University of Chester

Programme Specification
Wildlife Conservation & Ecology BSc (Hons) (Single Honours)
2017 - 2018

Bachelor of Science (Single Honours)

Wildlife Conservation & Ecology

Wildlife Conservation & Ecology (including Foundation Year)

University of Chester

Reaseheath College

Reaseheath College

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory, Residential and Open, Work-Based inc.(practice / placement)

4 Years

7 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences Biological Sciences

The QAA Biosciences subject benchmark statements (2015) has been used to inform the academic development of the programme.


Department of Biological Sciences

Thursday 14th July 2016

Recorded trends in extinction rates and loss of species diversity are currently unprecedented, primarily due to the direct and indirect influences manifested as a result of human consumption and exponential population growth. Wildlife conservation and ecology has become a scientific discipline that is increasingly studied in an effort to better understand, halt and possibly reverse declines in biological diversity; and furthermore, has been an important subject of interest in social, political and economic terms, thus extending its popularity beyond the realms of scientific enquiry.

 The educational aims of the BSc (Hons) Wildlife Conservation & Ecology programme are as follows:   

  • To provide students with the knowledge and understanding required to recognise the importance of animal ecology in animal conservation.
  • To equip students with a diverse range of knowledge and practical skills to enable them to study and understand key concepts of the ecology and conservation of animals in their natural habitats, both during and beyond their academic careers.
  • To enable students to utlise practical skills relevant to a broad range of topics including: conservation biology and biodiversity, ecological census skills, wildlife ecology and evolutionary biology.
  • To develop key practical, professional and transferable skills, particularly for scientific research.
  • To produce graduates with the marketable skills and knowledge necessary to compete for employment in a related field of work.
  • To offer a range of staff and associate contacts' expertise in areas of scientific research, practical conservation, and wildlife and habitat management so that students have the opportunity to develop specialist career pathways.
  • To equip students with the necessary knowledge and skills to progress to postgraduate study.
  • To explore the role and value of research and scientific approaches to study.
  • To examine the application of conservation management strategies designed to halt current extinction rates and subsequently increase biological diversity.

The development of knowledge and understanding of underlying principles associated with ecology and conservation  is fundamental in enabling the application and critique of core concepts and ideas, and the subsequent synthesis of new knowledge during students progression through the programme. Therefore, upon successful completion of this programme, students should be able to:

Level 3:

  • Demonstrate a knowledge of terms and concepts relevant to the subject-specific modules (all modules)
  • Use academic study skills at the required level for further study at the University (all modules, but specifically RC3101)
  • Identify how theory can be applied to practice (all modules).
  • Be aware of how undergraduate study prepares students for a professional career (all modules).


FHEQ Level 4

  • Demonstrate a basic knowledge and understanding of relevant theories and concepts in the fields of conservation biology and wildlife ecology (all modules)
  • Demonstrate a systematic & rigorous approach to academic study (all modules)
  • Develop new transferable skills specific to academic study (e.g. scientific writing), scientific enquiry (e.g. research design) and professional practice (e.g. field skills/species identification) that can be applied in areas of further study and/or within employment (RC4511, RC4507, RC4508)
  • Describe and independently use relevant techniques for the collecting and analysing ecological data (RC4507, RC4508)


FHEQ Level 5

  • Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge and critical understanding of relevant theories and concepts in the fields of conservation biology and wildlife ecology (all modules)
  • Demonstrate a knowledge of the main methods of scientific enquiry in conservation biology and wildlife ecology (RC5509)
  • Demonstrate an ability to apply knowledge of underlying concepts and principles outside the context in which the where originally studied, including in an employment and overseas context (RC5502, RC5508)
  • Develop an understanding of the limitations of their subject knowledge, and how this influences their own analysis and interpretation (RC5502, RC5508)


FHEQ Level 6

  • Demonstrate an extensive and systematic understanding of key aspects of topics relating to conservation biology and wildlife ecology, specifically the acquisition of detailed knowledge at the coal-face of the discipline areas (all modules)
  • Demonstrate an ability to utilise historical and existing knowledge to critically comment upon current research, devise and sustain arguments, solve problems and synthesise new ideas (RC6506, RC6502)


