Module DDL-4204:
Forest Ecosystems

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Organiser: Dr Andy Smith

Overall aims and purpose

1. The purpose of the module is to present the occurrence and ecology of different forest types. Emphasis will be placed on forest biota and soils, and nutrient cycling and hydrology.

  1. The module will provide students with the opportunity to acquire knowledge and understanding of specialist areas of forestry ecology, and to develop their independent learning and written communication skills.

Course content

World forest ecosystems, alpine, boreal and temperate forests, tropical moist and dryland forests. Forest soils, chemical and physical properties, soil formation and conservation. Carbon cycling in Forests. Forests in global carbon cycles. Nutrient cycling in forests.

This module will be taught by distance-learning in the format common to all distance-learning modules in SENRGY.

Module material will be supplied electronically in a module e-handbook. In addition to the module handbook material, the TALISaspire readinglist system will be used to provide guided reading materials. Further, the module will include discussion forums via Blackboard and formative self-assessments with model answers provided on submission. A substantial piece of assessment will be submitted at the end of the module and marked. Students will sit an examination at the end of the module; Students will be able to contact the module organiser by phone or email to seek guidance.

Assessment Criteria


Essay. An essay that covers the fundamentals of the chosen topic, but is based mainly on material provided during the module, shows little evidence of supplementary reading and lacks originality. Examination. Correct answers to half of the compulsory short-answer questions and satisfactory answers to the chosen essay questions.


Essay. A reasonably well-argued essay showing good understanding and knowledge of the chosen topic, evidence of supplementary reading, and some original thought. Examination. Correct answers to three quarters of the compulsory short-answer questions and sound technical answers to the chosen essay questions.


Essay. A very well-argued essay showing excellent understanding and depth of knowledge of the chosen topic, evidence of substantial supplementary reading, and much original thought. Examination. Correct answers to nearly all of the compulsory short-answer questions and persuasive, cogent answers to the chosen essay questions.

Learning outcomes

  1. Critically evaluate the extent and importance of forested ecosystems.

  2. Show a comprehensive understanding of soil structure, formation and conservation.

  3. Show a comprehensive understanding of the ecology of forest trees.

  4. Show a comprehensive understanding of the role of forests in global carbon budgets and discuss the implications of climate change for forested ecosystems.

  5. Show a comprehensive understanding of the importance and pathways of nutrient cycling.

  6. Show a comprehensive understanding of the role of forests in catchment hydrology, and evaluate the hydrological implications of forest operations.

Assessment Methods

Teaching and Learning Strategy


Online lectures


Formative assessments


Online discussion forums

Private study 170

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
  • 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

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.
  • Collect, analyse and interpret primary and/or secondary data using appropriate qualitative and/or quantitative techniques.
  • Awareness of the concepts of spatial and temporal scale in understanding processes and relationships.
  • Appreciation of the reciprocal nature of human-environmental relationships.
  • 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