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Conservation Biology


Admission requirements

Required course:

  • Environmental Science


This is an introduction to the discipline of Conservation Biology. In this course, we will discuss ecological and evolutionary concepts that are relevant to diagnosing and treating the decline of populations, species and ecosystem health (including population dynamics, island biogeography and conservation genetics). We will discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different conservation tools and approaches, as well as other important considerations for setting up a conservation plan (for example, what is the end goal and why; do you focus on a species or habitat; and how do you measure progress?). We will discuss the reality of implementing scientific theory into conservation practice, and why the incorporation of societal, political and/or economic considerations is important to the success of conservation programmes.

In addition to class presentations on selected topics, students will produce a conservation action plan for a selected case study.

Course Objectives

At the end of this course, the students are able to:

  • Describe and discuss processes that lead to declines in populations, biodiversity and ecosystem functioning

  • Explain the relevance and use of ecological and evolutionary theories and principles for conservation biology

  • Discuss how the concept of context dependency applies to conservation biology

  • Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of different conservation approaches

  • Explain how an interdisciplinary approach is essential to addressing conservation challenges

  • Conduct a situation analysis for a conservation case, using data from the scientific literature, highlighting the drivers of decline, direct threats and traits of the population/ecosystems that may assist and/or hinder conservation efforts

  • Critically evaluate conservation approaches for appropriateness and feasibility for different case studies

  • Construct a conservation action plan for a case study, based on relevant literature, a situation analysis and critical evaluation of different conservation approaches, and communicate the plan to a lay audience.


Timetables for courses offered at Leiden University College in 2022-2023 will be published on this page of the e-Prospectus.

Mode of instruction

The main mode of instruction will centre around lectures and class discussions on theories, principles, current topics and case studies in conservation biology. In addition, students are required to complete individual and group assignments. To facilitate completion of the conservation action plan assignment, lecture content is aligned with the interim deadlines of this assignment, and there is time for discussion (the vast majority of the work is conducted outside class hours). Attendance is compulsory. An excursion to a conservation programme is also planned for the Block 4 (not the Block 2) iteration of the course (outside class hours, attendance compulsory).

Assessment Method

  • Article discussion (groups assignment: 15%)

  • Conservation Action Plan (individual assignment: 40%)

  • 2x mid-term exams (individual: 20% + 15%)

  • Participation (10%)

Reading list

Required reading materials will be provided by the instructor. No textbook required.


Courses offered at Leiden University College (LUC) are usually only open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Leiden University students who participate in one of the university’s Honours tracks or programmes may register for one LUC course, if availability permits. Registration is coordinated by the Education Coordinator,


Dr. Emily Strange,
Dr. Michiel Veldhuis,