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Unit of study_

AVBS3004: Wildlife Conservation

Semester 1, 2022 [Normal day] - Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

With multiple pressures on earth's biodiversity, the field of Wildlife Conservation is increasing in importance, empowering decision makers to understand and protect wildlife and the ecosystems which support them. This unit of study explores the techniques and methods for undertaking conservation research, including population genetics and forensic analysis of eDNA, the complexity introduced when considering multiple stakeholders, and the use of the scientific method to inform wildlife conservation issues. You will investigate biodiversity surveys, species identification, forensics, phylogeography, population genetics and genetic management applied to wildlife conservation, and the socio-political and cultural issues which influence stakeholders. You will analyse current issues within wildlife conservation and articulate and acknowledge a variety of stakeholder views including Indigenous Australian perspectives, both orally and in written form. You will understand the processes involved in formulating an evidence-based management approach to contentious wildlife conservation issues, and how the scientific method can be leveraged to build a compelling conservation management plan.

Unit details and rules

Unit code AVBS3004
Academic unit Life and Environmental Sciences Academic Operations
Credit points 6
AVBS3003 or AVBS4003
12 credit points from (AVBS2XXX or BIOL2XXX or GEGE2X01 or QBIO2XXX)
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Catherine Grueber,
Lecturer(s) Catherine Herbert,
Jaime Gongora,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Final exam (Record+) Type B final exam Online Final exam
Canvas timed quiz
40% Formal exam period 2 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Small test Online Tutorial participation
MCQ, short answer quizzes with tutorial activities
15% Multiple weeks 30 mins/quiz
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO5 LO4
Presentation group assignment Participation in tutorials and practicals
Presentation of Tutorial Work
5% Week 03 5 min
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4
Assignment Written assignment
Critical writing exercise reflecting on recent extinctions
20% Week 10 1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO4 LO5 LO6
Assignment group assignment Group project
Written report
20% Week 13 3000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO3 LO4 LO5
Participation Attendance
All tutorials, practicals and fieldwork activities are compulsory.
0% Weekly Up to 6 hours
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO4 LO3 LO2
group assignment = group assignment ?
Type B final exam = Type B final exam ?

Assessment summary

  • Online final exam: the final exam will cover all material in the unit from both lectures and practical classes/tutorials. The exam will have a mixture of multiple choice questions and short answer questions. Final exam: This assessment is compulsory and failure to attend, attempt, or submit will result in the award of an AF grade. If a second replacement exam is required, this exam may be delivered via an alternative assessment method, such as a viva voce (oral exam). The alternative assessment will meet the same learning outcomes as the original exam. The format of the alternative assessment will be determined by the unit coordinator.
  • Participation in tutorials and practicals: prepare and deliver an in-class presentation based on the tutorial work.
  • Group project: this assessment will require you to prepare a written report on the group project you have undertaken this semester. Choosing from a selection of projects you are provided, you will work in a group on a wildlife conservation and management case study to answer a specific wildlife conservation question using real data. Prepare a report following the format of a scientific paper.
  • Online tutorial participation: multiple choice and short answer quizzes that will test your understanding of the material covered in the tutorials. These online quizzes will only be open for responses for a 24 h period, as specified on Canvas.
  • Attendances: all tutorials, practicals and fieldwork activities are compulsory.
  • Written assignment: critical writing exercise reflecting on a recent extinction. Choosing from a selection of scenarios you are provided: summarise species-specific details relevant to the extinction, evaluate evidence for the cause of extinction, propose an appropriate (retrospective) management action, and use evidence to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your plan.

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

At HD level, a student demonstrates a flair for the subject as well as a detailed and comprehensive understanding of the unit material. A ‘High Distinction’ reflects exceptional achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates the ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding to produce original solutions for novel or highly complex problems and/or comprehensive critical discussions of theoretical concepts.


75 - 84

At DI level, a student demonstrates an aptitude for the subject and a well-developed understanding of the unit material. A ‘Distinction’ reflects excellent achievement and is awarded to a student who demonstrates an ability to apply their subject knowledge and understanding of the subject to produce good solutions for challenging problems and/or a reasonably well-developed critical analysis of theoretical concepts.


65 - 74

At CR level, a student demonstrates a good command and knowledge of the unit material. A ‘Credit’ reflects solid achievement and is awarded to a student who has a broad general understanding of the unit material and can solve routine problems and/or identify and superficially discuss theoretical concepts.


