BIOSCI 747 : Biosecurity and Invasion Biology


2021 Semester One (1213) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

The science of invasion biology, including stages of the invasion process and ecological interactions between species. The impacts of invasive alien species in different ecosystems. Population and community ecology, in relation to biosecurity.

Course Overview

This postgraduate science course explores the science of invasion biology and its relevance to biosecurity management. The course is structured using the different stages of the invasion process (dispersal, establishment and spread) and also explores how to quantify the resulting impacts of invasive species. Students will learn why the various stages of the invasion pathway require different management intervention strategies. The first day of the course introduces the students to the biosecurity system in Aotearoa-New Zealand, and the role of the Biosecurity Act and the various agencies involved. There is a strong focus on evaluating current best practice for assessing the risk of species becoming invasive and consequently posing a risk to economy, health, social and cultural, and environmental values. Students will develop an in-depth understanding of the process of developing and critiquing the validity of species distribution models via a modelling workshop. This intensive block course is based around debates and small group workshops, where students challenge key concepts, such as the invasibility of communities, and develop research hypotheses and evaluate techniques for detecting invasive species impacts. This course strongly aligns with employer requirements and there are frequent opportunities for interaction with agency experts. 

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
Graduate Profile: Master of Science

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Differentiate the stages of the invasion process and evaluate how these link to species biology (Capability 1 and 2)
  2. Evaluate abiotic factors and biotic interactions that might facilitate invasion and impact, and predict invasion success and impact in different ecosystem contexts (Capability 1 and 2)
  3. Work collaboratively in groups to critique and improve risk assessment techniques, challenge key invasion biology concepts, and use the scientific method to develop research proposals (Capability 2, 3 and 4)
  4. Communicate and debate invasion biology challenges both orally (to the class) and in written form (Capability 2, 3 and 4)
  5. Apply species distribution modelling techniques to species risk assessments and critically evaluate modelling techniques and species distribution heat maps (Capability 2, 3, 4 and 6)
  6. Apply their knowledge of the invasion pathway and risk assessment to a real world example, by developing an Environmental Protection Agency submission that assesses the risk of a species proposed for importation to Aotearoa-New Zealand (Capability 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Species distribution modelling exercise 10% Individual Coursework
Species risk assessment 55% Individual Coursework
Policy submission 35% Individual Coursework
Assessment Type Learning Outcome Addressed
1 2 3 4 5 6
Species distribution modelling exercise
Species risk assessment
Policy submission


For more information and to find contact details for the SBS Tuākana coordinator, please see

Key Topics

  • Biosecurity system in Aotearoa-New Zealand
  • Invasion process
  • Dispersal
  • Establishment
  • Spread
  • Impact of invasive species

Special Requirements

This is a block course requiring attendance and participation from 9am - 5pm for 4 continuous days in
the first week of Semester only.

Workload Expectations

This courses are designed so that the average student should be able to pass by spending 150 hours on this course. Use the following as a guide.

  • Contact time = 32 hours 
  • Species risk assessment = 55 hours 
  • Policy submission  = 35 hours 
  • Pre-reading and reading throughout = 28 hours 

TOTAL 150 hours

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience

The block course experience is based on student discussion/debate, workshopping and problem-solving scenarios. You will also hear from agency experts.

This is a block course requiring attendance and participation from 9am - 5pm for 4 continuous days in the first week of Semester only. Please contact the coordinator (Margaret Stanley to discuss any issues you might have attending the entire block course.

Learning Resources

There are a range of digital resources made available in Canvas.

No lecture recordings are available for this postgraduate course. Most of the course is discussion and problem-solving scenarios. While powerpoints will be used, these are loaded onto Canvas prior to the beginning of the Semester so that you can familiarise yourself with the material prior to 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.

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 but the block course seminars/workshops will also continue to run in person on campus.
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 07/01/2021 10:38 p.m.