- Gain the knowledge and skills that are essential for working conservationists and ecologists
- Learn about the science behind modern conservation and gain the skills essential for a career in ecology, including wildlife identification and data handling
- Experience extensive direct fieldwork in the UK and international locations
- Field course modules, led by wildlife specialists, are an exciting aspect of the programme
11th in the world for Ecology
ShanghaiRankings Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2021
14th in the UK for Biological Sciences
The Complete University Guide 2022
Opportunities to undertake study abroad or a year’s placement in business or industry
The thing I enjoy most about my studies is when you take a module around a topic that really resonates with you. There’s nothing more empowering as a biosciences student than learning the ‘ins and outs’ of a topic area you’re wildly passionate about, taught by someone who’s made it their life’s work.
Your lecturer is more often than not one of the best in their field and on the frontlines of research and brand new science. Sometimes they show you papers they’re working on that they’re yet to publish, and I feel very honoured to be one of the very few people in the world to hold this knowledge before it gets released to the world.
BSc Conservation Biology and Ecology
Entry requirements (typical offer)
|Qualification||Typical offer||Required subjects|
|A-Level||AAB - ABB
AAA (with Professional Placement/Study Abroad)
B in a science subject*
A in a science subject* (with Professional Placement/Study Abroad)
|IB||34/665 - 32/655
36/666 (with Professional Placement/Study Abroad)
HL5 in a science subject*
HL6 in a science subject* (with Professional Placement/Study Abroad)
|BTEC||DDD - DDM
DDD (with Professional Placement/Study Abroad)
|Applicants studying one of the following BTEC Extended Diplomas will be considered without GCE A-level Science: Applied Science, Animal Management, Agriculture, Countryside Management, Environmental Sustainability, Fish Management, Forestry and Arboriculture, Marine Biology|
|GCSE||C or 4 and B or 5||Grade C or 4 in GCSE English language and grade B or 5 in Mathematics|
A-Level: BBB - BBC
Prof. Placement/Study Abroad:
Specific subject requirements must still be achieved where stated above. Find out more about contextual offers.
|Other UK, EU and International equivalences|
NB General Studies is not included in any offer.
Grades advertised on each programme webpage are the typical level at which our offers are made and provide information on any specific subjects an applicant will need to have studied in order to be considered for a place on the programme. However, if we receive a large number of applications for the programme we may not be able to make an offer to all those who are predicted to achieve/have achieved grades which are in line with our typical offer. For more information on how applications are assessed and when decisions are released, please see: After you apply
*Accepted science subjects: Biology/Human Biology; Chemistry; Environmental Studies; Geography; Life and Health Sciences (Double Award only); Marine Science; Physics; Psychology; Maths/Pure Maths/Further Maths; Nutrition and Food Science
You’ll gain knowledge and skills that are essential for working conservationists and ecologists, including a grounding in fundamental ecological principles, wildlife identification, and data handling.
The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.
Develop a broad knowledge of core biological and ecological principles. Alongside class-based activities, local field trips led by wildlife specialists are a central aspect of the programme. Learn about a wide range of organisms, from marine mammals to heathland flowers, and how they interact with their surroundings.
Develop your analytical skills, your understanding of core ecological principles, and begin to specialise your interests in particular ecological disciplines or groups of organisms. Experience a residential field course to gain an understanding of practical field ecology and habitat and biodiversity survey techniques.
Find out more about placement and study abroad options under Course variants.
with Professional Placement
with Study Abroad
Even greater emphasis on research-led learning in the field and in the lab. You’ll have the opportunity to use the skills built up over the previous years to undertake your own independent research, supported by a member of staff. You will also take an international field course to the Azores, Borneo, Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands, India, Spain or Yukon-Alaska*.
*Field course destinations are subject to change. Please note, some optional/alternative field courses may incur additional costs.
UCAS code: C152
Why choose a professional placement year?
