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

Postgraduate Course: Evolution and Biodiversity (BIME11033)

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 is designed to introduce the student to evolutionary theory and example to help understand the origin and scope of diversity in the living world. The concept of biodiversity is developed and the student will learn how it is measured and managed.
The drivers for biodiversity loss, both past and present are introduced and discussed, with particular emphasis on the interaction between human activities and the current acceleration in biodiversity loss.
Course description Evolution is such a well-used term that it is easy to feel that we know all about it. Indeed, there are a vast number of topics that we could discuss in relation to its theoretical and practical implications. It is also a term that instils a feeling of things past, of processes no longer relevant. Biodiversity, by contrast, feels like a very current term and one that is becoming ever more prevalent in popular culture. It may seem strange, then, to bring these two concepts together. However, the two are inextricably linked and despite their different eras of conception are both hugely important in relation to conservation and species management today.

This series of lectures will cover the basics of evolution, enough to allow an understanding of key issues in terms of species characteristics and vulnerabilities, and as a driver for biodiversity. We will discuss the many on-going arguments regarding what a species actually is, how that definition is vital to appropriate conservation action and how decisions are made regarding what to protect. Ultimately, we will look at the human impact on evolutionary processes in the current time, and so to its impact on biodiversity. We will finish by considering what implications this might have on future health and wellbeing of all species including our own.

Study materials are released on a weekly basis, providing an overview of the study topic, suggested reading materials and key questions that address the learning outcomes for the course. Students are expected to split their time between independent study and interacting with peers and course tutors on the discussion boards in order to fully explore the topic and their understanding of it. Summative written and online assessment will test knowledge and understanding of the learning outcomes, as well as the ability to communicate with others in a variety of ways.
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.

Students should expect to spend between 12 and 15 hours per week on reading course materials, engaging with peers and tutors on the discussion boards and preparing assessed work. It is up to the student how they organise their time from week to week, with course materials and discussion boards available for the duration of the course.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2023/24, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  None
Course Start Full Year
Course Start Date 18/09/2023
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 an online element 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. Explain how species have diversified from common ancestors to the forms we see today, using theory to account for the resulting phylogenetic divisions between them, and the methods used to classify them.
  2. Discuss and critically understand the processes that have led to the development of species within a given niche habitat and critically evaluate the threats to specific species.
  3. Define the term 'biodiversity' in multiple settings, and understand how estimates of biodiversity are calculated
  4. Critically evaluate the myriad factors that can lead to species extinctions, and apply these to both historical mass extinction events, and so-called 'sixth-extinction' of current times.
  5. Assess the impact of continued biodiversity loss, with particular emphasis on the effect(s) on human populations and reflect on their own impact on biodiversity.
Learning Resources
This course relies heavily on the primary literature and a recommended reading list is published with each weekly lecture. There are also links to a number of online learning resources and other relevant websites.
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 organiserDr Harriet Thatcher
Tel: (0131 6)50 3508
Course secretaryMr Andrew Le Tissier
Tel: (0131 6)51 4075
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