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.


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Conservation Biology




Admissions requirements

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.


Once available, timetables will be published in 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 will occur through exams, and an individual and group assignment. Participation in class will also determine part of the final grade.

  • Exam(s): 35% - The examination will consist of two exams (15 and 20%), both containing a combination of multiple choice and short-answer questions based on the content covered in class.

  • Assignment 1: 15% - You will present and critique selected scientific literature to the class, and guide a class discussion. (week 1-6)

  • Assignment 2: 40% - For this research project, you will construct a conservation action plan, including a conceptual threat model, opportunities for conservation action and monitoring plans, using scientific literature; you will present your findings in a report. (week 8, with interim deadlines for sub-sections)

  • Course participation: 10% - Throughout the course, you will be assessed on your class preparation and participation. (week 1-7)


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 Education Coordinator. Interested non-LUC students should contact course.administration@luc.leidenuniv.nl.


Dr. Emily Strange, e.f.strange@cml.leidenuniv.nl (Block 2)
Dr. Michiel Veldhuis, m.p.veldhuis@cml.leidenuniv.nl (Block 4)