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School of Environment, Education and Development

Manchester's Museum of Science and Industry
BSc Geography with International Study

Study a course tailored to you at the university ranked fourth in the UK for Geography (Guardian University Guide).

BSc Geography with International Study

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
Geography of Life

Unit code GEOG30352
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Geography
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course probes the distribution, history, and conservation of life, and particularly of flowering plants, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. In doing so, it addresses big issues in biogeography, including debates over dispersal versus vicariance, the causes of the latitudinal diversity gradient, and the conservation of species.


To provide a detailed knowledge and deep understanding of three aspects of biogeography:

  • how life interacts with its biotic and abiotic environments
  • how humans alter these interactions
  • critical questions about the exploitation and conservation of the living world.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course unit, you should be able to:

  • appreciate in depth the complex arguments about the current biodiversity crisis
  • understand ideas about human impacts on animals, plants, and ecosystems
  • comprehend the significance of species dispersal in the past and at present
  • critically evaluate arguments about the causes and significance of local, regional and global extinctions
  • understand the complex issues surrounding conservation.


Week 1 (30 January)                       Introducing biogeography

Week 2 (6 February)                       Dispersal and vicariance

Week 3 (13 February)                    Islands as biogeographical test-beds

Week 4 (20 February)                    Biodiversity 1: inventory and mapping   

Week 5 (27 February)                    Biodiversity 2:  species turnover

Week 6 Study Week

Week 7 (13 March)                          Biodiversity 3: climate change and habitat fragmentation

Week 8 (20 March)                          Biodiversity 4: invasive species and overexploitation

Week 9 Study Week

Week 10 (24 April)                           Species conservation; Guest Lecture; Manchester Museum visit 1

Week 11 (TBA)                                  Ecosystem conservation; Manchester Museum visit 2

   (5 May)                             Chester Zoo fieldtrip (provisional date)

Week 12 (8 May)                              Conclusion 

Teaching and learning methods

The course unit will be delivered via:

·         Lectures

·         Seminars

·         A guest lecture

·         Trip to Chester Zoo, including lecture by zoo staff

·         Visit to the Manchester Museum.

Sessions will draw upon a range of resources, including documentaries. 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

During this course unit, you will be encouraged to develop the following abilities and skills:

  • independence in coursework definition, research and execution
  • information acquisition and handling skills involved in research for coursework
  • reading, analysis, synthesis and writing skills for handling sophisticated material
  • critical skills involved in understanding different theoretical positions
  • critical thinking about certain environmental issues
  • taking responsibility for active self-critical learning, including time management.

Assessment methods

This course unit will be examined by a two-hour examination (60%) and a 3,000-word essay (40%).

Feedback methods

Feedback will be provided in the following ways during this course unit:

·         Verbal feedback on any aspect of the course with the tutor using consultation hours

·         Verbal feedback through Q & A and discussion within lecture sessions

·         Written comments on your course essay proposal via email

·         Written feedback on your course essay via Blackboard.

Recommended reading

Hosey, G., Melfi, V., and Pankhurst, S. (2013) Zoo Animals: Behaviour, Management, and Welfare, 2nd edn. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lomolino, M. V., Riddle, B. R., Whittaker, R. J., and Brown, J. H. (2010) Biogeography, 4th edn. Sunderland, Massachusetts: Sinauer Associates.

MacDonald, G. (2016) Biogeography: Introduction to Space, Time and Life, 2nd edn. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Millington, A., Blumler, M., and Schickhoff, U. (eds) (2011) The SAGE Handbook of Biogeography. London: Sage.

Primack, R. B. (2012) A Primer of Conservation Biology, 5th edn. Sunderland, Massachusetts: Sinauer Associates.

Sodhi, N. S. and Ehrlich, P. R. (eds) (2010) Conservation Biology for All. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Thompson, K. (2014) Where do Camels Belong? The Story and Science of Invasive Species. London: Profile Books.


Key Journals

Biological Conservation

Diversity and Distributions

Global Ecology and Biogeography

Journal of Biogeography

Progress in Physical Geography.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Assessment written exam 2
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 168

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Richard Huggett Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Comprises of Lectures and Seminars.



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