BIOSCI 731 : Biogeography


2021 Semester Two (1215) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

Examines the patterns of animal and plant distribution, and the processes that influence these patterns. Topics covered include equilibrium theory, island succession, vicariance and dispersal, insular speciation, and human migration and colonisation. A sound understanding of BIOSCI 395 or equivalent is assumed.

Course Overview

The course is designed for students with an interest in ecology and evolution at landscape scale in the biological sub-discipline of Biogeography. As such it equips graduates for PG programmes in landscape scale studies of ecology and evolution, and for careers in land management in agencies such as Regional Councils and Dept of Conservation. It also equips students very well for overseas study and employment particularly in Oceania.

The 731 Masters course in Biogeography is run as four teaching modules each conducted over a two week period. The first two hour component of each module is in the form of a two hour lecture-discussion group directed by Shane Wright. Students are then be given readings from that lecture and in the following two hour session a week later several students will give seminar presentations that typically take 20-30mins to deliver – this will be interspersed by questions and discussion so that the total period of learning is approximately two hours. 

Students who are approved to take this course remotely will have alternative arrangements made.

Course Requirements

No pre-requisites or restrictions

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 5: Independence and Integrity
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Understand and explain the key patterns and processes involved with each of the four topics in Biogeography that the teaching and learning modules for BIOSCI731 are based on. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)
  2. Analyse and critically address issues in Biogeography related to the four teaching modules. (Capability 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  3. Draw upon the extensive literature in the discipline to evaluate concepts and issues in the field of Biogeography. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5)
  4. Communicate effectively in both written and seminar settings the issues involved with the teaching modules in BIOSCI731 and show the capacity to relate these to other disciplines in biology with an emphasis on problem solving and solution seeking. This is particularly important to conservation biology and reserve design. (Capability 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Essay 20% Individual Coursework
Seminar 20% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 60% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4
Final Exam


SBS Tuakana Programme - I will as always engage in exam preparation tutorials for relevant Tuakana students.

Key Topics

Module topics are – 1. Species Abundance – 2. Geography of Speciation – 3. Community Level Evolution – 4. Insular Speciation 

Special Requirements

Both Seminar and Essay must be completed and each is a compulsory requirement for participation in the course.

Exam must be completed and is a compulsory requirement for the course.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 8 hours of lectures, and 8 hours of seminars, including ones own seminar presentation of 20-30mins; 30 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 50+ hours of work on assignments and/or exam preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

Attendance is required at scheduled seminars in which the student is presenting to complete and receive credit for that component of the course.

Lectures will not be available as recordings. Other learning activities including student seminars will not be available as recordings.

The course will not include live online events.

Attendance on campus is required for the Exam.

The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.

A remote version of the course can be made available to students located overseas because of border restrictions, or those with an exemption to study remotely.

Learning Resources

The main resources for the course are delivered to the students in terms of readings of journal articles from the relevant literature that pertain to each of the four modules and recordings of the seminar presentations given by peers within the course .

Student Feedback

During the course Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the staff responsible for the course and staff-student consultative committees.

At the end of the course students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback.

Your feedback helps to improve the course and its delivery for all students.

Other Information

Students who are approved to take this course remotely will have alternative arrangements made.

Digital Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.


The content and delivery of content in this course are protected by copyright. Material belonging to others may have been used in this course and copied by and solely for the educational purposes of the University under license.

You may copy the course content for the purposes of private study or research, but you may not upload onto any third party site, make a further copy or sell, alter or further reproduce or distribute any part of the course content to another person.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and your assessment is fair, and not compromised. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the University Website for information about how to proceed.

Level 1: Delivered normally as specified in delivery mode

Level 2: You will not be required to attend in person. All teaching and assessment will have a remote option. The following activities will also have an on campus / in person option: [Lectures, Seminars]

Level 3 / 4: All teaching activities and assessments are delivered remotely

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course you may be asked to submit your coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. The final decision on the completion mode for a test or examination, and remote invigilation arrangements where applicable, will be advised to students at least 10 days prior to the scheduled date of the assessment, or in the case of an examination when the examination timetable is published.

Published on 16/12/2020 02:03 p.m.