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Last modified: 26 Feb 2018 15:58

Course Overview

Introduction to techniques used in environmental and ecological modelling.

Main course materials are in three parts; model development, model evaluation and model communication.

Hands-on practice is gained in model development and evaluation in two 4 hour computer classes.

Course assessment is based on the write up of the two computer sessions (30% each), and an exercise on model communication (20%). The last 20% of the course marks are given for a reflective log completed on the course materials.

The course provides students with the key skills required for environmental and ecological modelling.

Course Details

Study Type Undergraduate Level 4
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus None. Sustained Study No
  • Professor Jo Smith

Qualification Prerequisites


What courses & programmes must have been taken before this course?

  • Either Programme Level 4 or Programme Level 5
  • Any Undergraduate Programme (Studied)
  • One of BSc Biology (Studied) or BSc Conservation Biology (Studied) or BSc Biology-Environmental Humanities (Studied) or BSc Plant Biology (Studied) or Non-Graduating Student in Plant & Soil Science Erasmus (Studied) or BSc Zoology (Studied) or BSc Animal Ecology (Studied) or Non-Graduating Student in Zoology Erasmus (Studied) or BSc Marine Biology (Studied) or BSc Parasitology (Studied) or BSc Animal Behaviour (Studied) or BSc Behavioural Biology (Studied) or MSci Biological Sciences (Studied) or BSc Biological Sciences (Honours) (Studied) or BSc Plant and Soil Sciences (Studied) or BSc Biology - Education (Primary) (Studied) or Bachelor Of Science In Environmental And Forest Management (Studied) or Non-Graduating Student in Agriculture and Forestry Erasmus (Studied) or BSc Ecology (Studied) or BSc Wildlife Management (Studied) or BSc Forestry (Studied) or Non-Graduating Student in Forestry Iss (Studied) or BSc Forest Sciences (Studied) or BSc Geology (Studied) or BSc Geoscience (Studied) or BSc Geography (Studied) or BSc Environmental Science (Studied) or BSc Environmental Science (Physical Sci) (Studied) or BSc Geography-Geoscience (Studied) or BSc Biology - Education (Secondary) (Studied) or Erasmus Student Diploma in Science (Studied) or Non-Graduating Student in Science First Half-Session (Studied) or Non-Graduating Student in Science Full Year (Studied) or Non-Graduating Student in Science Eu (Studied) or Non-Graduating Student in Science Iss (Studied)

What other courses must be taken with this course?


What courses cannot be taken with this course?


Are there a limited number of places available?


Course Description

The course follows the themes of model development, model evaluation and communication. The first section describes how to go about developing a model and introduces the idea of writing a reflective log, which will be used to provide support to you while you develop and evaluate your own model.

The computer class in week 1 is a practical session where you will divide into groups and plan your joint modelling topic. This will be written up individually in the reflective log. The model planning will be continued outside the computer session during week 1 and presented by your group at the beginning of week 2. The presentation should give a clear plan of the model you have decided to develop, and indicate how the problem will be divided up between your group. All members of the course team will be present at that session, and one staff member will be assigned to act as “mentor” for your group throughout the rest of the course. You will give a progress report at the beginning of week 3, where problems and achievements will be discussed. It is anticipated that this will provide cross-group problem solving as well as allowing the course team to make suggestions to help solve problems. Model developments should be finished by the end of week 3. During the process you will gain a better understanding of the problems associated with model development and approaches that can be used to solve them.

The next section of the course, beginning in week 3, is to evaluate your model. Methods will be presented in a lecture and you will collect data for evaluation from the literature. At the computer class in week 4, you will evaluate your model using this data. You will get support in evaluation methods and interpretation during the computer class and further support will be provided online throughout the next week.

The final section of the course in week 5 focusses on communication of the model you have developed. This will involve another group presentation, with the course team providing further support and feedback.

Associated Costs


Further Information & Notes

This course runs in weeks 31-35, and is scheduled in Thread 2, so may have contact hours in any or all of these times: Mondays, 14-18; Tuesday, all day; Friday, 14-18. If this is an optional course, there may also be contact hours on Wednesdays, 9-11.

Please note, in case of low student enrolments, this course may not run.

Details for second half-session courses, including assessments, may be subject to change until 23 December 2022.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown


More Information about Week Numbers

Details for second half-session courses, including assessments, may be subject to change until 23 December 2022.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: In-course assessment (100%). In-course assessment is based on two computer practicals (30% each), and two shorter practical exercises (20% each). Resit: Resubmission of failed individual elements of continuous assessment.

Formative Assessment

A strong emphasis will be made throughout the course on informal verbal feedback during discussion and practical sessions.


Students will receive written feedback on their practical reports and a mark. Students who are identified as having difficulty in successfully completing the coursework assessment tasks will be invited to meet members of the course team to identify difficulties and discuss solutions.

Course Learning Outcomes


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