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Undergraduate Study

Third Year Courses

A compulsory three-day field camp during first semester

36 NQF credits at HEQSF level 7

Convener: Associate Professor C L Moloney

Course entry requirements: BIO2014F, SEA2004F (or concurrent registration for SEA2004F)

Course outline:

The course aims to develop and promote skills in the marine sciences in South Africa, making students familiar with global marine ecosystem structure and functioning, but with an emphasis on South African systems. Lectures, tutorials and practicals will be aimed at developing interpretative and integrative skills built during previous courses (e.g. SEA2004F; BIO2014F; BIO1004S; BIO1000F), which cover large amounts of more basic information. A further important aim will be to develop numerical and written skills, as well as introducing students to modern research techniques and approaches.

Lecture times: Monday - Friday, 1st period, Practicals: One per week, Wednesday, 14h00 - 17h00. Attendance is compulsory for all lectures and practicals.

DP requirements: Completion of at least 70% of deliverables (including class tests); minimum of 40% for class record; submission of all assignments on time; attendance at practicals and the field camp.

Assessment: A 3-hour examination written in June, with a sub-minimum of 40% will count for 50% of the course. The class record will count 50% of the course mark, allocated as follows: practical classes (assessed weekly) count 15%; assignments count 20%; class tests count 15%.


 

36 NQF credits at HEQSF level 7

Convener: Associate Professor A G West

Course entry requirements: BIO1000F or BIO1000H, BIO1004F/S; approved 2000-level semester Science course.

Course outline:

How are organisms and ecosystems affected by the drivers of global environmental change? In this course we briefly explore the drivers of global change, both natural (e.g. Milankovitch cycles, tectonic drift) and anthropogenic (e.g. greenhouse gas emissions, pollution, land-use change), and then examine how these drivers influence (and are influenced by) terrestrial and marine biological systems. We cover a variety of topics, ranging from organismal and physiological responses to global change, biodiversity, global biogeochemical cycles, ecological function and ecosystem services. While the majority of the class is focussed on contemporary global change, this is contextualized relative to palaeohistorical environmental change. The course provides an integrated knowledge of contemporary environmental issues related to global change (e.g. carbon sequestration, climate change mitigation, land-use change) and its implications for biodiversity, ecosystem services and human wellbeing).

Lecture times: Monday - Friday, 2nd period, Practicals: One per week, Monday, 14h00 - 17h00. Attendance is compulsory for all lectures and practicals.

DP requirements: Completion of at least 70% of deliverables (including class tests), minimum of 40% for class record.

Assessment: A 3-hour examination written in June, with a sub-minimum of 40%, will count for 50% of the course. Coursework marks will be allocated as follows: Practical classes (assessed weekly) count 15%; research project counts 20%; class tests count 15%.


 

36 NQF credits at HEQSF level 7

Convener: Professor L Gillson

Course entry requirements: BIO2014F

Course outline:

This course introduces students to the science and practice of conservation biology, beginning with an overview of conservation issues, the value of biodiversity, extinction risks and the history and philosophy of conservation. The conservation of biodiversity is explored at multiple levels, including the diversity of genes, species, populations and ecosystems. At the species and population levels, we consider the role of life history and behaviour in the management of populations in the real world. The conservation and management of ecosystems is considered in terms of important processes, such as disturbance, re-wilding and threats by alien species. This course includes consideration of conservation, society, landscapes and ecosystem services. Issues to be considered here include: incentives, access, who benefits from conservation, legal aspects and management policies.

Lecture times: Monday - Friday, 2nd period, Tutorials, by arrangement, Practicals: One per week, Monday, 14h00 - 17h00. Attendance is compulsory for all lectures and practicals.

DP requirements: Completion of at least 70% of deliverables (including class tests), submission of assignments by due date and 40% subminimum for the class record.

Assessment: A 3-hour examination written in November, with a sub-minimum of 40%, will count for 50% of the course. Coursework marks will be allocated as follows: Practical classes (assessed weekly) count 20%; project work counts 15%; two class tests count 15%.


 

36 NQF credits at HEQSF level 7

Convener: Associate Professor C G Attwood

Course entry requirements: BIO2014F; BIO3002F is recommended.

