The University of Newcastle, Australia
Available in 2020

Course handbook


"Modern biology has produced a genuinely new way of looking at the the degree that [when] we come to understand other organisms, we will place greater value on them, and on ourselves." (E.O. Wilson, 1984). Our concerns about the conservation of biodiversity are intrinsically related to the conservation of genetic diversity and the natural evolutionary system that shapes this diversity. Conservation Biology focuses on understanding the biology of endangerment and the processes that influence this as well as the regulatory environment and habitat management tools for mitigating such impacts.

This course explores the principles of nature conservation and the paradigm of global biodiversity against the backdrop of the processes affecting them in the Anthropocene, such as climate change, global mobility and habitat degradation. Major patterns of biodiversity change and decline are investigated using case studies from around the world including the spread of wildlife disease, removal of apex predators and community knock-on effects and species loss as a result of habitat degradation. A major component of the course is a critique of the range of policy and practice initiatives designed to ameliorate anthropogenic impacts to biodiversity, including analysis of the statutory environment for impact assessment and consent conditions in developed and developing countries as well as recent advances in scientific and management methods including habitat manipulations and reintroductions.

Availability2020 Course Timetables


  • Trimester 3 - 2020

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Connect practical skills and theoretical knowledge to generate, analyse and interpret results of practicum learning activities

2. Investigate conservation biology problems and biological process (biology of endangerment) using computer simulations and practicum exercises

3. Reconstruct and communicate information from scholarly and grey literature for a specific audience

4. Critically evaluate solutions including consideration of the history of the problem, logic around the problem, and the feasibility and impact of solutions

5. Conduct an independent research project that deals with a major issue in conservation biology at the local, regional, national or international scale


1. The foundation and development of Conservation Biology

    Origins of Conservation Biology and the principles of nature conservation

    The paradigm of global biodiversity

    The global history of conservation planning

2. Understanding global biodiversity

    Valuing and measuring biodiversity

    Global biodiversity hotspots

3. The biology of endangerment

    Population dynamics, viability and extinction

    Protecting genetic diversity

    Key threats to biodiversity

4. Conservation biology in action

    Legislative frameworks for biodiversity conservation (global, national, local)

    Reproduction, reintroduction, restoration, replacement and resilience

    The data deficient environment of decision making in conservation management

    Dollars and sense – the complex issue of placing a monetary value on biodiversity and investing in the future

Assumed knowledge

Completion of an appropriate undergraduate degree

Assessment items

Online Learning Activity: Online Learning Activity during practicum

Report: Population simulation exercise and report

Project: Major Research Project

Contact hours



Online 2 hour(s) per Week for Full Term


Distance 2 hour(s) per Week for 10 Weeks

Self-Directed Learning

Online 4 hour(s) per Week for Full Term