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Study information

Rewilding the United Kingdom

Module titleRewilding the United Kingdom
Module codeBIOM4043
Academic year2022/3
Module staff

Professor Dave Hodgson (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

The United Kingdom is economically highly developed, densely populated and intensively farmed and industrialised. This human-dominated system makes life very challenging for the wildlife that shares our country with us, and for the biota that provides us with ecosystem services like pollination, clean air, freshwater and recreation. Some of our precious biodiversity is considered “pest” or “weed” by people. Many of our natural systems suffer invasion by non-native species. Many of our natural habitats are degraded, fragmented, and very fragile in the face of anthropogenic climatic and environmental change. Yet, the UK is at the forefront of global efforts to conserve, rescue, replenish or replace native biodiversity.

This residential field-course will perform a transect through the United Kingdom’s hotspots of marine and terrestrial biodiversity, human-wildlife conflict and ecological restoration. You will see the endangered wildlife of the UK, and meet the people who are stakeholders in their management or their conservation: National Park authorities; farmers; Natural England employees; conservation charity managers; people delivering species translocations; researchers; ecological consultants; tourism operators and the general public. You will consider the meaning of the word “wild” in the UK, and you will learn the political, regulatory, economic, scientific, ecological and social opportunities and constraints that affect all attempts to conserve biodiversity in our changing world.  

When participating in field courses, you may be required to provide your own specialist personal equipment appropriate to the field course destination, e.g. walking boots, rucksack. Details of specialist equipment, vaccinations and visas that you must supply at your own expense are provided on the ELE page for this module.

This module has been designed specifically in response to the global Climate and Environment Emergency. Wherever possible we will use non-airborne public transport and low-impact accommodation. You will also be encouraged to avoid single use plastics and other avoidable impacts on the local environment.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to develop scientific knowledge and an understanding of biodiversity, but in particular in the context of the many threats facing wildlife and ecosystems nationally, as well as biodiversity initiatives to solve these problems. A practical understanding of these issues will be developed through activities, discussion groups and the synthesis of information in a variety of settings. You will be guided on safari in the UK by experts in natural history and conservation. You will spend time with key stakeholders in UK ecological conservation. You will work in teams to discuss, understand and help solve challenges relevant to rewilding, ecological restoration, pest management and the maintenance of ecosystem services.

The activities on this field course are driven by cutting-edge research and initiatives. You will have the opportunity to learn from local experts and researchers, and engage in discussions and group exercises of relevance to biodiversity, ecology, and the environmental challenges faced in a nation of high population pressure.

The skills you gain from fieldwork, teamwork, working with animals and plants and people, and working around the clock, will all stand you in good stead for careers and employability in ecology, zoology and the environmental sector. Transferable skills to other sectors include:

  • problem solving (linking theory to practice, responding to novel and unfamiliar problems, data handling),
  • time management (managing time effectively individually and within a group),
  • collaboration (taking initiative and leading others, supporting others in their work),
  • self and peer review (taking responsibility for own learning, using feedback from multiple sources),
  • presentation skills and audience awareness (presenting ideas effectively in multiple formats).

The teaching contributions on this module involve elements of research undertaken by module staff, such as work on species translocations, wildlife disease, analysis of conservation threats (Hodgson), and human interactions, behaviour, and conservation (Moyes).

Due to the fact that this is a field-based unit in urban and rural environments, it may present a challenge for students with impaired physical abilities and certain mental health conditions. Such students wishing to choose this module should seek advice from the module co-ordinator.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Explain in detail the problems of conservation and threats to biodiversity in the UK
  • 2. Understand the ecological, social, economic and political challenges associated with rewilding and conservation in the UK
  • 3. Apply descriptive and comparative techniques in novel ecological settings
  • 4. Work with ecological stakeholders to discuss and understand the socio-ecology of rewilding

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Describe systematically and critically evaluate current problems and/or new insights in wildlife threats and conservation
  • 6. Describe in detail techniques and methodological approaches used by practitioners in the environment sector
  • 7. With guidance, deploy established techniques of discussion, synthesis and enquiry within the fields of ecology and behaviour

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 8. Communicate ideas effectively and professionally by written, oral, and visual means
  • 9. Tackle and solve problems independently and act autonomously in planning and implementing tasks at a professional or equivalent level
  • 10. Interact effectively in a group, and with people from other cultural backgrounds

Syllabus plan

A ten-day field course (plus travel) will take place in the UK in September/October. This will involve accommodation in multiple locations and the field course will move around using public transport or coaches where possible. Details of specific locations, activities, and content of the field course, along with further reading lists will be issued prior to departure.

Pre-field course seminars and discussions will prepare you for the practical element of the module. This knowledge is reinforced through preparation of an assessed poster on a relevant conservation or biodiversity topic upon return from the field (poster session approximately three weeks after return). In the field, relevant skills are developed through tutoring in ecology, biogeography, conservation, behaviour, and evolution, which are applied in group observation and data collection. The research project will focus on some aspect of ecology or behaviour of local wildlife, or related to wildlife threats to the ecosystems.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Teaching and Learning3Preparatory seminars / discussions
Scheduled Teaching and Learning112Field-based tutoring from members of the Centre for Ecology and Conservation and guest speakers in biodiversity, behaviour, ecology, conservation and other biological topics
Guided Independent Study185Additional reading, research and preparation for the module assessments

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Short answer questions throughout the field course and poster sessions Ongoing throughout the moduleAllOral
Participation in discussion groups and seminar sessionsOngoing throughout the moduleAllOral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Post-field course poster on solutions to challenging problems relevant to UK biodiversity, conservation, human-wildlife conflict or rewilding50A3 posterAllWritten
Critical synthesis report on the evidence base behind the understanding or resolution of ecological issues in the UK 502000 wordsAllWritten

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Post-field course posterPost-field course posterAllReferral/deferral period
Critical synthesis reportCritical synthesis reportAllReferral/deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 50%) you will be required to re-submit an assessment as described in the table above. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 50%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Rackham, O. (2000) The History of the Countryside. Orian Publishing, UK. ISBN: 9781842124406

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

  • Selected papers shared by module staff

Key words search

rewilding, conservation, human-wildlife conflict, ecosystem services, ecology, wildlife, nature, pest, weed, pollinator, endangered species

Credit value30
Module ECTS


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