Overview


With human activity increasingly transforming the planet, ecologists have a vital role to play in monitoring, understanding and reversing environmental degradation to conserve species and ecosystems.

It’s never been more important to understand what determines the distribution and abundance of different species, how they interact with each other and their environment, and how they respond to threats such as climate change, over-exploitation and habitat destruction.

This fascinating course encompasses many aspects of biology from a unique perspective.

You’ll explore the mechanisms and functions of ecosystems and the interdependence of the organisms within them. You’ll also apply your knowledge outside the lab with exciting field trip options in North Yorkshire, Spain and South Africa.

Our integrated Masters offers you an additional year of specialist training. You’ll study advanced topics, undertake a research project and get the chance to study savannah ecology and conservation in Kenya.

Course highlights

  • Learn from the experts: The course is delivered by internationally-recognised staff, drawing extensively on their expertise at the cutting edge of research in ecology and conservation, and working closely with geographers, Earth scientists and environmental biologists on a broad range of interdisciplinary research topics.
  • Field courses: We offer a range of exciting residential field courses in locations as diverse as North Yorkshire, the Mediterranean and Africa, where you can gain first-hand experience of different ecosystems and learn key research skills in the field.
  • Flexibility: Common core modules in the first year of many of our courses mean you’ll have the opportunity to transfer onto a related degree course as your interests develop.
  • Choice: You’ll study a structured programme of core modules to ensure you have a good foundation as a scientist, before specialising in the areas that most interest you.
  • Employability: You’ll graduate with a strong portfolio of practical skills including project management, data analysis, communication skills and group working, making you ideally placed for further study or employment.
  • Accreditation: Our MBiol and BSc with Industrial Placement courses have received Advanced Accreditation by the Royal Society of Biology.

Accreditation

Our BSc with Industrial Placement Year and MBiol courses have been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology. Advanced degree accreditation by the Society recognises academic excellence in the biosciences, and highlights degrees that educate the research and development leaders of the future. The advanced accreditation criteria require evidence that graduates from the programme meet defined sets of learning outcomes, including gaining a substantial period of research experience.

Related courses

Biology MBiol, BSc
Genetics MBiol, BSc
Zoology MBiol, BSc


Student Profile

ecology and conservation

"I am aiming for a career in academic research, so ultimately my research in my final 2 years is helping me improve the research skills I intend to use throughout my career."
Read more

Sam Ross , MBiol Ecology and Environmental Biology




Course content

Year 1 covers a wide range of topics, including biodiversity, evolution, ecological challenges and genetics, as well as optional modules such as Creating Sustainable Futures in the Schools of Geography and Earth and Environment. Ecology is best understood through observation, so Year 1 will also see you go to Scotland to undertake your first of the residential field courses that we offer. You’ll be introduced to the exciting world of ecological research right from the start.

In Year 2 you’ll specialise on the core issues in ecology and conservation biology, including population and community ecology, animal behaviour and evolution. You’ll also have opportunities to hone essential fieldwork skills during a residential field course on Mediterranean ecology in southern Spain and an optional terrestrial ecology and behaviour field course in the Yorkshire Dales. Optional modules include Animals as Pests and Sustainable Food Production.

This degree offers you the chance to take an industrial placement or a study abroad year at the end of Year 2, which will enhance your employment prospects.

The focal point of Year 3 is the independent research, literature, or computer-based project which you’ll carry out under the guidance of a leading academic. Alongside this you will work with field-leading experts on advanced topic modules such as ‘Ecology' and 'Conservation Science', developing your research techniques, knowledge and transferable skills. You’ll also have the chance to attend the optional South African field trip.

Integrated Masters (MBiol)

Our MBiol offers the chance to study key topics in ecology and conservation to Masters level.

Years 1 and 2 are the same as for the BSc.

In Year 3, as well as studying the same range of core and optional modules as the BSc, you’ll carry out a literature review and learn advanced research techniques in preparation for Year 4.

In Year 4 of the MBiol you will be more deeply involved in novel research by carrying out a substantial independent project of your own, potentially leading to a research publication. Your extended research project will focus on an original, cutting-edge topic specific to ecology and conservation that will equip you with the skills necessary for a career in research as well as setting you apart in the general graduate job market.

You will also study a range of Masters-level modules, and have the option to study savannah ecology and conservation on the African field course, which is based at Mpala Research Centre, Laikipia, Kenya. It provides a first-hand experience of the ecology and conservation concerns of an African savannah community, both for the wildlife and the people who live in the area.