Core cognitive skills are expected to be evidenced throughout all three years of study. To start, students undertaking study at level 4 should expect to demonstrate clear lines of thinking, description, knowledge recall and understanding, with progression towards an ability to reason in a scientific manner, critically evaluate and analyse, and to synthesize new knowledge. Therefore, upon successful completion of this programme, students should be able to:

Level 3:

  • Analyse, interpret and summarise information (all modules, but specifically RC3103).
  • Write in an academic manner (all modules, but specifically, RC3101).
  • Begin to reflect on their own learning and use feedback as part of this process (all modules).
  • Demonstrate independent learning (all modules).
  • Integrate a variety of information sources to develop academically and professionally (all modules).


FHEQ Level 4

  • Demonstrate an ability to present, evaluate and interpret both ecological and behavioural data of a qualitative and quantitative nature, with the view to utilise these to make informed judgments (RC4508)
  • Demonstrate different approaches to solving problems, specifically through the manipulation of data, experimental design and data collection, and application of knowledge towards effective conservation management practices (RC4508, RC4505, RC4507)


FHEQ Level 5

  • Utilise a range of approaches to undertake critical analysis of information pertaining to key topics in conservation biology and wildlife ecology, but also professional performance, and developing solutions to problems that may have arisen (RC5510, RC5505, RC5502, RC5508).
  • Develop an understanding of the limitations of their subject knowledge, and how this influences their own analysis and interpretation (RC5502, RC5508).


FHEQ Level 6

  • Develop an appreciation of ones own uncertainty, ambiguity and limitations of knowledge specific to themes in conservation biology and wildlife ecology (all modules)
  • Demonstrate an ability to critically evaluate the arguments, theories, assumptions, abstract concepts and scientific evidence (data) in order to make informed judgments, synthesize new knowledge and identify a range of appropriate solutions to a given problem(s), including those typically encountered within themes of scientific enquiry, ecology and conservation management (all modules)

All students should be expected to evidence the development and enhancement of practical and professional skills during their studies. Emphasis is primarily placed on the development of soft skills that can be transferred to the employment sector as a graduate (e.g. communication, time management and team working  skills, problem-solving abilities). Technical skills should be demonstrated specific to the discipline, and will include utilising a variety of platforms to communicate research, show competencies in the handling, management and interpretation of data, use of information technology in a variety of formats to create, design, analyse and report, and reflect on their own learning and performance with the view to enhance their own abilities. Therefore, upon successful completion of this programme, students should be able to:

Level 3:

  • Retrieve and collate information from a variety of sources (all modules, but specifically RC3101 & RC3103).
  • Use proficient reading and writing skills in preparation for the next level of study (all modules).
  • Demonstrate ability in Life Sciences applications (all modules).
  • Present computing and numerical skill in the production of their assessed work (all modules, but specifically RC3101 & RC3103).
  • Work with others for problem-solving activities (all modules)


FHEQ Level 4

  • Undertake practical training in the development of newly acquired skills specific to the census and survey of a range of wildlife species, species identification and laboratory work (RC4507, RC4511, RC4509, RC4506)
  • Demonstrate an ability to present, evaluate and interpret both ecological and behavioural data of a qualitative and quantitative nature, with the view to utilise these to make informed judgments (RC4508)
  • Demonstrate an ability to evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to problem solving, specific to both generic academic practices (revision techniques, approaches to coursework completion, team work etc) and also discipline based practices (selection of appropriate survey techniques, experimental design and statistical analyses etc) (RC4508, RC4507)


FHEQ Level 5

  • Undertake training to  develop existing skills and acquire new competencies that will afford some significant responsibility, including the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS), project management, further laboratory skills and the ability to self-reflect and support one-self in context with an industry-relevant placement (RC5509, RC5503, RC5502, RC5508).
  • Use a range of techniques to undertake critical analysis of information, and to propose a solution to the problems arising from that analysis (RC5509, RC5502, RC5508).


