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Module DXX-3801:
Human Aspects of Conservation

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Freya St John

Overall aims and purpose

Conservation actions that respond to threats to biodiversity and the natural world cannot be isolated from the societal context in which they occur. Because of this, conservation science as a discipline has increasingly incorporated social science theories. This module aims to explore the nature of human actions within conservation. The module will focus on how conservation activities can be conditioned, influenced and affected by factors such as: religion and belief systems, human behaviour, rule breaking and illegal activities and socio-economic status.

Course content

The module will focus on the following key themes:

  • Conservation and human behaviour
  • Conservation and rural development
  • Rule-breaking in conservation
  • Conservation conflicts

The module will have a global focus and use examples from across the world.

Assessment Criteria


Grades D- to C+ Online test: Adequate understanding of key concepts. Limited ability to generate descriptive statistics from a quantitative dataset.

Policy brief: Adequate subject knowledge showing some understanding of the multi-disciplinary nature of processes and events. Some engagement with the literature. Standard of written communication could be improved.

Report: Displays adequate subject knowledge and is able to draw basic conclusions. The report is focused on the topic, but with room for improvement. Displays some evidence of engagement with the literature but this is limited and/or poorly referenced. Standard of written communication good be improved.


Grades B- to B+ Online test: Good understanding of key concepts. Ability to generate correct descriptive statistics from a quantitative dataset.

Policy brief: Good subject knowledge and understanding of the multi-disciplinary nature of processes and events. Good engagement with the literature. High standard of written communication.

Report: Displays strong subject knowledge and understanding of key concepts. The report is focused on the topic in question and addresses it clearly. Good engagement with the literature evidenced through citing and referencing. A high standard of written communication incorporating a good standard of data presentation.


Grades A- and above Online test: Clear understanding with wide and thorough knowledge of key concepts. Ability to generate correct descriptive statistics from a quantitative dataset.

Policy brief: Excellent subject knowledge. Understanding of the multi-disciplinary nature of processes and events. Excellent engagement with the literature. Elegant and flowing presentation, with flair for subject.

Report: Excellent subject knowledge and understanding of key concepts. The report is focused and demonstrates critical thinking and original interpretation and argument. Excellent engagement with the literature and clear citing and referencing. Elegant and flowing written communication incorporating an excellent standard of data presentation.

Learning outcomes

  1. To be able to manipulate a quantitative data sets and produce statistical outputs.

  2. To critically evaluate the impact of human behaviour on decision-making within conservation.

  3. To be able to discuss approaches to understanding and evaluating the influence of human behaviour on conservation.

  4. To be able to accurately explain and exemplify the social context of conservation activities.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
CLASS TEST Online test

You will complete a short open-book online test (e.g. multiple choice, true/false questions) designed to measure your level of understanding of key concepts discussed in regards to humans wildlife conflict and conservation psychology.


Please write a policy brief aimed at The Rt Hon. Michael Gove MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA). Your brief can be about any aspect of the illegal trade in wildlife. The aim is to convince the reader of the importance of continuing to invest government funds in the Illegal Wildlife Challenge Fund currently administered by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs of the UK Government. Remember that your Policy Brief is addressed to a government minister, and the focus is on government policy, not on what companies or individuals could/should be doing.

Example policy briefs from international organisations are provided on Blackboard together with a guide on ‘writing for biodiversity’ published by the International Institute for Environmental Development. The exact structure of your policy brief is up to you but I encourage you to look at the information provided in the policy brief lecture and via Blackboard.


Please write a report with the title ‘Multidimensional poverty in Pematang Gadong, West Kalimantan, Indonesia’. Your report should include an introduction to measuring multidimensional poverty, a brief methods and data analysis section and results from 2012 and 2017. The discussion should present your interpretation of the results which you then set within the wider literature (e.g. of multidimensional poverty assessment, the devolution of forest conservation or monitoring and evaluation of conservation interventions). The results section should not contain interpretation of the results, you will lose marks for this.


Teaching and Learning Strategy


92 hour lectures 21 hour lectures

Private study

Undertaking independent and guided self-study.

Practical classes and workshops

22 hour taught computer practicals 22 hour computer practical drop-in sessions


Data collection exercise


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.
  • Safety-Consciousness - Having an awareness of your immediate environment, and confidence in adhering to health and safety regulations
  • 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

  • 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.
  • Appreciation of the complexity and diversity of life processes through the study of organisms.
  • Understand the provisional nature of information and appreciate competing and alternative explanations.
  • Recognize the moral, ethical and social issues relating to the subject.


Pre- and Co-requisite Modules

Courses including this module