School of Biological Sciences

BSc (Hons) Environmental Biology

Do you want to tackle contemporary issues of conservation, biodiversity and human impact on the environment? Explore threats to our planet including extinction and degradation, and the innovative disciplines emerging in response to these forces. You will understand ecology and broad-base biology, applying theory to laboratory and field studies, preparing you for careers including environmental protection, ecosystems management and consultancy.

Do you aspire to a career in research, consultancy or conservation? This course includes both marine and terrestrial modules and offers a broad understanding of environment-organism interactions from microbiology, plant biology and zoology. By studying this course you’ll cover subject areas including ecology, ecotoxicology and the biological impact of climate change.

UCAS tariff
UCAS course code
Institution code
3 years
(+ optional placement)
Start date
September 2014
Course type

Key features

  • Develop an understanding of key concepts in biogeography, ecosystem services, habitat loss, pollution and climate change.
  • Compulsory overseas field courses to Spain and the Azores form key components of the degree and give first-hand experience of a range of ecosystems. There’s no extra to pay: it’s all included within your tuition fees!
  • Build a broad base of understanding and key skills in ecosystems biology, environmental microbiology, pollution monitoring, ecotoxicology and environmental biochemistry.
  • Optional work placement year between year two and the final year.
  • Develop transferable and personal skills under the guidance of personal tutors who are always on hand to who provide pastoral and academic support and are involved in cutting-edge research in environmental biology.
  • Prepare for a careers in such field as environmental protection, research, consultancy and ecosystems management.

Course details

  • Year 1
  • Year 1 establishes a broad foundation in the major areas of environmental biology. You will be introduced to the important aspects of ecosystems and biodiversity, evolution, animal and plant physiology, environmental microbiology and molecular and cellular biology. You will develop skills in biological investigation and take part in an overseas field course to Spain.
    Core modules
    • BIOL111 Animal and Plant Physiology

      This module is an introduction to the fundamental principles of comparative physiology, and the structure and function of the body systems of plants as well as animals. The module also introduces the concept of environmental physiology; how organisms respond to their environment.

    • MBIO111 Biodiversity

      In this module you’ll explore biodiversity in all its facets – from broad scale patterns of biodiversity to investigating key groups of organisms, all set in the context of how to value and conserve biodiversity.

    • BIOL113 Evolution and the Microbial World

      This module introduces the fundamentals of genetics and the principles underlying the evolution of life. The second part explores the ecophysiology and importance of microbes in the living world, including their role in global processes and interactions with other organisms.

    • BIOL112 Fundamentals of Ecology

      This module examines patterns of life on Earth now and in the past, and how an understanding of these patterns supports efforts to conserve biodiversity and manage resources sustainably. The module also offers opportunities to explore biodiversity and test hypotheses with field data.

    • BIOL117 Molecular and Cellular Biology

      This module contains an introduction to biochemistry including the structure/function of key biomacromolecules and central metabolic pathways. It also looks at eukaryotic cells, their structure and function, and the impact their origin has had on biological phenomena such as sex and aging.

    • BIOL1006 Skills in Biological Investigation and Experimentation

      The module explicitly addresses the acquisition of key subject-specific and transferable skills appropriate to discipline. It also initiates personal and career development planning. A variety of modes of learning are used, from small-group tutorials to lectures.

  • Year 2
  • You’ll develop your understanding of ecological principles and gain a firm foundation in key methods and techniques used in environmental monitoring. This year begins with an overseas field course to the Azores where you'll develop key field and laboratory skills and further your understanding of concepts developed in the first year. You’ll study a range of subjects and gain skills that integrate animal and plant biology and ecology with environmental biochemistry, physiology and microbiology.
    Core modules
    • BIOL201 Ecology

      This module introduces some fundamental principles of ecology at the level of individuals, populations and communities. Key topics include the way organisms use resources, population dynamics, predator-prey relationships, and major factors regulating ecological communities and biodiversity.

    • BIOL202 Environmental Plant Physiology

      This module looks at the plant-environment interactions in specific habitats, including those affected by human activity. In all cases we look at the challenges associated with the particular environment or biotic interaction, and the stress responses and features of plant adaptation which allow them to exploit these challenges.

    • MBIO219 Marine Environmental Physiology and Biochemistry

      The module uses marine organisms as models for examining physiological and biochemical systems, how these systems change during development, and how physiological and biochemical plasticity enable organisms to respond to change in environmental conditions.

