Postgraduate taught 

Conservation Management of African Ecosystems MSc

Animal Identification BIOL5426

Animal Identification BIOL5426

  • Academic Session: 2024-25
  • School: School of Biodiversity, One Health & Vet Medicine
  • Credits: 10
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course will provide students with in-depth and hands-on evidence-based training in the identification of key vertebrate and invertebrate groups, using field guides and identification keys, as required for assessment of biodiversity, and critically reflecting on the choice of methods.


This course is made up of lectures, practical classes and field work in semester 2.

Excluded Courses





Assessment will consist of three assignments:

  • a practical exam (20%, ILO 1,2,3,4). 
  • students will be asked to keep a logbook and record what they see and do during all practical aspects of the course (40%, ILO 1,2,4). 
  • students will produce either a critical evaluation of a technique or techniques utilised on the course or report on an independent practical assignment completed on the field course (40%, ILO 5, 2000 words).

Course Aims

This course aims to provide students with in-depth hands-on training to enable them to identify key vertebrate and invertebrate groups, using field guides, identification keys, and vocalisations, as required for assessment of biodiversity, and critically reflecting on the choice of methods.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

  1. Identify species from key vertebrate and invertebrate groups, to the lowest taxonomic level possible for that group using features identified by observing/inspecting sample/collected organisms

  2. Use taxonomic keys and understand the principles behind their design to support the use of novel keys for groups that have not been studied directly in this course

  3. Understand the principles of and calculate biodiversity based on a range of indices and apply those most relevant to the taxa under study

  4. Demonstrate the development of skills through practical implementation of methodologies taught during the course.

  5. Integrate knowledge from different subject areas to produce a critical evaluation of the methodologies learned in the course.

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.