BSc Geography with International Study / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Wildlife in the Anthropocene

Course unit fact file
Unit code GEOG30701
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This module examines human relationships with wildlife and the place of 'wildness' (both literally and metaphorically) in the contemporary world. Wildness refers to those species, habitats, ecosystems and places that precede, or supersede, human control. The module explores the varied meanings, locations, material effects and moral implications of wildness today. It ranges across philosophical, theoretical and policy debates to give students a wide but deep grounding in the key questions and arguments that animate contemporary discussions of wildlife and wildness on our increasingly 'human planet'. These questions will be taken up through a series of key contemporary issues and debates surrounding wildlife and wildness, including: the politics and ethics of wildlife conservation, human-wildlife conflicts, valuations of wildlife and the wild, and new approaches to wild(er)ness in the Anthropocene. Throughout a wide range of cases will be discussed from around the world.


  • Explore whether and how wildness can flourish in the Anthropocene ('the age of humans'), when wildlife and wild places are fast disappearing
  • Consider how the ideas of wildlife and wilderness relate to the realities they denote and to examine the complexity of these ideas and their sometimes contested political implications
  • Question commonly understood geographies of wildlife and wilderness, and to explore alternative geographical representations, and realities, of wildness
  • Examine the cultural, political and ethical dimensions of human relationships with wildlife, biodiversity loss, and conservation across a wide range of geographical settings
  • Critically reflect upon how wildlife and wildness are represented in mass media and to consider how such representations shape popular and policy understandings of the wild

Teaching and learning methods

The course unit will be delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars. Each of the teaching weeks will involve both a two hour lecture and a one hour seminar. On rarely will the two hours involve continuous lecturing.

Sessions will draw upon a range of resources, including key readings, visual and audio media, and Power-point slides. These resources will be compiled on Blackboard for student access.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Demonstrate knowledge of the practical and ideological complexities of the categories of ‘wildlife’ and ‘wildness’
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the social, political and ethical challenges of living with, and making space for, wildness in the Anthropocene (i.e., ‘the age of humans’)

Intellectual skills

  • Critically reflect on how representations of wildness in popular media shape your own and wider societal understandings of, and relationships with, wildlife and wild places
  • Apply theoretical perspectives on wildness to specific contemporary challenges and cases related to wildlife and wild places and identify the strengths and weaknesses of these perspectives
  • Assess the strengths and weakness of prominent ideas and policies about wildness today

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Higher level skills of critical reading, speaking, thinking and writing
  • The capacity to synthesise, distinguish and critically evaluate a range of arguments and evidence
  • The ability to locate and utilise a range of appropriate material for use as both an intellectual resource and/or an object of critical analysis
  • The ability to engage critically and creatively in contemporary debates on wildlife conservation and management

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 60%
Written assignment (inc essay) 40%

Feedback methods

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

  • Verbal feedback will be provided through Q&A, discussion and interactive activities within lectures and seminars
  • Written feedback will be provided on the coursework assignment submitted in week 6 and this will help to provide formative direction for the second coursework assignment.
  • Verbal feedback will be provided on any course unit issue through consultation hours and in seminars. 

Recommended reading

Adams, W. M. 2005. Against Extinction: The Story of Conservation. London; Sterling, VA: Earthscan

Heise, Ursula K. 2017. Imagining Extinction: The Cultural Meanings of Endangered Species. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Lorimer, Jamie. 2015. Wildlife in the Anthropocene: Conservation after Nature. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Marris, Emma (2011) Rambunctious Garden: Saving Nature in a Post-Wild World. New York: Bloomsbury.

van Dooren, Thom. 2014. Flight Ways: Life and loss at the edge of extinction. New York: Columbia University Press.

Vannini, Phillip, and April Vannini. 2016. Wilderness. London: Routledge.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 30
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Aurora Fredriksen Unit coordinator

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