BSc Global Development

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Climate Change and Biodiversity in a Developing World

Course unit fact file
Unit code MGDI20292
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Biodiversity is being lost at an alarming rate. This loss is linked to climate change, as the distribution of species and the quality of climatic conditions change. Although often treated as environmental problems, biodiversity loss and climate change are also development crises. Low- and middle-income countries are dealing with the most severe impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss. Within these countries, poor and vulnerable populations are often at greatest risk, as they are particularly dependent on natural resources in biodiverse regions to meet their everyday needs and to cope during times of crises.


This course aims to:

  • Introduce students to the relationship between climate change, biodiversity loss and global inequality and poverty;
  • Enable students to undertake virtual fieldwork in sites affected by climate change, biodiversity loss and global inequality and poverty;
  • Guide students in evaluating the potential and limits of policy agendas that attempt to address biodiversity loss, climate change and development in tandem.

Teaching and learning methods

The unit will be delivered through weekly two-hour interactive sessions, which will include lectures, discussions, and practical exercises. These sessions will draw upon a range of resources, from PowerPoint slides to videos to photographic images. Departing from a traditional lecture format, these sessions will require a high level of student participation.

Lectures will be supported by 3 virtual fieldtrips during Part 2 of the course (Weeks 4-6). The rationale of virtual fieldtrips is for students to be introduced to real world cases where the links between climate change, biodiversity loss and global inequality and poverty are apparent. Virtual fieldtrips will provide students with the ability to virtually visualise and ‘experience’ a landscape undergoing environmental change and facing development challenges without having to actually travel internationally. This reduces the financial, time or environmental costs of experiential learning.

Google Earth/Maps will be used the platform for virtual fieldtrips. Stops will be embedded on the Google Earth map, providing additional resources, including videos, photographs, links and prompts for discussion. Virtual fieldtrip will be during contact hours, as a class, with time dedicated for small group work and completion of handouts, which will be assessed as a small-weighted component of the coursework grade.

Outside of contact hours, students will be provided with a range of resources to support their learning, including PowerPoint slides for lectures which will be posted to Blackboard for all sessions, links to relevant web resources, core and recommended readings, news stories and video clips.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Describe the relationship between climate change, biodiversity loss and poverty
  • Explain why low- and middle-income countries tend to be more severely impacted by climate change and biodiversity loss
  • Demonstrate familiarity with a range of examples that illustrate the relationship between climate change, biodiversity loss and poverty

Intellectual skills

  • Use evidence and information from academic, grey literature and the (virtual) field to construct a reasoned argument
  • Critically analyse policy responses

Practical skills

  • Find, gather and systematically organise academic and grey literature;
  • Carry-out virtual fieldwork
  • Undertake policy analysis

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Manage time effectively to complete the work required for the course unit
  • Work independently and with others

Assessment methods

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

Feedback methods

Formative: All students will receive verbal feedback on their selected example by email. Students will have the opportunity for formative verbal feedback during office hours.

Summative feedback received on their report will also serve as formative feedback for the final assessment, as the two assessments build on each other.

Summative: Policy Analysis Essays will be assessed with written feedback and a grade. The content and timing of feedback will be consistent with University policy.

Recommended reading

Part 1: Introducing the relationship between climate change, biodiversity loss and poverty

Agrawal, A., & Redford, K. H. (2006). Poverty, development, and biodiversity conservation: Shooting in the dark? (pp. 1530-4426). New York: Wildlife Conservation Society.

Adams, W. M., & Hutton, J. (2007). People, parks and poverty: political ecology and biodiversity conservation. Conservation and society, 5(2), 147-183.

Griffiths, V. F., Bull, J. W., Baker, J., & Milner‐Gulland, E. J. (2019). No net loss for people and biodiversity. Conservation Biology, 33(1), 76-87.

Tucker, J., Daoud, M., Oates, N., Few, R., Conway, D., Mtisi, S., & Matheson, S. (2015). Social vulnerability in three high-poverty climate change hot spots: What does the climate change literature tell us?. Regional Environmental Change, 15, 783-800.

Whyte, K. P. (2016). Is it colonial déjà vu? Indigenous peoples and climate injustice. In Humanities for the Environment (pp. 102-119). Routledge.

Vira, B., & Kontoleon, A. (2012). Dependence of the poor on biodiversity: which poor, what biodiversity?. Biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation: Exploring the evidence for a link, 52-84.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Fieldwork 12
Lectures 20
Independent study hours
Independent study 168

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Charis Enns Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Fieldwork referred to in Scheduled Activities Hours is virtual (see: Teaching and Learning Methods).

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