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The University of Southampton

BIOL3053 Biodiversity and Conservation

Module Overview

This module concerns global biodiversity, what we understand by it and why it is in crisis, and current efforts to conserve and manage it. We begin with an appraisal of different values of diversity at scales from genetic to species, communities and ecosystems. We then consider the causes and consequences of losing biodiversity, the nature and scale of its loss, countermeasures at global, national and local scales, and the costs we may face in replacing services that depend on biodiversity. During the second half of the module, we address some of the issues that arise in practical local conservation, including the influence of human aspirations on conservation aims. The module seeks to engage discussion and debate on these themes, to inform opinion from both sides of the argument of biodiversity and conservation and human use of habitats.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Describe the global biodiversity crisis
  • Write a review article on a topical aspect biodiversity and/or conservation
  • Outline the main reasons for decline and threats to biodiversity worldwide
  • Argue the case for and against conserving biodiversity
  • Evaluate the pros and cons of species introductions and reintroductions
  • Make critical judgments on the conflict between conservation and development
  • Appreciate common issues in practical conservation of aquatic systems
  • Understand the diverse roles of human decision-making in setting conservation aims
  • Discuss moral dilemmas that arise in practical conservation
  • Argue the case for local action to address the global loss of biodiversity


The module begins by defining concepts and scales relevant to biodiversity and its conservation. We will have a workshop early on about the damaging impacts of invasive species on biodiversity, which raises important issues about paying for our past misuses of the environment. We then cover causes and consequences of biodiversity loss and ways of measuring it. We consider efforts to tackle the biodiversity crisis at global, national and local scales. A guest lecture by Dr Rob Holland will provide insights into the IUCN's approach for freshwater species. The second half of the module addresses threats to biodiversity, and conservation options, and challenges. Particular emphasis is placed here on moral issues that arise from conflicts between immediate human needs to exploit the natural environment and long-term damage caused by over-exploitation.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Lectures, seminars, independent study, assessed data interpretation and a review essay.

Independent Study125
Total study time150


Assessment Strategy

Examination: You will be given two sets of two questions (1A and1B and 2A and 2B) and need to select one of question from the first set (1A or 1B) and one question from the second set (2A or 2B). Coursework Essay: Review article on set topic


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 25%
Examination 75%


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay 25%
Examination 75%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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