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2022/23 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 2022/23

Pre-requisite qualifications

School of Earth and Environment students are expected to have passed SOEE1181 and SOEE2690.
Students on programmes parented by other Schools are expected to have passed BLGY2155.


BLGY2155Population, Community and Conservation Ecology
SOEE2690Managing Biodiversity

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 Marxan, which is the world’s most widely used conservation planning software;

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;
- team working.

Skills outcomes
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.
- Conservation management: students will learn how to translate ecological research papers into conservation management problems and approaches through the production of a report.


The course provides an overview of conservation science theory and applications to key conservation issues, and includes topics such as:
- The principle threats to biodiversity
- Rarity, extinction processes and extinction debt, and the consequences of losses in biodiversity
- Species-area relationships and Island Biogeography theory
- Concepts in environmental decision science
- Spatial conservation planning
- Quantitative methods in conservation science.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Group learning10.500.50
Private study hours177.50
Total Contact hours22.50
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

20 hours preparing for the practical, including background reading that will be included in the assessment at the end of the practical
50 hours researching and creating a ‘Conservation Evidence’ report on how an ecology research paper can be translated into conservation management problems/ approaches
107.5 hours independent study time around the lectures (approx. 5 hr per lecture)

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Two pieces of course work will be used to monitor student progress in the module; an individual assessment on the practical conservation planning lab (20%), which involves decision science analytical design, and a group report on conservation management (30%). Students will have a timetabled clinic for the group report to discuss progress, and they will receive feedback on the assessed pieces of work.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Group ProjectGroup production of a Conservation Evidence report30.00
PracticalAttendance at the practical, successful completion of the practical and assessment through an online multiple choice test and report.20.00
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
Online Time-Limited assessment24 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: 22/07/2022 13:33:29


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