APMA102-Ecosystem Services

Module Provider: School of Agriculture, Policy and Development
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2020/1

Module Convenor: Dr Martin Lukac

Email: m.lukac@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

The planet carries humans on its shoulders, its ecosystems constantly providing a myriad of things and subsidies which we use and often abuse. You will learn the fundamentals of the relationship between the humans and the provision of Ecosystem Services, their consumption, management, and conservation. You will discuss your ideas on how to preserve Ecosystem Services in a range of UK environments with researchers and practitioners, who bring cutting edge information and knowledge to the module. 


To encourage and enable students to:

~ understand the role of Earth’s ecosystems in underpinning human society

~ develop an understanding of the hidden subsidies and feedbacks which are often not factored in human decision making

~ evaluate the contribution of ecosystem services to human economy and its stability

~ think beyond the immediately obvious and uncover relationships and feedback between the natural environment and human society

~ develop reasoning and communication skills in moderated discussions and question sessions during lectures and external visits 

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

~ critically assess the reasoning behind the quantification and valuation of ecosystem services in modern society, with particular regard to underpinning the existence of human society

~ explore the potential consequences of overuse of various types of ecosystem services

~ explain the relationship between ecosystem function and delivery of ecosystem services

~ describe existing and future pol icy mechanisms designed to promote ecosystem management favourable to ecosystem service delivery

Additional outcomes:

~ communicate findings and conclusions clearly in writing and orally to academic staff and your peers 

~ demonstrate good academic practice in use, citation and referencing of source material

Outline content:

Lectures on ecosystem ecology and the relationship between diversity and function will be complemented by a description of ecosystem dynamics as influenced by human interventions. These topics will be used to build up a detailed picture of the link between ecosystem services and human wellbeing, with further linkages to poverty alleviation and development. The module will explain the principles of assessment and valuation of ecosystem services and existing governance structures and policy mec hanisms, with a discussion of issues of spatial and temporal scales, location of negative and positive impacts and externalities. Lectures will also focus on ecosystem management, with the study of trade-offs, managing complex systems, participatory ecosystem management. Field visits will illustrate and highlight the contribution of ecosystem services to the provision of stable living environment. Students will be encouraged to participate in group discussions throughout the module.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
The principles and underlying rationale of ecosystem services will be covered during lectures. Three field visits are planned to illustrate the function and contribution of ecosystem services in contrasting environments.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 14
External visits 12
Guided independent study: 74
Total hours by term 100
Total hours for module 100

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 50
Report 50

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

The module will be assessed by one piece of written coursework (50%) and a report to be submitted one week after the end of spring term (50%).

Formative assessment methods:

Penalties for late submission:
Penalties for late submission on this module are in accordance with the University policy. Please refer to page 5 of the Postgraduate Guide to Assessment for further information: http://www.reading.ac.uk/internal/exams/student/exa-guidePG.aspx

Assessment requirements for a pass:

A mark of 50% overall.

Reassessment arrangements:
Re-submission of coursework during the August/September resit period.

Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
1) Required text books:
2) Specialist equipment or materials:
3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
4) Printing and binding:
5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

Last updated: 27 July 2020


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