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Master in

Integrated planning for rural development and environmental management

Last edition: 1st part: 26 September 2016 – 9 June 2017 / 2nd part: September 2017 – June 2018 ··

Master in

Integrated planning for rural development and environmental management

General information on the Unit

Contact hours: 46 (26 lectures, 20 practicals)
Personal work hours: 79
Character: Compulsory
Venue: Mediterranean Agronomic Institute of Zaragoza
- Developed in the first academic year of the Master, during the first semester.
- The assessment of this Unit consists in a written exam and the global assessment of the group work, and is carried out during the first semester.
Requisites and permanence
There are no previous requisites
Learning methods
Combination of theoretical and practical sessions, and study and work in groups.
Lecturers deliver the topics in Spanish. The documents supplied by the lecturers may be written in Spanish or in English.


Presentation of the Unit and context within the syllabus

This Unit introduces the characterization of the elements of the natural environment: water, soil, climate and vegetation, as well as their functions and interrelationships in the system at different scales, including examples where the interactions are analyzed and elements for managing these resources are provided.


Specific competences

  • ­ SC2 Identifying the physical, landscape and biological diversity of an area, understanding the production processes, both of the natural systems and the agricultural production, and estimating their sustainability. [focusing on physical and biological diversity]
  • ­SC4 Characterizing and assessing the different sub-systems (physical, economic and social) and elements interacting in rural areas, and diagnosing their potentials and limitations. [focusing on the physical sub-system]

General competences

  • GC1 Integrating scientific and technical knowledge and applying them discerningly.
  • ­ GC3 Analyzing results or strategies and elaborating conclusions which contribute to clarify the problems and to find possible solutions.
  • ­ GC6 Team-working and promoting exchange and collaboration attitudes with other students, researchers and professionals.


Learning outcomes

The student, at the end of the learning of this Unit:

  • Analyzes the role of the physical environment in planning and land management, and understands the mutual interlinked nature of the elements making up the physical environment
  • Knows the main strategies and tools for the assessment of water resources, the preservation of their quality and their sustainable management and planning.
  • Is acquainted with the main principles of primary production, its components, and the fundamental factors conditioning its management.
  • Knows the different types of soil, their characteristics, the problems associated with some of them and the mitigation methods.
  • Is aware of the importance of the conservation of natural resources and their integrated management to solve specific problems.
  • Has acquired practical experience in the collection of field data for resource evaluation and landscape interpretation.



  • Climate, water, soil and vegetation: characterization and functions
  • Interaction of natural system elements at different scales
  • Case study: Risk derived from extreme precipitation in mountain areas


Learning activities

Learning activity 1: Lectures combined with case studies. Some lectures are delivered where the field practicals take place
ECTS: 3.9
Hours: 97
Percentage of contact: 27%

Learning activity 2: Field practicals to:
-  acquire practical knowledge on the growth of natural vegetation, the distribution of species, the structure of the plant cover, and the water-vegetation interaction, consisting in the visualization and collection of data about biomass types and density, and measurement of vegetation growth.
-  acquire practical knowledge on soil types, properties, problems of usage, classification and water-soil-vegetation interaction, consisting in the description and classification of soils in the field and soil prospection.
The students perform the data collection divided into groups and share the information on the methodologies used and the problems encountered.
ECTS: 0.4
Hours: 10
Percentage of contact: 100%

Learning activity 3: Solving of exercises and problems based on part of the data collected in field, carrying out:
-  analysis of the evaporation coefficient in the study area.
-  analysis of the vegetation density in the plots sampled during the field practicals.
-  vegetation diagrams of the sampled areas.
The students do the exercises divided into groups and share the information on the methodologies used and the results obtained.
ECTS: 0.4
Hours: 10
Percentage of contact: 100%

Learning activity 4: Group work, consisting in the characterization of different soil types in the study area of Unit 8. Each group focuses on one soil type, working on its characterization, defining its limitations and its advantages for different land uses.
ECTS: 0.3
Hours: 8
Percentage of contact: 0%


Assessment methods

Assessment system 1: Written exams, composed by questions provided by the different lecturers of the Unit. The questions are concrete and require a short development. The exam assesses the content of lectures and the understanding of the field practicals and the exercises.
In the written exams, the questions are marked according to the technical and conceptual precision of the answer, and to the reasoning approach.
Weighting: 72% of the final score of the Unit

Assessment system 2: Global evaluation of the group work. Each group presents a written document. Understanding of the methodology, the criteria applied and quality of the conclusions will be assessed. The score is the same for each member of the group.
Weighting: 28% of the final score of the Unit



José María GARCÍA RUÍZ, CSIC-IPE, Zaragoza (Spain)
Luis GARROTE, Univ. Politécnica Madrid (Spain)
Javier MARTÍN VIDE, Univ. Barcelona (Spain)
Santiago SABATÈ, Univ. Barcelona (Spain)
Ramón VALLEJO, CEAM, Valencia (Spain)