KE6023 - Applied Ecology and Conservation Management

What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will explore the policies and practice of conservation, using examples from around the world. You will find out how the conservation value of a site is assessed in the UK (and in other countries), how to map a river for ecologically sensitive engineering, how climate change is affecting the distribution of species and habitats and the challenges of managing a site for conservation and other conflicting uses. The module combines professional practice focused on careers and challenging contemporary ideas.

Recent reviews of professionals working the fields of conservation and environmental management (Ecological Skills: shaping the profession for the 21st Century, IEEM 2011 and CIEEM 2017) identified the need for graduates who are able to undertake standard ecological surveys of sites and make recommendations for habitat and species management. This module is designed to help you develop these practical and employment related skills.

The teaching will focus on building your practice-based expertise, the confidence to make judgements and how to implement standard methods such National Vegetation Classification, Phase 1 mapping and rarity classifications (UK and international equivalents) that are essential skills for a career in this field. The topics are all based on the research rich expertise of the teaching staff with workshops based on techniques and strategies you need to know to work in the profession of conservation. At the heart of the module is the global biodiversity crisis, concepts of biodiversity (genetic biodiversity, species biodiversity, community biodiversity, habitat diversity), and how the conservation professions approach challenges such as assessing vulnerability and rarity or choosing sites for conservation. You will explore major causes of biodiversity loss with examples from the UK and beyond. Workshops build expertise and confidence in professional skills such as the principles of biological classification and taxonomy and the use of biological keys along with standard UK field methods such as River Habitat Survey and Phase 1 mapping (or international equivalents). Coursework assignments are based on authentic challenges faced by professionals working in conservation, such as what criteria should be used to designate conservation sites such as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (or international equivalent). You will research and develop a site a management plan, with an external partner organisation. The overall aim is to equip you with the expertise, skills and confidence to work in wildlife conservation.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through lectures, workshops, practical management and independent learning.

The timetabled sessions mix lectures, workshops and mini field trips. Your lectures will focus on research rich examples of contemporary practice and challenges for nature conservation, combined with workshops giving you the experience of working data collection and interpretation. Mini-field trips will take you out to local sites to gain first-hand experience of nature conservation site assessment. Your coursework puts you in the role of a nature conservation professional, using real data to make decisions about sites, an “assessment for learning approach” encouraging you to practice skills and build confidence.

Teaching staff operate an ‘open door’ policy for students meaning you can approach them anytime during normal office hours, or via email, to answer questions, receive feedback and support your learning on the module.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

You will be supported by feedback from the tutors, including timetable formative feedback session so you can get advice on coursework before you hand it in. In addition the tutors will respond to individual questions via our open door policy and email.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:

Please note that this is an indicative list of key texts only. You will be provided with additional weekly reading lists covering more specialist, topic-based material aligned with the module teaching programme.

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:

You will be able to
• MLO 1: To critically review survey methods, design and undertake standard baseline site surveys.
• MLO 2: To research ecological problems in the field using a range of tools, to evaluate the results of these surveys and reach justified conclusion grounded in ecological and conservation theory.
• MLO 3: Critically review ecological, environmental, legal, social and economic information to develop practical sustainable management solutions.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• MLO 4: Use, apply and critically assess subject-specialist techniques of data analysis and presentation e.g. Population modelling, nature reserve (SSSI or equivalent) selection, Habitat surveys and classification, UK NVC and Phase 1 mapping (or international equivalents), River Habitat Survey, River Corridor Mapping along with widely applicable professional skills of report writing, data handling and presentation.

These skills and methods have been chosen to underpin your employability, both in the precise detail of their use and the confidence gained from experience of using them

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):
• MLO 5: You will demonstrate professional competencies and a critical, inquisitive and nuanced approach to the conservation of biodiversity, in particular an awareness that people are the key.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed using two summative assessments: one piece of coursework and one seen exam.

Assessment 1 puts you in the position of a conservation officer tasked with making decisions about sites. This will require self-organised field data collection. This helps reinforce understanding of designations (MLO2), professional methods (MLO1, 2) and above all a willingness to make decisions (MLO5). The assessment uses real data and a “discovery-based” RRT approach (MLO4). Summative feedback is provided by individual feedback written directly onto the finished report, a standard summary pro-forma providing generic comments and a pro-forma checklist given out as part of the assessment brief rehearsing the coverage of each item. (50% of module mark)

Assessment 2 tasks you with analysing and reporting on anthropogenic impacts such as habitat loss and fragmentation on natural ecosystems and native biodiversity. This will require analysis of authentic data for real natural environments, addressing MLO2 and 3. Again this requires active research and the ability to critically assess and report results (MLO4). Summative feedback is provided by individual feedback written directly onto the finished report, a standard summary pro-forma providing generic comments and a pro-forma checklist given out as part of the assessment brief rehearsing the coverage of each item. (50% of module mark)


KE5014 Fundamentals of Ecology



Module abstract

Elephants are wise and charismatic, aware of their own mortality. Alternatively, they are large and dangerous, so why not shoot a few to raise money for conservation?

Wildlife conservation is a challenging mixture of scientific enquiry and professional judgement. This module will give you the expertise, skills and confidence to work in conservation and make a difference for the future of the planet. All the teaching and assessment is research rich, drawing not only on staff expertise but also encouraging you to see yourselves as conservation professionals. The module builds on advice from employers and makes an ideal link with dissertations and placements. We have many graduates working in conservation, with the RSPB, Environment Agency, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, local government, Wildlife Trust and consultancies. This module is a powerful stepping stone into these rewarding careers.

Course info

UCAS Code F800

Credits 20

Level of Study Undergraduate

Mode of Study 3 years Full Time or 4 years with a placement (sandwich)/study abroad

Department Geography and Environmental Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024 or September 2025

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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