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Course Description

MBC511: Research analysis: a process of inquiry (Credit: 4)

Lecturer: Dr. Sok Serey

The formation of an idea, a question and an opinion is based on previously acquired information and knowledge that, in turn, is collected either an ad hoc, random or systematic manner. Collection and analysis of data through direct studies in nature or through experimental setups in a laboratory are fundamental to all kinds of scientific research. The manner in which questions are asked, however, affects the way a study is setup to answer the respective question too, and therefore a systematic and replicable process of inquiry is fundamental to any kind of modern science. In addition, collection and analysis of data also supports decision-makers to prepare informed decisions about the management of wildlife and natural resources. Modern scientific research is based on principles that evolved 2,500 years ago in Greece and this course examines the history of critical thinking and discusses the difference between Tenacity, Intuition, Authority, Rationalism, Empiricism and Science. It touches on the topics of data, analysis and interpretation, deduction vs. induction, data quality and types, processing survey data, and interpreting graphs and other illustrations. This course teaches the students the difference between scientific research and general information gathering, and aims to enable students to formulate specific research questions and to design appropriate methodologies that can provide answers to these questions, with the ultimate goal of understanding of nature better. Course assessment is based on a written assignment (50%), a written exam (40%) and class participation (10%).

MBC512: Research Methods & Applied Statistics (Credit: 4)

Lecturers: Prof. Meak Kamerane and Dr. Neil M. Furey

Wise natural resource management depends on the collection and analysis of reliable data upon which biologists and managers can base decisions and recommendations. The objective of this course is to develop the student's ability to formulate hypotheses and research projects testing these that make appropriate use of sampling theory, data collection techniques and statistical tools. The course emphasizes the practical application of different sampling designs and statistical tools. Students learn how to develop and apply appropriate sampling designs and statistical tests to determine the degree of support for specific hypotheses, and the importance of eliminating confounding variables and bias. At the end of the course each student will have a clear understanding of the scientific research method and how it can be applied to their own research. This specifically strengthens each student's ability to critically develop his or her own second year thesis project. Course assessment is based on a written assignment (60%), an exam (15%) and class participation (25%).

MBC513: Integrated Natural Resource Management (Credit: 5)

Lecturers: Dr. Mak Sithirith, Dr. Nicholas J. Souter

Cambodia has an abundance of natural resources such as, water, forests, fisheries, minerals and wildlife, but also has a high human population growth rate of 1.7 percent annually. People rely heavily on natural resources for their livelihoods. This course defines what sustainable use is and aims to familiarise students with practical techniques and key concepts for determining the sustainability of agriculture, forestry, hunting and other practices. Topics include: assessing natural resources and their economic value, measuring yield and carrying capacity, resolving conflicts, and the precautionary principle. The course especially focuses on contemporary challenges facing rural communities in developing countries, and the importance of natural resources for their food security and poverty alleviation. The roles of traditional management systems, land use planning, community forestry and fisheries, community-based wildlife conservation and ecotourism are discussed. The course includes case studies that illustrate successful and unsuccessful approaches, and their economic, environmental and social impact. Course assessment is based on a written assignment (50%), a written exam (40%) and class participation (10%).

MBC514: Global Climate Change (Credit: 3)

Mr Se Bunleng and Dr. Nicholas J.Souter

Global environmental change and particularly global warming and climate change, as a result of human activities, is now generally accepted as reality. While uncertainties remain as to the exact timing and regional character of many of the climate change impacts resulting from the 'enhanced greenhouse effect', a certain amount of change is now unavoidable. There is therefore a need to manage and adapt to these changing conditions and their biological, social, economic and political consequences. This course begins with the fundamentals of climate change science, focusing on the processes that drive climatic variability and change, and the roles of the terrestrial biosphere and the oceans in the global carbon cycle. The likely impacts of climate change on ecosystems and human activities are then considered, including biodiversity, system buffering and resilience, and geographical inequality and vulnerability. From here, a range of possible response strategies are investigated, with reference to international environmental treaties and emphasis on mitigation efforts, particularly emerging approaches in SE-Asia such as 'payments for ecosystem services' (PES) and 'reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation' (REDD and REDD+) schemes. Finally, existing strategies and efforts to improve adaptation to climate change consequences are considered in a Cambodian context. Course assessment is based on a written assignment (80%) and class participation (20%).

