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BSc (Hons) - Animal Conservation Science (With Integrated Foundation Year)

You’re passionate, engaged and want to protect animals and their habitats. We are here to help, with a course designed by researchers renowned for their expertise in the science of wildlife conservation.

Your foundation year in Carlisle will lay a solid foundation of skills to build upon and reach the right level for taking the rest of the degree in our Ambleside campus.

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Animal Conservation Science (With Integrated Foundation Year) cover image

Course Overview

You will live, learn and study in the Lake District surrounded by rare and charismatic species – including ospreys, red and roe deer, otters, red squirrels and Atlantic salmon – in a diverse range of ecosystems and habitats, including Atlantic oak woodlands (Britain’s own rainforest). Here at our Ambleside campus, you will have access to new laboratories and excellent equipment including camera traps, to help you in your studies. Optional modules will enable you to customise your course to ensure it gives you the skills you need for your chosen career. You will be able to get involved in conservation research and to go on an international field trip to learn about wildlife conservation in less-developed countries. Our strong links with wildlife conservation organisations in the UK and abroad, provide you with excellent work placements, volunteering opportunities and job prospects.

On this course you will...

  • Benefit from the only UK conservation degrees taught inside a national park. This provides you with easy access to charismatic wildlife and diverse and distinctive habitats and ecosystems.
  • Be taught by experts in wildlife conservation, each with a strong research portfolio in the conservation of animal species and their habitats.
  • Enjoy small class sizes which allows us to provide a personal approach to teaching and student support.
  • Be actively involved in the reintroduction of endangered wildlife species in Cumbria. So you can gain hands-on experience in species reintroduction as part of your degree.
  • Study in a vibrant community within the landscape of the English Lake District. This provides amazing recreational opportunities and you will live and breathe conservation.
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Course Structure

What you will learn

Our degree will give you the knowledge, analytical skills and practical experience to join the fight against the loss of wildlife species and their habitats. A wildlife conservation scientist needs to have a sound knowledge of the worlds’ biodiversity, an understanding of the interactions between wildlife and the environment, insight into human influences on wildlife, as well as a number of practical, laboratory and analytical skills. We have designed this programme with these in mind.

Year one

You will start by developing a firm foundation in scientific, intellectual and investigative skills and knowledge during your that will help you progress through the course.

  • Essential University Skills 1
    This module develops your academic and professional skills required for effective learning and successful progression through your chosen honours degree programme and beyond.
  • Essential Biology
    To develop knowledge and understanding of the fundamental principles of biology, essential to further study in your chosen field.
  • Scientific Investigation
    To explore the protocols associated with scientific investigation.
  • Essential University Skills 2
    You will expand your learning in the areas of research, writing structure and reflective learning. You will also gain skills in presenting research to an audience and in reflecting on your development throughout your integration foundation year.
  • Environmental Sciences
    Introduces field-based skills akin to the natural sciences with interdisciplinary content which relates Human Ecology to Toxicology, Public Health, Epidemiology and Parasitology. Giving you a good foundation in the basic principles required for your degree.
  • Dynamic Earth
    You will study applied aspects of geology, geomorphology, climatology, hydrology and soils within the context of your area of interest. There will be opportunity for laboratory and field classes to support your understanding within a regional context.
Year two

You will build knowledge of the world's biodiversity (including animal and plant identification skills), ecology and the principles and practice of conservation through lectures and field sessions. From this year, you will be able to demonstrate that you have the ability to apply a systematic approach to the acquisition of knowledge, underpinning concepts and principles and deploy a range of subject-specific, cognitive and transferable skills. Evaluate the appropriateness of different approaches to solving well-defined problems and communicate outcomes in a structured and clear manner. Identify and discuss the relationship between personal and workplace experience and findings from books and journals and other data drawn from the field of study.

  • Conservation Skills and Practice
    The role of a contemporary conservationist is broad ranging and likely to face many challenges and complexities.This module will develop the core scientific skills and practical skills needed as a conservationist, for both success in your undergraduate studies and to enhance your employability.
  • Introduction to Conservation Biology
    Students will get a firm grounding in what constitutes conservation, where the discipline has come from, organisations that are involved, legislation policy and international agreements, and strategies and practice importance for conservation biology.
  • Biodiversity I
    This module aims to introduce you to the range of biodiversity on the planet. Lectures will provide a comprehensive introduction to biodiversity while field- and laboratory-based sessions will give practical experience and the skills to identify major taxonomic groups.
  • Biodiversity 2
    Field identifications will be using easily observed characteristics and field guides whereas the laboratory sessions will be using microscopes to observe the required details to use in scientific keys. When possible, specimen for identification will be collected by students in the local environment.
  • Introduction to Ecology
    The aim of this module is to provide you with a broad understanding and knowledge of ecology and ecological processes. Ecology, the study of interactions between organisms and with their environments, provides a theoretical and practical framework for managing and working with different ecosystems.
  • Animal Biology
    Students will be provided with a solid understanding of the cellular basis of animal physiology. This will include fundamental genetics and neurobiology. Examples will draw on both invertebrate and vertebrate animals.
Year three