FHEQ Level 6

  • Demonstrate an ability to deploy a range of established techniques, including skills utilised within the laboratory, species identification, survey skills and the collection of data, experimental design and data analysis (RC6506)
  • Demonstrate an ability to manage ones own learning, and to make use of primary sources of literature to formulate new ideas and draw conclusions (all modules)


Upon successful completion of this programme, students should be able to:

Level 3:

  • Communicate the ideas of others and their own ideas in an academic format (all modules, but specifically RC3101).
  • Use IT applications effectively for research and presentation purposes (RC3101, RC3103, RC3104).
  • Discuss and debate relevant topics and ideas as part of the learning process (all modules).
  • Convert researched information to a summarised form (all modules, but specifically RC3101 & RC3103).


FHEQ Level 4

  • Demonstrate an ability to present, evaluate and interpret both ecological and behavioural data of a qualitative and quantitative nature, with the view to utilise these to make informed judgments (RC4508, RC4505)


FHEQ Level 5

  • Effectively communicate information, arguments and analysis to a range of audiences (all modules)


FHEQ Level 6

  • Communicate information, ideas and problems to a range of audiences (all modules)

The programme is designed to facilitate the development of academic knowledge and understanding of fundamental principles of ecology and conservation, with a particular emphasis on the development of transferable, work-related skills and their application in a work-based environment.

The curriculum has four distinct levels of study consisting primarily of core modules in fundamental principles of biology, ecology, conservation and academic study in the animal sciences, but also optional modules that feature later in the programme, which allow for more specialist pathways to be developed.  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 3000 word-equivalent basis at Level 3, which increases to 4000 word-equivalent for subsequent levels, using a variety of assessment strategies such as presentations, discussion groups, scientific reports and examinations.

The development of the programme reflects level-related characteristics, as indicated in the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications [with exception to Level 3].  In respect of subject knowledge, emphasis at Level 3 regards students building an elementary knowledge of biological principles, primarily concerning students ability to "articulate" and "explain". 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. 

Level 3

Level 3 study requires students to study six mandatory modules that are designed for students to articulate the underpinning principles of a range of core disciplines, including that of Environmental Sciences, Animal Husbandry, Animal Sciences, and Form & Function. Specifically, these modules ensure that students develop and possess a well-rounded knowledge of a range of disciplines, all of which have further applications to a range of modules studied throughout the programme at levels 4-6. For example, the inclusion of the RC3101 and RC3103 modules allows for good scientific practices to be instilled and encouraged from the outset (e.g. research design, scientific writing skills, data handling & analysis). The underpinning knowledge/skills developed within these modules are intended to be reinforced and enhanced throughout subsequent levels of study through the likes of RC4508 Observation Techniques & Data Handling and RC5509 Research Methods, with the view that competencies developed through Levels 3-5 can thus be applied effectively when completing final year Dissertations (RC6506).

Furthermore, emphasis at Level 3 study will also be placed on instilling practical competencies within our learners, specifically that of skills in Animal Husbandry (RC3104). Ones ability to be able to competently handle and restrain animals, but also to devise and follow stringent husbandry protocols, is a vital asset to the animal management sector, and should not be underestimated as a highly desirable employability characteristic with many applications including the capture/restraint of animals for data collection, but also general ex-situ captive animal management.

In summary, the development of the module structure at Level 3 will ensure students develop the transferable academic skills and know-how required for application throughout the remainder of the programme and beyond towards employment within the industry or further academic study.

Level 4 

The modules at Level 4 provide a comprehensive review of key concepts and skills for a range of students. Students undertake six core modules exclusively at this level, to ensure that students develop grounded knowledge of the fundamental principles, skills and concepts necessary for the study of conservation and ecology. Of paramount importance here, is the development of core technical skills in the survey and censusing of a range of biological taxa in module RC4507, but also the exploration of scientific research, its applications and the command of experimental design and statistical analysis through module RC4508. In addition further emphasis is placed on developing core academic skills (e.g. scientific writing, presenting/communicating research and referencing in accordance to a prescribed style), which are expected to be applied across many areas of study as the progress towards Levels 5 & 6.

