Ecology & Conservation of African Ecosystems (with Field Course) 4Y option BIOL4288

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Biodiversity One Health Vet Med
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 1
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

This option will consider the principles of ecology of African ecosystems, including the practical issues of conservation, management and human-wildlife conflicts.


The field course element will be subsidised by the School of Life Sciences, but students will be expected to make a personal contribution towards the costs.


One 2-hour session on four consecutive Fridays before the field trip. There is a 14 days overseas field course during weeks 11 and 12. 

Requirements of Entry

Normally, only available to final-year Life Sciences students in an Animal Biology programme.

Excluded Courses





The course will be assessed by a 90-minute examination (50%) and in-course assessment consisting of project report (35 %) and a reflective statement (15%). 

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

The course aims to enable students to develop an understanding of the structure, characteristic biota, ecology and functioning of tropical African ecosystems, how it can be studied, and gain an appreciation of how this knowledge is key to achieving sustainable conservation and management of these ecosystems. 

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ Produce evidence-based sustained arguments on how the complexity and geological age of African ecosystems result in highly diverse ecological communities;

■ Critically analyse the potential threats to African ecosystems and associated natural resources;

■ Critically analyse the challenges involved in the sustainable management of African ecosystems, including the effectiveness of protected areas;

■ Critically evaluate which method for collecting data on biodiversity, population density and animal behaviour is more efficient based on the research question and type of species;

■ Interpret and evaluate papers from the primary scientific literature;

■ Apply quantitative and experimental design skills in the context of field studies on African ecosystems;

■ Reflect upon challenges related to teamwork during experimental design and data collection.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.