Field Techniques for Surveying Invertebrates

Course details

From £345.00
10 CATS points

Wed 01 May 2019 - Wed 05 Jun 2019

Field Techniques for Surveying Invertebrates


About the course

This part-time tutored online course offers expert-led training in invertebrate surveying techniques from planning and preparations through to sampling strategies, surveying methods and reporting. The course aims to create a rich workshop experience, encouraging direct student and tutor interaction and discussion.

You will receive highly practical expert training, helping you to

  • develop interception and responsive trapping techniques
  • explore identification and taxonomic considerations
  • build your understanding of habitat description and evaluation, managing specimens
  • interpret and report invertebrate survey data

Who the course is for

Professional ecological consultants, environmental managers and rangers, research and postgraduate students, and volunteers.  The techniques covered are universal, and we use international case studies and examples.

Flexible online learning

Students typically study on this course alongside their work.

You can take this online course from anywhere in the world with a good internet connection.  You can log on at any time of the day and access our specially designed course materials, e-learning resources and tutor-led discussion forums. You will have access to the Bodleian Libraries’ online, which provides an excellent range of e-books and e-journals, enabling you to conduct your research and reading in your own time.

Chartered status

The course can help you 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.

Programme details

Topics covered

  • Rationale and practicalities of invertebrate surveys: Why survey invertebrates?; practicalities of invertebrate surveys; types of survey
  • Before starting - planning and preparation: Preparing for an invertebrate survey; a wider context for your survey
  • Field methods 1 - active methods: Targeted searching; extractive sampling from habitats
  • Field methods 2 - interception trapping: Interception trapping – principles; flight interception trapping; pitfall trapping
  • Field methods 3 - responsive trapping: Water, pan or frisbee traps; light trapping; baited trapping
  • Sorting, identification and taxonomic considerations: Initial sorting of samples; identification and naming
  • Sampling strategies: Sampling versus searching?; Location and number of samples
  • Invertebrate habitat description and evaluation: Introduction to invertebrate habitat features; identifying microhabitats; measuring and recording heterogeneity
  • Invertebrate survey for monitoring: Introduction to monitoring invertebrates; single species survey and monitoring; monitoring assemblages
  • data and specimens - what to do with them; survey results - interpreting; writing up and reporting

Teaching methods

Your course tutor will guide you through a series of key topics via reading materials, online activities, and discussion forums. Discussion forums are 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.

Level and demands

The course is designed for Master’s-level students, and you are likely to be studying alongside students on our Postgraduate Certificate in Ecological Survey Techniques.

You can expect

  • to engage with and contribute to the course around ten to 15 hours per week (depending on whether it is taken for credit or not).
  • your course tutor will engage online for no less than six hours per week (usually distributed across each week and will focus on particular topics and activities).
  • topics to be covered following a suggested calendar of activity (so that activities, discussion and reading are completed within the course week duration, and at an even pace).
  • the 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.


You can choose to study for academic credit or simply for the learning experience.

Accredited study

Students taking the course for credit submit an assignment of up to 2000 words or equivalent.

We offer Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS) points for the course. By contributing to all the forums and successfully completing the assessment you will obtain 10 CATS-equivalent points (FHEQ level 7) which may count towards a Masters-level qualification. You will also receive a University of Oxford Certificate of Attendance.

For information on CATS points and credit transfer, including conversion to US academic credits and European academic credits (ECTS), please visit our CATS Points FAQ page.

Non-accredited study

Students taking the course not for credit do not submit an assignment.

By actively participating in at least one online course forum post per week, to the satisfaction of the course tutor, and successfully completing the course, you will receive a University of Oxford Certificate of Attendance.

Certificate of Attendance

You may receive a Certificate of Attendance whether you opt for accredited or non-accredited study (provided that you have met the requirements stated above).

IT requirements

This course is delivered online and uses the Department’s online assignment submission system (for the course assignment). In order to meet course requirements, students will need access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.


Accredited study: £795.00
Non-accredited study: £460.00
Student rate (non-accredited Study): £345.00


Dr Thomas Hesselberg

Course Director

Thomas is a zoologist who has studied spiders, insects and worms for more than 15 years in both temperate and tropical climates. In addition to his teaching for OUDCE, he is a lecturer in biological sciences at St. Anne's College.

Dr Angelica Martinez Bauer


Dr Angélica Elizabeth Martínez Bauer completed her Ph.D. at Monash University, Australia. Her thesis focused on multiple species interactions involving ants, Acacia myrtifolia, herbivores, and pollinators, in an attempt to explain some of this intricate web of causes and effects. She is entranced by the intricate web of relationships between living things, and aims to prove that everything is connected. Following her Ph.D., Angelica collaborated in several research projects at University of Oxford. One project focused on the effect of early season herbivores on Oak fitness and on subsequent herbivore community structure while the second was related to the interaction between the environment and flower constancy in bumble bees. She is now the Development Director of a Mexican NGO, called Ojos de Agua, focusing on water sanitation in rivers in order to recover natural habitats for both plants and animals. 


We strongly recommend that you download and save files before completing to ensure that all your changes are saved.

Application/registration processing will close 4-6 weeks before the start of the course. Please contact with any related questions.

Apply to take the course for academic credit

If you are applying to take this course for academic credit you will need to complete and return the following documents, alongside a copy of your CV. Please ensure you read the guidance notes before completing the application form, as any errors resulting from failure to do so may delay your application.

Apply to take the course not for academic credit

If you do not wish to take this course for academic credit you will need to complete and return the following document, or use the enrol onlinebutton below. Please ensure you read the guidance notes before completing the application form, as any errors resulting from failure to do so may delay your application.

Selection criteria

All candidates will need to:

  1. Hold a minimum qualification equivalent to a first Honours Degree (BA, BSc, etc). Non-graduates may be considered if they are able to demonstrate considerable experience in a relevant field. If in doubt, please email;
  2. Offer some first-hand knowledge and/or experience of field work or conservation issues;
  3. Satisfy the minimum required English language criteria set by the University, being either a native English speaker, or able to offer test results as specified. Applicants with borderline scores may be accepted on condition that they attend a language course and gain an acceptable score;
  4. Demonstrate an ability to be able to commit the necessary time to study;
  5. Have good access to a computer and a fast/reliable internet connection;
  6. Demonstrate an ability to work alongside fellow students and tutors as part of an online community and independently.


Where requested, this should be supplied with your application. Applicants are advised to email should they be unsure about the suitability of the referees they intend to use.

Written work

Please note that we do not request submission of written work.