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

Postgraduate Course: Conservation Genetics (BIME11025)

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 will introduce the principles and applications of conservation genetics, from assessing the genetic health of individuals and whole populations to deciding on species and sub-species divisions. The key genetic analyses employed in conservation genetics studies will be described and their technical and theoretical limitations discussed, as will their considerable power to inform key conservation decisions.
Course description It is becoming increasingly apparent that measures of genetic diversity should be included in our assessment of species health and future viability, to make the best decisions for their protection and management. As genetic techniques become more sophisticated and reliable, our use of them to support species conservation has similarly increased. We can now use a range of non-invasive sampling techniques to study individuals that we may never see or come into direct contact with, or that have been dead for many years. Exploiting the natural processes of genetic mutation and evolution we can quantify the level and rate of differentiation between individuals, between populations and between species. We can assess the genetic health of populations and the likely consequences of our management plans with increasing certainty.

There are many contributions genetic studies can make to better understand species at risk of extinction or decline, and to inform effective long-term management. This course encourages students to investigate a range of examples, and to assess how appropriate genetic studies may be for other species of interest.

After establishing the basics of conservation genetics, a series of guest lecturers will present case studies in relation to species they have worked on. Students are then asked to present their own case studies for discussion with their peers.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2018/19, 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. Define the term conservation genetics and give examples of the types of questions it can answer.
  2. Understand and compare the laboratory techniques required to generate suitable genetic data, from sample collection to DNA extraction and genotyping methods and evaluate the appropriateness of techniques depending on the species and question.
  3. Critically evaluate the limitations of genetic analysis in a conservation setting.
  4. Synthesise information from a wide range of sources to critically discuss examples where genetic analyses have contributed to conservation decision-making.
Reading List
There are many relevant journals that you may wish to read in relation to this course, in particular these two with a focus on genetic studies. The first is concerned in many cases with domestic species but also includes studies of threatened species in a captive/zoo setting. The second is much more conservation and wildlife specific:
Journal of Animal Breeding and Genetics
Conservation Genetics
Additional recommended reading would be the following textbook which looks at many aspects of genetic studies in threatened species. The original version was published in 2002, with a short primer published in 2004. The second edition is now available:
Frankham, Ballou & Briscoe (2010). Introduction to Conservation Genetics. Cambridge University Press
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills The study materials provided in this course will enhance the student┐s abilities to search for, read and understand the relevant scientific literature, to use this to support specific arguments and to present the findings in a coherent and appropriate way. They will also develop skills in ICT through the use of an online learning platform, online search engines and word-processing and presentation packages. Online discussion with tutors and peers will develop confidence in communicating with others and the skills to engage in high level academic discourse. The independent study aspect of the course will enhance the student┐s abilities in time-management and self-motivation.

KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserMs Sarah Greenwood
Course secretaryMs Lisa Kilcullen
Tel: (0131 6)51 4075
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