Due to the Corona virus it is unclear how the programmes will take place. For the latest news please check the course page in Blackboard/Brightspace.


nl en

Conservation Biology




Admissions requirements

Environmental Science and either Quantitative Research Methods or Biostatistics.


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 address 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 conduct a research project, which includes using models to assess different conservation approaches and interpreting the results.

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 principles for conservation biology

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

  • Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of different conservation approaches

  • Assess the viability of a wildlife population under different conservation scenarios, using models and data from the scientific literature

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


Once available, timetables will be published here.

Mode of instruction

The main mode of instruction will centre around lectures and discussions on principles, current topics and case studies in conservation biology. In addition, students are required to complete individual and group assignments. To facilitate completion of these assignments, there will be some time set aside during lectures to discuss and work on assignments (the majority of the work is conducted outside class hours). Attendance is compulsory.


Assessment will occur through an exam, and individual and group assignments. Participation in class will also determine part of the final grade.

  • Exam: 35%

  • Group assignment: 20%

  • Individual assignment: 40%

  • Course participation: 5%

Exam: The exam will consist of a combination of short-answer and essay questions based on the content covered in class.

Group assignment: In groups you will compare and contrast selected case studies, and present your findings in class.

Individual assignment: For this research project, you will collect data (from the literature), run models to assess the effect of different conservation scenarios on a wildlife population, and present your findings in a report.

Course participation: Throughout the course, you will be assessed on your class participation.


There will be a Blackboard site available for this course. Students will be enrolled at least one week before the start of classes.

Reading list

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


This course is open to LUC students and LUC exchange students. Registration is coordinated by the Curriculum Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact course.administration@luc.leidenuniv.nl.


Dr. Ellen Cieraad, e.cieraad@cml.leidenuniv.nl