BSc Geography with International Study

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:

Course unit fact file
Unit code GEOG20771
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Biogeography looks to explain the patterns of life we see today. Through this module we will explore the role and significance of physical and biological controls on the distribution of life. We will also look at the ways in which plants and animals live together in communities, and more broadly in biomes, as well as the geography of biodiversity. We will explore the role of evolution and plate tectonics as drivers of change in the patterns of life. We will consider the importance of historical biogeography and the influence of humans as agents of change. Finally the link between biogeography and conservation will be explored. 


  • explain the distribution of plants and animals we see today
  • understand how plants and animals live together in communities and biomes
  • explore the role and significance of plate tectonics and evolution as drivers of change
  • consider the importance of climate change in the past to understand the modern distribution of plants and animals
  • understand how human actions have affected the biogeography of different species
  • understand the significance of the link between biogeography and conservation


Learning outcomes



Teaching and learning methods

The course will be delivered via a series of lectures. The lectures will include time for interaction via class discussion, consolidation sessions and revision exercises. Learning will be supported through workshops and seminars. Students are expected to read widely, undertake the support activities as instructed for each class, and come prepared to make contributions in seminars and discussions. The course also includes a visit to Chester Zoo, which includes a workshop on the role of zoos in conservation. Learning will be supported via the course Blackboard site, which will provide access to course materials and wider resources, including links to TV and radio clips relevant to the study of biogeography.


Knowledge and understanding

  • Describe and explain the role of physical and biological factors in the distribution of plants and animals
  • Demonstrate how evolution and plate tectonics have shaped the patterns of life we see today
  • Evaluate the significance of climatic changes to biogeography
  • Assess the role of humans as agents of extinction and evolution
  • Appraise the significance of biogeography in conservation biology

Intellectual skills

  • Research skills, including selecting and citing relevant research in biogeography
  • Appreciate the different types of biogeographical research (e,g, observational studies, historical studies, modelling and simulations)
  • Writing skills, writing clear, concise, well-structured, and informative essays

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Writing clear, concise, well-structured and informative essays

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 67%
Written assignment (inc essay) 33%

Feedback methods

Feedback will be provided in the following ways during this course unit:

  • verbal feedback through discussion and Q&A during and at the end of lectures
  • extensive verbal feedback on any course unit issue through consultation hours or by appointment
  • detailed, constructive written feedback on coursework
  • detailed, constructive written feedback on exam in Academic Advisor meetings


Recommended reading

The core text for the course is:

  • Cox, C.B., Moore, P.D. and Ladle, R., 2016. Biogeography: an ecological and evolutionary approach. John Wiley & Sons – available as an e-book, with multiple hard copies also available in the library

There are several other Biogeography textbooks available in the library. 

In addition students will be expected to read articles from the primary research literature, including articles in journals such as:

  • Biological Conservation
  • Global Ecology and Biogeography
  • Journal of Applied Ecology
  • Journal of Biogeography
  • Journal of Ecology
  • Nature
  • Oecologia

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 3
Independent study hours
Independent study 197

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Peter Ryan Unit coordinator

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