Coronavirus (Covid-19) Information

Module BSX-3150:
Life in a Changing Climate

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Alison Cameron

Overall aims and purpose

The purpose of this module is to allow students to develop a detailed understanding of the scientific principles underlying how a changing climate can affect aspects of zoology. This includes evolution, ethology, phenology, physiology, species distributions and patterns in biodiversity. It will provide students with an understanding of ecological concepts and how they may be affected by climate change, such as trophic cascades.

Course content

The course will cover how climate change and aspects of zoology and biodiversity are connected and how they interact. Social implications of these factors will also be covered, along with potential ecosystem conservation and management practices needed to cope with a changing climate. Some ecosystem case studies will be included, for example on the effects of climate change on wetlands.

Assessment Criteria


An excellent student should have a high levels of detailed factual knowledge across all aspects of the module, and be able to detail examples where appropriate. Written answers should demonstrate an ability to think critically about the subject and to synthesise lecture material and information from extensive background reading. Practical reports should display a high level of critical understanding of data, analysis, interpretation and presentation.


A threshold student should have a basic knowledge of the essential facts and key concepts presented in the module. Written answers should demonstrate an ability to organise relevant lecture material into a coherent argument. Practical reports should demonstrate a basic ability to analyse data and interpret and present results.


A good student should have thorough factual knowledge across all aspects of the module, and be able to name examples where appropriate. Written answers should demonstrate an ability to think about the subject and to synthesise lecture material and some information from background reading. Practical reports should display a good level of understanding of data, analysis, interpretation and presentation.

Learning outcomes

  1. Explain in detail how aspects of zoology and biodiversity are affected by the climate, and the interactions between them.

  2. Critically evaluate any social implications current interactions between zoology and climate change are having, and could have in the future.

  3. Have a comprehensive understanding of the conservation and management practises of natural ecosystems – in terms of aspects of zoology – to cope with a changing climate.

  4. Demonstrate the ability to articulate complex scientific principles, theories and arguments through a variety of media.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
GIS Practical Report 35
Class Debate Exercise 15
End of Module Exam 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy


21 hours of lectures (mainly in one or two hour sessions)

Practical classes and workshops

7 hours of climate change practicals (in computer rooms). Practical 1 is a 3 hour practical using Geographical Information Systems to explore arctic sea ice change and polar bear tracks. Practical 4 is a 4 hour practicical to introduce climate niche modelling in GIS.

Group Project

2 hours group preparation sesssion supported by module co-ordinator and Graduate Teaching assistant, followed two weeks later by a 2 hour assessed group debate session (each group debate is no longer than 25 minutes). Module co-ordinator available for group or indivirual meetings by appointment in between the preparation session and the debates.

Private study

Approximately 10 hours writing up the niche modelling practical report Approximately 2 hours Reading and preparation for group debate Approximately 152 hours of supplimentary reading arround lectures and exam revision. The exact time allocations to each of the above will vary per student.


Revision & feedback sessions to A) prepare for assignments B) review and discuss assignments, C) prepare for exams. Interactive sessions.


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting

Subject specific skills

  • Develop and identify research question(s) and/or hypotheses as the basis for investigation.
  • Conduct fieldwork and/or laboratory work competently with awareness of appropriate risk assessment and ethical considerations
  • Recognize and apply appropriate theories and concepts from a range of disciplines.
  • Consider issues from a range of interdisciplinary perspectives.
  • Apply subject knowledge to the understanding and addressing of problems.
  • Collect, analyse and interpret primary and/or secondary data using appropriate qualitative and/or quantitative techniques.
  • Engagement with current developments in the biosciences and their application.
  • Appreciation of the complexity and diversity of life processes through the study of organisms.
  • Engage in debate and/or discussion with specialists and non-specialists using appropriate language.


Reading list

The Summary for Policy Maker sections of the IPCC 5th Assemssment Reports are compulsory reading for this module. These are available for download at Peer reviewed scientific literature relating to lecture content will be indicated with each lecture and should be available for students to download via the BU library journal subscriptions.

Courses including this module

Compulsory in courses:

Optional in courses: