BSc Zoology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Ecology and Conservation

Course unit fact file
Unit code EART25001
Credit rating 10
Unit level Level 5
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? No


This unit will explore major ecological theories that underlie our understanding of the living world at different scales in space and time, and how ecological knowledge is used to make informed decisions on biodiversity conservation and ecosystem service management. The unit will examine how individuals adapt to their local environment and what are the fundamental trade-offs that restrain individual’s ability to thrive in all possible environments. The course will adopt a lecture/seminar-based approach to key ecosystems and conservation with case studies. Students will discover how communities and ecosystems are formed and change over time and how species interactions within and across trophic levels determine the levels of biodiversity in given ecosystems. The importance of landscape features and history for the maintenance of biodiversity at larger spatial and temporal scales will be explored and discussed in the context of

conservation. Students will learn how biodiversity patterns vary at global scale; explain how this knowledge can be used in prioritising global conservation efforts. Students will gain a broad understanding of the value of biodiversity for ecosystem service provision, understand the main approaches to conservation at population, species and ecosystem level, and current international conservation initiatives and policies.


Unit title Unit code Requirement type Description
Biodiversity BIOL10511 Pre-Requisite Optional
Introduction to Ecology EART10602 Pre-Requisite Optional
Understanding the Earth EART11100 Pre-Requisite Optional
The Natural Scientist's Toolkit EART11200 Pre-Requisite Optional


Either of these courses:

1st year Understanding the Earth EART 11100/11200

 1st year BIOL10511 Biodiversity

1st year EART 10602 Introduction to Ecology



i) To provide students with an overview of key ecological and evolutionary processes that underlie biodiversity patterns and dynamics at local, regional and global scales;

ii) To explore in detail the role of biodiversity in ecosystem functioning and the delivery of ecosystem services, and consider why it should be preserved;

iii) Identify current threats to biodiversity and how ecological principles can guide conservation strategies.


Learning outcomes


On the successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

Programme ILO(s)




Describe the ecological features of diverse ecosystems in view of conservation




Identify and explain the components of the ecosystems and the approaches to use to assess and predict the components on key ecosystems




Identify the major threats to ecological conservation



Propose potential conservation and management strategies to the threats identified.



Teaching and learning methods

22-hour new lectures and case studies– 22 hours


New material outside lectures- 3 hours

Directed reading/consolidated learning e.g. a scientific paper related to taught content, through referral to online materials on Blackboard -50 hours

Formative assessment– 20hours


Scheduled activity


Lectures and summative assessment – 25 hours

Independent studies – 75 hours


Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 80%
Set exercise 20%

Feedback methods

Assessment type

% Weighting within unit

Hand out and hand in dates



How, when and what feedback is provided

ILO tested





During lectures, discussion


Online test


Questions will be available after the last lecture on week 12. The test is open for a month.


1 hour - test open for a month.

Each question will have a written feedback (for both correct and incorrect answers) and this will be made available after the deadline.





Short answer questions

(2 hours)

Extensive feedback will be provided on students’ scripts, and they are offered an opportunity to view that feedback. The assessment  will take place in the January period and feedback will be provided after.



Recommended reading

Begon, M., Howarth, R. W & Townsend, C. R. (2014) Essentials of Ecology Wiley, Publishers, 4th Edition EBOOK ISBN: 9781118802373 ; PRINT ISBN9780470909133

Cardinale, B., Murdoch, J and Primack, R, B (2019). Conservation Biology Publisher Sinauer Associates; Print ISBN: 9781605357140, 1605357146; eText ISBN: 9781605358826, 1605358827

Sigee, D (2004), Freshwater Environments: the influence of physico-chemical conditions on microbial communities Aquatic Microbiology. Wiley, ISBN 0-471-48529-2

Bardgett, R.D. (2005) The Biology of Soil: A Community and Ecosystem Approach. Oxford University Press

Cox CB, Moore PD, Ladle R. (2016) Biogeography: an ecological and evolutionary approach. John Wiley & Sons.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 25
Independent study hours
Independent study 75

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Joshua Lynn Unit coordinator
Richard Bardgett Unit coordinator
Cecilia Medupin Unit coordinator
William Sellers Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Contact hours

 22 x 1 hour lectures – 22 hours


Other Scheduled teaching and learning activities*

Online learning activities, self-directed learning and formative assessment


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