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2020/21 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

BLGY3247 Advanced Topics in Conservation Science

20 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Dr Steve Sait

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2020/21

Pre-requisite qualifications

School of Earth and Environment students are expected to have passed SOEE1180 and SOEE2690.
Students on programmes parented by other Schools are expected to have passed BLGY2144.


BLGY2144Population and Community Ecology
SOEE1180Environment and Ecology
SOEE2690Managing Biodiversity

Module replaces

BLGY3241 Conservation Biology (10 credits)

This module is not approved as a discovery module


The aims of this module are as follows:
- To develop a critical understanding of current theories and empirical examples in conservation science;
- To discuss the biological principles that underpin the observed diversity and distribution of organisms on the planet;
- To discuss the current patterns and causes of biodiversity loss and the consequences of this loss to ecosystem functioning and services, with particular emphasis on climate change related impacts;
- To show how ecological theory informs conservation theory and how this theory is put into practice;
- To illustrate how conservation practice works, or fails to work, in the real world through discussion of a diverse range of case studies;
- To introduce theory and concepts in environmental decision science and conservation planning.

Learning outcomes
By the end of the module, students should be able to demonstrate an understanding of:
- current theories and empirical examples in conservation science;
- mechanisms underlying global patterns in the distribution of animals and plants, with a particular focus on species responses to climate change;
- primary mechanisms responsible for biodiversity loss in both theoretical and practical terms;
- consequences of this loss to ecosystem functioning and services;
- how ecological theory can inform conservation in theory and practice;
- how environmental management decisions are made and implemented, including a basic skill set in the world’s most widely used conservation planning software Marxan;
- the importance of interdisciplinary solutions for conservation problems.

Within this framework students will develop skills more broadly in:
- critical thinking and analysis with respect to contemporary scientific papers/concepts, which is allied to scientific writing and synthesis of conceptual material from different sources
- experimental design, data handling and analysis


The course provides an overview of conservation science theory and key conservation issues, such as:
- Global patterns of biodiversity
- The meaning and value of biodiversity
- The principle threats to biodiversity
- Rarity, extinction processes, and the consequences of losses in biodiversity
- Metapopulation ecology
- Species-area relationships
- Island biogeography theory
- Extinction debt
- Conservation of freshwater ecosystems
- Diversity in conservation science
- Basic concepts in environmental decision science
- Spatial conservation planning
- Quantitative methods in conservation science.

Students will develop skills in:
Research: students will gain an understanding of recent developments in conservation science theory and how this theory has been applied in practical conservation.
Conservation planning: students will conduct a practical in spatial planning, gaining skills in problem solving.
Communicating science: students will learn how to simplify conservation research, and communicate this through the production of a podcast.
Conservation management: students will learn how to translate ecological research papers into conservation management problems / approaches through the production of a report.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours175.00
Total Contact hours25.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

10 hours preparing for the practical including background reading that will be included in the assessment at the end of the practical
30 hours researching and creating a ‘Conservation Evidence’ report on how an ecology research paper can be translated into conservation management problems/ approaches
30 hours researching and preparing a group presentation in the form of a podcast
105 hours independent study time around the lectures (5 hr per lecture)

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Three pieces of course work will be used to monitor student progress: an individual assessment on the practical lab (10%), a group report on conservation management (20%), and a group presentation (20%). Students will also receive feedback on these pieces of work.

The lab session involves experimental design and the write up involves analysis and interpretation of the data as well as a formal write up. Students will receive generic feedback on their practical report via the VLE and individual comments on the script. There will be a feedback session, which the students may attend to discuss their work.

Students will receive feedback from staff on their podcast, and will also receive peer feedback.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Oral PresentationGroup literature research and podcast20.00
Group ProjectGroup production of a Conservation Evidence report20.00
PracticalAttendance at the practical, successful completion of the practical and assessment through a multiple choice online test10.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)50.00

August resit not available for practical which uses class data or presentation which involves group work. Alternative forms of assessment will be set.

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Open Book exam48 hr 50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)50.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 13/11/2020 08:18:45


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