Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Conservation Genetics and Evolution Field Course
Academic Year
Semester 1
Other Staff

Course Delivery



Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Field Course report  3000 Words  50%
Semester Assessment .17 Hours   Oral Presentation  10%
Semester Assessment Case Study  2000 Words  40%
Supplementary Assessment .17 Hours   Recorded presentation (video)  10%
Supplementary Assessment Case Study  2000 Words  40%
Supplementary Assessment Field Course report  3000 Words  50%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

1. Formulate testable evolutionary hypotheses, using knowledge of genetics, evolution, ecology and biogeography.

2. Identify specimens to species level using a taxonomic key.

3. Analyse variation within and between populations, using multivariate statistics.

4. Analyse chromosomal and DNA sequence variation within and between populations

5. Calculate indices of genetic diversity, fitness, inbreeding, population subdivision, etc., using simple mathematical formulae and/or appropriate computational methods.

7. Solve conservation problems by applying knowledge of population genetics.

8. Communicate results effectively, using appropriate media.

Brief description

This year 3 module will build upon population genetic concepts encountered in earlier modules, emphasising the use of population genetic methods to test hypotheses and solve problems in diverse fields of research.

The module will begin with a week-long residential field course, in which students will study variation in natural populations and gain skills in biological fieldwork. Specimens collected during the field course will be used in subsequent laboratory practicals and computer workshops. This will provide students with an overview of the entire process of population genetics research, from collection of material in the field, through preparation of chromosomes and DNA in the laboratory, to analysis of data.
Context will be provided through lectures, introducing new concepts and methods in population genetics and using case studies to illustrate their applications. Students will be provided with opportunities to explore and develop their own interests through group projects during the field course and individual case studies during the semester.


Residential Field Course:
Collecting data in the field
Measuring genotypic, chromosomal and phenotypic variation
Detecting environmental DNA
Multivariate statistical analysis
Island biogeography
Small-group project

Semester 1 lecture topics:
Population genetics theory: genetic diversity, natural selection, genetic drift, effective population size, inbreeding, gene flow, hybridisation
Conservation genetics in practice: in-situ and ex-situ conservation genetics, molecular markers, environmental DNA, DNA barcoding

Module Skills

Skills Type Skills details
Application of Number Students are required to calculate indices of genetic diversity, fitness, inbreeding, population subdivision, etc., using simple mathematical formulae and/or appropriate computational methods. They are also required to use and understand multivariate statistics.
Communication During the field course, students present the preliminary results of their group projects orally.
Improving own Learning and Performance During the field course, students are required to keep a notebook, containing their data collected in the field and any contextual observations. These will be reviewed with an instructor, during and after the course, allowing students to reflect on their learning and performance. The field course report will be assessed early in Semester 1, providing feedback which students can use to improve their performance in subsequent assessments.
Information Technology Students are required to use a range of specialist programmes and resources, including genetic databases, statistical packages, population genetics software.
Personal Development and Career planning Students are required to apply population genetics methods to real-world challenges in diverse fields of research. This will encourage them to envision ways in which they can use their knowledge and training to build careers for themselves.
Problem solving During the field course, students plan and execute projects in small groups, formulating hypotheses, deciding which locations to sample, which measurements to make and how best to analyse their results and present their findings. During the semester, each student undertakes a case study in a field of their choice, identifying a problem and describing how they would use population genetics to solve it.
Research skills All assessed coursework requires students to engage with peer-reviewed scientific literature, to provide context for their own findings in the laboratory and in the field. Students practice a range of research methodologies, including field, laboratory and computational methods.
Subject Specific Skills Students will learn to identify, collect and sample biological specimens in the field. They will also learn a range of specialist field, laboratory and computation methods in the field of population genetics and evolution.
Team work During the field course, students carry out a research project in small groups. They are required to plan, execute and present their projects in teams. Most of the other activities performed on the field course also require elements of teamwork. Teamwork is assessed directly through the presentation. Students also receive formative feedback from instructors on their performance as a team.


This module is at CQFW Level 6