University of Chester

Programme Specification
Countryside Resource Management FDS
2017 - 2018

Foundation Science Degree

Countryside Resource Management

Countryside Resource Management (Reaseheath)

University of Chester

Reaseheath College

Reaseheath College

Undergraduate Modular Programme


Classroom / Laboratory, Distance, Work-Based inc.(practice / placement)

3 years

5 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences Biological Sciences

Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences and Environmental Studies ES3

October 2014


Biological Sciences

Monday 5th December 2016

The educational aims of the FdSc Countryside Resource Management are as follows:

  • To provide a high quality academic and practical programme of study in Countryside Resource Management, with learning opportunities for students from a variety of backgrounds. 
  • To provide students with the knowledge, understanding and skills employers in related industries need, using teaching, learning and assessment strategies that develop professional experience concurrent with academic development.
  • To offer flexible delivery modes and study patterns to meet the needs of students from a variety of backgrounds and employment patterns.
  • To provide a programme that remains relevant, valid and responsive to the needs of employers and students, by maintaining and expanding effective partnerships with students, employers and professional bodies.
  • To provide a degree programme that provides students with the academic skills and confidence to engage in further learning throughout their lives.
  • To foster employability skills to include self-management, team working, problem-solving, communication and literacy, application of numeracy, application of information technology.

On completion of the Programme students should be able to:

FHEQ Level 4

  • Demonstrate a systematic and rigorous approach to academic study (all modules)
  • To demonstrate new transferable skills specific to academic study (e.g. scientific writing), scientific enquiry (e.g. project design) and professional practice that can be applied in areas of further study (RC4208
  • Use relevant techniques for collecting, analysing and presenting data (RC4208)
  • Carry out ecological surveys and present the findings in a coherent fashion. (RC4810)
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the underlying technical, economic and managerial principles of countryside management applicable to careers in countryside management. (RC4811)
  • Demonstrate the ability to undertake practical tasks in relation to the natural environment and visitor management projects. (RC4812)

FHEQ Level 5

  • Demonstrate a comprehensive knowledge and critical understanding of relevant theories and concepts in the fields of countryside resource management and how these interlink (all modules)
  • Demonstrate a coherent approach to to identifying and prioritising action on environmental issues in the countryside (RC5816)
  • Demonstrate an appreciation of the wider environmental, economic and social issues associated with countryside management. (RC5815)
  • Demonstrate an ability to identify and review professional, technical and economic problems encountered in countryside management. (RC5817)
  • Demonstrate the capability for designing, implementing and reviewing independent projects. (RC5810, RC5814)

Core cognitive skills are expected to be evidenced throughout the two 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 synthesise new knowledge. Therefore, upon successful completion of this programme, students should be able to:

FHEQ Level 4

  • Demonstrate those skills of professional scholarship required for career management, lifelong learning and innovation. (all modules)
  • Demonstrate an ability to collect, select and critically evaluate information from a range of sources (all modules)
  • Manipulate and interpret complex sets of data, assess their reliability and present them in an appropriate format (RC4208)

FHEQ Level 5

  • Utilise a range of approaches to undertake critical analysis of information relating to countryside resource mangement, professional practice and problems that may have arisen (RC5817)
  • Carry out investigative projects to a given deadline (RC5810)

All students should be expected to evidence the development and enhancement of practical and professional skills during their studies. These include both soft skills that can be transferred to the employment sector as a graduate such as time management, communication, team-working skills and problem solving.

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:

FHEQ Level 4

  • Produce management plans which will minimise environmental impacts and hazards and increase biodiversity (RC4811)
  • Carry out practical tasks to maintain and enhance semi-natural habitats (RC4810)
  • Have the opportunity to undergo training on chainsaw maintenance and cross-cutting (RC4812) with an opportunity to obtain the National Proficiency Test Certificate (NPTC)  award, CS30, which is the industry standard for the safe use of such equipment.

FHEQ Level 5

  • Produce management plans which will minimise environmental impacts and hazards and increase biodiversity (RC5809)
  • Survey and assess natural and semi-natural resources in the countryside (RC5811)
  • Assess and balance competing demands for the use of rural resources, whilst being sensitive to environmental, social and economic considerations (RC5815, RC5817)

Students should develop their professional communication skills with emphasis on being able to accurately and concisely impart technical information in a format accessible to a range of audiences.  Upon successful completion of this programme, students should be able to:

FHEQ Level 4

  • Demonstrate an ability to present, evaluate and interpret data of a qualitative or quantitative nature, with a view to communicate these to a variety of audiences (RC4208 , RC4810 , RC4813)
  • Demonstrate an ability to from evidence based arguments to inform management practices (RC4810, RC4811)

FHEQ Level 5

  • Effectively communicate information, arguments and analysis to a range of audiences (all modules)
  • Communicate effectively with clients, colleagues and other people involved in rural occupations and professions, along with members of the public (RC5815, RC 5817)

The FdSc Countryside Resource Management programme is designed to meet  the needs of students and employers and the part-time evening mode of delivery encourages widened participation. The programme aims to provide a broad based curriculum covering all aspects of countryside resource management.

