Skip to main content


African Conservation Science and Policy Field Course

Module titleAfrican Conservation Science and Policy Field Course
Module codeBIOM4026
Academic year2020/1
Module staff

Dr Thomas Currie (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Description - summary of the module content

Module description

Many students look back on the Africa Field Course as the best learning experience of their lives. The module usually runs in Kenya and is based on a long-established model, having run for over a decade. This module concentrates on the social and political aspects of conservation in Kenya, and considers issues regarding governance of conservation on local, national and global scales. Over the course of the trip you will see an amazing wealth of biodiversity from mountains and forests, to lakes and savannahs, meet a range of conservationists and stakeholders, and develop a deep understanding of the complicated nature of conservation in the developing world. All the while you will be developing your transferrable skills, spending a great deal of time with your lecturing staff and your peers, all under African skies.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to present the philosophy, sociology, ecology and practice of large-scale conservation. A practical understanding of these issues will be developed through visits to some of Africa’s most important protected areas, as well as by an introduction to some of the day-to-day problems faced by conservation practitioners in developing nations.

Through attending the field course, you will further develop the following academic and professional skills:

  • problem solving (linking theory to observations, developing your own ideas with confidence, showing entrepreneurial awareness, being able to respond to novel and unfamiliar problems)
  • managing structure (identifying key demands of the task, setting clearly defined goals, responding flexibly to changing priorities)
  • time management (managing time effectively individually and within a group)
  • collaboration (respecting the views and values of others, taking initiative and leading others, supporting others in their work, maintaining group cohesiveness and purpose)
  • audience awareness (presenting ideas effectively in multiple formats, persuading others of the importance and relevance of your views, responding positively and effectively to questions).

The module content is updated every year to explore topical research areas, some of which are being carried out in the department, and some of which are of global relevance. You will learn about the tools required to study such problems, and explore how such science can solve issues of importance to society.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Explain the problems of conservation in an African country
  • 2. Compare conservation policy in Europe and Africa
  • 3. Begin to apply basic descriptive, comparative and monitoring techniques in novel ecological settings

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. Describe systematically and critically current problems and/or new insights in conservation and biodiversity, much of which is at, or informed by, the forefront of the field of study
  • 5. Describe in detail some techniques applicable to research in conservation and biodiversity

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 6. Deal with complex issues both systematically and creatively, make sound judgements in the absence of complete data, and communicate your conclusions clearly to specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • 7. Tackle and solve problems independently and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

A safari-style field course will take place in an African nation (usually Kenya). The two-week course will move around in the mini-buses and operate from tented camp-sites and cabins within or near National Parks.

Pre-field course lectures and seminars will prepare you for the practical element of the module. This knowledge is reinforced through preparation of an assessed poster on a given conservation topic upon return from the field. In the field, relevant skills are developed through tutoring in conservation science, natural history, social science, ecology and biogeography, which are applied in group observation and data collection. Small group seminars will review and synthesise observations in each of a range of African habitats and implications of these will be explored in structured discussion of the ecological, sociological, political and economic issues relating to conservation in Africa. A particular emphasis will be given on policy implications.

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 Teaching and Learning3Preparatory lectures
Scheduled Teaching and Learning3Preparatory seminars
Scheduled Teaching and Learning112Africa Field course
Guided independent study182Additional reading, research and preparation for the module assessments


Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short answer questions throughout the field course and poster sessions Ongoing throughout the moduleAllOral
Participation in seminar 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
Post-field course poster50A3 posterAll Written
Critical synthetic report – literature review in the format of a Trends in Ecology and Evolution (TREE) journal article502000 wordsAll Written


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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Post-field course posterPost-field course posterAllDuring an appropriate specified time period before the end of July
Critical synthetic reportCritical synthetic reportAllDuring an appropriate specified time period before the end of July

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 50%) you will be required to redo the original assessment. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will be capped at 50%.


Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Ulfstrand S (2000) Savannah Lives
  • Kingdon (2006) Field Guide to African Mammals
  • Leakey (2002) Wildlife Wars…also published as Ivory Wars

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Conservation, Africa, ecology, animal behaviour, taxonomy, biogeography, evolution, observation, data analysis, field work, environmental policy

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date