Tropical Rainforest Ecology (with Field Course) 4Y option BIOL4127

  • Academic Session: 2019-20
  • School: School of Life Sciences
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: No
  • Available to Erasmus Students: No

Short Description

This option gives an in-depth introduction to tropical rainforest ecosystems. The first part of the course will cover the rainforest environment, how it evolved and how it functions. Later parts discuss how organisms survive on the backdrop of this environment. Important groups of organisms will be covered in depth with particular emphasis on recent research.

Delivery will be by a mixture of lectures, tutorials and seminars with a two-week residential field course, normally in Ecuador, looking at practical aspects. The field course element will be subsidised by the School of Life Sciences, but students will be expected to make a personal contribution towards the costs. 


There is a two-week field course, normally in Ecuador, which normally runs from the second week in August until the first week of September. Outwith the field course weeks, there is normally one 3-hour session on Fridays. 

Requirements of Entry

Normally, only available to final-year students in a School of Life Sciences programme.

Excluded Courses

BIOL4183 Tropical Ecology option


The course will be assessed by a 2-hour examination (75%) and in-course assessment consisting of a mini project report in the form of an individual poster (25%).

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This option aims to provide an in-depth study of tropical rainforest ecosystems, covering their origins, evolution, structure and function. Important groups of organisms will be covered in depth with particular emphasis on recent research.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

■ Evaluate current knowledge of the origins and evolution of tropical rainforests;

■ Discuss the structure of a tropical rainforest and evaluate the various factors responsible for the high species diversity found in the ecosystem;

■ Compare examples of the complex relationships that exist between organisms in the rainforest and discuss how these relationships have evolved; 

■ Communicate scientific findings; 

■ Conduct fieldwork in a tropical environment.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.