School of Life Sciences

Field Trips

Field trips are a core part of the educational experience for our life sciences students.

Find a course
scuba diver selfie
Whatever your degree you will have opportunities to travel off-campus


For marine biology students, our location on the Essex coast gives us access to both freshwater and saltwater environments. In addition to UK-based trips we also arrange fieldtrips abroad to give students experience of tropical marine environments. Previous locations for our international trips have included Indonesia, where we have helped preserve coral reefs, and Greece.

For our biomedical, biochemistry, and biological sciences students, our staff arrange trips to laboratories and professional institutions across the UK.


boat approaching cave
smiling scuba diver waving above water
scuba diver blowing bubbles underwater

UK-based field trips

Field trips don’t just give you a chance to study marine life in its natural habitat. You will also learn and practice an important set of skills that will be essential for your own projects, including identification skills for a range of flora and fauna, survey and sampling techniques for environmental factors and animals, and recognising safety issues and implementing the correct guidance.

Local ecology

Undergraduate and postgraduate students who are taking marine biology modules attend field trips that are easily accessible from our Colchester campus, namely the Colne (around Wivenhoe and Brightlingsea) and the Blackwater (Mersea Island and Maldon) estuaries.

These estuaries are home to a lush saltmarsh environment. The Blackwater estuary in particular is recognised as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and Mersea Island is the only Marine Conservation Zone in England for native oysters.

Academics in our department carry out a range of research projects in these areas, which have helped influence conservation work to protect the ecosystem for generations to come. This means that your trips will be led by people who are experts in the local environments.

Coral reef close up shot

East of England coast

Outside of the classroom you have access to other coastal areas that may take your interest.

Wivenhoe train station has a regular service further up the coast to Walton-on-the-Naze (fossil shark tooth heaven) and Clacton-on-Sea.

If you’d like to go further afield then Colchester North station has frequent trains to Norwich, where you can change to get to the stunning East Anglian coastline around the towns of Great Yarmouth, Lowestoft, Cromer, and Sheringham.

Our easy train access to London also means you can take a weekend trip to southern coastal towns such as Bournemouth, Brighton, and Hastings.

International trips

Marine biology students also have opportunities to take part in field trips abroad. These experiences broaden the knowledge base of our students, and helps them develop their scientific skills in a new environment.


Our School has particular expertise in the marine ecosystems of Indonesia, with work by our researchers, leading to Wakatobi Marine National Park receiving UNESCO status in 2012.

Scuba divers getting dressed


In spring 2022 our marine biology students took part in a five-day field trip to Croatia.

Based on the beautiful Silba island, part of an archipelago to the west of the mainland, students took part in outdoor lectures and seminars, walked along the coastline for site surveys, and dove in the Adriatic to carry out reef surveys and ecosystem analysis.

Students learned about the delicate marine environment of the Adriatic, including identification of the species that are unique to this area.


Whatever degree you study, from undergraduate to PhD, or biochemistry to tropical marine biology, you will have opportunities to attend conferences on your area of interest.

Some of these trips are organised by your lecturers and will involve a group attending a one-day event. Alternatively, information about upcoming interesting events may be circulated by the School and you will be encouraged to make your own arrangements to attend.

Conferences are an excellent way for you to broaden your professional networks, meet your peers and discuss their learning and research experiences, and hear interesting talks and the latest research from other experts.

Biomedical and biochemistry trips

Students on our biomedical and biochemistry degrees will have opportunities for their own field trips throughout their studies.

We arrange trips to laboratories, such as NHS biomedical labs, where you will see the technology and skills you learn in the classroom put into practice.

Previous trips have included the Institute for Biomedical Science in London, and