• Students on board our coastal research vessel deploying sediment traps
    Amazing fieldwork for your students
  • Well camouflaged fish in coastal environment
    Access to diverse habitats
    lochs, mud flats, salt marshes, beaches, deep water, forests, hills
  • Large laboratory image
    Attractive and well-equipped facilities
    For groups from 5 to 60 students
  • Beautiful image of SAMS research vessels moored on our pontoon in stunning weather with mountains in the background
    Resources of a marine research institute

Centre for Field Studies

Diverse and spectacular environments on our doorstep

The Centre for Field Studies enjoys on-site access to a range of muddy and rocky shore habitats; sandy beaches and salt marshes within three kilometers; and outstanding access to a variety of sheltered and offshore marine environments down to depths of over 200m. We are also perfectly located for coastal and terrestrial field research with access to forests, hills and mountains.

The waters around SAMS are home to marine mammals, basking sharks and biogenic reefs. Local sea lochs provide diverse physical, geochemical and biological environments in sheltered (i.e. largely weather-independent) settings.

Modern teaching facilities

We believe that high quality hands-on marine science training should be at the core of the student experience. And to support excellent teaching we have developed a new, spacious and attractive education facility: The Sheina Marshall Building offers excellent field studies facilities for visiting groups and is the home campus for marine science undergraduate and postgraduate students.

The Sheina Marshall Building comprises

  • >four well-equipped, modern teaching laboratories for between 12 and 60 students
  • >seven modern lecture and seminar rooms for between 10 and 100 students
  • >two computing suites
  • >a large dedicated study room
  • >wireless network throughout
  • >self-catering canteen 'Cafe Camus' with spectacular views and balcony
  • >access to a cafe serving hot and cold food and drink 10 am - 4 pm (Mon - Fri) in the Ocean Explorer Centre. Cafe operators can be booked to provide course catering.

Optional facilities and services

  • >coastal research vessels with capacity for up to 12
  • >oceanographic sampling equipment
  • >modern seawater aquarium with indoor and outdoor tanks
  • >temperature controlled rooms
  • >research library
  • >video conferencing facilities
  • >microscopy and image analysis
  • >technical support
  • >teaching support


  • >Water sampling rosette and Seabird CTD
  • >ADCP current meters
  • >Multibeam and sidescan sonar
  • >Benthic corers and grabs
  • >Gulf VII high-speed plankton sampler
  • >MIK frame trawl (1m2)
  • >Ring-nets for plankton sampling
  • >Submersible plankton pump
  • >2m research beam trawl
  • >Research otter trawl

Accommodation & transport

SAMS currently does not have sufficient on-site accommodation for visiting groups. Nearby accommodation in hotels, hostels and local campsites is available. We are happy to recommend suitable providers. Most visiting groups organise their own group transport but there are regular buses from Oban and nearby villages to Dunbeg, and some all the way to SAMS.

Introduction to food web modelling with Ecopath with Ecosim and Ecospace: 11-13 March 2020

Course description

Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) is a free ecosystem modelling software suite widely used in marine ecology.

EwE includes three main components:

  • >Ecopath – a static, mass-balanced snapshot of the system;
  • >Ecosim – a time dynamic simulation module for policy exploration; and
  • >Ecospace – a spatial and temporal dynamic module primarily designed for exploring impact and placement of protected areas. 

This introductory course is suitable both students and staff working in marine science, marine biology, ecology, environmental management or related disciplines. More...

Course format

Day 1

  • >Basic concepts and modelling procedures of aquatic ecosystems using the Ecopath with Ecosim food web modelling approach
  • >Principles behind EwE
  • >Designing, parameterizing and analysing an ecological model with Ecopath

Day 2

  • >Fundamentals of the Ecosim model (e.g.: foraging area)
  • >Driving and fitting models with time series; interpreting Ecosim outputs
  • >Introductory concepts of model uncertainty with the Monte Carlo routines and impact of environmental drivers

Day 3

  • >Introductory concepts of the spatial-temporal module Ecospace
  • >Spatial scenarios with Ecospace - creation, parameterization and evaluation
  • >Theory behind Ecospace and latest additions to the model
  • >Use of habitats and the manifold of possibilities offered by the new habitat capacity model
  • >Demonstration of the spatial temporal data framework


Trainer: Dr Natalia Serpetti, SAMS

Registration deadline: 1 March 2020 (but we will close this call when all places are taken)

Course fee: £400 (VAT exempt) including all course materials, lunches and refreshments (but excluding accommodation and travel). You are responsible to arrange your own transport and accommodation.