    • BIOL203 Methods in Biological Science

      Using programme specific activity this module will equip students to perform laboratory and field studies in biological sciences using appropriate methods with regard to safety and risk assessment. The students will also learn to use methods of experimental design and data analysis.

    • BIOL2307 Microbial Life

      Microbial Life serves to provide students with an in depth understanding of the diversity, lifestyles, ecology, taxonomy and physiology of organisms within the Bacteria and the Archaea, as well as training students in key research and transferable skills through an intensive team laboratory research project. The module focusses on recent developments in microbiology and is research-oriented throughout, looking primarily at terrestrial, freshwater, plant and animal host-associated organisms.

    Optional modules
    • BIOL206 Animals and Environment

      This module explores the complex interactions between animals and their environment, their health and welfare, and the health and safety of humans. The physiology, welfare and husbandry of animals are considered in captive environments, food production systems and conservation grazing systems.

    • BIOL204 Principles of Conservation Biology

      Successful conservation is dependent on a thorough grasp of fundamental biological principles. The conceptual aspects of population, molecular, & evolutionary ecology which are central to understanding the dynamics of, and future threats to, extant populations of organisms are reviewed.

  • Optional placement year
  • You will be encouraged to undertake a placement year in order to gain experience of the professional world of environmental biology.
    Core modules
    • APIE311 Environmental Biology: Placement

  • Final year
  • A personal research project forms a major component of this year and is assessed by a dissertation and poster presentation. Advanced skills and concepts in biological disciplines including ecotoxicology are built upon, alongside skills in applied conservation biology. Options including environmental microbiology, environmental policy, global change biology, behavioural ecology and conservation, underpin a broader development as an environmental biologist ready to enter the workplace.
    Core modules
    • BIOL300 Advanced Skills and Concepts

      Students will select from a broad ranging catalogue of skills relating to the Biological sciences, developing four areas to an advanced level. These will be subject-specific and will be focused on supporting the research skill set, career aspirations, and enhancing student employability.

    • BIOL3203 Ecotoxicology

      This module provides a detailed analysis of the concepts and principles of ecotoxicology with an emphasis on evaluation of ecotoxicological techniques and methods for assessment of impacts of pollutants on the aqautic environment with particular reference to the marine environment.

    • BIOL3004 Personal Research

      Most of the module comprises a research study element, which includes the collection, analysis and interpretation of data; researching relevant literature and report writing. Students will also complete a literature review of a topic addressing wider issues of relevance to their field of research study.

    Optional modules
    • MBIO317 Behavioural Ecology

      This module examines the theory underpinning key conceptual models in behavioural ecology (e.g. optimal foraging, ideal free distribution, game theory). These models will be critically discussed in relation to empirical studies.

    • BIOL3313 Environmental Microbiology and Biotechnology

      Explores the many important activities of micro-organisms in a range of environments and aspects of their metabolic processes. For each activity and process covered, the parallel subject of biotechnological exploitation will be explored, drawing entirely from real-world examples of microbial biotechnology, linking back to the underpinning theory.

    • BIOL303 Environmental Policy and Conservation

      This module will develop an understanding of the complex issues associated with the implementation of environmental policy for the conservation of habitats, species and sustainable land use management. Case studies will reflect on policy initiatives and consequent impact on conservation programmes.

    • BIOL304 Global Change Biology

      This module provides the student with an in-depth overview of the likely consequences of climate change for plant and animal species biology and distribution over the coming century. From this starting point we will show how an understanding of climate change biology is vital for conservation theory and practice over coming decades.

    • BIOL301 Plant Biotechnology

      Despite the increasing importance of 'food security' in a changing world, plant biotechnology has had much negative publicity. This module will give students an appreciation of the science and also the ethical and social issues that surround the subject and show why these techniques are so important to secure our food supply.

    • MBIO324 Speciation and Diversity

      This module deals with the nature, generation and significance of biological diversity through a discussion of recent species concepts and mechanisms of speciation in a range of organisms, with emphasis on the evolutionary processes at work. This is followed by an investigation of the nature and significance of biological diversity; how it is assessed, and how it is distributed.

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements

280 points, including grade C in environmental science/studies or biology and grade C at second science: maths, physics, chemistry, biology, environmental science/studies, psychology, geography, geology, applied science.

If no second science:  280 points, minimum 2 A Levels to include grade B Biology, and one science AS level at grade C or above. 

Other combinations and non-A level qualifications considered. International Baccalaureate: 26 points. Relevant international qualifications considered.

Fees & funding

Home/EU £9,000 International £11,500
For more information about fees and funding please see

How to apply

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UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code. 

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For more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.


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