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Biodiversity Conservation & Protected Areas - ENV00071M

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  • Department: Environment and Geography
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Bryce Stewart
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

This module aims provide an understanding of how and why biodiversity varies around the globe, at both small and large scales. Students should obtain an insight into the main threats to biodiversity and the role of these factors in both historical and contemporary extinctions. This background should provide an appreciation and understanding of methods for protecting and / or enhancing biodiversity, particularly the use of protected areas. Finally the module aims to illustrate the necessity to account for both biological and socio-economic factors when developing conservation strategies.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2022-23

Module aims

Biodiversity loss is currently occurring at an almost unprecedented rate. This module will introduce students to the science of biodiversity and to the ecological underpinnings of species extinction and conservation. The initial lectures will provide a basic foundation for understanding what biodiversity is, how it is measured and where it is found. The course will then consider how human uses and pressures affect habitats and species, both directly and indirectly, leading to population decline, loss and eventual extinctions. This ecological foundation provides the basis for conservation solutions, in particular protected areas, which will be examined in the second half of the module. These lectures will explore the process of selection, design, implementation and management of protected areas in both marine and terrestrial environments. The module will allow students to relate ecological theory to conservation practice. It will introduce them to the need for broad and critical thinking to integrate economic, legal, political, and social perspectives with biological ones.

Module learning outcomes

Learning outcomes:

By the end of the module, you should be able to:

  • Understand how and why biodiversity varies naturally around the globe, at both small and large scales
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the main factors (both natural and anthropogenic) that cause biodiversity loss
  • Be able to explain the rationale behind various conservation strategies, particularly protected areas, and compare their effectiveness
  • Have a good understanding of how to go about choosing, establishing and managing protected areas
  • Understand the need to incorporate both biological and socio-economic factors into conservation policies and strategies
  • Have gained some experience of sampling marine inter-tidal communities and an understanding of how to analyse the results of these surveys.


Generic/employability skills:

This module provides fundamental knowledge of how and why biodiversity varies at a range of scales. There is particular emphasis on how humans are influencing patterns of biodiversity and how we might manage these influences in the future. Knowledge of how to design protected areas and appreciation of the real world challenges this involves is also a key skill in many conservation and resource management jobs.

Scientific writing skills will be developed and tested through the assessment. Employers will specifically look for evidence that these are well-developed.

Furthermore, this module will provide practical skills in designing and conducting field based surveys of benthic intertidal communities. Training in species identification will be provided in the field, along with data analysis in the subsequent laboratory based practical.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay 3000 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Individual written feedback will be provided on the coursework. General feedback on the module will be provided via the VLE.

Turnaround time on assessed material will be 4 weeks.

Indicative reading

Primack, R. B. (2008) Essentials of Conservation Biology. 5th ed. Sinauer Associates, Inc.

Gaston, K.J. and J.I. Spicer (1998) Biological diversity: an introduction. Blackwell.

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.