Biodiversity - WCON3050

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2022 to 2023
Autumn Term 4 15 (7.5) Helen Pheasey checkmark-circle


This module will introduce a range of fundamental concepts that underpin our understanding of biodiversity and, therefore, the conservation of biodiversity and associated ecosystem services. The differences and similarities between the multiple definitions for the term 'biodiversity' will be considered, in addition to examining how scientists are trying to assess the magnitude of biodiversity on the planet. Spatial and temporal patterns of biodiversity will be investigated, including how past geophysical processes have shaped biodiversity as we see it distributed across biomes today. The importance of biodiversity (both use and non-values) will be discussed – including a case study of the global carbon cycle, explaining how that links to biodiversity and ecosystem service provision. The module will then explore the contemporary threats to biodiversity and provision of associated ecosystem services, in conjunction with a broad overview of the methods conservationists employ to protect and maintain biodiversity.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 28
Private study hours: 122
Total study hours: 150


BSc Wildlife Conservation
BA Environmental Social Sciences
BSc Human Geography
Also available as an elective module

Method of assessment

Poster Presentation (30%)
Examination, 2 hour (70%).

**Please note that the exam in May/June 2023 will be Online (24 hour window)**

Reassessment methods: Reassessment Instrument: 100% exam.

Indicative reading

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

Gaston, K.J. & Spicer, J.I. 2004. Biodiversity: an introduction. 2nd edition. Blackwell Science, Oxford

Caughley, G. & Gunn, A. 1996. Conservation Biology in Theory and Practice. Blackwell Science, Oxford

Dobson, A.P. 1996. Conservation and Biodiversity. Scientific American, New York

Gaston, K.J. (ed.) 1996. Biodiversity: a biology of numbers and difference. Blackwell Science, Oxford

Groombridge, B. & Jenkins, M.D. 2002. World Atlas of Biodiversity: Earth's living resources in the 21st Century. University of California Press, London

Loreau, M., Naeem, S. & Inchausti, P. (eds.) 2002. Biodiversity and Ecosystem Functioning: synthesis and perspectives. Oxford University Press, Oxford

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 Demonstrate knowledge of environments being the result of natural processes

8.2 Demonstrate a clear understanding of the drivers of change in the natural world over space and time, demonstrating knowledge of the interactions between climate, ecosystems, and landscapes

8.3 Demonstrate a clear understanding of the biodiversity concept and the magnitude of biodiversity

8.4 Demonstrate a knowledge of how biodiversity is distributed across the planet and the key hypotheses that have been proposed to explain observed patterns in both space and time

8.5 Demonstrate an appreciation of the different use and non-use values of biodiversity, using real world examples

8.6 Demonstrate a basic knowledge of the contemporary threats to biodiversity and the ways in which conservationists attempt to protect/maintain biodiversity

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

9.1 Demonstrate advanced communication skills in order to disseminate knowledge to a range of audiences (from the general public to subject specialists)

9.2 Understand how to manage study/work time effectively

9.3 Demonstrate developed critical thinking, reading and writing skills


  1. Credit level 4. Certificate level module usually taken in the first stage 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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