QAA Subject Specific Standards for Ecology and Environmental Biology
Foundation School (Level 3)
Department of Biological Sciences
Monday 18th January 2016
Conservation Biology is becoming an increasingly important and relevant discipline due to the rapid loss of biodiversity on a global scale and the legal requirement of governments to counter this loss. This loss of biodiversity is directly caused by a range of human activities such as habitat destruction, over exploitation, introduction of alien species and climate change. Consequently, it is predicted that the rate of species loss will continue to rise in tandem with the rapidly increasing human population. However, biodiversity provides a variety of ecosystem services that are fundamental to human health and welbeing. There is, therefore, a growing awareness across all areas of society that science driven conservation efforts are increasingly required in order to conserve the remaining biodiversity.
The educational aims of this programme are as follows.
To introduce students to the importance of conservation biology in a global context.
Provide students with the relevant knowledge, understanding and practical skills required to gain employment in the field of conservation biology.
To enable students to develop key practical, professional and transferable skills.
Provide an appropriate and challenging learning experience for students in the area of Conservation Biology.
Encourage a theoretically informed approach to practical conservation issues.
To foster an appreciation of the role and value of research and of a scientific approach to study.
Provide a degree programme that provides students with the academic skills, professional expertise and confidence to engage in further learning throughout their lives.
Students should be able to:
Show detailed understanding of the biological and ecological principles underlying Conservation Biology. This should include knowledge biogeochemical cycles and pathways, nutrient and energy flows, genetics and evolution, population dynamics and theoretical ecology, animal behaviour and community ecology.
Demonstrate extensive knowledge of concepts relating to biodiversity and ecosystems including biogeography of current and historical species and the factors which influence their distributions, measurement of biodiversity and field skills related to biodiversity conservation.
Use an awareness and critical understanding of the social and economic aspects of conservation biology including species conservation, law and policy, socio-economic considerations of species exploitation and protection, human-wildlife conflict and wildlife crime to develop ideas surrounding conservation issues.
At level 4 students would be able to use this knowledge and understanding in a routine manner to evaluate and formulate a range of arguments in relation to conservation topics. (BI4111, BI4118, BI4119, BI4141)
At level 5 students would be able to use this knowledge and understanding to initiate and undertake critical analysis of information and to propose solutions to problems. (BI5118, BI5126, BI5135, BI5138, BI5147, BI5150)
At level 6 students would be able to use this knowledge and understanding to develop avenues of enquiry, strategies for conservation action and critically evaluated arguments based around conservation issues. (BI6129, BI6143, BI6168, BI6169, BI6170, BI6171, BI6172, BI6192)
Students should be able to:
Be able to analyse, synthesise, evaluate, apply and reflect upon information gathered from the academic literature, professional organisations, and experiences in the work place, in order to propose solutions to problems relevant to Conservation Biology.
Critically apply information from an extensive understanding of theory and knowledge of case-studies to relevant issues and current developments in conservation biology.
The ability to apply mathematical concepts to ecological and economic problems as well as to display, effectively analyse and interpret data related to Conservation Biology both with and without the use of Information Technology.
At level 4 students would be able to use this knowledge and understanding in a routine manner to evaluate and formulate a range of arguments in relation to conservation topics. (BI4111, BI4118, BI4119, BI4141)
At level 5 students would be able to use this knowledge and understanding to initiate and undertake critical analysis of information and to propose solutions to problems. (BI5113, BI5118, BI5121, BI5135, BI5147, BI5150)
At level 6 students would be able to use this knowledge and understanding to develop avenues of enquiry, strategies for conservation action and critically evaluated arguments based around conservation issues. (BI6110, BI6129, BI6143, BI6168, BI6169, BI6170, BI6171, BI6172, BI6192)
Students should be able to:
Demonstrate the ability to design and perform research in Conservation Biology. This includes selection of appropriate research questions, experimental design, field methods and equipment as well as the use and interpretation of appropriate statistical tests, the effective use of graphical displays of data and the ability to come to well supported conclusions through reflection and discussion of results.
Deploy academic and practical techniques for the integration of academic knowledge and understanding into effective professional practice in Conservation Biology with appropriate consideration of ethical issues and risk.
Demonstrate the ability to work and learn independently while effectively managing time and resources, demonstrating academic integrity and possessing the skills of self-evaluation to understand own strengths and weaknesses in order to undertake further training, develop existing skills, and acquire new competencies where judged necessary.
