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Ecosystem Services, Conservation and Protection - ENV00104M

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  • Department: Environment and Geography
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Bryce Stewart
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2024-25
    • See module specification for other years: 2023-24

Module summary

Human well-being fundamentally depends on the natural environment and associated ecosystem services. However, the natural world continues to be degraded at an increasing rate. This module provides a foundational understanding of conservation science and focuses on how marine terrestrial protected areas can help tackle biodiversity loss and provide long-term benefits for human societies.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Semester 1 2024-25

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. We will then consider how biodiversity (and its loss) is linked to ecosystem services, human welfare and principles for sustainable development. This foundation provides the basis for conservation solutions, particularly 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.


  • This module will provide fundamental knowledge of how and why biodiversity varies and how this is connected to ecosystem services, human welfare and principles of sustainable development

  • Gain first hand experience of the role of in-situ conservation (e.g. zoos and aquariums)

  • 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.

  • Furthermore, this module will provide practical skills in designing and conducting field based surveys of benthic intertidal communities, including species identification.

Module learning outcomes

  • Demonstrate an understanding of 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

  • Demonstrate an understanding the link between biodiversity and ecosystem services and the variety of ways in which ecosystems benefit human welfare

  • Demonstrate an understanding the concept of sustainable development via the interactions between the 5 sustainable capitals, and how protecting ecosystems and biodiversity is an important aspect of sustainable development

  • Be able to explain the rationale behind various conservation strategies, particularly protected areas, and compare their effectiveness

  • Demonstrate a good understanding of how to go about choosing, establishing and managing protected areas

  • Demonstrate understanding of the need to incorporate both biological and socio-economic factors into conservation policies and strategies

Indicative assessment

Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Indicative reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
N/A 100

Module feedback

Written feedback on summative assessment. Ongoing verbal feedback provided throughout the module.

Indicative reading

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

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University constantly explores 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. In some instances it may be appropriate for the University to notify and consult with affected students about module changes in accordance with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.