Skip to main content

Unit information: Anthropology and Conservation in 2015/16

Please note: you are viewing unit and programme information for a past academic year. Please see the current academic year for up to date information.

Unit name Anthropology and Conservation
Unit code ARCH35005
Credit points 20
Level of study H/6
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Gibson
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Anthropology and Archaeology
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

People and wildlife frequently come into conflict as they compete for valuable resources. Historically, a preservationist ideology advocated complete separation by creating protected areas and removing local people from sites of conservation interest. More recently, programmes have promoted the role of local communities in wildlife management in an effort to improve livelihoods alongside an environmental objective.

However, neither approach appears to be the panacea that international conservation or the sustainable development movement had hoped for; many local communities still live in abject poverty and wildlife populations are disappearing at an unprecedented rate.

This course will examine how people can be both the problem and solution to conservation. Focussing primarily (but not exclusively) on primates, we will look at how hunting, habitat clearance and live capture have impacted upon wild populations. This will be considered alongside an examination of the role of protected areas, community wildlife management, ecotourism and environmental education in conservation programmes.


  • To present the changing ideologies regarding wildlife conservation and how they reflect political, historical and social values
  • To describe the current status of primate populations and the key threats to their survival
  • To provide an overview of a range of conservation strategies and to consider their success in managing wildlife populations and protecting habitat
  • To present different cultural perceptions of wildlife and their impact on the development of conservation initiatives

Intended Learning Outcomes

At the end of the unit, a successful student will be able to:

1) Recognise the current threats to primates and other wildlife populations

2) Describe different conservation approaches and their advantages and disadvantages

3) Debate and discuss potentially controversial topics (e.g. consumptive use of wildlife)

4) Identify key articles and place their content in the context of the wider literature

5)Identify key research resources, international legislation and conservation agencies concerned with non-human primates and other wildlife.

Teaching Information

Lectures and seminars (to include one visit to Bristol Zoo to examine the role of zoos in Environmental Education).

Assessment Information

1) 1,000 word paper (30% of the marks). Assesses ILOs 2 and 4

2) 60 minute class test (30% of marks). Assesses ILOs 1,2,3 and 5.

3) 3000-3500 word essay (40% of the marks). Assesses ILOs 1,2,3,4,5

Reading and References

Anderson, D. & Grove, R. (eds) (1987). Conservation in Africa: people, policies and practice. Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.

Cowlishaw, G. & Dunbar, R. (2000). Primate Conservation Biology. University of Chicago Press: London.

Oates, J.F. (1999). Myth and Reality in the Rain Forest: how conservation strategies are failing in West Africa. University of California Press: Berkeley.

Paterson, J.D. & Wallis, J. (2005). Commensalism and Conflict: the human-primate interface. Special Topics in Primatology, vol 4. American Society of Primatologists: Norman, Oklahoma.

Students will also be encouraged to search for and read journal articles for this course (e.g. Oryx, Environmental Conservation, International Journal of Primatology etc).