MSci Conservation Biology and Ecology
|Typical offer||A*AA-AAB; IB: 38-34; BTEC D*DD-DDD|
|Location||Cornwall (Penryn Campus)|
Conservation Biology and Ecology video
Find out more about the Conservation Biology and Ecology programme from staff and students. View full size.
You’ll gain knowledge and skills that are essential for working conservationists and ecologists, including wildlife identification and data handling. In the first year, we take full advantage of Cornwall’s rich landscapes with many one-day field trips around the South West Peninsula. In the second year, wider experience comes as a result of a variety of field courses in the UK and Europe, while in year three there are opportunities to go on an international field courseoverseas. In all these locations we teach vital identification skills and census techniques while at the same time studying local ecology and conservation issues.
- A practical and applied programme that places you ‘in the field’
- Field trip modules, led by wildlife specialists, are an exciting aspect of the programme
- A strong emphasis on learning practical skills including wildlife identification and data handling
- The interdisciplinary nature of the programme allows you to explore the sociological, economic, and political factors affecting wildlife conservation
Field trip modules, led by wildlife specialists, are an exciting aspect of the programme. Learn about a wide range of organisms, from marine mammals to heathland flowers, in their natural environments, surveying how they interact with their surroundings and humans.
Develop your analytical skills and begin to specialise in habitats or groups of species. Experience a residential field course to gain an understanding of habitats and biodiversity.
Even greater emphasis on field-based experience and the opportunity to use the skills built up over the previous two years. You will carry out a piece of research supported by a member of staff, and you will take an international field course to the Azores, Borneo, Costa Rica, the Galapagos Islands, India, Tenerife or Yukon-Alaska*.
Provides an opportunity to work on an advanced literature review and a research project, both focused on a specialised area aligned with one of our leading research groups. You will also undertake a two-week intensive field course.
- BSc Conservation Biology and Ecology
- BSc Conservation Biology and Ecology with Study Abroad
- BSc Conservation Biology and Ecology with Professional Placement
*Field course destinations are subject to change. Please note, some optional/alternative field courses may incur additional costs.
My non-uni friends and family are quite envious when I say that I've spent a few days at the Eden Project learning about environmental issues, and a day out whale watching to learn about ecotourism, and what better way to learn about nature reserve design and all that it entails than to spend two weeks in Africa!
Rebecca Huxham, BSc Conservation Biology and Ecology student.
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.
The following tables describe the programme and constituent modules. Constituent modules may be updated, deleted, or replaced as a consequence of the annual review of this programme.
You may take optional modules as long as any necessary prerequisites have been satisfied, where the timetable allows and if you have not already taken the module in question or an equivalent module.
You may take elective modules up to 30 credits outside of the programme in stages 1 to 3 of the programme as long as any necessary prerequisites have been satisfied, where the timetable allows and if you have not already taken the module in question or an equivalent module.
If you have mobility or health disabilities that prevent you from undertaking intensive fieldwork, reasonable adjustments and/or alternative assessment can be considered. This could include replacing a fieldwork module with an alternative in agreement with the Director of Education.
You are also permitted to take the five-credit module LES3910 Professional Development Experience in any year. Registration on this module is subject to a competitive application process. If taken, this module will not count towards progression or award calculation.
Entry requirements 2019
A*AA-AAB; IB: 38-34; BTEC D*DD-DDD
GCE AL grade B or IB HL5 in one of the following subjects: Biology/Human Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology or Maths/Pure Maths/Further Maths, and GCSE Maths at grade B or 5.
Applicants studying one of the following BTEC Extended Diplomas will be considered without GCE AL science: Applied Science, Animal Management, Agriculture, Countryside Management, Fish management, Forestry and Arboriculture, Marine Biology
International students should check details of our English language requirements and may be interested in our Foundation programme for Biomedical, Life and Environmental Sciences.
Please read the important information about our Typical offer.
For full and up-to-date information on applying to Exeter and entry requirements, including requirements for other types of qualification, please see the Applying section.
Learning and teaching
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. Learning and teaching is through lectures, seminars, tutorials, field work, laboratory sessions and independent study with internationally recognised, research-active staff. You will have the opportunity to undertake challenging independent research projects dealing with questions and issues at the cutting edge of life science research. Regular research seminars, by our staff and visiting lecturers, bring you the latest issues on a wide range of research topics.
In your final year you will become an active member of our research team. 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.
We frequently introduce new methods of learning and teaching, including increasing use of interactive computer-based approaches to learning through our virtual learning environment, where the details of all modules are stored in an easily navigable website. You can access detailed information about modules and learning outcomes and interact through activities such as the discussion forums.
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.
Foreign Language Centre Penryn
Undergraduates based in Penryn can boost their 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 in Penryn 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 about the FLC can be found on our website
We pride ourselves on providing a very high standard of care and support to our students. As well as more than 15 hours per week of direct contact time with your lecturers, all students have a personal tutor who is available for advice and support throughout your studies. There are also a number of services on campus where you can get advice and information, including the Students’ Guild Advice Unit.
At the University of Exeter we are committed to creating a supportive learning environment in which you will be able to reach your full potential – whatever your ambitions may be. One of the best examples of this has been the introduction of a successful peer tutoring scheme, run by Biosciences students in Cornwall, for students.
As a first year student, you will have the opportunity to join dynamic weekly groups, hosted by both second year and PhD students, which span a range of key areas, such as social and pastoral care, key skills, employability and discipline specific support. One of the main aims of these groups is to give you the opportunity to gain advice from your peers who have been in your position before, and can help ease your transition into university life.
