Advanced Field Biology

The UNSW Advanced Field Biology (BIOS3601) course offers advanced practical training in diversity, systematics and biology. It also looks at the identification of terrestrial animals and plants and aquatic invertebrates. The course is run principally as an intensive one-week course at Smiths Lake Field Station during week zero.


Course Information

You will receive theoretical and in-field, practical training in current methods of trapping, collecting and identifying animals and plants. This includes the estimation of population size, biodiversity, the conduct of animal surveys, and data analyses. The course covers both vertebrate and invertebrate animals and plants.

There are five broad learning outcomes expected from this course:

  1. At the end of the course, students should be aware and have some experience of sampling methods for a range of terrestrial and aquatic animals and plants
  2. Students will understand issues to consider when designing experiments
  3. Students will gain experience in structuring ecological experiments to address research questions that include:
    1. the careful formulation of hypotheses
    2. the design of field experiments and sampling
    3. the collection of data
    4. data analysis and interpretation
    5. communication of results via presentations and scientific reports
  4. Students will be able to develop their own ideas and research questions and undertake an independent research project
  5. Students will develop their powers of observation and recording of biological information


Conditions for Enrolment   

It’s recommended that students have taken a course in statistics and experimental design such as Data Analysis for Life & Earth Sciences (BEES2041) and have familiarity with principles of systematics.

Students should have taken one or more of the second-year organismal biology courses: Flowering Plants (BIOS2051), Biology of Invertebrates (BIOS2031) or  Vertebrate Zoology (BIOS2061).

This course is available to students in Bachelor of Advanced Science (Honours), with unfilled places available to students in Environmental Science, Biological Science and Ecology Majors with a credit average.  


What Our Graduates Say   

“I really enjoyed AFB. The course was comprehensive covering both terrestrial and aquatic survey methods involving plants and animals. I found the practical field survey experience and report writing useful, transferring to other third year courses, honours and employment as a botanist. I highly recommend AFB as a fun, collaborative and essential course laying a foundation in a career as a field biologist.”

Neil Ross - Bachelor of Environmental Management