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NES3301 : Biodiversity Science and Management

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Professor Philip McGowan
  • Lecturer: Dr Sarah Coulthard, Dr Louise Mair, Dr Marion Pfeifer
  • Owning School: Natural and Environmental Sciences
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
  • Capacity limit: 120 student places

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


The Biodiversity Science and Policy module has three key objectives:

(1) Introduce the students to a selected set of methods and approaches that can be used to guide policy and
decision-making on biodiversity conservation
(2) Highlight a set of key challenges - from local to global scales - for biodiversity conservation
(3) Introduce relevant policies targeted at conserving biodiversity, especially the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework, adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity at Biodiversity CoP15 in December 2022.

This is a research and policy-led module that draws on the research and policy experience of staff working at SNES on core areas of biodiversity science: modelling, data and evidence collection and policy.

Outline Of Syllabus

The planet’s biodiversity, comprising individuals, species, habitats and ecosystems, is threatened. The main threats are human-driven and include hunting, disease spread, climate change and changes in land use and management. Yet despite large-scale efforts to ensure biodiversity conservation, we have witnessed population extinctions, massive deforestation and fragmentation of natural habitats in recent decades. Conservation tries to deal with the challenge of maintaining biodiversity and the function it provides in the face of social and economic growth in industrialized and developing countries.

This module will zoom into key aspects of modern conservation science, drawing on the research experience of staff at the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences. The module is delivered through lectures, guided self-directed learning and workshops, that will:
(1) Highlight a set of key challenges - from local to global scales - for biodiversity conservation,
(2) Introduce selected relevant policies targeted at conserving biodiversity, and
(3) Introduce the students to a selected set of approaches and methods that can be used to inform policy and
decision-making on biodiversity conservation.

The module will provide students with the opportunity to critically evaluate the evidence and policies that exist to aid biodiversity conservation. Students will be able to engage with a set of research and policy challenges in the field led by research interest of staff teaching on the module. Possible topics include: global species conservation and IUCN Red List assessments, area-based conservation and human:wildlife interactions, and engaging communities and other stakeholders in conservation decision-making.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion164:0064:00Preparation and completion of essays on two questions covering the key issues covered in the module. These may be influenced by students' choice of workshops
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture101:0010:00Lectures introducing key issues in biodiversity conservation
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading145:0045:00Engagement with material taught and wider reading
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities311:0031:00Lecture follow-up. Engagement with tasks. Preparation for workshops
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops23:006:00Students to sign up for two of six workshops max. Essay questions will be aligned with workshops.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops22:004:00Seminars and structured discussion/workshop for the whole class on topical and controversial issues.
Guided Independent StudyReflective learning activity381:0038:00Critical reflection & use of wider literature on tasks. Extending knowledge beyond lecture material
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk21:002:00Introductory and concluding module talks at beginning and end of module
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Teaching comprises lectures and facilitated workshops and seminars supported by directed reading and guided independent study and reflection. Lectures will be used to introduce current knowledge and approaches to some of the major topics in biodiversity conservation that will be covered in the module. These contact sessions will be supported by directed reading of the significant literature to which students will be pointed. Workshops will provide the opportunity for students to develop arguments about applying scientific knowledge. Each student will be able to attend two of five workshops. Each workshop is capped at 45 maximum. All students are expected to attend the two seminars (lecture and facilitated discussion).

As this area of science is very fast moving and the link between concepts, fieldwork and conservation practice is very dynamic, lectures will concentrate on presenting a selected set of topics, drawing on recent research implemented by staff at the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences. This will be supported by reference to a range of challenging analyses and perspectives from the literature and students will be guided towards this further reading. As there will be a significant body of conceptually diverse literature for students to explore, it is important that they have adequate time to comprehend the material within the context presented during lectures, and to reflect on it (including revision time). Taken together this will provide a sound platform from which students can develop their own understanding of science and how it relates to biodiversity science and policy.

Workshops and the debate will help students analyse information, and then frame and articulate arguments in different contexts.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2M1002 essay questions will need to be answered and the two questions align with the workshops attended by the student. Word count for each essay: 1,500 words. 3,000 words in total.
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Prob solv exercises2MFormative feedback will be provided verbally to students in the discussion groups during the scheduled workshops.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The in course assessment requires scrutiny and understanding of information and then decision-making. In the questions test for knowledge, logical thought and objective analysis. They will require application of skills developed during the workshop processes and the associated independent study and the knowledge provided in the lectures and gathered in directed reading.

Reading Lists