Book your place here

If you have further questions, please contact Dr Serpetti: Natalia.Serpetti@sams.ac.uk  

Frequentily asked questions

How can I book your facilities?

Please contact our Education team with any enquiries regarding SAMS field station facilities: education@sams.ac.uk or via 01631 559 000.  We'll be very happy to discuss your requirements, provide a quotation for you and perhaps arrange a tour, so you can experience the modern facilities, beautiful local environment and diverse accommodation options for yourself.

How much will it cost?

Prices vary depending on your specific needs; from the type of rooms / laboratories you plan to use and whether you require access to the research vessel, to the duration of your course, any teaching staff or expert operators required from SAMS and the standard of accommodation you would prefer.  We would be more than happy to discuss your requirements and budget and produce a proposal which delivers what you need.  Please contact us for further details.

Our pricing promise - We're committed to ensuring the UK continues to provide national marine field course facilities and exciting opportunities for developing skills which underpin marine science careers in the 21st century.  As such, our prices are as competitive as possible.

How do I find accommodation for our group?

Oban is a beautiful tourist hub, set around a pretty horseshoe bay and brimming with different accommodation options.  SAMS is lucky to be able to offer accommodation which best suits your budget and your students (from hotels and B&Bs to campsites and hostels) rather than being limited to University accommodation only.

Take a look at our local information pages to identify the most suitable options for you. We're also happy to advise you regarding accommodation options and any special offers we may be able to access.

Can we use the facilities over the weekend or in the evenings?

Yes. If you are arriving at a weekend we will arrange for a member of staff to open the facilities for you and show you around. You can be issued with a pass allowing access at weekends or evenings.  Out of hours working requires compliance with SAMS Out Of Hours Health and Safety Policy, for example lone working is not permitted. Please ensure that the field work coordinator, Tim Brand (E: Tim.Brand@sams.ac.uk), is aware if you need out of hours access.

What catering options are there?

Through our on-site caterer, we can organise a range of catering options, from the usual buffet lunches, to packed lunches, BBQs and hot meals - again, to suit your needs, course activities and any special dietary requirements.

Alternatively you can join staff and students in our cafe and purchase a selection of hot and cold meals and snacks.

For meetings with regular refreshment breaks, tea, coffee and cold drinks can be pre-ordered.

If you would like to arrange evening meals in Oban for your group, we'd be happy to recommend suitable local restaurants. As the 'Seafood Capital', there are plenty of great options.  Please discuss your preferences with our team.

How do we get to SAMS?

SAMS is situated on the spectacular west coast of Scotland.  The institute is surrounded on three sides by water and is adjacent to the 13th century Dunstaffnage Castle. It is just two-three hours drive from the major cities of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Inverness - although you often need to allow extra time for stopping to photograph the stunning scenery and local wildlife!  Please visit our 'Get Directions' page for further details.

What local transport is available?

SAMS is situated just 3.5 miles from Oban and benefits from plenty of local transport links; from buses and taxis to a cycle path which connects Oban with Dunbeg via a secluded track which runs over moorland away from the main road.  Minibuses from Oban to the site can also be arranged with prior notice.  Please visit the local information folder for further information.

What can groups do in the evenings or over weekends in Oban?

The area is an extremely popular tourist destination and Oban is known as the 'Gateway to the Isles', with ferries leaving for the Hebridean islands throughout the day. The town itself is well serviced with restaurants, pubs, a community-run cinema, a ceilidh house and attractions such as Oban Oban Distillery.  Trips can be arranged to visit the islands, go seal-watching, take part in sea kayaking and gorge walking, or you can just sit, relax and enjoy the view. The town calender lists many events that take place throughout the year. The area is particularly attractive for those with an interest in outdoor pursuits and traditional music and arts. Visit our local information pages for details.

What technical support can we access?

We can provide a range of support from IT to laboratory and teaching expertise. You can hire our vessels with a range of sampling and analytical equipment, rent space in our research aquarium, or hire some of our analytical facilities/smart observation instruments.  Some of the more expensive and specialised equipment can only be hired with a SAMS operator but other equipment is available for you to operate yourselves. Please discuss your requirements with Tim Brand (E: Tim.Brand@sams.ac.uk).

Who deals with contracts and insurance at SAMS?

Facility hire contracts are issued via either SAMS directly or through one of our commercial subsidiaries. If you have specific inquiries regarding insurance, please discuss these with Tim Brand.

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SAMS is Scotland’s largest and oldest independent marine science organisation, dedicated to delivering marine science.

SAMS, Scottish Marine Institute,
Oban, Argyll, PA37 1QA

+44 (0)1631 559000


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