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Biodiversity and Conservation

Module titleBiodiversity and Conservation
Module codeBIO2406
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Nicola Weber (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

What does the future hold for biodiversity? What is the value of biodiversity and how can we measure it? What are the global patterns and the current threats to biodiversity? How should we prioritise our conservation efforts? How are biodiversity and human societies inter-dependent? You will consider the answer to these questions during a series of lectures in which you will gain insights through case studies including rewilding, de-extinction, sustainable use of fisheries, elephants, and bushmeat, and the latest issues in biodiversity conservation. You will explore contentious issues in conservation biology in small group discussions and gain practical experience in measuring biodiversity through a practical session on the beach. You will visit a conservation site and gain an understanding of how conservation happens on the ground, and what conservation careers are available. The information and experience provided will prepare you for a career in conservation decision-making and research both inside and outside the UK.

Please note that there is a substantial statistical or mathematical element to the module that requires you to use R.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module introduces the study of biodiversity and conservation biology, and emphasises their growing importance. Theory is backed up by case studies from biological systems around the world. The module content is driven by the current global need to describe, value and prioritise biodiversity under threat and understand the fundamental issues underpinning conservation strategies.

The module draws on cutting-edge research conducted by academics within the department, as well as elsewhere, and includes up to date discussion of real-world problems including:

  • sustainable exploitation of natural resources;
  • protected areas, ex-situ conservation of endangered species;
  • landscape vs species conservation.

The module provides up-to-date information on the status of conservation at both UK and global scales and provides an insight into the jobs available in conservation, and the skills needed to do them. 

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Explain the processes that shape local, national and global patterns of biodiversity
  • 2. Understand the major threats to global biodiversity
  • 3. Discuss the relationship between human societies and biodiversity
  • 4. Discuss the use of ecological theory and tools in the development of conservation strategies
  • 5. With some guidance, debate the relative merits of different strategies in the maintenance of biodiversity and the conservation of biological systems

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 6. Describe in some detail essential facts and theory across a sub-discipline of biosciences
  • 7. Identify critical questions from the literature and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature into written work
  • 8. Identify and implement, with guidance, appropriate methodologies and theories for addressing specific research problems in biosciences
  • 9. With some guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within biosciences
  • 10. Describe and evaluate approaches to our understanding of biosciences with reference to primary literature, reviews and research articles

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 11. Develop, with some guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with valid conclusions
  • 12. Communicate ideas, principles and theories fluently using a variety of formats in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 13. Collect and interpret appropriate data and complete research-like tasks, drawing on a range of sources, with limited guidance
  • 14. Work in a small team and deal proficiently with the issues that teamwork requires (i.e. communication, motivation, decision-making, awareness, responsibility, and management skills, including setting and working to deadlines)

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Lectures include:

  • What is biodiversity?
  • Measuring biodiversity
  • Spatial patterns of biodiversity
  • Threats to biodiversity
  • Sustainable exploitation of natural resources
  • Planning conservation for species and habitats
  • Selection and design of protected areas
  • Conserving species in situ
  • Conserving species ex situ
  • Ecosystem services
  • Conservation genetics

Practical sessions will reinforce topics covered in lectures, emphasising the nature of scientific enquiry.

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 teaching15Lectures
Scheduled learning and teaching2Discussion session covering key conservation topics and help sessions
Scheduled learning and teaching3Biodiversity practical field session
Scheduled learning and teaching1Help session for the biodiversity assessment
Scheduled learning and teaching3Visit to a conservation site
Guided independent study126Additional reading and research for the discussion sessions, practical assignment and module examination


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Practice session for discussion practicals1 hour3, 5, 11-14Oral
Discussions during lectures and practical sessionsOngoing throughout the moduleAllOral

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
Rocky shore practical write-up401500 words1-14 Written
Essay 601500 words1-13 Written


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Rocky shore practical write-upRocky shore practical write-up1-14August assessment period
Essay 1500 word1-13August assessment period

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 assessment. 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

  • K.J. Gaston and J.I. Spicer, Biodiversity: An Introduction, Blackwells, 2004.
  • Pullin, A.S. (2002) Conservation Biology. Cambridge University Press.
  • Sutherland, W.J. (2000) The Conservation Handbook: Research, Management, and Policy. Blackwell


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Conservation biology, ecology, sustainability, protected areas, biodiversity, habitats, ecosystems, species, stakeholders

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date