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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Geosciences : Ecological Science

Undergraduate Course: Conservation Science (ECSC10036)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Geosciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryConservation Science is an honours course combining biological and social science perspectives on the field of conservation. The course is a 20-credit course demanding significant student investment into the coursework of 200 hours: lectures/discussions/workshops (3 hour sessions each week), preparation and readings (at least 3 hours per week), group learning (3 hours per week), assignment preparation (60 hours) and external reading and engagement (20 hours). The course does not have any pre-requisites, but students are expected to have a background in ecology or biological sciences and to be comfortable reading and interpreting the scientific and social science literature and understanding basic applied statistics and mathematics.
Course description Week 1 Introduction to Conservation Science
Week 2 Why do we conserve biodiversity?
Week 3 Patterns of biodiversity
Week 4 Protected areas
Week 5 Background population ecology for conservation
Week 6 Conservation Science Conference
**week 6 - Poster due on Learn by 12noon Thursday**
Week 7 Threats to biodiversity
** week 7 - Opinion Piece due 12noon Thursday**
Week 8 People-focused conservation
Week 9 Conservation in practice
** week 11 - POSTnote due 12noon Friday**
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students can take EITHER Conservation Science OR Conservation and Management of Natural Populations (SBS). Please note GeoSciences PT's cannot directly enroll students on to SBS courses.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesSuccessful completion of introductory ecology or biology courses.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2021/22, Available to all students (SV1) Quota:  37
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 30, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 166 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Poster (15%) - 12 noon on Thursday, Week 6
Opinion piece (60%) - 12 noon on Thursday, Week 7
POSTnote (25%) - 12 noon on Thursday, Week 11

Poster 15%
Skills being assessed: Visual communication skills, poster design, public speaking, interpretation of the scientific literature, development of an informed scientific opinion

Students will make a pdf poster introducing their chosen hot issue in conservation science to the class in our mid-term conservation conference. The poster should introduce the issue in question, explain the science behind the topic and the conservation approach required or being undertaken. The presentation should be modelled on a poster for a scientific conference such as the British Ecological Society Conference. The presentation/discussion of your poster in class will be a formative assessment, and will not be marked. The upload of your poster PDF to Learn will be marked. Your poster should be submitted online to Learn by 12 noon on Thursday, Week 6.

Opinion piece 60%
Skills being assessed: Scientific communication and writing, interpretation of the scientific literature, development of an informed scientific opinion

The students will be asked to write a 2000-word fully-referenced opinion piece in the format appropriate for a scientific journal giving a detailed yet concisely written description of their chosen hot issue in conservation science (the same topic on which they are making their posters). The students can choose to format this piece in the style appropriate for a scientific conservation journal of their choice using the author guidelines indicated on the journal's website (Conservation Biology, Biological Conservation, Journal of Applied Ecology, etc.). Your opinion piece should be submitted online to Learn by 12 noon on Thursday, Week 7.

POSTnote 25%
Skills being assessed: Public/policy communication, distillation of the scientific literature, summary of scientific information, engagement with policy/public audiences, development of a data visualization using quantitative skills

As a final assignment, students will be asked to produce a four-page up to 1500-word POSTnote summary with references for the Scottish or UK governments on an assigned current conservation issue. This will assess the student's abilities to conduct scientific research, interpret the literature and summarise an issue using language appropriate for a broad policy audience. Students will be asked to replicate the format of a UK government POSTnote. Additionally, students will be encouraged to make a data visualisation (figure or table) with interpretation in a box featured in the POSTnote. The topics will be chosen from issues discussed as a part of the course lectures and will be given to the students in the final weeks of the course. Your POSTnote should be submitted online to Learn by 12 noon on Thursday, Week 11.

e.g., Ecosystem service valuation, May 2011 - POSTnote
Feedback Not entered
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Understand the concept of biodiversity change and identify threats to global biodiversity.
  2. Understand how and why we conserve ecosystems and populations.
  3. Understand people-focused conservation.
  4. Use ecological and social science methods to communicate science to academic, public and policy audiences.
  5. Give a poster presentation, write an opinion piece and write a POSTnote on selected topics in the field of conservation science.
Reading List
No texts are recommended prior to the course, but details of specific papers to be discussed each week can be found in the course schedule.
Additional Information
Course URL
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
KeywordsConservation,Biodiversity,Land-use change,Protected areas,Ecosystem services
Course organiserDr Aidan Keane
Tel: (01316)50 5094
Course secretaryMrs Nicola Clark
Tel: (0131 6)50 4842
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