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Trends in Ecology and Evolution

Module titleTrends in Ecology and Evolution
Module codeBIO3131
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Regan Early (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

In this module you will discover what it takes to be a research scientist and discuss cutting edge research with some of the top organismal biologists in the world. You will attend weekly research seminars given live, online by speakers from Universities and research institutes from all over the UK and further afield. These are likely to be wide ranging in their topics but provide an insight into cutting edge research. Following each seminar there will be a group workshop (online) with the speakers. This will then be followed by an online session with the module convenor entailing small and large-group discussion of the research topic, its broader significance to other scientific areas and to society, and presentation styles. You will write summaries of two speaker’s research, which will allow you to fine-tune your communication skills and increase your depth of understanding of the latest research in behaviour, ecology, evolution and conservation. This will allow you to learn how to understand, synthesise and communicate cutting edge research to a wider audience. Writing clear, accurate and engaging summaries of complex topics is frequently important in the workplace and this module provides a platform during which to develop this skill. The essay (coursework) assessment will be a choice of three questions, each focusing on one of the talks. This module offers a truly unique opportunity to engage with ground-breaking research and researchers. Visiting scientists often comment on the good ideas generated during discussion with students on this module. Discussion is student-led, and as such, the learning in this module is directly proportionate to the degree of enthusiasm and engagement from the students. Group discussions can be daunting, but we make every effort to create an open-minded, friendly environment, where no one has to have “the right” answer.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The aims of this module are to provide you with exposure to current research in conservation, ecology, evolution and zoology as well as to foster skills in acquisition, synthesis, and communication of information by having you attend seminars presented by external speakers (each an expert in their field of research). You will also develop professional skills by interacting and networking with the seminar speakers, discussing topics covered in the seminar and any issues raised by the seminar.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Read and discuss current (<1 year old) research
  • 2. Describe the breadth of research in conservation, ecology, evolution, and zoology
  • 3. Explain the different approaches, the questions they address, and the relative strengths and weaknesses of the approaches

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. Describe in detail and analyse essential facts and theory across a sub-discipline of biosciences
  • 5. Analyse and evaluate independently a range of research-informed literature and synthesise research-informed examples from the literature into written work
  • 6. Identify and implement, with limited guidance, appropriate methodologies and theories for solving a range of complex problems in biosciences
  • 7. With minimal guidance, deploy established techniques of analysis, practical investigation, and enquiry within biosciences
  • 8. Describe and evaluate in detail 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...

  • 9. Devise and sustain, with little guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with sound, convincing conclusions
  • 10. Communicate effectively arguments, evidence and conclusions using a variety of formats in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 11. Analyse and evaluate appropriate data and complete a range of research-like tasks with very limited guidance
  • 12. Evaluate own strengths and weaknesses in relation to graduate-level professional and practical skills, and act autonomously to develop new areas of skills as necessary
  • 13. Reflect effectively and independently on learning experiences and evaluate personal achievements

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Each week you will attend the Centre Research seminar series. You will meet with the speaker each week. You will be required to attend all workshops during the semester.

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 teaching8Lectures covering material such as behaviour, ecology, evolution and conservation
Scheduled learning and teaching8Workshops with selected seminar speakers
Scheduled learning and teaching8Seminars with module convenor to synthesise what has been learned in the seminar
Guided independent study126Additional research, reading and preparation for module assessments


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short answer questions during discussion groups Ongoing throughout the moduleAllOral
Lay summary300 words1-11Feedback sheet

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
Essay602000 words1-11Feedback sheet
Lay summary40300 words1-11Feedback sheet


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-11August examination period
Lay summaryLay summary for a seminar that was attended1-11August examination 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 essay 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

Reading material (primary literature/review articles) will be provided by seminar speakers before their talk and uploaded to ELE. Once you know the topics involved you will be expected to use the library to search for related material (primary literature etc).

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Conservation, evolution, ecology, biodiversity, zoology, science communication

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date