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Unit information: Ecology in 2018/19

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Unit name Ecology
Unit code BIOL20012
Credit points 10
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2C (weeks 13 - 18)
Unit director Dr. Andy Wakefield
Open unit status Not open




School/department School of Biological Sciences
Faculty Faculty of Life Sciences


Ecology is the study of the distribution and abundance of organisms. It operates at three main levels, the community, the population and the individual and is studied by a variety of methods from natural history and field biology, to mathematical modelling and molecular techniques. The unit will provide a direct link between the ecology currently taught in the first year (in BIOL12000 Life Processes) and various units in the third year (including BIOL30009 Ecology of Food Production) and together they provide a logical ecological pathway through the Biology degree. A knowledge and understanding of ecological patterns and processes is key to understanding (and solving) the environmental problems such as global warming, feeding the world, energy production, the control of infectious disease and the restoration of damaged and degraded communities.

Intended learning outcomes

By the end of this course you should be able to:

  1. Describe some of the key concepts in ecology;
  2. Discuss some of the key ecological problems facing the world;
  3. Explain ecological patterns and processes;
  4. Appraise ecological papers from the scientific literature;
  5. Recognise the interdisciplinary nature of ecology;
  6. Analyse self-generated ecological data using appropriate techniques.

Teaching details

3 x 1 hour weekly lectures

3 x 3 hour lab/practicals

Self-directed learning week. Students are expected to spend this time on directed reading

Assessment Details

Continuous assessment which comprises of one formative practical report and one summative practical report (40% of unit mark; tests ILO 6).

End of session exam (60% of unit mark; tests ILOs 1-5).

Reading and References

Ecology, fourth edition, Begon Harper &Townsend. 2006.

Essentials of Ecology, fourth edition, Begon, Howarth & Townsend. 2014. (note that the third edition is also useful)