Ecology and Conservation Biology 2016/17

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What is Ecology and Environmental Biology?

Ecology is the study of species and how they interact with one another and their environment. It forms a bridge between biology and environmental sciences and addresses important issues, such as species responses to climate change and maintaining biodiversity and conservation.

Why study Ecology and Environmental Biology?

Ecologists have a vital role to play in monitoring, understanding and reversing environmental degradation. If you choose to study ecology and environmental biology at Leeds, you are choosing a fascinating subject that encompasses many aspects of biology but from a unique perspective. It explores the mechanisms and functions of ecosystems and the interdependence of the organisms within them. The skills and knowledge you develop will be relevant to ecology related careers as well as broader opportunities after graduation.

  • 100% of our graduates are employed or in further study six months after graduation (DLHE 2013/14).

Advanced Accredited Degree

Both our Integrated Masters (MBiol) programme and BSc with Industrial Placement Year programme has been awarded advanced accreditation by the Royal Society of Biology for the purpose of meeting in part the academic and experience requirement for the Membership and Chartered Biologist (CBiol).

This programme is also available part time. Please contact the Lifelong learning centre for more information.

See also: Zoology


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Course overview

Our ecology course will allow you to study species and how they interact with one another and their environment. You will study a range of topics from animal physiology to behavioural ecology. The table below offers a brief insight into the kind of modules you will study. A highlight for many students are the field courses we offer throughout the degree. There is also the option to visit the Mpala Research Centre in Kenya in your fourth year of the MBiol. Visit Mpala Live! to see round-the-clock views of hippos, elephants, and other incredible species in Kenya’s Laikipia County, the area that surrounds the Mpala Research Centre and see where you could be studying.

These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

Our courses have a modular structure where you will be required to study 120 credits per year.

This is an indicative list and actual content can vary as we regularly review the content of our courses in light of new experiences and developments in the field.

Core Modules

Core Modules Core Modules
  • Biology Practicals and Data Analysis
  • Cell Biology
  • Diversity of Life
  • Introduction to Genetics
All students take the programme-specified modules as shown below. In addition, students can take modules specified for other biology programmes, optional modules or an elective module. All students undertake a research project and choose modules from amongst those identified as appropriate to their programme. Illustrative examples of the wide choice available are provided below.

Optional Modules

Optional Modules

Optional Modules

  • Ecology in a Changing World
  • Coastal & Upland Habitats Field Course
  • Research Experience & Skills Level 1 plus an optional module from Geography, Maths or Earth and Environment
  • Tutorials for Ecology
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Organismal Evolution
  • Population & Community Ecology
  • Animal Physiology: from Ants to Whales
  • Experimental Design & Analysis
  • Research Experience & Skills
  • Mediterranean Ecology Field Course plus optional modules in Geography, and Earth and Environment
  • Bats: Evolution to Conservation
  • Conservation Biology
  • Behavioural Ecology: Sex and Parasites
  • Advanced Topics in Ecology
  • Social Insect Biology and optional modules in Geography, and Earth and Environment

Total Credits: 120

Total Credits: 120

Total Credits: 120

BSc Year 1 BSc Year 2 BSc Year 3

Course changes may occur given the fast-moving nature of the field and above is an indicative list only.

BSc Year one

Through modules such as ‘Ecology in a Challenging World’ and ‘Diversity of Life’, year one will introduce you to a broad range of concepts in ecology and biology. Covering a wide range of topics including biodiversity and evolution, you will develop grounding in the key skills required for your degree. Ecology is best understood through observation, so year one will also see you undertake your first of the residential field courses that we offer.

BSc Year two

Year two will see you focus on core issues within ecology, studying modules such as ‘Population and Community Ecology’ and ‘Animal Behaviour’. The compulsory Mediterranean ecology field course and the optional terrestrial ecology and behaviour Yorkshire Dales field course offer excellent opportunities to hone your fieldwork skills that are an essential part of ecology.

BSc Year three

The focal point of year three is the independent research, literature, or computer-based project which you will undertake under the guidance of a leading academic. Alongside this you will work with field-leading experts on advanced topic modules such as ‘Evolution and Bats’, developing your research techniques, knowledge and transferable skills. You will also have chance to attend the optional South African field trip.

MBiol year three and four

Year 3 on the MBiol will offer preparation modules to ensure you are ready to step up to the Masters level. Year 4 will offer a choice of Masters modules, including conservation genetics and an optional field course to Africa. The African field course is based at Mpala Research Centre, Laikipia, Kenya. It provides a first-hand appreciation of the ecology and conservation concerns of an African savannah community, both for the wildlife and the people who live in the area.

You will also undertake an extended research project on an original, cutting-edge topic specific to ecology 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.

Please note that year one and two are the same as the BSc for the MBiol.

To find out more about this MBiol degree programme download our guide and our overview on MBiol programmes.


Our degrees are delivered through a combination of lectures, tutorials and practicals. The first and second year will see a focus on these three teaching methods, building your skills, understanding and knowledge for your final year research project, which will see independent research and learning complemented with the guidance of leading experts.

Typical timetable (3 year BSc)

  • Year one includes twelve hours of lectures, a three hour practical session in the lab, additional workshop and seminar sessions, plus private study.
  • Year two includes nine hours of lectures and nine hours of practicals, with a one hour tutorial or workshop, plus private study. 
  • In year three you will have nine hours of lectures and extended time in a research laboratory, plus private study.

Discover more about our teaching.

The structure of your course will vary dependent upon which of the following pathways you choose:

Qualification Course Title Duration
BSc Ecology and Environmental Biology 3 years
BSc Ecology and Environmental Biology with industrial placement year 4 years
BSc Ecology and Environmental Biology with a study year abroad 4 years
MBiol, BSc Ecology and Environmental Biology 4 years
MBiol, BSc Ecology and Environmental Biology with industrial placement year 5 years
MBiol, BSc Ecology and Environmental Biology with a study year abroad 5 years

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Graduate Employment

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. According to recent data, the average starting salary in the field of Ecology & Environmental Biology is approximately £15,000.

Many of our students go on to work in research laboratories, conservation organisations, environmental consultancies, museums and environmental education. Some also choose to further their studies at Masters or PhD level.

Recent graduate destinations include:

  • Member of the Army, British Army
  • Curator, Leeds City Council
  • Accounts and Audit assistant, JWP Careers
  • Administrative Assistant, NHS England
  • Neighbourhood Assessments intern, Leeds and Yorkshire Housing association

Careers Support

We take personal development and career opportunities very seriously and the Faculty has a dedicated Employability Officer who works closely with the careers centre. We offer a host of additional opportunities beyond core course content, including volunteering and placement opportunities.

We organise regular careers workshops designed especially for biological sciences students to help develop their career opportunities, including the annual Bioscience Careers Networking Event, offering a chance to meet bioscience employers, speak to alumni, attend workshops and get masses of information.

Careers Centre

The Faculty works closely with the University’s Careers Centre, which is one of the largest in the country. The centre provides high-quality professional support and advice for all our students and access to thousands of opportunities for graduate employment, placements and internships.