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Field Techniques for Surveying Fish & Amphibians

Key facts

TypesOnline and Distance Learning
Professional Development
Short Courses
DatesWed 25 Mar to Wed 29 Apr 2015
Subject area(s)Ecology
Environmental Sciences
CATS points10
FeesFrom £295.00
Application statusApplications being accepted
Course codeO14C065D2Y
Course contactIf you have any questions about this course, please email est@conted.ox.ac.uk or telephone +44 (0)1865 286952.


Application and enrolment deadline 17 March 2015

This dedicated, tutor-led field techniques course provides in-depth training in fish and amphibian surveying and sampling from initial considerations through to methods and techniques, sampling strategies and reporting. It covers a wide range of fish survey techniques for use in marine and freshwater environments including netting, trapping, electrofishing, and egg estimates. For amphibians, the course covers observational techniques, netting and trapping, and calls.

As a part-time course taught online, Field Techniques for Surveying Fish and Amphibians is ideal for professional ecological consultants, environmental managers and rangers, research and postgraduate students, and volunteers that are seeking flexible study combined with expert training. The course can be taken from anywhere in the world and is international in its use of case studies and examples. Past students on the Ecological Survey Techniques programme have joined us from the UK, the USA, Australia, Africa and Europe.

Field Techniques for Surveying Fish and Amphibians aims to create a rich workshop experience by encouraging direct student and tutor interaction and discussion in an online setting.

This course can be taken with or without Masters-level credit; credit enables students to demonstrate their academic achievement and can count towards further postgraduate study. Students taking the course for credit submit an assessment of up to 2000 words or equivalent, students taking the course without credit will receive a Certificate of Attendance upon successful completion of the course.

The Ecological Survey Techniques Programme can help professionals to apply for Chartered Status (such as Chartered Environmentalist and Chartered Ecologist), and to meet relevant professional competency thresholds. Further information can be found in our Chartered status and essential skills guide.

Thinking of applying? Explore materials or revisit our online open event

For first-hand accounts from Ecological Survey Techniques students please visit our student spotlights page.


The course tutor will guide students through a series of key topics via reading materials, online activities, and discussion forums. The discussion forums will be the primary space where students are able to interact with one another and their tutor to discuss questions, solve problems and share ideas – just as they would expect to do in a face-to-face classroom setting.

"My online study experience was enjoyable and beneficial. I consider the presentation of the course material to be exemplary and I found the feedback and assistance from the course tutor to be positively helpful and constructive throughout."

A student on the online Ecological Survey Techniques programme

Students will benefit from the expertise and practical experience of the course tutor throughout their time on the course, and will be able to receive advice and guidance tailored to the particular topic at hand. Students taking the course for credit will also benefit from individual feedback on their assessment submitted after the course.

Topics will be illustrated with examples and case studies from across the globe, giving the course an international scope. These include a comparison of fishing and non-fishing sites in Los Cayos Chochinos, Honduras; discussion of community-based conservation of migratory amphibians in south-western New Hampshire, USA; and impacts of surveys on non-target species in freshwater environments in the UK.

All learning materials are made available through the course Virtual Learning Environment ‘Moodle’, and reading is available to download or is accessible via the Bodleian Libraries’ online library which provides an excellent range of e-books and e-journals. Via their Oxford username, students can gain access to all the University’s electronic resources enabling them to conduct their own reading and research in their own time.

Field Techniques for Surveying Fish and Amphibians is part of the wider Ecological Survey Techniques Programme that offers a range of standalone short courses, at its heart rests the Postgraduate Certificate in Ecological Survey Techniques. aimed at those wishing to take their professional development to the next level with an Oxford qualification.

Students who successfully complete this standalone module for credit (10 CATS points at level 7) can opt to transfer their credit to the PGCert, subject to the approval of the Course Director and acceptance on to the PGCert. Students successfully transferring credit to the PGCert can expect to receive a fees discount equal to the fees paid towards the standalone module; credit can be transferred up to 2 years after having been gained and is limited to a maximum for 2 modules for transfer. In order to join the PGCert a separate application process is required.

Minimum IT Requirements

Please note that this course is taken online; to participate in our online courses we recommend a minimum computer specification.

