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Last modified: 22 May 2019 17:07

Course Overview

Six themes that reflect current theory and practice in the interface between ecology, conservation and society are explored through structured in-class activities challenging you to consider problems and evidence from different perspectives.

Case studies drawn from different disciplinary perspectives (e.g., anthropology, economics, human geography, philosophy) increase capacity for self-reflection and awareness of ethical and moral issues embedded in problems often framed as ecological.

Four short discussion essays are required; you will get detailed feedback for improving your writing skills.

Weekly student-led discussions allow you to develop your capacity for attentive exchange, informed argument and reasoning, and skills in facilitating discussion.

Course Details

Study Type Postgraduate Level 5
Session Second Sub Session Credit Points 15 credits (7.5 ECTS credits)
Campus Old Aberdeen Sustained Study No
  • Dr Louise Ross

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Course Description

The aim of this module is to examine aspects of interface of ecology, conservation and society and to explore aspects of environmental sustainability.   In the course we will examine these questions:

1) Given how our world is changing, do we need to change how we do science? ; 2) How does science influence policy? How do we consider the impact of research?; 3) How does the move towards interdisciplinary approaches to complex environmental problems impact the practice of conservation and ecological sciences?; 4) What characterises resilient, flexible and adaptable socio-ecological systems and what are the messages for ecologists, environmental scientists and conservation biologists?; 5) How and why is the public being encouraged to participate in science?; 6) What is good practice in relation to communicating science to the public?.

In the course students will:

  • Engage with scholarly work from anthropology, philosophy, environmental economics and human geography to promote reflection on the role of epistemology in problem definition and interpretation;
  • Develop communication skills relevant for facilitating discussions, engaging with the public and writing focused, concise essays;
  • Interpret and analyse scientific publications and position papers and develop focused and critical discussion essays;
  • Develop knowledge and understanding related to the key themes addressed during the course and increased their awareness and appreciation of the ethical and moral issues embedded in conservation, sustainable development and environmental management; 
  • Develop their skills in facilitating group discussions, dealing flexibly with new situations, and becoming adept at taking different perspectives;
  • Develop their capacity for attentive exchange, informed argument and reasoning and the ability to express their ideas concisely;
  • Develop their skills in interpreting complex ideas and in writing creatively, concisely and critically;
  • Develop their willingness to question accepted wisdom and their capacity for self-reflection and an enhanced awareness of personal strengths and weaknesses;

Associated Costs


In light of Covid-19 this information is indicative and may be subject to change.

Contact Teaching Time

Information on contact teaching time is available from the course guide.

Teaching Breakdown

  • 3 Seminars during University weeks 25 - 30

More Information about Week Numbers

In light of Covid-19 and the move to blended learning delivery the assessment information advertised for second half-session courses may be subject to change. All updates for second-half session courses will be actioned in advance of the second half-session teaching starting. Please check back regularly for updates.

Summative Assessments

1st Attempt: Assessment is based on short discussion essays based on set papers (70%), participation in discussions and tutorials (5%) and performance leading a discussion (25%).

Resit: Resubmission of failed individual elements of continuous assessment

Formative Assessment

There are no assessments for this course.



Course Learning Outcomes


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