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Module DXX-2021:
Plant Diversity & Conservation

Module Facts

Run by School of Natural Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Katherine Steele

Overall aims and purpose

This module describes and compares the ecology of major groups of land plants and considers their diversity, evolution, classification, structure and conservation around the world. Teaching makes extensive use of plant material at Treborth Botanic Garden and the practical components include field visits and lab classes. The module is structured around the major groups of plants: lichens, mosses, ferns, conifers and flowering plants, as well as fungi. For each group we examine the main conservation threats and solutions. Students will be introduced to the floral diversity of Angiosperms and will receive instruction in the identification of major families of flowering plants.

Course content

Review of major terrestrial plant groups and fungi, their morphological characteristics and evolutionary relationships; origin and structure; ecological role of major terrestrial plant groups; geographical distribution of diversity; ethnobotanical and agricultural uses of plants; conservation threats and solutions. Study material is provided of bryophytes, spore-bearing vascular plants, gymnosperms and angiosperms to illustrate their morphology, anatomy and reproductive structures. Examination of this material involves a range of techniques including section cutting, microscopy, basic physiological observations and field work. The morphology of flowering plants is studied by reference to a wide range of tropical and temperate families and is conducted mainly at Treborth Botanic Garden with additional excursions to other plant collections. Discussions will explore how plant classification and conservation can be assisted with technology.

Assessment Criteria


Grades A- to A**: Students will demonstrate a comprehensive grasp of all the major groups of terrestrial plants and show excellent insight the use of concise, accurate botanical and ecological terminology. Essays and portfolios will show extensive use of the primary literature and demonstrate family specific anatomic details. Students will be able to give scientific explanations as to how these anatomic details reflect ecological adaptations. The will be able to critically evaluate conservation issues. Botanical drawings must be detailed and correctly labelled and data fully analysed. Students must emphasize family specific anatomic details and must include scientific explanations of how these anatomic details reflect ecological adaptations.


Grades B- to B+:A good student should have a thorough factual knowledge across all aspects of the module, and be able to detail examples where appropriate. Written work should demonstrate an ability to think critically about the subject and to synthesise lecture material and information from background reading. They will use an expanded vocabulary of technical botanical terms describing taxonomy and morphology and a good knowledge of conservation issues. Botanical drawings must be detailed, accurately labelled and extensively interpreted taxonomically, morphologically and ecologically.


Grades D- to C+: A threshold student should have a basic knowledge of the essential facts and key concepts of plant biology presented in the module. Written answers should demonstrate an ability to organize relevant lecture material into a coherent argument. They will understand basic ecological principles governing plant structure, evolution, and reproduction. They will have a basic knowledge conservation issues. Botanical drawings must be annotated correctly and they should include relevant comments.

Learning outcomes

  1. Be able to identify the structure and function of vegetative and reproductive structures of terrestrial green plants.

  2. Show understanding of the ecological and ethnobotanical importance of plants and fungi.

  3. Be able to apply standard techniques to record variation and produce informative annotated drawings detailing the morphological characteristics of plants.

  4. Be able to critically review the roles of plants and plant diversity in terrestrial ecosystems, threats facing them and approaches for their conservation.

  5. Be able to write and present a well-structured and coherent leaflet on a chosen species or ecosystem using primary literature to support the argument presented.

  6. Be able to obtain, interpret and synthesise information from background reading and use it to effectively supplement lecture notes.

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
LOGBOOK OR PORTFOLIO Portfolio of botanical drawings and lab report 50
Written assignment, including essay Flyer to raise awareness of conservation issues 40
CLASS TEST Class Test 10

Teaching and Learning Strategy


2 x 6 hour, 3 x 4 and 1 x 3 hour field visits (to sites and Treborth)


Mostly 1 hour lectures with slides with some longer sessions (2- 4 hour) for field-based lectures. Visual aids and discussion.


4*3 hour laboratory practicals

Private study

Private and guided self-study


Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Numeracy - Proficiency in using numbers at appropriate levels of accuracy
  • 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

  • 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.
  • Appreciation of the reciprocal nature of human-environmental relationships.
  • Preparation of effective maps, diagrams and visualizations.
  • 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.
  • Undertake field and/or laboratory studies of living systems.
  • Undertake practical work to ensure competence in basic experimental skills.
  • Understand the provisional nature of information and appreciate competing and alternative explanations.
  • Recognize the moral, ethical and social issues relating to the subject.
  • Collect and record data generated by a diverse range of methods.


Resource implications for students

Students must make their own travel arrangements to attend sessions at Treborth.

Talis Reading list

Reading list

Courses including this module

Optional in courses: