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2022/23 Taught Postgraduate Module Catalogue

BLGY5166M Insect Identification Skills

15 creditsClass Size: 40

Module manager: Dr Stephen Compton

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Module replaces

The previous 10 credit version of BLGY5162M and BLGY5161M

This module is not approved as an Elective

Module summary

The module has three sections. In the first, students learn how to make a collection of insects, which they then mount, label and identify to at least the level of Order. In part two students learn how to identify flies to species level, using pre-collected material. In the final section students learn how to identify ground beetles and to use this skill to monitor peat bog restoration at Thorne Moors.


Students will gain a greater understanding of the major groups of insects, how to use identification keys to species level, and how to carry out site evaluations.

Learning outcomes
On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. Identify representatives of the Classes of terrestrial invertebrates, and of the Orders of insects and selected families of insects.
2. Identify to the level of species representatives of at least one group of insects.
3. Carry out a field survey for insects and produce a correctly labelled and mounted collection based on the material collected.

Skills outcomes
The insect identification module is part of a suite of modules that given specific, professional skills to participants. In particular, students will be trained by experts in particular taxa and in the methods employed as standard by ecologists. Students will work semi-independently in an open lab environment, and are encouraged to assist one another with identifications (outside of the assessed exercises).


This module is taught by a combination of lectures, practical classes and field visits. For the first section, there are lectures, a field visit to a local site to collect insects, and then practical sessions on identification and the preparation of insect collections. In the second section there are practical sessions on fly identification. The third section starts with a field visit and lecture on Thorne Moors, with collection of material from pitfall traps, followed by practical sessions on the identification of beetles.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Class tests, exams and assessment13.003.00
Private study hours80.00
Total Contact hours70.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)150.00

Private study

Preparatory reading and revision for test: 80 hours.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

The assessment is in three parts;
- You will make a small insect collection during a field trip out into the habitats around the university. The quality of your small insect collection, based on an assessment of whether the specimens are stored and mounted in the correct way, and are accurately labelled and identified.
- Following a three-day intensive course with Pete Kirby, you will be given a test of your fly identification skills. You will be provided with identification guides, and can use any notes you have made - it is not a ‘memory’ test.
- Finally, a similar format will be used for a carabid beetle identification test on the final day of the course.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Practicalinsect collection - store & mount correctly33.00
PracticalFly indentification skills test, following 3-day course33.00
PracticalCarabid beetle identification test34.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 16/12/2022


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