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

Postgraduate Course: Ecosystem Health and Sustainability (BIME11032)

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 Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course uses a thematic approach to understand the major issues in ecosystem health and sustainability, presenting relevant examples to illustrate the major problems and how solutions to these can be achieved.
Course description The course has two main themes, initially around the idea of ecosystem health and secondly how this relates to sustainability. Ecosystem services are central to the course with time spent exploring the detail and importance of these services to human health, economic stability and society in general. The second part of the course looks at various global conventions and initiatives that attempt to mainstream sustainability goals into broader human activity and to achieve internationally agreed targets.

The course defines and describes ecosystems and the recognised services to human wellbeing that they accrue. Current thinking on valuing ecosystem services is explored through multimedia materials. The Sustainable Development Goals form the core foundation for the second part of the course with an exploration of how, through various initiatives, these can be achieved as well as where barriers may exist.

The course relies heavily on reading primary literature as well as key publications from the conservation sector. Both assessed and non-assessed online discussion fora provide further content and reflection and students are expected to engage with group discussions for both learning and assessment purposes.

Course notes are released on a weekly basis and contain links to, or references for, further reading on the subject of ecosystem health and sustainability. The course requires a time commitment of 12-15 hours of study each week. Students may also source and recommend further reading for the course to their peers by posting relevant links within the VLE.
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
Course Start Date 14/01/2019
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20, Online Activities 50, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 106 )
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 two written assessments, worth 30% of the total mark each, and online elements worth 40%. In each case, 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. Critically understand the complex link between ecosystem health and human well-being
  2. Categorise the services provided by ecosystems, and demonstrate their importance to human well-being.
  3. Differentiate those ecosystems most at risk of degradation.
  4. Critically assess the relative merits and likely success of strategies and technologies being developed to improve sustainability.
  5. Make an informed judgement of the sustainability of their current lifestyle and evaluate how this could be improved.
Reading List
Thebault and Loreau (2003). Food-web constraints on biodiversity-ecosystem functioning relationships. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences: 100 (25); 14949-14954.

Rapport, Constanza and McMichael (1998). Assessing ecosystem health. Trends in Ecology and Evolution: 13 (10); 397-402.

Transforming Our World: The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable development, United Nations
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills This course encourages peer discussion on key topics as well as critical review of shared opinion. Key acquired skills are also collating and synthesising information from multiple sources and convey technical information to non-scientific audiences.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Ellie Devenish-Nelson
Tel: (0131 6)50 3508
Course secretaryMs Lisa Kilcullen
Tel: (0131 6)51 4075
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