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Unit information: Ecology in 2018/19

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing and student choice.

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 Science


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 BIOL 12000 Life Processes) and the third year (BIOL 31135 Ecology: Theory and Practice) 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 have an understanding of the key concepts in ecology; some of the key ecological problems facing the world; acquired knowledge of ecological patterns and processes; be able to read, understand and evaluate ecological papers from the scientific literature; gained insights into the interdisciplinary nature of ecology.

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 40% (three practical reports which have an equal weighting)

End of session exam 60%.

Reading and References

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

Essentials of Ecology, third edition, Townsend Begon & Harper. 2009. (note that the forthcoming fourth edition will be equally useful)