Find out more about choosing between an integrated Masters and a BSc degree

Part time study

These courses are also available to study part-time over 6 years. If you choose this option you'll study alongside our full-time students and the course content will be the same, only delivered at 50% of the intensity. As these courses are delivered primarily for full-time students you may need to attend the University on several occasions each week. Times are likely to vary with each new semester and will depend on the scheduling of compulsory modules and your choice of optional and elective modules.

Course structure

Details of typical modules/components for this course will be published on May 1st. These may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

Broadening your academic horizons

At Leeds we want you to benefit from the depth and breadth of the University's expertise, to prepare you for success in an ever-changing and challenging world. On this course you broaden your learning through core and/or optional modules. Find out more on the Broadening webpages.

Learning and teaching

You’ll have access to the very best learning resources and academic support during your studies. We’ve been awarded a Gold rating in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF, 2017), demonstrating our commitment to delivering consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for our students.

You’ll experience a wide range of teaching methods including lectures, tutorials and practicals. Your first and second years will focus on these three teaching methods, building your skills, understanding and knowledge in preparation for your final year research project, which will see you take on independent research and learning with the guidance of leading experts.

Across all years, additional workshop and seminar sessions will complement your lectures and lab practicals, and you will also undertake private study.

As a guide, a typical week in your first year includes nine to twelve hours of lectures, three to six hours of practical sessions in the laboratory, tutorials, workshop and seminar sessions, plus private study.

Independent study and research are crucial to every year of the course. We have excellent library and computing facilities to support your learning, and the University Library offers training to help you make the most of them.

Assessment

We use a variety of assessment methods to help you develop a broad range of skills. These include practical work, data handling and problem-solving exercises, multiple-choice tests, group work, online and face-to-face discussion groups, computer-based simulations, essays, posters and oral presentations.

Entry requirements, fees and applying

Entry requirements

A-level: AAA - AAB

BSc:

A-level: AAA - AAB

Including Biology and preferably another science or science-related subject. If Biology is the only science subject then an A grade is required. Critical Thinking and General Studies excluded.

We accept the following science subjects: biology, human biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics. Science-related subjects: computing, environmental science, food science, geography, geology, PE, psychology, science in society, statistics, use of mathematics.

Applicants taking a Science A-level (in England) will be required to achieve a pass in the practical element in addition to the standard A-level grade requirement.

MBiol:

A-level: AAA

Including Biology and another science or science-related subject. General Studies and Critical Thinking excluded

We accept the following science subjects: biology, human biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics. Science-related subjects: computing, environmental science, food science, geography, geology, PE, psychology, science in society, statistics, use of mathematics. Applicants taking a Science A-level (in England) will be required to achieve a pass in the practical element in addition to the standard A-level grade requirement.

GCSE:

Grade 6 (B) or above at GCSE Maths and Grade 4 (C) or above at GCSE English.

Alternative Qualifications

Access to HE Diploma

BSc:

Pass 60 credits overall with 45 credits at Level 3, graded at D45M0P0 to D39M6P0 including distinctions in Biology and Mathematics or Chemistry. Accept Access courses in Applied Science and Science. Will also consider (depending on subject content):

  • Biochemical Sciences

  • Biological and Environmental Science

  • Biological and Health Science

  • Biological Sciences

  • Biosciences

  • Combined Sciences

  • Environmental Science

  • Life and Biological Science

  • Life Science

  • Medical and Health Science Professions

  • Natural Sciences

  • Physical & Natural Sciences.

MBiol:

We do not accept Access to HE.

BTEC

BSc:

Applicants with BTEC qualifications (Diploma or Extended Diploma) are required to have A2 level Biology (Maths, Chemistry and Physics may be acceptable alternatives depending on the BTEC subject). Distinctions in the BTEC subject and an A or B grade (BTEC subject dependent) for the A-level subject are required.

Applicants with BTEC Subsidiary Diploma qualifications must have at least 2 A2 levels and at least one of these must be in Biology.

MBiol:

We do not accept BTEC qualification.

Cambridge Pre-U

BSc:

D3/D3/D3-D3/D3/M1 including D3 in Biology plus one other science or science-related subject.

MBiol:

D3/D3/D3 including D3 in Biology plus one other science or science-related subject.

International Baccalaureate

BSc:

35-34 (with 18-17 at higher level) including 6 in higher level Biology and another science or science-related subject at higher level.

MBiol:

35 (with 18 at higher level) including 6 in higher level Biology and another science or science-related subject at higher level.