During your placement year you will gain valuable experience, apply the skills learnt during the first and second years, improve personal and transferable skills, make new contacts and enhance your employability.
Work placements allow you to develop your career focus and are extremely valued by employers.
Where can I do my placement?
On this four-year variant of the BSc Conservation Biology and Ecology degree you will spend your third year on a self-organised work placement with an organisation relevant to your degree. We have established collaborations with local, national and international organisations that you can consider when applying for placement positions.
Previous placement destinations include:
- Aigas Field Centre
- Field Studies Council
- JBA Consulting
- Living DNA
- Newquay Zoo
- Paignton Zoos
- Wildfowl and Wetland Trust
What support is available during my placement?
Your module convenor provides support while you are researching and applying for positions and you are encouraged to consider a range of organisations, including consultancies, charities, NGOs, research institutes and universities. During your placement you will have regular contact with the module convenor to identify what support you might need.
Is the placement paid?
It is your responsibility to decide which placements will be suitable for you financially. We present ideas of paid placements and those that have a stipend and/or accommodation.
Does it count towards my degree?
The professional placement year counts towards your degree through the completion of your placement and associated coursework. It contributes to your final degree classification, and the words ‘with Professional Placement’ will appear in your degree title.
How does it affect my tuition fee?
If you spend a full year on a work placement (in the UK or abroad) you will pay a reduced fee. Find out more.
How do I apply?
You can apply to BSc Conservation Biology and Ecology with Professional Placement directly through UCAS using the code above. You must achieve an average mark of at least 60% in Year 1 to progress to the Professional Placement year.
How are the placements organised?
You are responsible for organising your own placement; however, we have established collaborations with local, national and international organisations that you can consider when applying for placement positions and we provide you with help and support with your applications.
UCAS code: C150
Why study abroad?
Students who have studied abroad demonstrate initiative, independence, motivation and, depending on where they stay, may also have gained a working knowledge of another language – all qualities employers are looking for.
Where can I study abroad?
If you choose to take the four year ‘with Study Abroad’ degree, you have the option to spend your third year abroad, studying in a university with which we have established links. We have over 30 partner institutions around the globe; you can find a complete list of International Exchange partner universities on the Study Abroad website.
What will I study whilst I am abroad?
All of our study abroad partners offer approved training in relevant subjects and also include new opportunities (e.g. palaeontology), programmes with specialisms (e.g. natural sciences) and courses with local expertise (e.g. shark biology). Students are also encouraged to choose subjects outside science for a (programme-specific) fraction of each term. Scuba diving, comparative theology, photography and astronomy are a few recent choices by Exeter students.
Does it count towards my degree?
Credit for academic work during your year abroad is arranged by agreement between the University of Exeter and the host institution. These marks are then translated back into your degree at Exeter.
Transferring to a Study Abroad programme
If you are not sure about studying abroad when you apply for your degree, it may be possible to apply to transfer to a four-year programme at the end of the first year of a three-year programme. Permission to take part in Study Abroad in all cases will depend on your academic progress and the places available in your chosen country.
How does it affect my tuition fee?
If you spend a full academic year studying abroad you will pay a reduced fee. Find out more information.
How do I apply?
You can apply to BSc Conservation Biology and Ecology with Study Abroad directly through UCAS using the code above. Once at Exeter, progression to the Study Abroad year is dependent upon successful completion of your Year 1 studies, with an average mark of at least 60%.
See our study abroad information on the Biosciences Current Students page for information about your tuition fees and additional information from some of our students who have studied abroad during their Biosciences degrees.
For further information on where you can go and all the issues surrounding study abroad, see the Study Abroad website.
Tuition fees for 2022 entry
UK students: £9,250 per year
International students: £25,000 per year
Year Abroad and Professional Placement
If, as part of your four-year degree programme, you spend a full academic year studying abroad you will pay a reduced fee of 15 per cent of the maximum fee for that year. If you spend a full year on a work placement (in the UK or abroad) you will pay a reduced fee of 20 per cent of the maximum fee for that year.
