Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)

Module BIOL2461: ECOLOGY

Department: Biosciences


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap Location Durham


  • • Level 1 Organisms and Environment (BIOL1161) and ONE other from: Genetics (BIOL1171), Molecules and Cells (BIOL1281) or Physiology(BIOL1151).


  • • At least one other level 2 Biological Sciences module.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • • Level 2 Immunology (BIOL2421)


  • To study the interactions that determine the distribution and abundance of organisms.
  • To develop concepts of evolutionary history for understanding distributions and abundance of organisms.


  • Ecological niches and life-history attributes.
  • Models of population dynamics.
  • Population estimation techniques.
  • Community ecology and biodiversity.
  • Metapopulations and biogeography.
  • Introduction to palaeoecology.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Knowledge of how the life histories of organisms and their ecological niches are inter-related.
  • Knowledge of the theoretical bases for models of population dynamics.
  • Knowledge of how theories of population dynamics are extended to incorporate species interactions, and thus biodiversity.
  • Knowledge of the basic concepts of palaeoecology.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • To be able to relate theoretical concepts in ecology to an applied context, for example population harvesting and conservation biology.
  • To be able to apply problem-solving skills to quantitative problems in data collection and data analysis, population estimation and ecological modelling at an intermediate level.
Key Skills:
  • Numeracy, in data analysis, and calculations involved in data handling problems.
  • IT skills, in use of statistics software packages.
  • Communication skills, using the written word and graphics, involved in ecology practical reports.
  • Team work, working in small groups in ecology practical classes.
  • Self-motivation, in self-guided learning.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures deliver subject-specific knowledge.
  • Workshops reinforce subject-specific knowledge and understanding gained from lectures and the development of key and subject-specific skills.
  • Practical classes allow students to utilise subject-specific knowledge gained from lectures, and support the development of key and subject-specific skills.
  • Tutorials give enhancement of the student learning experience, supporting attainment of all learning outcomes.
  • Self-guided learning contributes to subject-specific knowledge and self-motivation.
  • Practical reports are based on subject-specific knowledge and demonstrate subject-specific skills in carrying out experimental work and data analysis, as well as key skills.
  • Problem Exercises (Data Handling) demonstrate subject-specific skills in data handling and key skills in numeracy applied to biochemistry and cell biology.
  • Unseen examinations demonstrate achievement of the appropriate level of subject-specific knowledge of fundamental ecological concepts and their application to real-world problems, with an emphasis on understanding and communication (essay and problem-based questions).

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 35 Weekly 2 hours p/w 35
Practicals 2 1 per term 3 hours 6
Workshops 2 1 per term 2 hours 4
Tutorials 2 1 per term 1 hour 2
Preparation & Reading 153
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Unseen formal examination 2 hours 30 minutes 100% Yes - resit exam
Component: Continuous Assessment Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Practical report 50% No
Analytical exercise 50% No

Formative Assessment:

Regular formative assessments including data analysis, interpretation and problem solving throughout the module; 4 assessments over 2 terms.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University