Module DXX-3708:
Upland Management

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

10 Credits or 5 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Philip Hollington

Overall aims and purpose

This module will examine the environmental, social and economic viability of alternative upland farming and management systems in the UK. Following a detailed study of what “makes” the hills and uplands, it will assess their historic uses and current and possible future changes, in particular the balance between their use for production (hill and upland sheep, upland cattle), forestry and amenity.

Recognition of the social importance of the uplands will run through the module. The module will assess the impact on hill farming communities of government support measures to date, and the likely impact of changes in these in different parts of the UK. The impacts on biodiversity and ecosystem service provision (e.g. regulating flooding, water quality, greenhouse gas emissions) of current practices in upland systems, and possible changes in response to altered practices, are reviewed along with assessment of the drivers of future change, and the module concludes with a look at methods of ecological and economic appraisal of upland systems.

Course content

Upland environments: climate, soils, ecology. Upland land use: past and contemporary farming systems, alternative land uses. The socio-economics of upland farming. Production and marketing of food from upland farming. Impact of upland farming on ecosystem service provision. Drivers of future change in the management of upland environments: EU and UK policy, climate change, markets. Methods in ecological and economic appraisal appropriate for upland farming systems.

Assessment Criteria


Grade D- to D+ Be able to demonstrate knowledge of, with few factual errors, UK upland farming systems and their key management characteristics, and appreciate their respective environmental and socio-economic drivers and impacts. With guidance, be able to carry out general environmental and economic appraisals of contrasting systems, with supplied data. Be able to interpret the outcomes of these analyses in terms of the sustainability and efficiency of the systems.


Grade C- to B+ In addition to above, demonstrate an ability think critically about the impacts of alternative upland farming systems. Be able to make predictions of future change in upland farming systems given specified changes in environmental and economic drivers. Show evidence of some additional background reading, either by presenting new information or discussing topics in greater detail than in lectures.


Grade A- to A** In addition to the above, be able to present a well-reasoned analysis of future trends in upland farming systems in the face of uncertainty in drivers, including multiple competing land uses. Present clear evidence of wide reading around the subject and an ability to analyse and synthesise arguments and information.

Learning outcomes

  1. describe the different farming systems of UK uplands and understand their socio-economic and environmental components;

  2. appraise the environmental and economic properties of upland farming systems, and discuss their response to changed drivers;

  3. assess critically the provision of ecosystem services by upland farming systems, including food and fibre provisioning, regulating climate change and water quality, biodiversity conservation, recreation;

  4. analyse and contrast alternative upland farming systems through use of appropriate ecological and economic methodologies.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
Written assignment, including essay Class discussion and critique of academic papers 20
EXAM Exam 50
INDIVIDUAL PRESENTATION Individual presentation 30

Teaching and Learning Strategy

External visit

Field visits to local farms and upland sites

Lecture 16
Private study 75

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • 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.
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others

Subject specific skills

  • 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.
  • Understand the provisional nature of information and appreciate competing and alternative explanations.
  • Recognize the moral, ethical and social issues relating to the subject.


Courses including this module