Please note, some optional/alternative field courses may incur additional costs. When participating in field courses, you will be required to cover any visa costs and, if necessary, purchase anti-malarial medication and relevant immunisations.
You will also need to provide your own specialist personal equipment appropriate to the field course destination, e.g. walking boots, rucksack, mosquito net, sleeping bag, binoculars. You may incur additional costs dependent upon the specific demands of the research project chosen.
The University of Exeter has over £2.5 million in scholarships available for students applying to study with us from September 2022 - including our Global Excellence Scholarships* for international fee paying students and financial support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, lower income households and other under-represented groups to help them access, succeed and progress through higher education.
* Terms and conditions apply. See online for details.
We pride ourselves in offering an extensive range of field courses across our Biosciences programmes with exciting local, national and international destinations.
These field courses not only allow you to apply the knowledge gained in the classroom to real-world situations in superb locations, but also provide a fantastic opportunity to forge lasting relationships with fellow students and academics.
Depending on your programme of study, you’ll have the opportunity to choose from a range of options including visiting impressive seabird breeding colonies in Scotland or watching grizzly bears fish for salmon in Alaska.
Please note, whilst a compulsory field course is included in the tuition fee, some optional/alternative field courses may incur additional costs. Field course destinations are subject to change.
Our Azores field course was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I learnt so much about plastic pollution on this course, which has been extremely helpful when working on my dissertation.
The most rewarding part of this course has been working on my dissertation. I am conducting a study observing whether wild grey seals are ingesting plastic or not. This study is the first of its kind and was published in 2019.
Working in the laboratories has been amazing. The sheer number of specimens they have is mind-blowing and I feel incredibly privileged to have had the opportunity to work with them. The laboratory staff that helped me with my dissertation have also been very helpful and patient.
BSc Conservation Biology and Ecology
Learning and teaching
Learn from experts
We believe that every student benefits from being part of a culture that is inspired by research and being taught by experts. You will discuss the very latest ideas in seminars and tutorials and be an active member of a research team. Our academics bring their results from the laboratory and the field directly to their teaching, and our students also help to collect this data.
We have very close links with a wide range of conservation organisations in the UK and overseas, such as the British Trust for Ornithology, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Marine Conservation Society. These links mean you will benefit from frequent guest lectures, placement opportunities and project work.
Your first year does not count towards your final degree classification, but you do have to pass it in order to progress. All marks after your first year count towards your final classification.
Modules are assessed using a variety of methods including essays, exams, presentations, laboratory reports and a dissertation.
Taking modules outside of your programme
Depending on your programme you can take up to 30 credits each year in another subject, for instance a language or business module, to develop career-related skills or widen your intellectual horizons.
Proficiency in a foreign language
You can boost your employability by using up to 30 credits each year to study a foreign language. If you study the language for more than one year you may be entitled to have ‘with proficiency in’ added to your degree certificate. The Foreign Language Centre will be offering modules in French and Spanish language from complete beginners up to advanced levels, plus German and Mandarin Chinese from beginner’s level.
If you achieve at least 60 credits in a language via our Foreign Language Centre you may be able to have the words ‘with proficiency in’ and the language added to your degree title.
Further details can be found on the Foreign Language Centre web pages.
Proficiency in Law
Students on this course are now able to add ‘with proficiency in Law’ to their degree title, by gaining a strand of additional legal knowledge and skills that adds value to their degree.
The ‘With proficiency in Law’ modules being offered to non-law students provide a theoretical and technical basis for understanding the regulatory and legal frameworks that you might encounter within your main field of study. These modules lend themselves strongly to students wishing to develop their skillset to work across the environment and sustainability sector and in wider business.
If you accrue at least 60 credits in elective law modules you will have ‘with proficiency in Law’ added to your degree title.
- Personal Tutor: You will have a Personal Tutor available for advice and support throughout your studies.
- Study skills: Help with essay writing, research skills, time management, presentations and more.
