Asia - Operation Wallacea


Enhanced understanding of syllabus

Those going on an Operation Wallacea expedition and studying Senior Science and Biology courses will discover that a significant amount of what they are learning in the classroom can be explored first-hand on their expedition, by becoming directly involved in collecting data, observing scientists at work and attending a series of activity lectures specific to the country in which they are on expedition. The Terrestrial and Marine ecology lectures both explain and support the research they will become involved in and all of this can then be supported by what they will learn in their school curriculum.

Course work essays and field investigations

The majority of Senior Science courses, especially Biology, require students to investigate a research topic (group or individual) and submit a report for assessment e.g. Extended Response Tasks, Extended Essays, Field Reports etc. Many of these could be based around the research being carried out in the field and in which they will become involved.

As an example, for those schools in China that offer the International Baccalaureate (IB), the Extended Essay (EE) and Creativity, Action and Service components objectives (CAS) are key aspects of this award. Experience with other schools has shown that a student can contribute confidently towards these important components whilst taking part in an expedition, please follow the links to EE and CAS for more detail on how both of these might work.

Whilst we cannot usually support independent research projects (IRP) involving primary data collection by students, we can provide past data sets and, in most cases, ensure that a student will be involved in relevant data collection but observing existing strict scientific protocols, here is an example of an independent research project, in this case an IB Extended Essay to provide an idea of how this would work.

Other examples are the practical scheme of work (PSOW), which is the practical course planned by the science teacher and acts as a summary of all the investigations carried out by the candidate. Students whilst on expedition will take part in practical work and these could contribute significantly towards their IB Internal Assessment for IB Biology. There is also the opportunity to incorporate the independent assessment during the expedition as well. The appropriate expedition booklet outlines the practicals they they will be involved with and could consider as part of these aspects of their course.

The other fantastic resource for teachers is the free data sets that Opwall provide through the WRL (Wallace Resource Library) and exam style questions (Biodiversity Data Tasks) which are based on Opwall research projects conducted around the world at Opwall sites. These datasets not only provide an invaluable resource for class teaching, but are also a way to inspire students when trying to choose their own research topic. You can view the Wallace Resource Library demonstration edition here.

For more information on any of the above points please contact or Pippa in the Asia office at

University applications and interviews

Applying for university or a job is becoming increasingly competitive and often involves interviews and a personal statement of achievement. Many students will be able to discuss the experiences gained on their Opwall expedition which will help them stand out from other candidates and provide them with the opportunity to showcase their experience.
Furthering career development

Opwall’s research expeditions provide an ideal opportunity for students to meet university academics and also, depending on the expedition, to work alongside university students doing degree courses of potential interest to them. These expeditions provide an excellent way of making contacts and many of the students that have joined previous Opwall expeditions have then completed degrees in relevant subjects and gone on to careers in wildlife conservation or field research themselves.