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Marine Biology and Ecology: Field Trip

Course Times & Enrolment

(Code SN105-302) Saturday, 11 May and Sunday, 12 May, 10:30-16:00 (2-day course) Notice board in Yellowcraigs beach carpark • Tutor: Iain Reid BSc PhD
This course is now closed for enrolments

Course Summary

Come on a trip to explore the rocky shore environment around Edinburgh.  Meet the animals and plants that live there and learn about how they are adapted to live in this challenging environment.

The course involves accessing the rocky shore environment and examining organisms at ground level.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

The course can be taken as on its own, or in combination with Marine Biology and Ecology.

Special Information

Wellies and waterproofs. Own transport to Yellowcraig beach required.

Content of Course

After an initial introduction and ice-breaker activity the class will be separated into groups.  Starting at low tide each group will be asked to perform a vertical transect of the shore.  At each point on the transect, the students will attempt to identify and record the organisms found using pictorial keys provided.   A discussion and plenary will follow to end this session.

The afternoon will focus on the physical factors affecting the distribution of organisms.  This session may involve each group gathering simple data (e.g temperature, size and depth of pools vs numbers of organisms etc, measuring limpets etc).  The aim is for each group to present their findings using materials found on the beach (in the sand, using seaweeds, stones etc).

The session will end with a plenary discussion about intertidal organisms, abiotic factors and how this influences distribution on the shore (zonation).

Teaching method(s)

This is a hands-on field trip and students will participate in field work, group activities, discussion and presentations. Please note that the times listed for this workshop may be subject to change as more accurate tide timetables become available. The Teaching Fellow will confirm the exact times with the enrolled students.

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Recognise the diversity of flora and fauna on Scotland’s rocky shore environment;

  • Link the distribution of rocky shore organisms to their physical environment;

  • Use field techniques to identify and quantify shoreline species.


Core Readings

  • Hayward, P., Nelson-Smith, T. & Shields, C. (1996). Collins Pocket Guide: Sea Shore of Britain and Europe.  London: HarperCollins.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.