- All first-years will have the opportunity to join dynamic weekly groups, hosted by both second-year and PhD Biosciences students in Cornwall, which span a range of key areas, such as
- Social and pastoral care
- Key skills
- Discipline specific support
- These groups allow you to benefit from advice from your more experienced peers, helping ease your transition into university life.
- The subject of the inaugural meeting is decided by the group leader, but you can then suggest subsequent session topics, so sessions are tailored to your direct needs.
- Social media groups, such as on Facebook and Google, are also used for continued group discussions and communication outside of the weekly meetings.
- There are direct links between session content and modules, which immediately follow lectures where possible.
Our facilities include:
- Teaching laboratories
- Computing suites
- Field equipment for research projects
- Library and online resources
Employer-valued skills this course develops
A degree in Biosciences will help you to develop a wide range of essential skills such as analytical problem solving, team work and organising and communicating information. Many of our students continue their studies in the subject by following a further degree and research in their chosen area.
Supporting your career in Biosciences
Each year Biosciences students are able to access a huge range of opportunities to support their future career options. Sector related careers and employability sessions are put on for the students over the course of their programme which include: career talks and networking events with visiting alumni and employers from a range of backgrounds, employability seminar series events hosted by employers, ‘Dragons Den’ style assessment days, mock interviews and an annual Careers Fair where students can develop networking skills.
We have a dedicated, award-winning Careers Service ensuring you have access to careers advisors, mentors and the tools you need to succeed in finding employment in your chosen field on graduation. We offer the Exeter Award and the Exeter Leaders Award which include employability-related workshops, skills events, volunteering and employment which will contribute to your career decision-making skills and success in the employment market.
The University of Exeter has an excellent reputation with graduate recruiters and our students and graduates compete very successfully in the employment market. Whatever path you wish to follow, we’re here to help and support you with all your career and employability needs.
Many of our graduates are employed in discipline-relevant roles in the UK and overseas including laboratory-based positions, conservation management, ecology, teaching and nursing. Others use the skills gained on their course to enter widely different career paths in law, business or management. Whatever you choose to do after graduation, your Biosciences degree will stand you in good stead, with excellent employment prospects and transferable skills.
Below are a few examples of initial jobs undertaken by graduates from our Biosciences undergraduate programmes*.
Recent graduates are now working as:
- Conservation professionals
- Biological scientists
- Environment professionals
- Laboratory technicians
- Welfare and housing associate professionals
- Web design professionals
- Public relations professionals
- Photographers, audio-visual and broadcasting equipment operators
- Archivists and curators
Recent graduates are now working for:
- Cornwall Science Community
- Darwin Ecology
- Ecology Solutions
- Fishtek Consulting
- Harris Lamb Property Consultants
- Natural England
- Society for the Protection of Turtles
- UKSTEM Ltd
- World Wildlife Fund
Further study is a popular choice for a number of students following graduation from a Biosciences undergraduate degree. Below are a few examples of further study undertaken by recent graduates of undergraduate programmes*.
- MPH/MRes/PhD Biological Sciences
- MPH Medical Studies
- MRes Ecosystem and Environmental Change
- MSc Conservation and Biodiversity
- MSc Environment and Human Health
- MSc Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology
- MSc Immunology
- MSc Marine Environmental Management
- MSc Surveying and Land/Environmental Management
- MSc Toxicology
*This information has been taken from aggregating the responses from full-time, first degree, UK domiciled students who completed 2017/18 and 2018/19 Graduate Outcomes surveys. Please note that, due to data protection, the job titles and organisations are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.
The experience I have gained during my time at University has secured me a well-paid position as the Environmental Project Co-ordinator for an offshore survey company immediately upon graduation. The company were impressed by the range of report writing and analytical skills developed at university, along with my experience of coordinating cetacean research.
I look forward to the work environment and only hope the experience can compare to my time in Cornwall!
BSc Conservation Biology and Ecology graduate