Second-Year Module Review: LEC242 Principles of Biodiversity Conservation

It is without a doubt that LEC242 was one of my favourite modules during second-year. As someone who wishes to pursue a career within this field, naturally I am a little bit biased. Not only would I recommend this module for people who have a keen interest in ecology and conservation, but also for those who are intrigued by understanding in depth the threats toward global biodiversity and management plans to reduce those threats. With module enrollment coming up in the next few weeks and a breadth of modules to choose from, picking your choices for the coming year can sometimes seem a more formidable task than it’s intended. Here I’ve broken down the key elements of LEC242 and provided my personal review. As with other second-year modules, this module is comprised of around twenty lectures and five workshops – including an excursion to Morecambe Bay at the end of the module. It is worth fifteen credits.


The coursework element included a population viability analysis (PVA) and an IUCN Red-List assessment, each around thirteen hundred words with twenty-five percent weighting each. Personally, I found the coursework components for this module incredibly interesting and although sometimes tricky, they were some of the most enjoyable coursework assignments I have undertaken during my second-year. Particularly for the IUCN Red-List assessment, there is an element of freedom which allows you to further explore your interests within the assessment framework. Whether that’s looking at threats to terrestrial species in continental Europe or marine species around the Galapagos Islands, I found the opportunity to tailor your coursework to your personal interests very valuable. Furthermore, the PVA analysis presents you with the opportunity to practice using a very simplified model utilised by conservationists when carrying out population predictions.


Some of the topics included in the lectures include ex-situ management of species, restoration of ecosystems and trophic cascade effects of species loss. The two lecturers on this course are Andy Wilby and Jos Barlow, who both incredibly helpful and great at explaining difficult concepts in detail. Most importantly for me, their enthusiasm for the subject is easily passed on to the students – a valuable tool for revision motivation. Particularly when revising conservation legislations and management schemes within the UK, as the work can seem a little more tiresome.


In terms of the examination for this module, it is comprised of two essay-style questions, which you are advised to spend an hour each on. Like all second-year LEC and BIOL examinations, it’s very early on in the summer term – the first day back after Easter this year. I would try to bare that in mind when going to the lectures for this module, as although the theory may seem relatively easy in comparison to other modules, the number of original and interesting case studies that are required to do well can seem a little overwhelming. Despite it seeming ‘relatively easy’, LEC242 requires just as much work as the other LEC modules, especially due to the amount of scientific papers it is necessary to read. Nevertheless, it is enjoyable.

In order to take this module, you must have taken LEC145 – Biodiversity and Conservation during first year, and if like me, you enjoy this module during second year, there is the possibility to further extend your conservation studies during third year with LEC342 (Issues in Conservation Biology) and LEC341 (Conservation in Practice). The structure of the lectures gives you sufficient breathing space to research your own interests in relation to the academic criteria, should you want to, whereas other modules can be quite rigid. Although challenging in-parts, elements of this module are going to be helpful should you want a career in conservation or environmental policy-making, or you just want to extend your global knowledge.

By Hannah Rudd