Consider the genetic effects of reduced population size, especially relating to the conservation of endangered species. You will study topics including genetic drift and inbreeding in depth, from theoretical and practical standpoints. You will spend around one and a half hours per week in lectures studying this module, plus a two and a half hour computer practical.
Arctic Ecology Field Course
The course will focus on the function of arctic ecosystems. We will identify key terrestrial ecosystem drivers and processes in order to gain a broad understanding of arctic areas. During the field course, you will put ecological methodology into practice. Working on projects that analyse landscape patterns and processes in different habitats. The course will also address climate change impacts on arctic ecosystems. You'll develop skills in ecological methodology, experimental design, data collection and analysis, interpretation and presentation. You are required to pay a contribution towards the cost of the field course.
Pollution Field Course
This one week field excursion aims to provide you with experience of a range of environmental pollution issues. Issues covered in the excursion include:
- soil acidification and forest decline/recovery
- contamination of soils and vegetation due to mining and air pollution
- biomonitoring using tree rings
- lignite mining and combustion, past and present
- particulate and gaseous air pollution
Field activities will be based in Barcelona. A series of field exercises involving sampling and observation will be undertaken, based on the key topics above. These will be followed up by laboratory sessions during which samples collected in the field will be processed and data analysis undertaken. The results will be presented during a seminar session where you will give short summary talks on the work undertaken during and after the field trip.
Students are required to pay a contribution towards the cost of the field course.
Tropical Ecology and Conservation
This module will introduce students to a range of topics relating to ecology and conservation, with a particular focus on the tropical context. During the course students will:
- Consider the threats and problems that tropical ecosystems and biodiversity are currently facing, including topics such as the impacts of climate change, land-use change, and exploitation of wildlife.
- Consider a range of possible approaches for conservation and more sustainable management. These will take into account ecological, socio-political, and economic factors, and will include a wide range of strategies such as habitat management, land-use planning, and policy change.
- Examine case studies detailing real-life example of problems and solutions, across a variety of tropical contexts.
Biological Photography and Imaging II
Extend and develop your skills of creative and critical biological photography through this advanced module. You will continue to develop the practice and experience gained in Biological Photography and Imaging 1. You are encouraged to demonstrate increasing expertise in selected subject areas and/or specialist photographic techniques such as digital imaging and manipulation (using Photoshop software), digital video photography and editing, ecological and environmental photography, landscapes, macro and long lens photography and specialist lighting. Field and studio work continue to be essential elements of the module. You will have around three hours of lectures per week studying this module.
Considers current knowledge of, and research into, the ecological causes and evolutionary processes that govern natural selection, adaptation and microevolution in natural populations. You will examine three approaches to the study of evolutionary ecology: theoretical and optimality models; the comparative method; and direct measurement of natural selection in the wild. You will have two-to three hours of lectures each week in this module.
Applied Bioethics 1: Animals, Biotechnology and Society
Animal-human interactions raise some prominent ethical issues. In this module, you’ll examine the ethical dimensions concerning animal agriculture, modern biotechnologies and research in the biosciences, in relation to both humans and non-human species. You’ll learn about the ethical frameworks used to analyse specific dilemmas raised by the human use of animals. Using specific animal and biotechnology case studies, you’ll interpret the main ethical theories and principles and apply them to the case studies to inform professional decision-making. You’ll have a mix of lectures and seminars to explore these concepts.
Plants and the Light Environment
How does light cause variation in crop yields? In this module, you’ll study the influence of the light environment on the physiology of native and crop species, extending from the cellular to community level. You’ll learn how to differentiate between different light signalling pathways in plants and demonstrate how these pathways function in plants. You’ll be able to explain how light is absorbed by plants to initiate energy transfer systems and to stimulate development and ultimately plant yield. You’ll then be able to apply your knowledge in understanding the causes of variations in crop yields and how these may be used to assist in the search for improved varieties and increased productivity in agricultural systems. You’ll have a mix of lectures, demonstrations and field trips to see what you’ve learnt in practice.
Plants and the Soil Environment
What happens below the ground that affects the water and nutrient uptake by plants? In this module, you’ll examine the acquisition of water and nutrients by plants in both agricultural and natural systems, and how plants interact with the soil environment. You’ll learn about the evolution of root adaptations which enable plants to thrive in environments with limited or excess water and nutrients. In an agricultural setting, you’ll explore how water and nutrient uptake by plants can be used to improve crop productivity and resource management, and use the practical study component to investigate new methods and technologies for below-ground phenotyping of roots. You’ll have a mix of lectures and computer-based practicals to gain a fundamental understanding of how water and nutrients are acquired by plants from the soil environment, and their influence on plant growth and development.
The module will focus on the processes that govern the interplay between the biosphere and geosphere. It will identify key events and processes in geological time which demonstrate the geological consequences of evolution. Students will gain understanding of the mechanisms that control changes in the physiochemical environmental and their impact upon evolution and in turn how life has impacted on the physiochemical environment.
In a series of lectures, this module provides training in environmental biotechnology, with particular emphasis on the interaction between microorganisms and the environment. The main topics covered will be wastewater treatment, bioremediation of organic and inorganic pollutants, microbes as indicators of risk factors in the environment, microbes in agriculture (biocontrol and biofertilisers) and the role of microorganisms in bioenergy production.
Sustainable Soil Management
Soils underpin the sustainability of all terrestrial ecosystems on our planet. Alongside forming the basis of agricultural production soils provide us with a range of vital ecosystem services including storing water and atmospheric greenhouse gases, mediating the impact of pollutants and providing habitats for soil organisms.
Globally soils are under threat from a wide range of processes. This module covers the environmental issues associated with the management of soils. You will explore and debate the sustainable management options open to land managers to prevent degradation and its adverse effects on soil functions and services, while helping to enhance food security.
Consider a range of approaches to conservation biology, such as the measurement and monitoring of biodiversity, and the legal frameworks and management strategies that exist to protect it. You will discuss particular threats to biodiversity, such as habitat loss and invasive species. You will spend around four hours per week in lectures and have four three-hour practicals to study for this module.
Computer Modelling in Science: Applications
Modern biological and environmental science includes the study of complex systems and large data sets, including imaging data. This necessitates the use of computer models and analyses in order to understand these systems. This module contains an introduction to computer programming and modelling techniques that are used in the biological and environmental sciences. Specifically, it contains: (i) Development, simulation and analysis for models in space and time, using the Python language, with applications in the biological and environmental sciences; (ii) Analysis of long term behaviour of models in two or more dimensions; (iii) Methods for fitting models to experimental and environmental data; (iv) analysis of image data. The module will focus on relevant applications in environmental and biological science, e.g. chemical, radioactive and biological pollution, crop development and pathogens and microbiology. The module will use the Python programming language throughout and be assessed by a patchwork assessment consisting of write-ups of assignments from during the semester.