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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Deanery of Biomedical Sciences : Biomedical Sciences

Postgraduate Course: Extreme and Fragile Ecosystems (BIME11014)

Course Outline
SchoolDeanery of Biomedical Sciences CollegeCollege of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits10 ECTS Credits5
SummaryThis course introduces the concept of extreme and fragile ecosystems including high altitude, polar regions, marine (e.g. coral reefs) and 'polluted' environments. It will look at how ecosystems adapt to survival in hostile conditions and explore the ways in which human activity creates or influences these. The practicalities and logistics of management plans relating to these environments will be discussed.
Course description A central concept in this course is that of resilience and the degree to which ecosystems are able to withstand disturbance and to return to a stable state. The course explores the notion that environments themselves may indeed be extreme but that the ecosystems that have developed in such environments while not necessarily stable in the short term, do exhibit long term resilience. These principles are then carried through to the species level where evidence for resilience in the interactions between species is also discussed.

The course develops a central theme of resilience by investigating the conventional ecosystem terminology in the literature. Extreme or potentially hostile environments are considered in the context of the underlying stability of broader ecosystems.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2016/17, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Full Year
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 100 ( Lecture Hours 10, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 10, Online Activities 25, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 2, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 53 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Formal summative written assessment will constitute 60% of the student's grade. Online assessment will incorporate a variety of activities will constitute 40% of their overall course grade and is taken to represent a formative assessment of learning throughout the programme.
Feedback Summative assessment consists of a written element, worth 60% of the total mark, and an online element worth 40%. In both cases, comprehensive written feedback is provided individually with 15 working days of the assessment deadline. Students are expected to reflect on their feedback, to seek additional clarification if appropriate, and to use this to improve on future assignments of a similar nature.
Formative assessment consists of discussion around what is expected of each piece of assessed work for the course. This is conducted in an open discussion forum for all students to contribute to and provides an opportunity to clearly understand the key requirements for each assignment before submission. Any student can post questions about the assignment and a response will be posted on the discussion board by the course tutor within 3 working days.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Have an understanding of the history of technical systems applications in ecosystems thinking;
  2. Understand ecosystem fragility and stability in an evolutionary context
  3. Discuss critically the notion of extreme systems and extreme or hostile environments
Reading List
Nilsson C, and Grelsson G, (1995). The Fragility of Ecosystems: A Review, Journal of Applied Ecology, Vol. 32, No. 4 (Nov., 1995), pp. 677-692.
Bretsky P, Bretsky S, Levinton J, Lorenz DM: (1973). Fragile Ecosystems, Science, New Series, Vol. 179, No. 4078 (Mar. 16, 1973), p. 1147.
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Students will develop critical thinking skills and the confidence to contest current thinking and broader paradigms.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMr Robert Thomas
Course secretaryMr Lyndon Zahra
Tel: (0131) 651 5232
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