Postgraduate taught 

Conservation Management of African Ecosystems MSc

Principles of Conservation Ecology BIOL5437

Principles of Conservation Ecology BIOL5437

  • Academic Session: 2024-25
  • School: School of Biodiversity, One Health & Vet Medicine
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

The course explores the ecological principles relevant to conservation biology with a view to understanding how these affect decisions on conversation management in protected African ecosystems. These principles underpin both the management of population and ecosystem processes and the tools commonly used in research and monitoring of ecosystem components.


This course is made up of lectures and practical classes in semester 2.

Excluded Courses





  • Oral assessment and Presentation: Engagement and application of theory in group discussions and debates (3 group discussions x 10% each = 30%) ILO-1
  • Set exercise 1: Animal Movement Analysis (25%) ILO-2
  • Set exercise 2: Population Viability Analysis (45%) ILO-3,4 & 5

Course Aims

The course explores the interaction between species and their environment and aims to provide students with the practical skills required to manage and maintain natural ecological processes in protected areas. The course focuses on case examples from the astounding diversity found in African ecosystems. It will examine the ecological factors and processes that underpin the abundance and spatial distribution of populations, and the key attributes that maintain the dynamic interactions between species. The course will familiarise students with the key conceptual and quantitative paradigms relevant to conservation ecology. It will particularly focus on how to study and quantify key ecosystem parameters such as population demography and animal response to management interventions or ecological changes.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  1. Understand key concepts of ecosystem dynamics by critically assessing primary literature and devise ways by which it can be integrated with management actions and conservation policies.
  2. Discuss the primary drivers of ecosystem dynamics and illustrate them with examples. For instance, analyse data that is typically collected from GPS collars and assess animal movement in response to management interventions, and natural features of the protected area (habitat, season, diurnal activity, etc).
  3. Collect, analyse and assess ecological data. For instance, distinguish commonly used ecological methodology such as wildlife demography data and demonstrate scenarios when each can be used.
  4. Understand the key parameters of population models how they affect population dynamics and species interactions such as predator-prey cycles.
  5. Develop practical solutions that reflect ecological principles. For instance, conduct simple population viability assessments to understand which management actions could promote resilience in wildlife populations.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course’s summative assessment.