At level 4 students will be able to use the above skills to communicate results of their studies accurately and reliably. (BI4155, BI4114, BI4118, BI4119)
At level 5 students will be able to use the above skills to communicate different types of information and analysis in a variety of different ways to both specialist and non-specialist audiences. (BI5110, BI5113, BI5118, BI5121, BI5126, BI5135, BI5138, BI5150)
At level 6 students will be able to use established techniques of analysis and enquiry and communicate the same in a variety of different ways and be able to use these skills to manage their own learning. (BI6110, BI6143, BI6171)
Students should be able to:
Demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively and appropriately at a graduate level with a range of audiences using oral, visual and written media.
Construct a consistent and sustained argument
Understand and present relevant statistical or other numerical data as part of an argument
Word process work in an appropriate format
Use e-mail and the World-wide Web
Reflect on your own learning and seek and make use of feedback
Be able to work effectively within a team, giving and receiving information and ideas, and modifying responses as appropriate while respecting the need for diversity of approaches and opinions.
At level 4 students will be able to use the above skills to communicate results of their studies accurately and reliably. (BI4155, BI4111, BI4114, BI4118, BI4119, BI4141)
At level 5 students will be able to use the above skills to communicate different types of information and analysis in a variety of different ways to both specialist and non-specialist audiences. (BI5110, BI5113, BI5118, BI521, BI5126, BI5135, BI5138, BI5147, BI5150, WB5101, WB5004)
At level 6 students will be able to use established techniques of analysis and enquiry and communicate the same in a variety of different ways and be able to use these skills to manage their own learning. (BI6110, BI6129, BI6143, BI6168, BI6169, BI6170, BI6171, BI6172, BI6192)
By the end of Level 3 students should be able to:
Communicate the ideas of others and their own ideas in an academic format.
Use IT applications effectively for research and presentation purposes.
Discuss and debate relevant topics and ideas as part of the learning process.
Convert researched information to a summarised form.
Levels 4- 6:
The ability to communicate effectively and appropriately at a graduate level with a range of audiences using oral, visual and written media. (GTKS2)
The programme is designed so that academic knowledge and understanding accompany the development of work-related skills. The curriculum is modular and is built over three Levels of Study, and will be delivered predominantly via blended learning, comprising face-to-face tuition and requiring self-directed study.
Within the programme students are expected to undertake 120 credits of study each year. Modules have a value of 20 credits with the exception of the Level 6 Dissertation module, which is 40 credits. Modules are assessed on a 4000 word-equivalent basis using a variety of assessment strategies.
The development of the programme reflects level-related characteristics, as indicated in the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications. In respect of subject knowledge, emphasis at Level 4 concerns “describing” and “knowing about” fundamental principles that can be reinforced and developed when constructing rational argument and questioning skills. Level 5 encourages and promotes more research informed study, making reference to, and linking, complex elements of knowledge, and subsequently allowing students to demonstrate their own critical approach to data and evidence.
Level 6 focusses on analysis and synthesis of knowledge, data and evidence, which requires students to develop a more reflective approach to skills and concepts. Level-specific characteristics are embedded in the learning outcomes of the programme and Level 6 outcomes necessitate high order cognitive application in both generic and subject-specific areas.
The foundation years in the Life Sciences are aligned to the Framework for Undergraduate Modular Programmes and offers foundation level study whereby modules are 20 credits and students study for 120 credits in total to progress to the next level of study.
The programme is designed to introduce students to topics within the Life Sciences undergraduate degrees offered by the University, in conjunction with an academic skills curriculum to support learning and preparation for progression to level 4. There are synergies between the foundation year and the level 4 curriculum that students progress to. This includes module topics and themes that relate to the transference of knowledge and skills to the workplace, and the relevance of differing modes of teaching, learning and assessment.
There is a 20 credit module within the foundation year, University Study Skills, which offers students skills-based learning in preparation for level 4-6 studies to support academic progression, and to provide an introduction to successful undergraduate studentship.
The modules at Level 4 provide a comprehensive review of key concepts and skills for a range of students. Students undertake three core modules and select 3 optional modules. This is to ensure that students develop grounded knowledge of the fundamental principles, skills and concepts necessary for the study of conservation and ecology. There is also an opportunity for students to take responsibility for their choice of learning and begin to develop specific pathways in conservation and ecology according to the student's aspirations and academic interests.