Level 5

Level 5  requires students to study three core modules and select three optional module. The study of modules at Level 5 involves far greater detail and depth of knowledge to reinforce existing knowledge and further enhance key concepts and skills.  Core modules at Level 5 includes Research Methods (RC5509) and Population & Community Ecology & Management (RC5505), both of which are in keeping with relevant themes studied at Level 4. In addition, students are obliged to undertake a module in Wildlife Health & Rehabilitation (RC5506). Students then have the option of undertaking a module in either Behavioural Ecology (RC5510), or alternatively Technological Advancements in Conservation (RC5507). The latter option places a great deal of emphasis on developing transferable skills in the use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) among other evolving technologies utilised in the field. Study at Level 5 culminates with students taking either an international field course, as part of the Experiential Learning (EL) module (RC5508), or alternatively a UK based placement in partial completion of the Work Based Learning for the Land Based Industries (WBL) module (RC5502); all 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 EL and WBL will form an integral part of the programme in developing students in a professional capacity.  

Students that select EL will have the option to undertake field studies in several overseas locations, including Southern Africa and/or South America. The College and University would expect selection to be driven by personal circumstances, yet may also be a reflection of the student's intended career path. Likewise, should personal circumstances dictate that students cannot complete a field course, WBL would form a suitable alternative whereby students may opt for a placement directly relevant to their career aspirations. Typically, the WBL Office staff will liaise with students and,with the agreement of the WBL Office at the University, will make their own arrangements where appropriate. Experiential Learning will be delivered via Reaseheath College should students wish to undertake one of the field courses on offer.

Level 6

Modules at Level 6 of the programme are directed towards developing academic expertise and professional skills within the conservation sector. Students are required to study a single core module, in this case Applied Issues in Wildlife Conservation (RC6502), with the opportunity to select one of three optional module provided by Reaseheath College, either the Biology & Conservation of Herpetofauna (RC6503)/Mammals (RC6504)/Aquatic Organisms (RC6510)/or Birds (RC6501).

Central to study at Level 6 is the ability for students to undertake independent research. To facilitate this, students are expected to select a 40 credit Dissertation (RC6506) module.  The dissertation module allows students to focus on individual research interests, and will require them to utilise advanced knowledge and understanding, as well as practical skills, in conservation and ecology .

Furthermore, students will be expected to select a further two modules from a suite that includes highly specialised topics, for example, Scientific Communications & Zoo Education (RC6512), Marine Ecosystems: Policy & Management (RC6513), Applications of Animal Behaviour for Conservation (RC6514) and Wildlife in the Media (RC6516).  The development of subject specialism at Level 6 will support the transition to a particular area of employment within conservation biology.

The programme structure herein endeavours to provide learners with clear module combinations and themed pathways with which to allow them to develop and enhance core transferable skills relevant to the industry, but also to select modular pathways that resonates with their career aspirations and specialist interests. For example, the programme structure ensures our students continually develop their skills in scientific enquiry, experimental design, data collection and analysis through undertaking Observation Techniques & Data Handling at Level 4, and Research Methods at Level 5. It is envisaged that undertaking this pathway of study will prime the students with the skills necessary to successfully complete an independent piece of research through the Dissertation module.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
RC3101 0 Academic Skills for the Animal Sciences 20 Comp
RC3102 0 Introduction to Environmental Science 20 Comp
RC3103 0 Introduction to Data Handling & Analysis 20 Comp
RC3104 0 Practical Skills in Animal Husbandry 20 Comp
RC3105 0 Scientific Principles in the Animal Sciences 20 Comp
RC3106 0 Animal Form & Function 20 Comp
RC4509 4 Principles of Evolutionary Biology 20 Comp
RC4511 4 Wildlife Ecology 20 Comp
RC5502 5 Work Based Learning for the Land Based Industries 20 Optional
RC5507 5 Technological Advancements in Conservation 20 Optional
RC5508 5 Experiential Learning 20 Optional
RC5509 5 Research Methods 20 Comp
RC5510 5 Behavioural Ecology 20 Optional
RC6501 6 Biology & Conservation of Birds 20 Optional
RC6506 6 Dissertation at Reaseheath 40 Comp
RC6508 6 Research Project at RHC 20 N/A
RC6512 6 Scientific Communication & Zoo Education 20 Optional
RC6513 6 Marine Ecosystems: Policy & Management 20 N/A
RC6514 6 Applications of Animal Behaviour for Conservation 20 Optional
RC6516 6 Wildlife in the Media 20 Optional