The subject of the inaugural meeting is decided by the group leader, but you then have the opportunity to suggest subsequent session topics. This allows the sessions to be tailored to the direct needs of you and your fellow students. Social media outlets, such as Facebook and Google groups, are also utilised to host dedicated pages that promote continued group discussions and communication outside of the weekly meetings.
In its first year, more than 70 Biosciences students took part in the peer mentoring scheme, being coached by students who are further along in their course and who act as guides to study and university life and offer an additional layer of support. Despite its success, the scheme is continually evolving. In order to ensure you make the most of the groups, there are now more direct links between session content and modules, they will immediately follow lectures where possible, and a large scale awareness campaign will take place at the beginning of the academic year to encourage as many students as possible to participate.
The peer mentoring scheme gives you a wonderful opportunity to help shape your time at University and truly make your mark – your future really is in your own hands.
From our research, my colleagues and I are able to bring real world examples to our students of cutting-edge conservation projects in action. But we don’t just teach our students about our research – student conservation biologists need to be actively involved right from the start. We encourage our students to do this extensively through field work, summer placements and our extensive guest speaker series.
Brendan Godley, Professor in Conservation Biology.
The expertise of the staff at Cornwall really influenced my decision to apply to study here. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to get out of the classroom and actively learn about insects, sea life, rocky shores and plants. After I graduate I would like to work as a Conservation Botanist, and this course has given me key skills for conservation and ecology which I know will benefit me in my future career path.
Finn Raven, BSc Conservation Biology and Ecology graduate.
- 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.
- Modern language courses
- 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,
- and 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.
From the beginning we asked the students to help shape the peer mentoring project. This is a scheme that is run by students, for students, so it is important that we know it is reaching its full potential. I think a lot of students feel that getting advice from their fellow students is both worthwhile and beneficial, and we are keen to actively promote this as much as possible.
But more than that, we want to make sure students are full engaged and thinking not only about their time here, but also their career options once they leave. It is more important than ever to be switched on about making the most of opportunities such as work experience and volunteering, as well as meeting the challenges their studies present.
Already, this scheme has proved popular and successful, and we will ensure that it is always designed with students as the primary focus – we rely on the students not only telling us what is useful but also how to drive it forward.
Dr Andy Pye Senior Academic, Pastoral Tutor and Educational Enhancement Link Advisor Biosciences, Penryn Campus.
Field work video
Find out the importance of field work to undergraduate programmes in the Centre for Ecology and Conservation. View full size.
Field Course Fortnight
We pride ourselves in offering an extensive range of field courses across our Biosciences programmes with exciting local, national and international destinations. Depending on your programme of study, you’ll have the opportunity to choose from a number of options including understanding the ecology and evolutionary biology of Switzerland or the Pyrenees, studying tropical biodiversity in Borneo, learning about special ecosystems of North Cyprus, visiting impressive seabird breeding colonies in Scotland or watching grizzly bears fish for salmon in Alaska, to name but a few.
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.
Find out more
Visit our Fieldwork page for more information.
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. A number of our students continue their studies in the subject by following a further degree and research in their chosen area, or by training as a teacher. 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.
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. Our graduates compete very successfully in the employment market, with many employers targeting the University when recruiting new graduates.
Supporting your career in Biosciences
Each year Biosciences students are able to access a huge range of opportunities to support their future career options. Recent events have included career insights with visiting alumni, mock interviews with visiting employers and alumni, postgraduate routes with a Biosciences degree, the Life and Environmental Sciences Careers Fair, and nature and conservation training courses.
Below are a few examples of initial jobs undertaken by graduates of University of Exeter Biosciences undergraduate programmes. This information has been taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Surveys 2016/17. Please note that, due to data protection, the job titles and organisations are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.
Recent graduates are now working for:
- Aberystwyth University
- Ambios Ltd
- Badger Trust
- Cancer Research UK
- Eden Project
- Full Fat TV
- Mondelez International
- Newbury Investments Ltd.
- Stand Up for Nature
- Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust
- University of Exeter
- Yorkshire Wildlife Trust
Recent graduates are now working as:
- Conservation Film-maker
- Content Editor and Video Creator
- Health Safety and Environment Technician
- Lab Technician/Research
- Media Officer
- Publishing Assistant
- Research Assistant
- Research Writer Internship
- Staff Writer
- STEM Technician
- Trainee Accountant
- Trainee Countryside Education Officer
- Trainee Teacher
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. This information has been taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Surveys 2016/17.
- BVetMed Graduate Accelerated
- MPhil Biological Sciences
- MRes Tropical Forest Ecology
- MSc by Research in Biological Science
- MSc Climate Change Science and Policy
- MSc Conservation and Biodiversity
- MSC Conservation Science and Policy
- MSc Ecological Consultancy MSc Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology
- MSc Marine Environmental Management
- MSc One Health (Infectious Diseases)
- MSc Zoo Conservation Biology
- PGCE Secondary Science
- Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work (Frontline)
The majority of our Biosciences undergraduate programmes are recognised by the Society of Biology. The Society website provides useful details for students including information about graduate career paths.
The University of Exeter also 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 after graduation, we’re here to help and support you with all your career and employability needs.
The course was packed with fascinating and inspiring insight into conservation and ecology, presented by expert and extremely supportive staff. Their encouragement and motivation has given me the strength and determination to achieve my potential, above and beyond what I had believed possible. As well as supporting me to attain a first class honours degree, they facilitated my undertaking of extra-mural study including cetacean research and a professional qualification in marine mammal observation.
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!
Sally Wagner, BSc Conservation Biology graduate