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Ecology and Environment

Module titleEcology and Environment
Module codeBIO2076
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Kirsten Thompson (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

We begin to explore advanced ways of understanding patterns in biodiversity, the mechanisms that govern ecological systems and their sustainability. We examine how ecologists explain the form, distribution and abundance of organisms and we begin to evaluate the methods used to project the future of ecological systems and the services that they provide. It will suit people seeking a scientific understanding of nature and provide a foundation for interests in conservation and environmental change.   

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module presents some of the fundamental concepts, methods and results in the scientific study of ecology, biodiversity and the environment. Set at an intermediate level, you will begin to read papers in scientific journals under guidance and begin to become proficient in data analysis and interpretation.   This module prepares you to study more advanced modules in ecology and environmental change and it is a valuable complement to ecology field courses. 

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Discuss some fundamental concepts, methods and results in the scientific study of ecology, biodiversity and the environment
  • 2. Use and interpret some computer-based models of ecological systems.
  • 3. Use a spreadsheet for fairly complex calculations, data analysis and data display

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Summarise the key findings of research papers published in scientific journals
  • 5. Locate, select and authenticate ecological information from the internet
  • 6. With guidance, use established techniques of analysis and enquiry within the biosciences

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Communicate complex and technically detailed ideas and information orally and in writing
  • 8. Use a spreadsheet for advanced computation and data analysis
  • 9. Complete research-related tasks under guidance

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan


Specific topics will include the following: 

FORM: natural history of an organism; adaptation. 

DISTRIBUTION: landscape ecology; species distribution models (SDMs) and climate change; habitat fragmentation and metapopulations.  

ABUNDANCE: species interactions; explanations of ‘common vs. rare’. 

HUMAN IMPACT: overexploitation and sustainable harvesting; conservation demography; protecting species and protected areas. 

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching22Lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching15Laboratory practical
Guided Independent Study113Guided reading


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Practice essay500 wordsAllWritten

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay examination601 hourAllWritten via tutor
Data analysis report 251500 wordsAllWritten via lecturer
Slideshow with commentary1510 minute presentation AllWritten via lecturer


Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay examinationEssay examinationAllAugust Ref/Def
MCQ assessment Essay examinationAllAugust Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to sit a further examination. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • A list of journal articles will be provided on the module’s ELE page:  

  • Core reading: K. J. Gaston &T. M. Blackburn (2000) Pattern and Process in Macroecology. Wiley. Online ISBN:9780470999592 

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Ecology, biodiversity, environment, conservation

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites

BIO1336 Ecology or NSC1003 Foundations in Natural Science

Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date