about how the rainforest is structured, the threats it faces from the palm oil trade and ecotourism, and how scientists are working to conserve it.

It was an opportunity to experience a totally different environment and see lots of different animals and plants that I would otherwise not have been able to see. The highlight was definitely seeing a wild male orangutan crossing the bridge right in front of us."

Andrew Jones

MBiolsci Biology

Borneo field course rope bridge

Animal Ecology and Behaviour Field Course - Peak District

Location: Across the Peak District National Park

We make the most of the fact that our campus is only 20 minutes' drive from the Peak District National Park. Once there, you can assemble your own insect collection when you take this field course which focuses on insect diversity. As a group, you’ll learn about effective research methods and look at the many conflicting pressures that affect the management of biodiversity in the Peak District.

Bio - Peak District Field Course students 1

Behavioural Ecology Field Course - Portugal

Location: Quinta de Sao Pedro Field Centre, near Lisbon

The area around the Quinta de Sao Pedro Field Centre is full of insects that you can study – ants, aphids, territorial beetles and many more. The chief aim is to look at how different species behave, interact and evolve. Your research project will help you develop skills in asking scientific questions, observing natural systems, designing experiments, and working with and presenting the results.

One of the best aspects of the trip was having the help and expertise of four experienced academics for a whole week, meaning that everyone’s presenting and field work skills improved beyond recognition."

Luke Turner

BSc Biology

Portugal field course students

Arctic Ecosystems Field Course - Sweden

Location: Abisko Research Station in sub-arctic Sweden

You'll go to the Abisko Research Station in mid-summer, during a period of 24-hour daylight. Based on the shore of the Torneträsk Lake, 200km north of the Arctic Circle, you'll study a range of organisms - from carnivorous plants to grazing reindeer. Climate change is having a huge impact on this area, so understanding the local ecosystem and ecological processes is a key aim of this course.

It was great: I made new friends and the work wasn't as intense as I'd imagined but still hard work... I feel like I really developed my scientific skills. Having the chance either side of the course to travel was also great."

Meryl Varty

MBiolSci Zoology

Sweden field course students

Marine Ecology Field Course - Anglesey

Location: A campsite by the shore in Anglesey

This is a chance to look at marine intertidal and coastal ecosystems. You’ll be based at an adventure field station right by the sea, and will visit seabird colonies and the coastal habitats Anglesey is famous for. From learning sampling techniques, you’ll go on to develop your own research project – possible topics include ecological processes, biodiversity, distribution and intertidal zonation.

The Anglesey marine ecology field course offered the chance to work with and study an ecosystem unlike anything we have here in Sheffield. It was very hands-on from the beginning, the entire group enjoying the childlike charm of rock pooling with the added rigour of scientific observation and study, as we developed our project ideas."

Richard Bourton

BSc Zoology

Anglesey field course general

Environmental Interpretation Field Course - Ireland

Location: West of Ireland

Students on our Environmental Interpretation field course spend seven days in the west of Ireland covering geology, hydrology, soils and botany to develop their landscape-level understanding of environmental processes.

Bio - Ireland field course students

Freshwater Ecology Field Course - Peak District

Location: Across the Peak District National Park

The Freshwater Ecology Field Course introduces students to issues and questions around the ecology, conservation, restoration and management of freshwater ecosystems, with a particular focus on streams and rivers. Whilst out in the Peaks, students gain practical experience of designing field investigations, habitat assessment methods, sampling and identifying organisms, and measuring water quality.

Peak District freshwater ecology field course

Costs for additional field courses

The cost of all core fieldwork is included in your tuition fees, this includes both one day field trips and compulsory field courses.

All optional field courses (except for non-residential UK field courses) incur additional costs which vary depending on a number of factors, including but not limited to destination and the number of students participating.

Costs for the 2018/19 academic year were:

  • Tropical Rainforest Biology Field Course - Borneo: £850
  • Behavioural Ecology Field Course - Portugal: £380
  • Arctic Ecosystems Field Course - Sweden: £780
  • Marine Ecology Field Course - Anglesey: £269

Future years may fluctuate because of accommodation and internal transport costs. Students are responsible for the cost of their own flights.

We try to keep the costs as low as possible, and to inform students as early as possible of the cost of any optional field trips that they have planned to take.

Jessop West

Undergraduate scholarships

We have a range of undergraduate scholarships available to fund talented students starting an undergraduate course in 2020.