The details
Life Sciences (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 6
Monday 15 January 2024
Friday 22 March 2024
07 April 2022


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BSC C520 Ecology and Environmental Biology,
BSC C521 Ecology and Environmental Biology (Including Foundation Year),
BSC C522 Ecology and Environmental Biology (Including Year Abroad),
BSC C523 Ecology and Environmental Biology (Including Placement Year)

Module description

Biogeography is the study of how organisms interacted with the physical landscape in both space and time, elucidating reasons behind why species exist in certain places at certain times.

As the Anthropocene progresses and humans further modify the world we live in (via environmental and climatic changes) biogeography provides the answers to how species-environment interactions will change (including shifts in species distributions and local and global extinctions).

In this module students will examine current biogeography and spatial ecology topics. These will include both contemporary and historical drivers of species distributions, the role of climate change in shaping these distributions, and how species traits underpin where they do, don't, can and can't exist. Building on this theory, students will explore management and policy solutions to mitigating environmental and climate change, and how biogeography tools and theory are put into practice.

Module aims

This module aims to provide students with a thorough understanding of biogeography theory, and how this and spatial ecology tools can be applied to issues of environmental and climate change and feed into policy and management solutions for mitigating associated impacts.

Module learning outcomes

1. A systematic understanding of the main theories and principles of biogeography and spatial ecology.
2. Discuss the role of the environment and species traits in shaping the distribution and diversity of species.
3. Ability to devise and sustain arguments around the concepts of Island Biogeography, Phylogeography, Metapopulations and Neutral Theories.
4. Conceptual understanding of global patterns of species distributions in the terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments.
5. Discuss and comment upon how climate and other environmental changes are shaping current and future species distributions and discuss the management strategies to mitigating these impacts.
6. Develop competence in modern computational methods (including GIS) for the analysis of spatial ecology data, and the visualisation of these results for wider communication (e.g. to academics, policy makers, environmental organisations).

Module information

Core topics covered across lectures include:

1. An introduction to biogeography and spatial ecology
2. Global terrestrial, freshwater and marine biogeography
3. Microbial biogeography – is everything everywhere?
4. The major drivers of species distributions
5. Phylogeography
6. Island biogeography, metapopulations, and neutral theories
7. Climate and environmental change and species distributions
8. Spatial ecology in a policy and management context

Core topics covered via interactive PC-lab sessions:
1. An introduction to GIS
2. Modelling species distributions and species range shifts
3. Producing policy relevant outputs

Learning and teaching methods

This module promotes inclusivity and diversity in its delivery in line with the University’s expectations. Different learning styles are catered for through the approaches to teaching by including hands on practical experiences, the use of visuals and audio input. Learning and teaching methods will include lectures, and practical PC-lab work.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Exam  Main exam: In-Person, Open Book (Restricted), 180 minutes during Summer (Main Period) 
Exam  Reassessment Main exam: In-Person, Open Book (Restricted), 180 minutes during September (Reassessment Period) 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
0% 100%


Coursework Exam
0% 100%
Module supervisor and teaching staff



External examiner

Prof Edgar Turner
University of Cambridge
Professor of Insect Ecology
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information
Life Sciences (School of)

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