120 Credits at Level 3 entitles the student to a Foundation Certificate in Animal Sciences

240 Credits by the end of Level 4 entitles the student to a Certificate of Higher Education

360 Credits by the end of Level 5 entitles the student to a Diploma of Higher Education

480 Credits by the end of Level 6 entitles the student to a Bachelor’s Degree in Wildlife Conservation & Ecology



For entry at Level 3, a minimum of 72 UCAS points are required, from one of the following pathways:

  • GCE A Levels: combination of 72 points equivalent (Grades A-E)
  • BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma: MMP
  • BTEC Level 3 Diploma:DM
  • City & Guilds Level 3 Extended Diploma: M
  • City & Guilds Level 3 Diploma: D
  • International Baccalaureate: 24 points
  • Irish Highers/Scottish Highers: CCDD

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.

Please note: certain courses may require students to have studied a specific subject at GCE A level (or acceptable alternatives) e.g. Biology, Maths or Chemistry, or GCSE Maths at grade C.


Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL), Accreditation of Certified Learning (APCL) and Accreditation of Experiential Learning (APEL) 

Appropriate consideration will be given to applicants previously certified and/or being assessed for award classification within an accepted biological/life science discipline.  Similarly, any applicant who has not received certification for prior learning experiences, but has worked within the discipline, will also be considered. Acceptable work-based experience could include one, or a combination of several, of the following: consultancy, rehabilitation, park/reserve warden, countryside management, pest control, environmental protection.

The University will assess whether the learning derived from experience and/or prior certificated study is equivalent to that of the learning derived from the programme of study.  This evidence may include a combination of skills and learning outcomes, in addition to the level and relevance of the subject knowledge and understanding to be evidenced by the applicant. Prior accredited learning must be supported by a transcript indicating the number, and level, of credits, achieved, and the titles of the courses for which they were awarded.

An applicant not accredited on a certificate or transcript, would be asked to map their experience against the module, and/or programme learning outcomes, to provide a clear, evidenced paper submission.  Conversely, applications stating certified learning experience must be accompanied by the certificate awarded for the qualification. In most cases, these must have been achieved within five years of the date of application.

The Biosciences (2015) benchmark statement has been used as an important reference point in the construction of the programme’s learning outcomes, knowledge, skills and content together with the methods of learning, teaching and assessment. 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 acquired by the biosciences graduate which reflects the demands of a buoyant employment market (The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education 2015, Biosciences). 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. Within these domains, examples of topics to be covered (as suggested by the QAA benchmark statement) include:

  • Generic Standards: the accessing, manipulation and interpretation of primary sources of research; planning and execution of independent work, including hypothesis testing, data collection, and data analysis; demonstrating time management, problem solving and advanced numerical skills; demonstrating strategies for maintaining and enhancing knowledge and skills in the biosciences.
  • Molecular Biology: structure & function of both unicellular and multi-cellular organisms; molecular basis of genetics; the structure, arrangement, expression and regulation of genes; properties of cell types reflecting on their suitability for biological function.
  • Organisms: structure and diversity of organisms, physiology and mechansism for life processes, classification and taxonomy, interactions between organisms and their environment.
  • Ecological and Environmental Biology: biochemical pathways, nutrient and energy flow, structure of ecosystems and associated processes, biogeography and other distributional patterns, population processes and dynamics, biodiversity and community structure, human interactions and subsequent environmental impacts.

The topics described above are all introduced at Level 4 and subsequently enhanced at either Level 5 or Level 6. It is expected by the QAA that more specialised areas will be offered, especially at higher levels of study, and there is provision for this in the non-core modules. Specific research based topics are specifically developed within modules at levels 4 and 5, with the view that students can apply these skills as appropriate during completion of the dissertation or research project modules, in addition to other project work.