Students wishing to take the course for credit will be required to produce an assessment in Microsoft PowerPoint.

Programme details

Topics covered by the course in Field Techniques for Surveying Fish & Amphibians include:

  1. Introduction to fish (marine and freshwater): Diversity of fish and associated survey challenges; Why do ecologists and managers need to survey fish?
  2. Planning a fish survey: Considerations & practicalities to take into account when conducting a survey; How life history, seasonality, habitat and geographical location influence the survey protocol; Scope & wider context of the survey; Step by step planning
  3. Protocols, sampling & data: Licencing, permits & husbandry; Sampling & protocols; Organising, recording & storing data; Data analysis & presentation of results
  4. Fish survey methods 1: Observations: Tagging, bank-side or shore counts; Underwater Visual Census; Hydroacoustics; Advantages and disadvantages of each
  5. Fish survey methods 2: Netting & trapping: Seine nets; Trawl nets; Hand nets, throw nets & push nets; Gill nets & trammel nets (Set nets); Traps; Advantages and disadvantages of each
  6. Fish survey methods 3: Electrofishing, hook & line, and egg estimates; advantages and disadvantages of each method
  7. Introduction to amphibians: Diversity of amphibians and how their unique defining features affect survey design; Why ecologists and managers need to survey amphibians; Amphibian declines and conservation
  8. Amphibian survey: planning & protocols: Permits & licenses; Handling amphibians; Protocols & sampling- invited Topic by Dr Steve Green, Operation Wallacea and DICE
  9. Amphibian survey methods 1: Commoner observational and visual methods: Tagging & identification of individuals; Scan searching & egg surveys; Transect & patch sampling
  10. Amphibian survey methods 2: Netting & trapping: Drift fencing; Nets & traps; Removal studies & calls


Dr Jocelyne Hughes

Role: Director


I am Programme Director in Ecological Survey Techniques. Since 1998, I have been a Departmental Lecturer in the Department...more

Dr Jon Shrives

Role: Tutor

Born and raised on the island of Jersey, Jon first became interested in marine ecology picking through the local rock pools with his grandfather...more


example certificate PDF document.

Non-accredited Study

To successfully complete the course and receive a Certificate of Attendance, active participation of at least one forum post per week, to the satisfaction of the course tutor, in the online course forums is required. The PDF sample above is an illustration only, and the wording will reflect the course and dates attended.

Accredited Study

The University of Oxford Department for Continuing Education offers Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) points for the course. Participants contributing to all the forums and successfully completing the assessment will obtain 10 CATS-equivalent points (FHEQ level 7) which may count towards a Master’s level qualification.

Teaching methods

The teaching time frame covers 5 weeks. The content covered is roughly comparable to 1 week full-time study, students can expect to engage with and contribute to the course for around 10-15 hours per week depending on whether it is taken for credit or not. The course tutor will engage online for no less than 6 hours per week, this is usually distributed across each week and will focus on particular topics and activities.

There is no set time to log in to the course, which makes it ideal for students in different time zones as well as those wishing to study flexibly on a weekly basis; topics will be covered following a suggested calendar of activity, ensuring that activities, discussion and reading are completed within the 5 week duration and at an even pace with other students.

Fee options

Programme Fee
Accredited Study: £695.00
Non-acredited Study: £395.00
Student Rate (Non-accredited Study): £295.00

Apply for this course

If you would like to discuss joining the course or have any questions about the application or enrolment process please contact the course team:
Email: est@conted.ox.ac.uk
Phone: +44 (0)1865 286952

To apply for the course with academic credit please download and complete the course application form below to apply by post (scanned applications will also be accepted via email). To join the course without academic credit please either enrol online or by post as instructed below.

A special student rate of £295 is available for the non-accredited study on this course. This rate is available to currently registered graduate level part-time and full-time Home/EU and Overseas students. To apply for the special student rate please contact the course team on est@conted.ox.ac.uk or +44 (0)1865 286952; confirmation of status from an academic supervisor or other authority is normally required.

You can apply for this course in the following ways:

Apply online
enrol onlineto secure your place on this course now
Apply by post, email or fax
Download a PDF application form PDF document.

Terms and Conditions (important: please read before applying) .

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