50 - 64

At PS level, a student demonstrates proficiency in the unit material. A ‘Pass’ reflects satisfactory achievement and is awarded to a student who has threshold knowledge.


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

Written assignments submitted late without permission (see Special Considerations: will incur a late penalty equal to 5% of the maximum awardable mark per day. These deductions will continue for 10 calendar days or until a solution for the assignment is released or marked assignments are returned to other students. At that point the mark awarded will be zero. For example, on an assignment given a mark of 70/100, the penalty would be 5 marks if submitted up to 24 hours late, resulting in a final mark of 65/100. If the assignment is submitted 6 days late, the penalty would be 30 marks and the final mark would be 40/100. If the assignment is more than 10 days late, the final mark will be zero.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Multiple weeks Conservation Case studies Lecture (10 hr) LO1 LO5 LO6
Conservation Group Project Project (6 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 01 Introduction to Wildlife Conservation Theory Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 02 Techniques for Wildlife Conservation Lecture and tutorial (5 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 03 Wildlife Conservation Challenges: Nationally and Internationally Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2
Techniques for Wildlife Conservation Tutorial (2 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 04 In-situ and Ex-situ Wildlife Conservation Lecture (3 hr) LO1 LO2 LO6
Techniques for Wildlife Conservation Tutorial (2 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 05 Data Collection and Experimental Design Lecture (3 hr) LO3 LO4
Data Collection using iNaturalist Field trip (2 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 06 Conservation Genetics Lecture (2 hr) LO3 LO4
Using eDNA as a Conservation Tool Science laboratory (3 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 07 Population Genetics Lecture (2 hr) LO3 LO4
Nuclear DNA Markers and Paternity Assignment Science laboratory (3 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 08 Genetics and Captive Breeding Lecture (3 hr) LO3 LO4
Genetics and Captive Breeding Computer laboratory (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO6
Week 09 Taxonomy and Species Concepts Lecture (3 hr) LO4
Conservation Case Studies Computer laboratory (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO6
Week 10 Indigenous Knowledge Systems and Conservation Lecture (2 hr) LO2 LO5

Attendance and class requirements

Due to the exceptional circumstances caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, attendance requirements for this unit of study have been amended. Where online tutorials/workshops/virtual laboratories have been scheduled, students should make every effort to attend and participate at the scheduled time. Penalties will not be applied if technical issues, etc. prevent attendance at a specific online class. In that case, students should discuss the problem with the coordinator, and attend another session, if available.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. describe contemporary challenges faced by conservation biologists
  • LO2. articulate the complex interplay of stakeholders involved in wildlife conservation
  • LO3. use techniques employed by scientists to support an evidence-based approach to wildlife conservation
  • LO4. critically evaluate, interpret, and present the scientific data that underpins wildlife conservation decisions in real world scenarios
  • LO5. describe and appreciate the varied stakeholder views, particularly in contentious wildlife conservation decisions
  • LO6. critically evaluate the outcomes of wildlife conservation programs.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

No changes have been made since this unit was last offered. To address student feedback, we will: show more explicit linkage between the genetic concepts from lectures and applications described in case studies; outline the specific LO for each lecture; provide recommended readings/references for students who want to get familiar with/better understand concepts before class or expand their knowledge; and provide lecture scripts where possible. We acknowledge that the remote learning/online teaching including different styles of teaching have represented many challenges for students and we academics do what is in our hands to minimise this impact. Besides all these challenges, we continue encouraging students exercising their responsibility to actively engage in this and all learning activities and ask questions during the actual classes and tutorial to clarify concepts.

Work, health and safety

We are governed by the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011 and Codes of Practice. Penalties for non-compliance have increased. Everyone has a responsibility for health and safety at work. The University’s Work Health and Safety policy explains the responsibilities and expectations of workers and others, and the procedures for managing WHS risks associated with University activities.

General Laboratory Safety Rules

  • No eating or drinking is allowed in any laboratory under any circumstances
  • A laboratory coat and closed-toe shoes are mandatory
  • Follow safety instructions in your manual and posted in laboratories
  • In case of fire, follow instructions posted outside the laboratory door
  • First aid kits, eye wash and fire extinguishers are located in or immediately outside each laboratory
  • As a precautionary measure, it is recommended that you have a current tetanus immunisation. This can be obtained from University Health Service:


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