Level 5 requires students to study four core modules and to select one optional module. The study of modules at Level 5 involves far greater detail and depth of knowledge to reinforce existing understanding and further enhance key concepts and skills. Study at Level 5 culminates with students taking either an Experiential Learning module (ELM) or Work Based Learning (WBL) option (it is not possible to take both ELM or WBL nor two WBL modules); both of which provide an opportunity for students to apply and enhance their knowledge in an industry or work-related environment. Therefore, it is expected that the ELM or WBL will form an integral part of the programme in developing students in a professional capacity.
Modules at Level 6 of the programme are directed towards developing academic expertise and professional skills within the conservation sector. There is only one core module at Level 6 and this is Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainability. Students are generally encouraged to also take the Dissertation module (40 credits) module plus three optional modules. However, as an alternative, students may choose to take one of the Non-Experimental project options as an alternative to the Dissertation (it is not possible to take more than one of these options).
The dissertation module allows students to focus on individual research interests, and will require them to use advanced knowledge and understanding, as well as practical skills, in conservation and ecology. The development of subject specialism at Level 6 will support the transition to a particular area of employment within conservation biology.
Students graduate with BSc Honours on completion of Level 6 having obtained 360 credits (120 per year). Students may obtain an exit award of Dip HE on completion of Level 5 having obtained 240 credits (120 per year). Students may obtain an exit award of Cert HE on completion of Level 4 having obtained 120 credits.
Students may obtain an exit award of Foundation Certificate on completion of Level 3 having obtained 120 credits.
All applications are considered on individual merit in relation to the aims and outcomes of the programme. The table below sets out normal minimum qualifications required. Offers made to mature applicants (over 21) may take account of work and life experience.
72 UCAS points from GCE A Levels,
GCE A LEVEL:
The Department requires one of the following subjects as essential for entry:
GCE A Level: Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry, Applied Science
BTEC Extended Diploma (Applied Science): MMP-MPP
BTEC Diploma (Applied Science): MM
C in 4 subjects, including Biology, Chemistry or Human Biology
24 points including 5 in Chemistry
Access to HE (Science) course to include 15 Level 3 credits at Distinction and 15 Level 3 credits at Merit
OCR National Extended/Diploma: merit profile plus one of the GCE A level subjects listed above
Please note that we accept a maximum of 20 UCAS points from GCE AS Levels and that the Welsh Baccalaureate (core) and A Level General Studies will be recognised in our offer. We will also consider a combination of A Levels and BTECs/OCRs.
Other vocational qualifications at Level 3 will also be considered, such as NVQs.
Mature students (21 and over) that have been out of education for a while or do not have experience or qualifications at Level 3 (equivalent to A-levels) will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
This programme has been constructed using the Biosciences (2015) benchmark statement as a guide. Particular reference has been made to the threshold statements - these being the minimum requirement described in the benchmarking statements by the Quality Assurance Agency.
Any individual student will take the equivalent to 18 modules in total, which will include core and optional modules. The structure and content of the core modules is such that all students will have the opportunity to develop the skills and attributes required by the biosciences graduate. The particular sets of statements that have been referred to during the development of the programme are: generic standards, molecular aspects of biology, organisms, and ecology and environmental biology.
Particular features of the programme which are based on the generic standards set out by the Biosciences (2015) benchmark statement are a broad based core where students are introduced to concepts ranging from the molecular to ecosystem level, competence in core experiemental and survey skills and engagement with current developments in the biosicenses.
We incoproate several other generic standards through out diverse assessment strategy. This inlcudes using a range of communication methods, the use and interpretation of information including the appropriate use of statistical analysis and practical and theoretical methods of acquitring information.
Employability is built into the programme in terms of skills modules but also more generically through requirments for reflective practice which encourages students to be self-aware interms of their limitations and skills, to develop appropriate strategies for skills development in these areas and to recognise the importance of their skillsets to their chosen career paths as well as how to communicate their abilities in these areas.
Specific aspects of the organism and ecology and environmental ecology statements have been built into section 23 - the targeted programme outcomes.