The programme is designed so that academic knowledge and understanding underpin the development of work-related skills and their application in a work-based environment. The curriculum is designed around a programme core of knowledge, understanding and skills in countryside resource management. At Level 4 the modules underpin the programme with modules exploring the identification of British plants and animals. The fundamentals of ecology are examined to demonstrate how scientific approaches are essential when planning and undertaking habitat work. The course progresses to examine the major classes of habitats found in the British Isles and how management plans are drawn up. Throughout the year students carry out voluntary work within the sector, allowing them to develop practical skills, see examples of habitat work and develop a network of contacts beneficial when pursuing a career within the sector.

This basic level of knowledge is used to provide a foundation for a more detailed exploration of countryside management themes at Level 5. There is a greater emphasis on research based material and problem solving. Students undertake two individual projects at this level which are research-based and may include primary data collection.

Within the programme students are expected to undertake 120 credits per level of study. Modules each have a value of 15 credits. Modules are assessed  using a variety of assessment strategies such as presentations, written reports and examinations.

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-specific characteristics are embedded in the learning outcomes of the programme. 

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 further study of countryside resource management.  

These include modules in Organism Identification (RC4808), Ecological Science (RC4810), Habitat Management (RC4811), Work Based Learning 1 (RC4809) together with the generic Academic Skills Develepment module (RC4208). Year 2 modules at level 4 include Ecological Survey Techniques (RC4811), Practical Task Management (RC4812) and Conservation Agriculture (RC4813).

Level 4 modules are designed to give students a good introduction to normal behaviour, basic training techniques and understanding of the role the dog plays in todays society. 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 Level 5. 

Level 5

Level 5  modules involve far greater detail and depth of knowledge to reinforce existing knowledge and further enhance key concepts and skills. Modules at level 5 include Woodland Resource Management (RC5809), Game Management (RC5812), Interpreting the Environment (RC5813), Visitor Management (RC5815), Environmental Issues (RC5816), Integrated Environmental Management (RC5817) and the 2 work based projects (RC5810, RC5814).

These modules are designed to give students more understanding of the management of various types of habitat along with the range of challenges and competing demands made upon land resources. These also examine how conflicting demands are managed along with the opportunities that Countryside Management can offer to the physical and mental health of the wider community.

In addition students will have the opportunity to receive instruction in the use and maintenance of chainsaws and if desired, a chance to sit the industry standard National Proficiency Test council (NPTC) award CS30. This will add to their practical skillset and put them in a stronger position to be better prepared to embark on a career in Countryside Management.

Overall, the emphasis of this programme is placed upon the development of knowledge transfer but also technical and practical skills. It pulls together the academic expertise of staff, which together with the extensive Countryside facilities at Reaseheath, enable us to deliver high-quality academic and applied programmes of study. 

Employability skills should be a core part of a student’s University experience and. Employability skills encompass the attributes that help graduates to secure employment, enable them to respond to the changing demands of the workplace and contribute positively to their employer’s success. Their own progress in these skills is therefore essential as an outcomes in the programmes of study. Employability skills include self-management, team work, business and customer awareness, problem-solving, communication and literacy, application of numeracy, and application of information technology.

The normal pattern of progression is as listed in the table below:

 Year 1  Year 2  Year 3


Organism Identification


Ecological Survey Techniques 


Game Management


Academic Skills Development


Practical Task Management


Interpreting the Environment


Work Based Learning 1


Conservation Agriculture


Work Based Project 2


Ecological Sciences


Work Based Project 1


Visitor Management


Management of British Habitats


Woodland Resource Management


Environmental Issues




Integrated Environmental Management

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
RC4208 4 Academic Skills Development 15 Comp
RC4808 4 Organism Identification 15 Comp
RC4809 4 Work Based Learning 1 15 Comp
RC4810 4 Ecological Science 15 Comp
RC4811 4 Management of British Habitats 15 Comp
RC4812 4 Practical Task Management 15 Comp
RC4813 4 Conservation Agriculture 15 Comp
RC4814 4 Ecological Survey Techniques 15 Comp
RC5809 5 Woodland Resource Management 15 Comp
RC5810 5 Work Based Project 1 15 Comp
RC5812 5 Game Management 15 Comp
RC5813 5 Interpreting the Environment 15 Comp
RC5814 5 Work Based Project 2 15 Comp
RC5815 5 Visitor Management 15 Comp
RC5816 5 Environmental Issues 15 Comp
RC5817 5 Integrated Environmental Management 15 Comp