MBC515: Environmental Impact Assessment (Credit: 2)

Lecturers: Dr. Chhun Sophal and Dr. Minthuna Ngy/i>

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is an important procedure for ensuring that the likely effects of new development on the environment are fully understood and taken into account before the development is allowed to go ahead. In essence, EIA is an important tool to assist decision-making which helps ensure that development projects are designed in a sustainable way prior to their approval. In this context, EIA helps to determine if a development proposal is acceptable from environmental and social viewpoints, how given issues must be addressed to ensure that it is, and to establish terms and conditions for undertaking a project. Due to limitations in the EIA process and lack of understanding about its application however, EIA often fails to achieve the purpose for which it is intended. The purpose of this course is therefore to provide students - as future practitioners or stakeholders in EIA processes - with a working knowledge of EIA concepts and techniques and how these can be applied in Cambodia. Course assessment is based on student presentations and contributions to group discussions during the course (100%).

MBC516: Environmental Law (Credit: 2)

Lecturer: Mr. Soth Sang-Bonn

Legislation and law enforcement are among the most important ways of ensuring that natural resources are conserved or used sustainably. This course examines and appraises general principles of environmental law, as developed in international and national legislation of jurisdictions around the world and in Cambodia. The course discusses Cambodia's responsibility in relation to regional, and international trade agreements (e.g., WTO) and international conventions (e.g., United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Convention on Biological Diversity, and CITES). The aim is to ensure that students are familiar with the basic concepts of law as far as they are relevant for environmental policies, as well as with relevant international agreements and Cambodian national legislation and their implementation. Course assessment isa written assignment (40%), a written exam (40%) and presentation (20%).

MBC517: Scientific Writing and Data Presentation (Credit: 2)

Lecturer: To be determined

Clear writing and presentation skills are vital for effective communication in science. Focussing on the main presentation forms (oral, visual and written), the aim of this course is to strengthen students' abilities to collate, interpret and communicate scientific information. The course begins with an overview of Basic English grammar and writing techniques. Students then learn how to research topics and obtain information from written sources, with an emphasis on utilising and transforming information into knowledge. The final part of the course focuses on presentation methods, where students develop their data interpretation and presentation skills through a variety of graphs and charts, and learn to choose the most appropriate presentation forms to suit different circumstances. Course assessment is based on attendance (20%), oral assignment (40%) and poster (40%).

MBC521: Species Conservation (Credit: 6)

Lecturers: Dr. Neil M. Furey and Mr. Chhin Sophea

Preventing the extinction of endangered wild animals and plants is a growing challenge for both developed and developing nations. This course introduces students to the wide range of problems that arise when conserving endangered species, and the variety of possible tools and solutions. Focusing at the population level, students learn about the social and genetic dynamics of wild populations and the factors that make some populations more prone to extinction than others. The course then describes the application of conservation status criteria, as well as introducing the students to important recovery solutions such as captive breeding and propagation, ranching, head-starting, reintroduction, translocation, disease control and invasive species control. Case studies are used to illustrate and discuss current problems facing wildlife managers in SE Asia and Cambodia. Course assessment is based on a written assignment (50%), written exam (40%) and class participation (10%).

MBC522: Behavioural Ecology (Credit: 5)

Lecturer: Dr Ith Saveng and Mr Chhin Sophea

This course begins with an introduction to evolution, the theoretical cornerstone for almost all contemporary species and habitat conservation issues. Through this, students become familiar with evolutionary history and important events in the history of life, including human evolution and the origin of life. Effective wildlife management depends on a good understanding of the target species' behaviour; for example, its food and foraging strategies, its reproductive biology, and its interactions with other species. The second part of the course considers the survival value of behaviour and how hypotheses may be formulated and experimentally tested. Subjects include: how individual animals make "economic" decisions, predator-prey relationships, resource competition, sexual conflict and selection, parental care and mating systems, and the roles of altruism and selfishness. To illustrate these, the course takes a comparative approach in discussing human beings in behavioural ecological contexts in relation to current resource use, and social and cultural structures. Students learn why differences in behaviour between individuals or species can affect management decisions, and how to design and implement behavioural studies. Laboratory experiments are included to familiarize students with the basics of setting up "test-models", small experiments, data recording and analysis. Course assessment is based on a written assignment (40%), written exam (30%), oral exam (20%) and class participation (10%).