Course outline:

This course covers the science that supports renewable marine resource management. Topics include the diversity and life-history strategies of living marine resources, the diversity of fish and fisheries, surplus production, ecological responses to exploitation, monitoring and assessment techniques, regulatory strategies, resource economics, diversity and principles of marine aquaculture, and marine conservation theory and practise.

Lecture times: Monday - Friday, 3rd period, Tutorials: By arrangement, Practicals: One per week, Thursday, 14h00 - 17h00. Attendance is compulsory for all lectures and practicals.

DP requirements: Completion of at least 70% of deliverables (including class tests); 40% for class record; attendance of practicals; submission of assignments on schedule.

Assessment: A 3-hour examination written in November, with a sub-minimum of 40%, will count for 50% of the course. Coursework marks will be allocated as follows: Practical classes count 10%; project work counts 20%; two class tests count 20%.


 

This course is a residential two-week field course, occurring before term starts. During term time tutorials and various assignments need to be completed.

36 NQF credits at HEQSF level 7

Convener: Professor M D Cramer

Course entry requirements: BIO2014F

Course outline:

Ecological and evolutionary processes together determine patterns of biodiversity. This African-centric ecology and evolution course utilises regional examples within the global context to illustrate plant and animal ecology and evolution. The course starts with community assembly and the mechanisms (e.g. functional traits) that contribute to species coexistence (e.g. niche construction) and turnover (competition/facilitation for resources) between communities and the results of this (e.g. succession and alternate states). The role of disturbance (e.g. fire, herbivory, predation) in structuring communities and the roles of adaptation versus exaptation are then considered. Alien invasions are considered in the context of the supposed “empty niche” and as current examples of dispersalism and mechanisms (e.g. traits) of coexistence and competition. This is followed by behavioural ecology, focusing on how competition and cooperation between and within species affects evolutionary fitness. This leads into analytical biogeography, considering the distribution of species and how this was established (i.e. vicariance versus dispersalism) before discussing the evolution and coexistence of species regionally and globally. The course is based on a two-week field-trip before the semester starts, with assignment hand-ins and tutorials during the semester.

Lecture times: Monday - Friday, 5th period, -Tutorials: By arrangement in 5th period, Practicals: One per week, Tuesday, 14h00 - 17h00. Attendance is compulsory for all lectures and practicals.

DP requirements: Completion of at least 70% of deliverables (including class tests), minimum of 40% for class record and attendance of two week field-camp.

Assessment: An examination, written in June, with a subminimum of 40%, counts for 50% of the course mark. The class record, which counts for the balance, is made up as follows: practicals 30%, field-camp seminar 10%, class test 10%.


 

36 NQF credits at HEQSF level 7

Convener: Associate Professor Arjun Amar

Course entry requirements: BIO2014F, approved 2000-level Science STA or MAM course.

Course outline:

In an era of "big data", the ability to work with large amounts of numerical data is an important skill. Biological systems are notoriously complex across all levels of organisation, and are often difficult to manipulate experimentally on meaningful temporal and spatial scales. Mathematical models provide a means of gaining insight into such systems, allowing us to disentangle complicated processes, focus on variables of interest to a particular research question, test alternative hypotheses, make predictions, and help present ideas in an unambiguous fashion. This course deals with the use, interpretation, and limits of modelling approaches in biology. In a series of modules exploring processes ranging from the behaviour of genes to understanding global scale distributions of species and communities, students will gain experience in question formulation, model development and parameterisation, interpretation of results, and model critique.

Lecture times: Monday - Friday, 5th period, Tutorials: By arrangement, Practicals: One per week, Tuesday, 14h00 - 17h00. Attendance is compulsory for all lectures and practicals.

DP requirements: Completion of at least 70% of deliverables (including class tests), minimum of 40% for class record and attendance at practicals.

Assessment: A 3-hour examination written in November, with a subminimum of 40%, will count 50% of the course. Coursework marks will be based on 1 Class Test (8%) and on the write-ups associated with 6 modules in which students will develop an appropriate model/quantitative approach, implement it, and then interpret the outcomes.