Module code: BMS3091

Module Overview

This module considers the impact of human beings on the environment, including negative aspects such as habitat destruction and pollution, and positive aspects such as conservation.  It will also consider our ethical and legal responsibilities with regards to the environment and biodiversity conservation.

Module provider

School of Biosciences and Medicine

Module Leader

BREDE Eddie (Biosc & Med)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 105

Lecture Hours: 24

Seminar Hours: 7

Tutorial Hours: 2

Practical/Performance Hours: 12

Module Availability

Semester 1

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • The healthy planet
    Biodiversity: genetic diversity, species diversity, & ecosystem diversity
    Community ecology: relationships & change within ecosystems

  • The Anthropocene Period: Human environment interactions
    Habitat loss
    Feeding the world: over-harvesting & the impact of farming 
    Introduced species
    Ecotoxicology and Environmental Risk
    Climate change
    A sixth mass extinction?       

  • Conservation Biology
    The History of Conservation
    Measuring human impact
    Environmental Law
    Approaches to conservation: population conservation
    Approaches to conservation: land management & restoration
    Fieldtrips to Millennium Seed Bank (Wakehurst Place) & Surrey Wildlife Trust

  • Case studies:  students will present case studies in addition to those incorporated into lecture content

  • Plus tutorial sessions

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework PUBLIC INFORMATION FILM (to include 1000 word justification document) 50

Alternative Assessment

Portfolio includes a public information film (IS2) and a literature review (IS1).

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to integrate content from across the module in order to consider ecological problems and their solutions.  They will be expected to integrate practical and ethical considerations with an element of “blue-skies” thinking. 

The summative assessment for this module consists of the following elements:

  • IS1 - Public Information Film: 50% - A 3-5 minute Powerpoint ‘film’/slideshow on an environmental issue, with a 5 minute explanation on the critical thinking behind the design process. A 1000 word justification document will also be required describing decisions made and reasons for editing/design of film.

  • IS2 - Literature review: 50%: 3000 word review of scientific literature on a specific threat to biodiversity.

Formative assessment and feedback

Students can obtain formative feedback from a variety of sources:

  • Tutorials and drop in sessions where students can discuss their progress

  • Class debates in which all students will participate.

Module aims

  • Revise the concept of biodiversity, at the population, community and planetary levels and consider the relationships between species within a dynamic ecosystem
  • Consider the nature of man's influence on the environment, using case studies to illustrate the impact of habitat loss, farming, globalisation, ecotoxins and global warming
  • Consider our responsibiltiy to the planet in terms of restorative and conservation ecology

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 Evaluate the relative importance of biodiversity at the level of genes, species and ecosystems KC
2 Discuss the roles of species interactions, energy/mass transfer and nutrient cycling, disturbance and succession in defining a healthy ecosystem KC
3 Categorise the various ways in which man impacts upon his environment KC
4 Define the approaches used by conservation biologists to measure the effect of man on his environment KC
5 Compare and contrast strategies for protecting individual species and whole communities from human impact KC
6 Argue the relative merits of strategies to evaluate and mitigate against a specific environmental threat KC
7 Identify suitable sources of information and critically evaluate them in order to address a specific environmental concern PT
8 Précis information both orally and in writing in a manner appropriate to both lay and scientific audiences PT

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

Stimulate engagement with both the practical and ethical aspects of environmental science.  The lecture component of the module will introduce some of the basic principles underpinning this topic, however the use of case studies to illustrate these principles and debates in which students can explore their own ethical ideals are both integral to the module.  This module is intended to promote “blue skies” thinking as students identify and consider solutions to the issues raised by the conflict between mankind’s needs and the environment in which we live.

The learning and teaching methods include:
• Lectures:  25 h
• Field Trip:  10 h
• In class and online debates: 4 h (plus online time)
• Seminars (case studies): 2 h
• Plus tutorials / drop in sessions

Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: BMS3091

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Veterinary Biosciences BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Liberal Arts and Sciences BA (Hons)/BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Biological Sciences BSc (Hons) 1 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2019/0 academic year.