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Ecological Principles for the Environment - ENV00002C

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  • Department: Environment and Geography
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Laura Chapman
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: C
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2022-23 to Summer Term 2022-23

Module aims

This module has been designed specifically for students in Environment, who enter from a broad range of disciplines and many of whom may have had little or no scientific training at advanced level. This module provides an underpinning for subsequent ecology-related modules taken in later years in Environment, as well as several of those that may be offered by the Department of Biology. Whilst the module deals specifically with concepts in mainstream ecology, these concepts are presented within an inter-disciplinary context wherever possible so that students can see the clear linkages with themes and concepts from other major disciplines and parts of their overall degree programme.

Ecology is about the dynamical changes in individuals, populations, communities and ecosystems in relation to each other and to the physical environment. An understanding of how organisms adapt and interact with each other and with their physical environment is thus crucial, as well as the behavioural and genetic basis of that change. This module provides the foundations of the genetics surrounding natural selection and the behaviour and biology of individuals and populations in relation to their biotic and abiotic environment.

Understanding the effects of humans on ecosystems requires a fundamental grounding in the nature and consequences of trophic interactions between species (food webs), the role of the abiotic environment, especially nutrient cycling, and the factors which affect stability and resilience at both small and large scales. This module addresses all of these issues in order to provide the basis for sustainable management of natural and semi-natural systems.

Module learning outcomes

Learning outcomes:

Successful students will gain:

1. An understanding of the basis of population growth and dynamics and the factors affecting these processes

2. An appreciation of the evolutionary, life-history and behavioural trade-offs made by organisms

3. An understanding of the basis of adaptation and evolutionary change

4. practical knowledge and understanding of the basis for and techniques for, sampling and measuring biological populations

5. an understanding of the dynamics of food webs and the forces that affect ecosystem stability

6. a knowledge of the major nutrient cycles and how they are affected by society

7. an appreciation of the factors which determine local, regional and global patterns in biological communities

8. an introduction to current approaches to conservation of biodiversity

Generic/employability skills:

1. A fundamental grounding in Ecological Principles

2. Field-based skills for surveying ecological communities

3. Ability to work in a group

4. Analysis of ecological data

5. Ability to write-up scientific reports


Task Length % of module mark
Scientific Report
N/A 30
Online Exam - 24 hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Ecological Principles for the Environment Open Exam
8 hours 70

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Online Exam - 24 hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Ecological Principles for the Environment Resit Exam
8 hours 100

Module feedback

Detailed written and verbal feedback will be provided on both the assessed report and an earlier formative piece of coursework. Individual feedback on exam performance will be provided at a timetabled session.

Indicative reading

Beeby & Brennan: First Ecology - Ecological Principles and Environmental Issues 3rd edition

Begon, M. et al (1996 and many subsequent editions) Ecology. Blackwells, Oxford

Krebs, C. (2008, or earlier editions). Ecology: The Experimental Analysis of Distribution and Publisher: Benjamin Cummings

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.