Applied modules enable students to utilise the myriad of concepts and perspectives to compare, contrast, analyse and critique, to inform new knowledge and to problem solve. Students will be expected to engage in a number of platforms whereby these skills underpin the philosophy of the module. An example of this can be seen in the RC6502 Applied Issue in Wildlife Conservation module, whereby students undertake a number of topical seminars to discuss a range of contemporary issues at the forefront of the discipline, where they are charged with devising viable solutions to problems posed. 

The more generic "soft" skills identified in the benchmark statements, including time management, reflective practice, team work, communication, use of data, information technology, information retrieval and presentation, are all explicitly embedded in the majority of modules presented within the programmes, either assessed formatively through classroom based activities, or alternatively through components of assessment. Furthermore, such skills are enhanced through the provision of a non-credited "Study skills" session, which comprises a dedicated additional hour on the weekly timetable that provides students with opportunity to further develop transferable skills.

Students will encounter a broad range of teaching and learning experiences across all levels of study as befits the subject matter. Methods of teaching and learning are indicated clearly in each module descriptor and the list below describes the variety of approaches used by tutors.

A distinctive feature of this programme is the fact that it capitalises on the strong links between the University of Chester and Reaseheath College. The majority of modules  are taught at Reaseheath College and make use of their extensive rural campus and animal collection facilities. A bus is provided for students who will be travelling one day per week between the two campuses.


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.

Practical classes/Fieldwork

The majority 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 (e.g. surveying techniques and census skills; handling animals and restraint equipment). 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 the application of practical techniques developed at Levels 4 and 5, for example, survey and census skills, Geographical Information Systems (GIS) skills and/or use of statistical analysis software.


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 practise 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.   

Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)

The University has a VLE (Portal/Moodle)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 the VLE interface for making additional support materials available for students.

Directed reading

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. Primary reference lists, comprising key texts, can be found in the module descriptors, which form the centre point of any module. Additional reading is also provided in the module handbooks to promote further reading around the subject area.

Group work

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.  

In the main, teaching and learning activities take place on the campus.  Timetabling is arranged centrally, except for individual tutorials. There is some flexibility for students to change groups for laboratory classes and group tutorials to suit part-time students and those who have family commitments or transport difficulties. This is in accordance with the University's widening access and participation strategy.  It is possible for all students to access support materials at home via the ‘Sharepoint Portal'.

Independent research 

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.


Assessment Criteria 

The University's over-arching level-related criteria are a key reference when designing modular assessments. Therefore, progression towards more complex and involved assessments, that require greater levels of study autonomy and greater levels of critical analysis, underpins the overall assessment strategy of the programme.   

In addition, all students who pass any part of a degree are expected to possess such basic skills as the ability to make use of numerical and statistical information; the ability to locate internet sites from given web addresses; the ability to send and receive e-mail messages; the ability to use basic software packages such as Word; the ability to perform basic searches on standard electronic retrieval systems, and the ability to write legibly. Students who succeed at Level 4 and above should be able to construct an essay using correct grammar, spelling and referencing according to the American Psychological Association (APA) system of referencing.

In the preparation of coursework, which can include essays, laboratory/field exercises and presentation, students are given time and scope to present their work in a variety of modes, particularly where an examination would be inappropriate.  However, the institutions are aware that examnations have an important role to play in summative assessment, and give academic credibility to the degree programme. 