Irish Highers (Leaving Certificate)

BSc:

H2,H2,H2,H2,H2,H2 - H2,H2,H2,H2,H3,H3 including H2 in Biology and another science or science-related subject at higher level.

MBiol:

H2,H2,H2,H2,H2,H2 including H2 in Biology and another science or science-related subject at higher level.

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

BSc:

Advanced Higher: 5 x Highers AABBB, with AA-AB in 2 Advanced Highers including Biology and preferably another science or science-related subject. General Studies and Critical Thinking excluded. If Biology is the only science subject then an A grade is required. Science subjects include: Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry, Maths and Physics. Science- related subjects include: Computing, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, P.E, Psychology, Science in Society, Statistics, Food Science and use of Maths.

Scottish Higher: Scottish Highers not accepted on their own.

MBiol:

Advanced Higher: 5 x Highers AABBB, with AA in 2 Advanced Highers including Biology and another science or science-related subject. General Studies and Critical Thinking excluded.

Scottish Higher: Scottish Highers not accepted on their own.

Welsh Baccalaureate

BSc:

AAA-AAB including Biology and another science or science-related subject. General Studies and Critical Thinking excluded.

We accept the following science subjects: biology, human biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics. Science-related subjects: computing, environmental science, food science, geography, geology, PE, psychology, science in society, statistics, use of mathematics.

MBiol:

AAA including Biology and another science or science-related subject. General Studies and Critical Thinking excluded.

We accept the following science subjects: biology, human biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics. Science-related subjects: computing, environmental science, food science, geography, geology, PE, psychology, science in society, statistics, use of mathematics.

Read more about UK and Republic of Ireland accepted qualifications or contact the School’s Undergraduate Admissions Team.

Alternative Entry

We’re committed to identifying the best possible applicants, regardless of personal circumstances or background.

Access to Leeds is an alternative admissions scheme which accepts applications from individuals who might be from low income households, in the first generation of their immediate family to apply to higher education, or have had their studies disrupted.

Find out more about Access to Leeds and alternative admissions.

International

We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications.


English language requirements

IELTS 6.0 overall, with no less than 5.5 in any component.. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for the programme may be able to study an English for Academic Purposes pre-sessional course with a progression route to the degree programme. For information and entry requirements, read Pre-sessional programmes.

How to apply

Apply to this course through UCAS. The institution code for the University of Leeds is L23. Check the deadline for applications on the UCAS website.

It is also possible to study this programme part time. The programme content is the same but you will study at a lesser intensity. Find out more about how to apply, support available and the part-time student experience at the Lifelong Learning Centre.

International students apply through UCAS in the same way as UK/EU students. Our network of international representatives can help you with your application. If you’re unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

Faculty of Biological Sciences Undergraduate Admissions Policy

Fees

UK/EU: To be confirmed

International: To be confirmed

For UK and non-UK EU full-time students starting in 2018, the fee for 2018/19 will be £9,250. 

The fee for undergraduate students starting in 2019 will be confirmed in September 2018.

The fee may increase in future years of your course in line with inflation, and as permitted by law. For example, the increase of 2.8% in 2017/18 was based on the government’s forecast for the RPI-X measure of inflation.

The UK government has confirmed that non-UK EU students in 2018-19 will have home fee status and be eligible for UK government student loans. The UK government has not confirmed the situation for future years, so keep checking our website for updates.

If you take a study abroad or work placement year, you’ll pay a reduced tuition fee during this period. For more information, see Study abroad and work placement tuition fees and loans.

Read more about paying fees and charges.

Part-time fees are normally calculated based on the number of credits you study in a year compared to the equivalent full-time course. For example, if you study half the course credits in a year, you will pay half the full-time course fees for that year.

Additional cost information

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more about additional costs

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There is help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more in our Undergraduate funding overview.

The Faculty of Biological Sciences offer a range of scholarships for UK, EU and International students. Find out more about our scholarships

Career opportunities

As well as providing you with subject-specific knowledge, we aim to equip you with the best possible skills for a variety of future careers. All of our degrees have a strong emphasis on practical based teaching, small group teaching, online learning and problem solving.

Throughout the degree, you’ll gain a wide range of transferable skills which are highly valued by employers. Supported by the Leeds for Life scheme and your academic and personal tutor, you’ll be ideally placed to focus on your personal development and make the most of your time at university.

Ecologists have a vital role to play in monitoring and understanding our environment, how and why it is changing, and its impacts on biodiversity now and in the future. The skills and knowledge you develop will be relevant to ecology-related careers as well as broader opportunities after graduation.