Level 4: modules are all 15 credits. A candidate who successfully completes level four will have accumulated 120 academic credit points, and will be eligible for the award of Certificate of Higher Education. These 120 academic credit points can be carried forward cumulatively towards the award of a Foundation degree.

Level 5: modules are all 15 credits. A candidate successfully completing level five will have accumulated 240 academic credit points, and will be eligible for the award of Foundation degree.



A minimum of 64 UCAS points

  • A Levels preferably including Biology (or related subject)
  • BTEC Level 3 (2 years) qualification at Merit in relevant subject
  • Access to HE Diploma

Mature students (aged 21+) will be considered on an individual basis.  Substantial work (at least 2 years full time employment undertaken) and/or life experience  will be considered as well as, or in place of, formal qualifications.


The Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences and Environmental Studies Benchmark (2014) 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.

"Each honours degree has its own characteristics, underpinned by a detailed rationale for its content, nature and organisation. While it is recognised that programmes vary considerably in the depth and specificity to which they treat subjects, it is anticipated that all graduates have appropriate knowledge of the main aspects of environmental studies, as listed." (The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education 2014.  Earth Sciences).

These particular sets of statements that have been referred to in the development of the programme and include the following:

  • a focus on understanding Earth systems in order to learn from the past, understand the present and influence the future. Students will examine the basics of Ecological Science and cover the inter-relationship between biotic and abiotic factors in an ecosystem
  •  an emphasis on practical (especially field-based) investigation. Field trips play an important role in the design of the programme and allow a variety of different locations to be visited in order to illustrate theoretical concepts. Organism Identification and Ecological Survey Techniques draw heavily on this approach.
  •  multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches. Integrated Environmental Management examines how many different governmental and non-governmental agencies work together to define and apply policy acroos the environment.
  •  working across a range of spatial and temporal scales. Ecological Science covers the geological and climactic changes that have shaped the current environment.
  •  the development of skills in observation and analysis to support decision making in the light of uncertainty. Habitat Management and Woodland Resource Management jointly examine how decisions may have to be based on incomplete or partial information.
  •  an appreciation of societal contribution and context. Environmental Issues specifically addresses the controversies and challenges facing land managers in the current climate. Visitor Management examines how Countryside Resources may be used for the enjoyment and recreation of the population together with the challenges that may bring to fragile or heavily visited sites.
  •  the development of professional skills for employability. All of the modules increase the knowledge base of the students, make them familiar with key scientific concepts and terminology. Practical skills are developed particularly through the Work Based Learning sections of the programme.

Foundation degrees are intended to offer university education closely linked to employment. The FdSc Countryside Resource Management programme has been designed for part-time study by people aspiring to careers in the Countryside industry and or looking for a career change. All modules have been designed for delivery as university-based for students able to attend part-time and where we can offer appropriate work-related experience via established links through key academic staff at Reaseheath College. The aims, learning outcomes and content have a core emphasis on the development of students’ cognitive, key and professional skills, and the application of academic knowledge and understanding in land based work settings.

All students will go through initial screening and diagnostic testing during induction to assess their current academic level and also identify any learning difficulties.  Where learning difficulties are suspected, students will be referred to the Higher Education Support Team (HEST) for further testing and allocation of required support.

Part-time students attending college 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.


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. Lectures will aim to be interactive and student focussed and will in themselves encompass a variety of classroom based activities. They will be further supplemented by a range of other methods of teaching and learning as described below.

Field Trips

The majority of modules at Levels 4 and 5 include field trips. These provide the opportunity for students to develop their practical skills (e.g. identifying plants and animals, undertake practical tasks in conservation, examining current practice in habitat management , developing survey techniques). An important aspect of practical work is the opportunity for students to engage in group work thus encouraging working with others. These practical skills are seen as essential for the credibility of the programme and employability of the students.

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. This will be particularly important for part-time / distance learning students who may be geographically diverse to ensure they have the same access to resources.

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. Reading has been designed to structure the students learning, developing from more accessible texts to detailed textbooks as the students progresses through the levels.

