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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Biological Sciences : Postgraduate

Postgraduate Course: Eco-evolutionary Responses to Anthropogenic Change (ECLG11005)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Biological Sciences CollegeCollege of Science and Engineering
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryIn this course students will examine the breadth of anthropogenic impacts on the environment and their influence on selection and evolution. They will gain practical and critical skills in detecting and evaluating these impacts. Each week will be composed of lectures that will cover a range of case studies and highlight conceptual linkages between approaches, plus workshops/discussions/practicals that will provide students with the opportunity to critique findings, analyse data and communicate findings.
Course description Anthropogenic changes to the environment are global and ubiquitous, from climate change and ocean acidification, through land-use change and urbanisation, to pollutants. The organisms best placed to survive and prosper in the face of this unprecedented change are likely to be those that can evolve to become better adapted to these altered environmental conditions, while others may require targeted interventions. Evolutionary biologists face the challenge of identifying the effects of anthropogenic drivers on the capacity of different organisms to adapt. This understanding is essential to our ability to predict how populations and ecosystems will respond to sustained environmental change, and our ability to mitigate.

This course will provide students with a solid theoretical foundation before examining in detail case studies that span a breadth of range of anthropogenic drivers, approaches (quantitative genetics, population genetics, experiments), taxa and environments. Case studies will give students an opportunity to examine and critique all steps of the scientific process from the questions asked, to data collection, analysis and drawing conclusions. Alongside case-studies the lectures will emphasise the concepts and methods to draw attention to commonalities and transferability across different drivers and taxa. To cement the value of critically evaluating evidence the students will conduct a class meta-analysis for the duration of the course. There will also be an emphasis on presenting results to a variety of audiences, including scientists and policy-makers.

Topics covered will include examination of evolutionary responses to different global drivers of environmental change, and different methodological approaches to their study, including: common garden experiments, quantitative genetic and population genetic approaches, space-for-time methods, predictive models and meta-analysis.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Statistics and Data Analysis (PGBI11003)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements The course 'Statistics and Data Analysis' is a pre-requisite for this course. If you have not taken Statistics and Data Analysis you must contact the Course Organiser for Eco-evolutionary Responses to Anthropogenic Change to check if your background is appropriate.
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2024/25, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  30
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Seminar/Tutorial Hours 40, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 136 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Meta-analysis scientific report, including a policy note (80%)
Group presentation and paper criticism (20%)
Feedback Prior to the assessed paper criticism, we will go through a paper criticism as a class and this will provide all students with formative feedback. The group presentations will provide an additional opportunity for students to receive formative feedback from their peers.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Explain how evolutionary (and ecological) processes can underpin responses to anthropogenic environment pressures/change.
  2. Apply and evaluate quantitative methods for assessing evidence for evolutionary change.
  3. Link and apply critical analysis and understanding of theoretical concepts to real world problems and outcomes.
  4. Apply statistical, modelling and visualisation approaches and communicate research outcomes to both academic and non-academic audiences.
  5. Work effectively across multiple group settings (chairing, presenting, collaborating).
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills 1) Enquiry and lifelong learning: Graduates will be informed about major challenges that global change is posing to organisms, and the potential for evolutionary adaptation. They will also be equipped to contribute to further scientific enquiry or interpretation and communication of results to stakeholders.

2) Aspiration and personal development: Graduates will have had the opportunity to develop their own analysis and see this through to a report and communication to different audiences.

3) Outlook and engagement: Graduates from this course will have an outlook that is shaped by case studies drawn from a variety of systems, taxa, environments and regions.

4) Research and enquiry: Graduates will be equipped to conduct a meta-analysis, synthesise the evidence and critically evaluate the published literature.

5) Personal and intellectual autonomy: The training in meta-analysis will provide graduates with a major part of the modern scientific skill set and one that particularly fosters objective evidence-based reasoning.

6) Personal effectiveness: Graduates will understand how to perform different roles within group activities to understand the variety of ways that they can contribute to and shape emerging understanding.

7) Communication: Graduates will be able to tailor their written and oral presentations to scientific and stakeholder audiences.
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserDr Albert Phillimore
Tel: (0131 6)50 5413
Course secretaryMr Alex Ramsay
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