MBC523: Geographical Information Systems (Credit: 2)

Lecturer: Mr. Sovann Chansopheaktra

This course teaches basic concepts and provides students with practical experience in using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and remote sensing as a tool for natural resource management. ArcGIS Desktop is employed to familiarise students with standard tools for viewing, managing, and processing GIS and remote sensing data. ArcGIS Desktop is a collection of software products used to create, import, edit, query, map, analyze, and publish geographic information. These tools can be applied in different fields of study, including the research thesis on the second year of the Masters programme. Course assessment is based on a practical exercise (80%) where each student develops thematic maps relating to natural resources in Cambodia, and class participation (20%).

MBC524: Ecological Field Techniques (Credit: 3)

Lecturers: Mr. Chhin Sophea, Mr. Neang Thy, Dr Nicholas Souter and Mr Chheang Sarak

Conservation biologists and natural resource managers cannot fully understand the complexities of the species populations or areas they manage without making visits to the field and identifying target species, populations or groups of species. This course teaches students the basics of good field craft, including map reading, compass use, GPS use, radio-use, field safety and first aid, emergency measures, reading tracks and other field signs, rapid habitat assessment, observation techniques and the art of camping. Students learn methods for describing and collecting specimens in the field, specimen preparation and storage, the use of identification keys, examining specific traits and the basics of animal and plant morphology. Much of this course takes place in the field and laboratory, focusing on animals and plants in their natural habitats. Course assessment is based on a written exam (60%), field trip participation (30%) and class participation (10%).

MBC525: Project Cycle Management (Credit: 2)

Lecturers: Dr. Seak Sophat, Mr. Spoan Vin

The ability to design, manage and evaluate an effective project is an essential skill for professionals working in the environmental or development sector. This course aims to familiarise students with the concepts and tools used in international project management with particular focus on the logical framework approach. Subjects include: the project cycle and its main phases, stakeholder analysis, problem analysis, objectives analysis, project strategy selection and devising the logical framework, defining roles and responsibilities, resource inputs, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and reporting. The course is highly practical, with exercises and analysis of real conservation and sustainable use projects. Course assessment is based on a written assignment (80%) and class participation (20%).

MBC526: Protected Areas Management (Credit: 2)

Lecturer: Dr. Loeung Kesaro

Protected areas (PAs) are the dominant global strategy for conserving biodiversity. This course aims to introduce students to the role and benefits of protected areas, and the main principles and challenges in managing them effectively, both nationally and worldwide. Topics include: how priority areas for conservation are identified, the different types and classification of protected areas, the ways in which area, size, shape and connectivity influence PA design, and the principal tools currently used to manage protected areas and to evaluate management effectiveness. The course concludes with a review of some of the more controversial aspects of protected areas and the potential benefits and costs they impose on stakeholders. With roughly 25% of Cambodia under protection, this course is of particular value for those interested in working in the natural resource management or development sectors. Course assessment is based on a written exam (60%), class presentation (20%) and class participation (20%)..

MBC631: Research Thesis (Credit: 12)

Coordinators: Dr. Nicholas J. Souter, Ms. Pheng Sokline

The research thesis is primarily a learning experience: learning the skills of research and exploring a topic in depth. Though it must involve research into an aspect of a discipline which the student has studied, this is broadly interpreted: it may involve research within or outside Cambodia and it may draw heavily on the students' specialist background or work experience. For their theses, students are encouraged to address subjects relevant to conservation and natural resource management issues in Cambodia. To this end, students frequently undertake their projects in collaboration with local or international organisations. A good Masters thesis is one in which the student clearly states the objective of the research; is well conceived and designed; uses appropriate research methods, is able to evaluate the results of the research in a broader context, and is well presented. A good thesis also shows evidence of wide reading; the ability to integrate information obtained from various sources into a unified whole, and the ability to write in accordance with accepted standards of scholarship, style and presentation. It is these general qualities and the ability to apply research skills that are critical, rather than the content of the research undertaken. The written thesis accounts for 80% of the total grade for the thesis, while an oral defence accounts for the remaining 20%.

Contact Info

Dr. Ith Saveng
Tel: (855)12 507 492
Mr. Kheam Sokha
Tel: (855)92 299 474
Email: mbiodiversity.info(at)rupp.edu.kh
Office: Room #415, Campus I

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