Members of the Department of Biological Sciences have many years of experience in offering distinctive programmes of study at diploma, undergraduate, postgraduate and post-experience levels. The Department has considerable experience of supporting the learning needs of mature students and of students generally with "non-standard entry" qualifications. Considerable experience has been achieved with students with limited entry qualifications both in terms of academic performance and personal development. Consequently, students encounter a broad range of teaching and learning experiences across all levels of study as befits the subject matter. The diversity of learning and teaching methods include:
Achievement at level 3 reflects the ability to identify and use relevant understanding, methods and skills to complete tasks and address problems that, while well defined, have a measure of complexity. It includes taking responsibility for initiating and completing tasks and procedures as well as exercising autonomy and judgement within limited parameters. It also reflects awareness of different perspectives or approaches within an area of study or work.
These feature in most modules as an effective way of imparting important content, themes and pointers for further study. They will be used to set a framework for further study and inform students of the value of the discipline. However, they are supplemented by a variety of other methods of teaching and learning as described below.
A number of modules at Levels 4 and 5 include practical classes. These provide the opportunity for students to develop their data handling and analytical skills as well as their practical skills. An important aspect of practical work is the opportunity for students to engage in group work thus encouraging working with others. At level 6, the amount of taught practical work is reduced, although the dissertation module would require practical activities during, for example, trials or observations.
Seminars are used most often in Level 6 optional modules in which group sizes are relatively small and students tend to be more confident. Selected topics within module content are chosen to provide the opportunity for more in-depth study and dissemination of ideas. Amongst other key skills, students are able to practice oral communication skills in a relatively informal context.
When students have specific queries that have not been addressed during formal teaching sessions, they can contact module tutors directly. In practice, these discussions tend to focus on assessment issues, including feedback on formative essays and performance in examinations. A system is in operation whereby students can make appointments to consult tutors.
Intranet-based support materials
The University has an intranet (Sharepoint) available to all students on or off campus. This offers access to a wide range of facilities including Learning Resources, the Library and all modular support materials. Staff are committed to using Sharepoint for making additional support materials available for students including lecture slides or notes, supporting videos, reading lists and increasingly, formative muliple choice questions for students to test themselves with.
As reading is central to the process of knowledge acquisition in higher education, module tutors provide reading lists to guide their students to appropriate material. Increasingly, these lists include references to the Internet and electronic sources, as well as more traditional book and journal references.
The QCA Key Skills document lists ‘working with others’ as one of the six categories of Key Skills that needs to be demonstrated in higher education. Throughout the programme, working with others has been incorporated at each level. In many modules, particularly in practical work in the laboratory or field, students are encouraged to work in groups and to share ideas. The assessment in certain modules is based on group assignments.
Work Related Studies
All students will be required to undertake work related studies at level 5 of the programme. There will be choice offered so that students can either do Work Based Learning (organised by the Centre for Work Related Studies) or do Experiential Learning which is organised and staffed by the Department of Biological Sciences.
In line with benchmarking and the Department's Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy, the need for students to become effective as independent learners is planned for and encouraged. The programme structures its learning outcomes so that this will happen progressively across the programme. At Level 6, students have the opportunity to do an extensive piece of independent research (equivalent to two modules) that requires them to plan and implement a research project, analyse data and report on their study.
The strategy is designed to introduce students to a range of assessment methods and develop their performance in assessment. Generally, there is a balance between course work and examination – this has been Departmental policy for some time. The staff believe that in preparing and submitting course work, which can include essays, laboratory and data handling exercises, oral and poster presentations, students are given time and scope to present their work in a variety of modes where an examination would be inappropriate. However, we are aware that examinations have an important role in summative assessment as well as giving academic credibility, both externally and internally, to the work of the Department. All students receive written comments on coursework and additional feedback on the work is usually given more informally by individual tutors. Additionally, students are invited to discuss their assessment results with the appropriate tutor. This opportunity allows students to discuss their performance and ways to enhance it for the future.
Formative assessment features particularly in the Level 4 modules and is designed to introduce students to assessment within higher education and make them aware of what is expected of them. Work will be set which will be assessed using the normal marking criteria but the marks will not be formally recorded. Feedback will be given to students following such tasks and students will have the opportunity to discuss points with the module tutor.
Reassessment will address the learning outcomes not achieved in the failed components. For modules forming part of programmes in the Department of Biological Sciences, reassessment will normally take the form of repeating the failed compontent of the module. The module descriptors indicate how each module is reassessed.