Graduates in Ecology and Conservation Biology go on to do many different things. Some remain in academia and choose to further their studies at Masters or PhD level. Others go on to careers in conservation, ecological research or environmental consultancy, while the practical skills provided by this degree are ideally suited to a wide range of professions including journalism and teaching.

Careers support

Dedicated employability team

We have a dedicated employability team in the Faculty of Biological Sciences who work closely with the University’s Careers Centre to support your development.

We offer a host of additional opportunities beyond core course content, including volunteering and placements. These include our annual Faculty Graduate Panel, where graduates are invited back to talk about their work and network with our students, and our STEM Careers Fair, which gives you the chance to meet bioscience employers, such as AstraZeneca, Covance, GSK, Nuffield Health, RSPB, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, speak to alumni, attend workshops and get masses of information.

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

Leeds for Life is our unique approach to helping you make the most of University by supporting your academic and personal development. Find out more at the Leeds for Life website.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

Study abroad and work placements

Study abroad

On this course you have the opportunity to apply to spend time abroad, usually as an extra academic year. The University has partnerships with more than 400 universities worldwide and popular destinations for our students include Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Africa and Latin America. 

Find out more at the Study Abroad website.

If you choose to undertake a study abroad option, you will spend the third year of your course studying abroad. This will extend your studies by 12 months.

Work placements

Practical work experience can help you decide on your career and improve your employability. On this course you have the option to apply to take a placement year module with organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors in the UK, or overseas.

Find out more about work experience on the Careers website.

Work experience placements are typically taken after your second year. If you choose to undertake a placement year, this will extend your studies by 12 months. For your work placement, staff at Leeds will help you with your CV and application letters and provide a list of organisations which may offer placements.

Placements abroad are possible. We work together with your placement supervisors to make sure you get the most out of this year. A year of working experience gives you an excellent opportunity to get used to the demands of the world of work, to develop new skills and to augment your CV.

Students on this course have found placements with organisations such as:

  • Kew Gardens
  • Field Studies Council
  • Knowsley Safari Park

Field courses


One of the most exciting aspects of our degrees is the range of opportunities for fieldwork on offer. Field courses offer valuable opportunities to apply your knowledge and practical research skills outside of the lab, so we offer at least the option of a field course in every year.

Year 1: Coastal and Uplands Habitats, Isle of Cumbrae, Scotland

A week’s in-depth study of animals and plants in their natural habitats. Students are allocated to a group and each group has its specialist topic. For example, you may explore diurnal rhythms in insects, rocky shore diversity, seaweed ecology or how parasitic disease affects animal distribution. We have a chance to observe birdlife, seals and even whales (and the ice cream shop!).

Year 2: Terrestrial Ecology and Behaviour, Malham Tarn, Yorkshire Dales

This optional course is based at Malham Tarn in the Yorkshire Dales, an internationally important reserve in a spectacular limestone landscape with a wide variety of terrestrial and freshwater habitats. Projects may include territoriality and habitat preferences of woodland birds, the ecology of carnivorous plants, cave spiders and limestone pavement ecology. Plus there’s our infamous treasure hunt and pub quiz.

Year 2: Mediterranean Ecology Field Course

Usually involving a trip to the Iberian Peninsula, this free, compulsory course allows you to explore issues surrounding biodiversity conservation across Europe, including the challenges of growing human populations and habitat restoration. You’ll work in groups of two or three to conduct independent research projects. Recently these have included wild boar foraging ecology, the effects of feather parasites on bird performance and thermoregulation in lizards.

Year 3: African Ecology Field Course, South Africa

This exciting optional field course is based at the Shamwari Game Reserve in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. The area is rich in plants, birds and mammals (including the ‘big five’ – elephant, rhino, buffalo, lion and leopard). Group projects designed by the students centre on the theme of a ‘landscape of fear’, and there are also guest lectures by local experts, a bird diary to complete, night drives in safari vehicles and a boat trip to watch birds and sometimes even whales.

Read Abigail’s field trip experience in South Africa

Year 4: (MBiol) Kenya Field Course, Mpala Research Centre

Our MBiol also offers you the chance to go to Kenya in your final year to conduct research at the Mpala Research Centre with a focus on ecological, conservation and wildlife management challenges in a semi-arid savannah environment. The course will be based primarily around small-group projects that are of ecological or conservation relevance to the region. This will reinforce and broaden your knowledge and understanding of the area and build upon aspects of the ecological training received at Leeds.

Find out more and view photos from our Field Courses