Saving Endangered Species - WCON5210

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Spring Term 6 15 (7.5) Jim Groombridge checkmark-circle


This module examines today's cutting-edge techniques that are available to wildlife biologists attempting to save some of the world's most critically endangered species from extinction. The module exposes students to the challenges of recovering endangered species, including a range of perspectives from priority-setting and resource allocation, to small population biology and the role of zoo collections. The module examines a number of cross-cutting themes relevant to recovering endangered species, including the management of invasive species, leadership of species recovery programmes, island endemic species, species of extreme rarity, reintroduction biology and managing infectious disease in conservation programmes. Throughout the module iconic case histories are examined and used as a way to consider the reasons why some programmes are successful whilst others fail. The consideration of topics and case studies leads to a reappraisal of particular approaches to species conservation such as institutional priority-setting, field infrastructures and leadership styles which tomorrow’s wildlife biologists will need in order to restore endangered species in the future.
This module includes an optional two day field course to the Durrell Conservation Academy in Jersey. The 2-day workshops will allow students to (i) understand the role that zoos and captive management can play in biodiversity conservation, (ii) become acquainted with the conservation work of DCA and WT, (iii) interact with conservation/zoo staff during taught sessions and seminars, (iv) gain a first-hand impression of the hands-on captive management and other field techniques necessary to conserve endangered species, and (v) learn about associated field projects worldwide and in the UK currently undertaken by DCA and WT. Students will be reimbursed for up to £60 for the cost of their travel to Jersey but will need to meet the remaining travel costs. The cost of accommodation and full board at the Durrell Conservation Academy will be covered by the School of Anthropology and Conservation.
Students who do not participate in the field trip will still meet the module learning outcomes through the teaching events and assessments taking place throughout the module duration.


Contact hours

This module will be taught by a two-day residential field trip at the Durrell Conservation Academy consisting of formal lectures/presentations, group activities and behind-the-scenes tours of captive-breeding facilities and the zoo collection. There will be additional lectures and seminars on campus.

Contact Hours: 28
Private Study: 122


Optional for:
• BSc in Wildlife Conservation (and cognate courses)
• BA Environment and Sustainability (and cognate courses)
• BSc Anthropology (and cognate courses)
• BSc Human Biology and Behaviour (and cognate courses)

Method of assessment

Abstract of Critical Evaluation Report - abstract of 1,000 words: (20%)
Critical Evaluation Report - 4000 words (80%)*
*This element is pass compulsory and must be passed to achieve the learning outcomes of the module.

Reassessment methods: 100% coursework

Indicative reading

Reading list (Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually)

Ewen, J. (2012) Reintroduction Biology: Integrating Science and Management Wiley-Blackwell.

Sutherland B., I. Newton and R Green. (2004), Bird Ecology and Conservation: A Handbook of Techniques (core). Oxford University Press.

Whittaker, R. (1998). Island Biogeography: Ecology, Evolution, and Conservation (core). Oxford University Press

Norris K. and D. Pain. (2002). Conserving Bird Biodiversity: General Principles and their Application (core). Cambridge University Press.

Pullin, A (2002). Conservation Biology (core). Cambridge University Press.

Caughley, G and A. Gunn. (1996) Conservation Biology in Theory and Practice (Core). Blackwell Science.

Powell, A (2008). The Race to Save the World's Rarest Bird: The Discovery and Death of The Po'ouli, Stackpole Books.

Turvey, S (2009). Witness to Extinction: How We Failed to Save The Yangtze River Dolphin. Oxford University

Juniper, T (2002). Spix's Macaw: The Race to Save the World's Rarest Bird, Fouth Estate.

MacDonald, P (2010). Facing Extinction: The World's Rarest Birds and the Race to Save Them, T & AD Poyser.

Nicholls, H (2006). Lonesome George: The Life and Loves of a Conservation Icon, Macmillan.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

8.1 Have a detailed appreciation of the concept of species within the wider context of conservation.

8.2 Understand the concept of – and how to quantify - extinction risk

8.3 Critically evaluate the merits of different population recovery techniques including approaches to captive-breeding.

8.4 Recognise the importance of health and disease monitoring of wildlife in the context of endangered species management.

8.5 Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of case studies of international species recovery programmes, and an understanding of reasons that may underpin their success or failure.

8.6 Prioritize conservation management interventions at the species level within a wider context of the main causes of population decline.

The intended generic learning outcomes. On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

9.1 Communicate succinctly the subject matter of practical tasks in group-based activities

9.2 Work independently, manage their own learning and development, including time management and organisational skills.

9.3 Critically evaluate information from multiple sources regarding for example, a particular case study (or case studies).

9.4 Devise and sustain reasoned arguments founded on independent research


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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