The programme uses a wide range of forms of assessment including:

  • Essays and written assignments - testing the ability to write within word limits, convey ideas with clarity and accuracy, reference to an academic standard and the ability to conduct private study and research.
  • Oral presentations - testing presentation skills, the ability to discuss issues with clarity and respond to questions.
  • Dissertation - testing the ability to conduct individual primary research and communicate ideas and information effectively in an academic manner and within word limits.
  • Portfolio - testing the ability to acquire key survey and census skills, analyse ecological data and present material in a clear, effective manner
  • Short-based seminar exercises
  • Reading of academic texts and discussion exercises
  • Close analysis of texts
  • Literature reviews
  • Critical Reviews
  • Online multiple-choice and short answer exams

Formative assessment and feedback

All students receive written comments on assessed components of work and additional feedback on the work is given more informally by individual tutors during group workshops and one-to-one tutorials. Additionally, some tutors have adopted the use of GradeMark software by which to provide more timely feedback to students.  Formative feedback is an important and essential component of all taught modules. The nature of the assessment and feedback varies from module to module but typically takes the form of a written assignment done under time constraints, marked by the module tutor. Formative feedback is staggered throughout the year. The programme also makes use of on-line formative feedback in the form of electronic marking and self-evaluation forms

Reassessment Methods   

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 the resubmission of all failed component(s) of the modular assessment strategy. Here students will be expected to resubmit the coursework or re-sit the exam in its original format, albeit using a different perspective or suite of questions.

The programme is designed to equip graduates with the necessary knowledge and practical (transferable) skills to embark on careers within the areas of animal handling and welfare, conservation, teaching, further training for specialist careers or postgraduate studies. Whilst it is expected that many students in each cohort will initially embark on such career pathways, the embedded transferable skills throughout the programme make the graduate highly employable in a variety of directions. The degree will also enable students to progress to postgraduate programmes, including wildlife biology, conservation genetics, and ecological and conservation management.

Careers in conservation science and ecology fall into the following areas:

Environmental consultancy, conservation primary research, game keeper, reserve warden, park ranger,  zoologist,  pest control, ornithologist, wildlife rehabilitators, wildlife biologist, technical support, journalism, farm management,  education officers, countryside managers, animal behaviourist.

For students undertaking study in this programme,  the general graduate level characteristics listed earlier will stand them in good stead. More specifically, the following attributes fostered in this programme should be of use to students in many careers.

Graduates would be able to display the following key competencies:

    • Write and communicate coherently, logically and with a style and format appropriate to audience
    • Examine evidence and evaluate arguments, synthesising new information
    • Collect, present and draw consistent conclusions from ecological data
    • Apply a critically and theoretically informed perspective to relevant issues and current developments in conservation and environmental science
    • Apply and evaluate a scientific approach to academic study
    • Adopt appropriate team work, problem-solving, communication. Presentation and advanced ICT skills
    • Plan and implement an appropriate research project, and critically reflect on their practice

Both Reaseheath College and the University of Chester are committed to the active promotion of equality of opportunity.  Both institutions seeks to ensure that no student is disadvantaged or discriminated against on the grounds of: gender; age; marital or parental status; 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 delivery is 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 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 also enhances equal opportunity, fairness and independence 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 roles with knowledge and sympathy and all students are made aware of both institutional Department structures to discuss issues should a concern arise. 

Reaseheath College offers specific support for students with specified learning needs, encompassing all physical abilities, in conjunction with the Higher Education Support Team (HEST) on campus.  In collaboration with student support services, and safeguarding task groups, the college's equality and diversity policy aims to ensure that all students and all members of staff at the College have equality of opportunity and are treated solely on the basis of their aptitude, ability and potential to pursue a course of study or to fulfill the requirements of a job. The policy also aims to eliminate discrimination, which is unlawful or unfair.

The programme places emphasis on the development of key transferable skills, as required by representatives of the industry. Most notably focus is geared towards the enhancement of basic skills, for example, species identification and survey techniques; towards more complex skills derived from basic understanding and knowledge of the subject (i.e. problem solving in conservation, conservation management and critical thinking). Students should expect to develop and/or enhance these skills via a range of pathways. Students regularly undertake practical survey work at Levels 3 & 4 to lay the foundations of field ecology, experimental design and analytical skills. Furthermore, students engage in a bi-directional, interactive mode of learning through seminar discussions, group work and lectures. The programme team are committed to providing additional opportunities that may fall outside the scope of the programme, again with the view to enhance employability and promote self-discovery. As a result, students regularly undertake field trips, off-site visits and overseas study tours to help consolidate the learning that occurs in class.

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