Lab or Field Report
Other (E.g. worksheet, project report, case study, critical review, diagram)
Comparative Anatomy and Physiology of Animals
Genetics and Evolution
Data Handling and Project Design
Introduction to Animal Behaviour
Global Biodiversity: Concepts and Threats
Adaptations to the Environment
Wildlife Crime and Conservation
Population Biology and Conservation
Marine Animal Behaviour
Enhancing your Employability through Work Based Learning
Learning in the Wider World
Non-experimental project with Information project
Non-experimental project with presentation
Animal Behaviour and Conservation
Wildlife Forensics - Detection and Investigation
Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainability
Stress and Welfare Assessment in Animals
Animal Parasitism: Medical, Veterinary and Ecological Aspects
Applied Conservation Genetics
Managing Marine Environmental Impacts
Behavioural and Evolutionary ecology
Graduates of the BSc (Hons) will possess the essential knowledge, skills, experience and attributes required of a newly qualified conservation biologist, such as:
Knowledge and understanding of the application of science and research methods to the practice of conservation biology.
Ability to apply academic knowledge and techniques to practical solutions in the field of conservation biology.
Skills of academic enquiry to generate potential solutions to problems in conservation biology, and cognitive skills to critically evaluate these to arrive at solutions fitted to context.
An understanding of the limits of their knowledge, and how this influences analysis and interpretation based on that knowledge in a conservation context
Skills to effectively communicate information, arguments, and analysis, in written and oral form, to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
Confidence and transferable skills to undertake further training, develop existing skills, and acquire new competencies that will enable them to assume responsibility within conservation biology organisations. .
In light of the above, this degree programme will equip graduates with the skills, knowledge and understanding necessary to make a significant contribution to the field of conservation biology. Some graduates may ultimately decide to further enhance their professional standing by continuing with their studies in order to gain an appropriate postgraduate qualification.
Conservation Biology is an expanding field and as the global community continues to respond to the questions posed by habitat loss and a changing climate it offers a range of career possibilities. Conservation biologists are in demand by a wide range of employers such as government bodies, zoos, wildlife trusts and NGOs both in the UK and overseas.
Graduates from this programme will be trained in a variety of transferable skills which are also highly valued by employers across a wide range of sectors.
The programmes of study in the Dept of Biological Sciences fully embrace the University’s commitment to the active promotion of equality of opportunity. The University seeks to ensure that no student is disadvantaged or discriminated against on the grounds of: gender; age; sexual orientation; racial group (race, colour, nationality, ethnicity or national origins); creed (religious, political or personal beliefs or principles); membership or non-membership of a trade union; and socio-economic background. It also aims to ensure that disabled people and those with special needs do not suffer unfair discrimination, and that they are enabled to achieve their full potential as students. The ultimate objective of the programmes delivered are to ensure all aspects of delivery are open to all sections of society and in whose activities all students can participate to the best of their ability. This programme is designed to ensure inclusivity and to ensure that the diverse needs of our students are provided for. At a departmental level all programmes are developed and delivered with the following aspects in mind:
Admission requirements are clearly set out in promotional materials and due consideration is given to a policy of widening access, participation, diversity and equality.
Each module and programme is developed in line with University policy to both promote equality and diversity and encourage all students in the development of their learning.
There is flexibility in materials and delivery of teaching to support students with disability or from culturally diverse backgrounds and the Department works closely with Learning Support in delivering this support through Learning Support Plans.
The induction week activities are designed to integrate all students both academically and socially and to make academic staff aware of any issues. Students are made aware of avenues of support if they a have any issues regarding diversity and equality.
Supportive formative exercises are presented in modules in the first year to give all students an equal chance of succeeding.
Assessments are designed to afford equal opportunity to all students to display their knowledge and skills. The introduction of anonymous marking and the blue sticker scheme also enhance equal opportunity to all students.
In order to ensure that the needs of all students are met any barriers to access (physical, environmental and curriculum) are identified and removed or reasonable adjustments will be made based on requirements.
All learning materials and teaching and learning sessions are designed to be free from racist, sexist and other discriminatory assumptions and practices.
All lecturers are aware of diversity issues and discharge their PAT roles with knowledge and sympathy and all students are made aware of the Department structures to discuss issues should a concern arise.
Conservation biology is a global discipline. On the BSc in Conservation Biology at the University of Chester students will have the opportunity to take part in conservation research both at home and overseas. Our course involves fieldwork wherever possible, including a residential fieldtrip in the second year. Students will also get to choose between an international research experience (BI5113 Experiential Learning Module or WBL5004 Learning in the Wider World) with members of our staff or a work-placement (WBL5101 Enhancing your employability through Work Based Learning) where you’ll experience the field of conservation biology among professionals.
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