BIOU7CB: Conservation Biology

CO-ORDINATOR: Dr Kirsty Park


Conservation Biology is the applied science of maintaining the earth’s biological diversity. The aim of this course is to introduce students to the main issues in managing and conserving biodiversity at the UK and global scales. Starting with the history and ethics of conservation, this module will cover some of the main threats to biodiversity (e.g. habitat loss, climate change, alien invasive species), problems for small populations, endangered species management, how to prioritise action for species and habitat conservation.

Acquired Skills

  • Generic skills in the evaluation and synthesis of information
  • Development of written communication skills

Course Content

  • The history and ethics of conservation
  • Spatial and temporal patterns of global biodiversity
  • Threats to biodiversity
  • Problems for small populations
  • Climate change & biodiversity
  • Farming & biodiversity in the UK


Autumn, Year 4 (Honours)


At least one of the following modules: ENVU5A5, SCIU5T5, BIOU6AE, BIOU6PE

Teaching Programme

The course is a half module part of the Honours programme lasting four weeks and comprising 12 lectures. The goal of the lectures is to provide a general introduction to issues in conservation biology and to guide students in their self-study learning. A quiz held during the last lecture will test knowledge and understanding of issues discussed in lectures and other general knowledge relating to conservation biology. This session will also act as a revision session prior to the exam.


Coursework (50%) and one 2 h examination (50%) will be used to assess performance in this model. Coursework typically consists of an essay (45%) and a quiz (5%). Previous coursework essays have included “Discuss the role of ecological research in species and habitat conservation”.

Reading List

It is expected that students will familiarise themselves with the primary scientific literature. This will be facilitated during the course with ample reference to original research articles published in peer-reviewed scientific journals that will be discussed during lectures. Reference lists and pdfs of papers (where available) will be made available via WebCT ahead of lectures.

Recommended Textbooks

Caughley, G. & Gunn, A. 1996. Conservation biology in theory and practice. Blackwell Science, Malden, Massachusetts, USA.
Gaston, K.J. & Spicer, J.I. 2004. Biodiversity: An Introduction. Blackwell Science.
Hunter, M.L. & Gibbs J.P. 2007. Fundamentals of Conservation Biology. Blackwell Science.
Primack, R.B. 1993. Essentials of Conservation Biology. Sinauer Associates.
Sinclair, R.E., Fryxell, J.M. & Caughley, G. 2006. Wildlife Ecology, Conservation & Management. 2nd edition. Blackwell Publishing.
Sutherland, W.J. 1998. Conservation Science and Action. Blackwell Science.
Sutherland, W.J. 2000. The Conservation Handbook. Blackwell Science.

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