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Semester 1

Conservation Science (ECSC10036)

Course Website


Ecological Science





Normal Year Taken


Delivery Session Year



Successful completion of introductory ecology or biology courses.

Course Summary

Conservation 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 conservationWeek 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**

Assessment Information

Written Exam 0%, Coursework 100%, Practical Exam 0%

Additional Assessment Information

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 opinionStudents 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 opinionThe 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 skillsAs 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

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