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. There two modules at Level 5 which are based around individual project work.

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/practical 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 examinations 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
  • Reports - covering a variety of structured styles, to summarise findings from investigations, reflect on practical activities or discuss approaches to case study
  • Oral presentations - testing presentation skills, the ability to discuss issues with clarity and respond to questions
  • Portfolio - testing the ability to acquire key survey and census skills, analyse  data and present material in a clear, effective manner
  • Reading of academic texts and discussion exercises
  • Close analysis of texts
  • Literature reviews
  • Critical Reviews
  • Short answer exams

Reassessment Methods   

Reassessment will address the learning outcomes of 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. 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.

On successful completion FdSc Countryside Management students will be able to :-

  • Develop and carry out management plans for relevant sites
  • Engage in aspects of Community liaison
  • Survey and assess natural and semi-natural resources in the countryside
  • Produce management plans which will minimise environmental impacts and hazards and increase biodiversity, whilst enabling where possible the enjoyment of the resource by the public
  • Carry out practical tasks to maintain and enhance natural and semi-natural habitats and to facilitate visitor management,
  • Communicate effectively with clients, colleagues, other people involved in rural occupations and professions, and members of the public
  • Understand the physical and human resources required to manage a  countryside organisation
  • Assess and balance competing demands for the use of rural resources
  • Understand the physical and human resources required to manage a  countryside organisation 

These skills will be developed through the delivery of all of the modules.

The generic Academic Skills Development Module (RC4208) encompasses a variety of reading, writing, numeracy and oral presentation skills.An oral presentation on a topic selected by the student contributes to the overall mark. The personal development component requires students to carry out a personal skills audit and devise a medium term plan to assist them move into the land based sector. Applying for a job within the sector is also part of the assignment brief for this module.

The Work Based Learning 1 (RC4809) module requires that a minimum of 100 hours vouluntary service is undertaken within the Countryside industry. This both allows the development of practical and identification skills but also fosters the development of professional contacts and a networking opportunity essential in order to gain employment within this sector. Assessment of this unit is by submission of a portfolio of evidence of tasks undertaken along with a report reviewing the experiences gained. This can be of value when applying for positions both to assist in completing an application form with relevant experience and to be available in an interview setting as proof that particular skills and experiences have been undertaken.

The Work Based Projects 1 and 2 (R5810, RC5814) provide a further opportunity to study an area of particular interest, that may have arisen during the volunteering sessions. It is designed to include a literature review along with the opportunity to carry out surveys of habitats, gather consumer data from visitors or include primary data collection on a particular species.

On many of the field trips there is an opportunity to engage with professionals working in Countryside Management and identify particular challenges associated with their role or specific site. In some instances we are able to visit locations run by former students of this course. This can be of great value in identifying what additional skills and experiences helped them move into that particular role.

Example career routes include

  • Working for the National Trust as a Ranger.
  • Working for a Local Authority as a Countryside Manager.
  • Working for Groundwork as a Ranger.
  • Working as an Ecological Surveyor.

Additionally, there is an opportunity for students to progress onto the Top Up BSc in Environmental Systems Management.

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 fulfil the requirements of a job. The policy also aims to eliminate discrimination, which is unlawful or unfair.

The college has dedicated resources for HE students, including an HE centre  consisting of lecture rooms, computer suites, quiet study areas and a social area including a café. All students will have access to the college VLE, which will be particularly important for distance learners. There are plans to further expand this facility due to growth of student numbers. In addition, HE students have access to the Higher Education Support Team, which provides specialist academic and the Wellbeing Team who offer pastoral support to meet the needs of HE learners.

Links to staff research or advanced professional practice activities:

Tutors on this programme continue to have an engagement with different specialist areas of the industry including countryside management, ecological surveying, forestry and arboriculture both previous to commencing employment at the College and continuing with the sectors as surveyors and consultants.

Some of the staff are still involved in undertaking research and publishing in papers in curriculum related industries.

Tutors involved in delivering on this programme are educated to postgraduate level and include :-

  • Peter Groom - MSc Environmental Management,
  •                        MA Experimental Archaeology,
  •                        PhD   Metholitic Archaeology
  • Leigh Cawley - PhD Nitrogen effects on Heathlands
  • Matthew Goodall - MSc Ecology
  • Susan Hatton -  MSc Environmental Conservation
  • Siobhan Smyth - MSc Countryside Management
  • Geoff Guy currently completing MSc in Outdoor Education focussing on interpretation and visitor engagement
  • Richard Sandland MB, ChB. Formerly member of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists.

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