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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

BLGY2265 Urban Ecology and Conservation Field Course

20 creditsClass Size: 100

Module manager: Steve Sait

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Pre-requisite qualifications

Relevant School of Biology/SOEE modules taken by MNatSci/JH students with the agreement of the MM.

SOEE1181 Ecology and/or SOEE1610 Sustainable futures for SOEE students


SOEE1610Introduction to Creating Sustainable Futures


SOEE2690Managing Biodiversity

Module replaces

BLGY2330 Terrestrial Ecology field course (withdrawn 2021/22)

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

In a series of lectures, the field course will build on core conceptual material in ecology and conservation and students will learn about the value of biodiversity in an urban context, with a focus on the University biodiversity, sustainability and reduced carbon emissions commitments.Over 7 days, students will then work in small groups and collect biodiversity data in rotation so that all students will study the following urban sites:- Living Lab pollination transects: What are the ecosystem services provided by pollinators in an urban context?- Tree diversity and abundance on the University estate: How can trees contribute to carbon storage and other ecosystem services?- University green roofs: What is their biodiversity value and how can they contribute to the University’s sustainability plans?- Students will analyse the class data from each site in the second week and then, during focused workshops, devise i) a biodiversity action plan to support and improve biodiversity on the campus (a written report in the form of a BAP) and ii) a ”Dragon’s Den” pitch of their BAP to Sustainability Services. The winning plan may lead to the adoption of their recommendations by the University.


The field course will complement the other field courses and their focus on understanding and application of ecological principles and processes in the nature world. This field course, which uniquely takes place in increasingly important urban landscapes, will focus on the application of biodiversity data to conservation and sustainability practices, and in understanding its relevance to stakeholders.

Weeks 23 – 24 (end of semester 2, before revision week): The field course will begin with preparatory lectures of core background and conceptual material, including; sustainability from the local to global context and the UN SDGs; how to collect and analyse biodiversity data in urban environments; how to make recommendations for increasing biodiversity sustainably in urban environments for appropriate stakeholders.

Weeks 29 – 30 (after exams): The lectures will be followed by 2 weeks of field course activities and assessments. Students will work in their tutorial groups (if SoB students) to contribute to a sense of community:

Week 1: Students will develop skills in measuring and analysing biodiversity. Students will collect different types of biodiversity data from the University estate, including Living lab pollinator transects; trees and carbon storage capacity; green roofs.

Week 2: Students will apply quantitative techniques to developing a biodiversity action plan in relation to the University’s campus biodiversity action plan (BAP) and its sustainability commitments. These activities will be assessed as a written group BAP and a group presentation.
It will be taught largely by SoB staff, but with contributions from SOEE and Sustainability Services staff, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, and with operational support from technical staff and demonstrators.
The field course will also be used to collect long term data of biodiversity patterns in urban contexts, with a focus on the University. This will be publishable in time.

Learning outcomes
At the end of the module, students will be able to:
1. Understand the structure and function of exemplar urban ecosystems in the context of local and global sustainability;
2. Measure and analyse key ecosystem services, including pollination and carbon storage, within an urban context and a focus on the University;
3. Generate novel ideas for improvements to campus and city landscapes to benefit biodiversity;
4. Integrate concepts from across disciplines to understand the non-scientific context for urban conservation biology;
5. Communicate research and recommendations in an effective manner to key stakeholders.

Skills outcomes
Taxonomic identification of plants and insects.


The core conceptual material will include:
Biodiversity, threats to biodiversity, with a focus on increasing urbanisation; Urban biodiversity, green spaces, urban ecosystem services, and nature-based solutions; UN SDGs and sustainability (especially SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities); University’s sustainability, biodiversity and carbon commitments (in collaboration with Sustainability Services); biodiversity sampling methods and strategy; analyses of biodiversity data; What is a biodiversity action plan?; How to use biodiversity data in a BAP (in collaboration with YWT).

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours122.00
Total Contact hours78.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Further reading around key lectures and group work to produce assessments.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Feedback on progress of each group as they progress through field work and workshop activities; feedback clinic for Biodiversity Action Plan (SoB staff and demonstrators).

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Group Project2000 word group Biodiversity action plan60.00
Oral Presentation10min Group presentation to Sustainability team (assessed by SoB staff)40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

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: 18/05/2023


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