Tropical Conservation Science Field Course - WCON5350

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2024 to 2025
Autumn Term 6 15 (7.5) Jake Bicknell checkmark-circle


This residential module is designed to provide students with first-hand experience of ecological processes, biodiversity and conservation issues associated with humid tropical environments. Tropical rainforests are the most biologically diverse habitats on Earth and the loss of rainforest is of tremendous conservation concern, both due to loss of diversity as well as its consequences for global warming.

Topics to be covered in the curriculum:
• Rainforest structure and defining characteristics of pristine and disturbed habitats.
• Practical training in ecological techniques and survey methods for a range of terrestrial taxonomic groups.
• Interventions such as protected area management and local community issues

Anthropogenic factors affecting rainforests including, fragmentation, global warming and agriculture.

The module will take place in a field studies centre at a rainforest location where there is an adequate infrastructure to ensure an acceptable standard of logistical support and health and safety conditions. Students will spend time working in forest systems, and there will be an emphasis on practical training in ecological survey and assessment methods. Teaching on conservation will be integrated with short visits to surrounding sites to gain direct appreciation of the issues, problems and solutions surrounding rainforests and their wildlife.

Participation in the module will be dependent on maintaining a clean disciplinary record during registration on the degree course prior to the module. These requirements may be waived in individual cases at the discretion of the module and course convenors where we judge that there is a strong case for allowing the student onto the module.


Contact hours

Total contact hours: 76
Total private study hours: 74
Total study hours: 150


The module will be offered to Stage 3 students and taught in either:
• the summer vacation between Stages 2 and 3 with credit awarded in Autumn term at Stage 3, or
• the winter vacation of Stage 3 with credit awarded in the Spring term.

Optional to the following courses:
• BSc Wildlife Conservation

Prerequisite: WCON5390

Capped at 20 students

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
• Written Assignment 1 (2,000 words) 40%
• Written Assignment 2 (2,000 words) 40%
• Field notebook (ca. 30 pages) 20%

Reassessment methods
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Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices.

The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Explain in depth the characteristics and ecological processes that define tropical rainforests as well as the characteristics of disturbed tropical forests and the breakdown of ecological processes within these habitats.
2 Demonstrate a critical of understanding the importance of tropical forests as centres of biodiversity and ecological diversification.
3 Apply theoretical and experiential knowledge gained regarding the major conservation issues surrounding rainforests to evaluate ways by which environmental impacts on tropical habitats can be mitigated.
4 Apply practical and analytical skills concerning ecological survey techniques and ecological assessment methods for a range of tropical biota, which can also be applied to other ecosystems.


  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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