Students looking at book kneeling by a river during a BSc (Hons) Zoology field trip to Mpala Research Centre, Kenya.
BSc (Hons) Zoology students have the opportunity to take part in two residential fieldtrips*. You'll have the option to visit southern Spain (first year) as well as the opportunity to visit the African savannah and Mpala Research Centre in Kenya (second year). There will also be alternative no-cost field courses available for each year. 

Mpala Research Centre, Kenya

Two giraffes in Kenya
Students on fieldwork in Kenya with BSc (Hons) Zoology
Students in landrovers on fieldwork in Kenya with BSc (Hons) Zoology

Where do we go and why?

In your second year you will have the opportunity to visit the Mpala Research Centre which is at the core of the Ewaso river ecosystem, a large and diverse region in the central part of Kenya.

Why do we go there?

We visit this area as the region is characterised by semi-arid savannah habitat that is representative of vast parts of Africa and is home to >550 species of birds and >100 species of mammals, including rare species such as Grevy’s zebra and African wild dogs. In these areas, resources are used with escalating conflict by humans, livestock, agriculture and plentiful wildlife. The Mpala Research Centre was created as a research and training facility with a mandate to identify and explore the key environmental components of this landscape and to seek ways of resolving some of these conflicts.

What do we do?

This field course focuses on expanding the zoological training you have received over your studies. This includes familiarity with the methods used to monitor populations, habitat preferences, distributions and home ranges and other aspects of species ecology. Equally, methods for assessing individual and population characteristics will be explored including invertebrate survey techniques, acoustic analysis, animal tracking and ID, camera trapping, comparative analyses of bones and structural morphology as well as species ID on numerous game drives. Students will also be able to put their knowledge and skills to practice by designing and conducting a short research project on the field course. Some highlights include visiting Mt. Kenya for a hike and exploration of a alpine ecosystem (weather dependent) as well Ol Pejeta Conservancy, home to a diverse range of species including the last remaining northern white rhinoceros.

Trip information

When: Approximately early June
Where: Mpala Research Centre, Kenya
Length: Approximately 10 days

Zahara de los Atunes, Spain

Students in Barbate, Cadiz, Spain
Spectacular aerial view panorama of Lake Zahara from Castle of Zahara de la Sierra, a famous village de la Ruta de los Pueblos Blancos, white villages, between Cadiz and Malaga, Andalusia, Spain.
Students in Zahara, Cadiz, Spain

Where do we go?

In the second semester of the first year, you will have the opportunity to spend nine days in southern Spain at Zahara de los Atunes. The town is situated on the beach overlooking the Strait of Gibraltar with Africa visible over the water.

Why do we go there?

The rich Mediterranean flora and fauna coupled with excellent weather and many diverse habitats within a short distance of the town allow us to carry out a wide range of activities on the field course. As the summers are very hot in that area, spring is an excellent time to visit as many plants are flowering and invertebrates are numerous. The area is also famed for bird migration as its proximity to Africa makes it an ideal crossing point for summer migrants entering Europe.

What do we do?

The field course will focus on (1) learning how to identify plant and invertebrate species; (2) developing the skills to gather reliable data in the field; (3) keeping field notebooks that accurately record information and data for future use; and (4) designing and conducting field-based research studies to generate original biological knowledge. As an example, we would expect to include some or all of the following activities: 
  • ecological sampling methods
  • habitat investigations in a variety of diverse habitats for flora and fauna
  • ecology and conservation of coastal habitats.
The trip will end with a project which you will design and conduct while in Spain. There are plenty of opportunities to tailor your project to your own interests, and students have in the past successfully completed projects on broad range of subjects, including:
  • the diurnal behaviour of beetles
  • the effect of invasive species on native flora and fauna
  • variation in pollinator visits to diverse floral taxa
  • the association between parasitic plants and their hosts.
The area of the field course allows you to see some of the specialities of the Mediterranean ecozone, including the European chameleon, a wide selection of Fabaceae, birds including the white stork and bee-eater, and butterflies and moths including the Spanish festoon and emperor moth.

Trip information

When: April in the second semester of the first year.
Where: Zahara de los Atunes, Andalucia, Spain.
Length: nine days and eight nights (residential).
Accommodation: Shared rooms in a hotel in Zahara.
Food: Breakfast and dinner provided by the hotel. Make your own packed lunch each day or grab lunch in a local tapas restaurant. Vegetarian and vegan options available. 

Our fieldwork at Zahara, Spain

Watch this video to see our students and academics talking about their experiences on their first year fieldtrip in Spain.
*Please note fieldtrip locations are subject to change year on year. This page provides an overview of previous fieldtrip locations/itineraries.