BIOU9TY: Tropical Ecology

CO-ORDINATOR: Dr Timothy Paine

PRE-REQUISITES: ENVU3EC: Introduction to Ecology

Module Description

Tropical forests contain approximately two-thirds of the Earth’s biodiversity, and about half of its carbon. Better understanding the ecological processes that allow for such diversity, and support the provision of ecosystem services to humans is an important training for graduates in biological and environmental sciences. On completing this half module students will have developed an awareness of this new discipline. Students will also know and understand the pace at which this area of biology is developing and will appreciate the need to keep abreast of new disciplines and their development.

Module Objectives

Aim of this module

  • To develop an appreciation and understanding of the ecology and conservation of tropical rain forests
  • To strengthen the ability of students to communicate through the written word.

Details of Learning and Teaching Activities

Taught sessions will consist of a mixture of lectures, discussions, and writing workshops. This is a writing-intensive module, and much attention will be paid to improving the ability of students to express themselves coherently, with precision, concision, and crystalline logic.

Core Learning Outcomes

The Tropical Ecology half-module provides opportunities for students to develop the following specific areas of knowledge:

  • The origins and maintenance of biodiversity.
  • The consequences of diversity: the difficulty of finding a mate, the need for mutualisms to assure pollination and seed dispersal, the difficulties of living in deep shade.
  • The ecosystem services provided by tropical forests, and factors related to their on-going and sustainable provision.
  • The interrelationships between anthropogenic disturbance, secondary forests and successional pathways.
  • Restoration of degraded tropical lands: is there hope at the end of the tunnel?
  • The module provides opportunities for students to develop the ability to weigh the claims made by scientists against the evidence. This will be a writing-intensive course. Students will have ample opportunity to demonstrate their mastery of the topic, and their fluency in expressing themselves through writing, throughout the module.


Total Study Time 100 hours
Scheduled Learning & Teaching 24 hours: lectures, seminars, practical classes and workshops, external visits, scheduled on-line discussions or similar
Guided Independent Study 76 hours: both directed learning undertaken in student's own time, and their own self-directed study for assessment
Placements 0 hours
Fieldwork 0 hours


There will be five assigned short essays to write in this module. Students will be expected to revise and re-submit their essays, with the potential to obtain improved marks.

Coursework 55%
Examination 45%
Practical 0%
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