You will learn professional-standard survey and research techniques and put these into practice during a fieldwork module, which you can take in the UK or abroad (currently West Africa). You are also introduced to studies of behaviour and genetics in a conservation context and to a range of optional modules, including GIS and environmental change biology. From this year, you will be able to demonstrate that you have the ability to apply and evaluate key concepts and theories within and outside the context in which they were first studied. Select appropriately from and deploy a range of subject-specific, cognitive and transferable skills and problem-solving strategies to problems in the field of study and in the generation of ideas and to effectively communicate information and arguments in a variety of forms. Accept responsibility for determining and achieving personal outcomes.

  • Biodiversity Monitoring
    This module builds on your identification and field skills gained in first year to put your knowledge and experience with biological monitoring techniques into practice. You will develop the theory and practical application of biological survey design and monitoring schemes.
  • Evolution and Biogeography
    To understand the mechanisms that drive evolution, students will study the history of the Earth, including the major extinction and diversification events and how the distributions of plants and animals are influenced by natural and anthropogenic factors.
  • Conservation Genetics
    The overall aim of conservation is to maintain biodiversity, including genetic diversity. Conservationists therefore need a fundamental knowledge of genetics and genetic diversity. This knowledge will be applied to a range of ecological and conservation issues.
  • Research Methods and Data Analysis
    The aim of this module is to introduce you to the scientific method, research design, collecting data in an unbiased manner and the analytical skills required to complete an undergraduate honours dissertation project.
  • Animal Behaviour
    An understanding of the behaviour of an animal species is fundamental to managing its requirements in captivity and in the wild. This module introduces you to concepts associated with the science of animal behaviour and considers how they can be applied to animal welfare and conservation.
  • Geographic Information Systems (Optional)
    The aim of this module is to provide students with a sound understanding of the theory and application of GIS in a manner relevant to their field of study and potential future employment
  • Valuing the Environment (Optional)
    Students will explore the concepts associated with valuing the environment including: natural capital, nature’s contribution to people and ecosystem services. You will critically evaluate these as frameworks for enabling people to “value” the environment.
  • Environmental Change Biology (Optional)
    This module considers the impact of natural and anthropogenic change on biodiversity and biological communities. The module will focus on climate-induced changes, although broad aspects of environmental change will also be considered (e.g. impacts of habitat degradation, natural resource use).
Year four

You undertake a year-long research project and receive training in the behavioural ecology of animals and wildlife management. Additionally, you choose from a range of specialist modules linking the theory and practice of animal conservation science. These include conservation strategies, contemporary issues in conservation, and advanced GIS and remote sensing. From this year, you will be able to demonstrate that you have the ability to critically review, consolidate and extend a systematic and coherent body of knowledge. Critically evaluate concepts and evidence from a range of resources. Transfer and apply subject-specific, cognitive and transferable skills and problem-solving strategies to a range of situations and to solve complex problems.

  • Dissertation
    You will undertake an independent piece of in-depth research into a topic of your choice that is related to the fields of animal conservation science and conservation biology. You will develop your research skills and gain valuable experience in project management and research dissemination.
  • Behavioural Ecology
    This module introduces you to using an evolutionary approach towards understanding why animals behave in certain ways. It explores different types of animal behaviour and seeks to explain why types of behaviour have evolved and what advantages they give to the animal in terms of individual fitness.
  • Applied Field Studies
    It provides you with experience of collecting and analysing a scientific data set and preparing a scientific report on a small scale and allows you to develop higher level analytical skills in hypothesis testing and reporting.
  • Wildlife Management
    Students apply their knowledge of wildlife and conservation to real life situations. The module will give students an in-depth knowledge of wildlife management techniques, stressing the importance of planning, administration and funding for effective management of habitats, populations and species.
  • Advanced GIS and Remote Sensing (Optional)
    The aim of this module is to provide students with the skills and knowledge to plan and implement projects using GIS and remote sensing to solve issues in the fields of conservation and natural resources management.
  • Contemporary Issues in Conservation (Optional)
    The aim of the module is to consider the shifting ecological, political, social and economic contexts and drivers for conservation to help you develop a critical approach to the design and development of conservation practice through understanding contemporary issued in conservation.
  • Conservation Strategies (Optional)
    Considers the integration of socio-ecological and economic perspectives to applied conservation strategies.You will develop the theoretical and practical conservation themes with a focus on strategies that promote the conservation of biological diversity and the sustainability of components.

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