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

As a Biological Sciences or Zoology student, you'll have the opportunity to take part in field trips and field courses throughout your studies.

There's lots of field work built into your degree, too. You can spend time in the first week of first year on a field trip exploring Sheffield's green spaces, and there are regular visits to zoos, aquariums and nature reserves.

Field trips

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
  • Marine rock pools at Filey, North Yorkshire

Field courses

For your optional field course, which takes place in either your 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 Forest Ecology and Conservation 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 (now MBiolSci Biological Sciences)

Borneo field course rope bridge

Population and Community Ecology 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.

The course surpassed all of my expectations, spending the week in the Peaks was lovely! The course was ran very smoothly, and being non-residential meant we got to stay in our own bed after each long day which was really comforting."

Rachel Schimpf

BSc Zoology

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 (now BSc Biological Sciences)

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

Coastal and 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

Mediterranean Ecosystems - France

Location: Mediterranean Ecology Research Observatory for Practical Skills (MEROPS), Château du Fraissinet

On this course you'll be introduced to some of the remarkable environments that make up the Mediterranean biodiversity hotspot. We'll visit Causse Méjean limestone plateau with its characteristic vegetation where we'll likely encounter vultures, and the diverse wetland of the Camargue which is home to flamingos, coypu and wild horses. You'll learn various biodiversity monitoring techniques and about the biodiversity, community structure, and ecology of this ecosystem.

I’m so glad I decided to go on this field course. It was run by experienced leaders and knowledgeable staff, and I will be able to apply the fieldwork and research skills I developed to all future academic projects."

Brie Obreja

MBiolSci Plant Science (now MBiolSci Biological Sciences)

Students wearing backpacks on the field course in France

Urban Ecology - Sheffield

Location: Across the city

You'll experience the complexity of urban ecosystems on a transect through greenspaces from the city centre out to suburban Sheffield. Along this transect, you'll learn about the major greenspace types that make up our cities and towns and the different methods used to assess ecosystem service provision.

I enjoyed it much more than I expected to. The daily trips enabled me to discover new areas of the city I live in that I didn't know existed, and identify many often-overlooked invertebrates. I made a new friend on the first day and we are still close a year later!"

Yasmeen Razaq

BSc Ecology and Conservation Biology (now BSc Biological Sciences)

Sheffield transect

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