The contemporary world is one of rapidly increasing human interference in natural environments and of competition for space and resources. Some species and habitats are disappearing before they can even be studied properly. As a result, understanding the complex inter-relationships between environments and their inhabitants is vital. It enables us to undertake environmental conservation and sustainable management for the benefit of future generations.
Stirling is a superb place to study this. The city is home to more environmental and conservation organisations than any other UK city — all of whom we have strong links with and some of whom are based at the University. With this course, you’ll receive excellent practical training and preparation for a range of careers in conservation.
ABBB - one sitting.
AABB - two sittings.
To include one of Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, Mathematics or Physics.
SQA Adv. Higher:
To include Biology and one of Environmental Science, Geography or Geology.
General entrance requirements apply
Mathematics Standard Grade (2), Intermediate 2 (C), GCSE (C) or equivalent.
If examinations are taken over two sittings, or there are repeats or upgrades, the entrance requirements may be higher.
Modes of study
Full-time (three modules per semester).
Part-time (one or two modules per semester).
Find out more
Semesters 1 - 4
In Years 1 and 2 you will take core modules in:
- Biological Sciences: Ecology, Biodiversity, Cell Biology, Physiology, Genes and Evolution
- Environmental Sciences: People and the Environment or Landscape Evolution; Global Environmental Issues or Building Planet Earth; The Biosphere
- Practical Skills in the Natural Sciences and Quantitative Techniques
Semesters 5 - 6
In Year 3, you will take advanced modules in:
- Environmental Policy and Management
- Field and Laboratory Techniques
You will also take between two and four modules from a wide range of options: Soil Quality and Protection, Animal Physiology, Animal Ecology, Plant Ecology and Physiology, Marine Biology, Drainage Basins, Environmental Hazards, Soil, Sediments and Landscape History or the Field Course in Spain (see below).
Students on courses in Conservation Biology and Management undertake a four-week placement during the summer vacation between Years 3 and 4 working with an organisation involved in conservation.
Semesters 7 - 8
In your final year you will undertake an independent research project and can choose to go on the field course to France (see below). You will also take four or six modules from a range of options which currently include:
- Conservation Biology*
- Conservation Management*
- Restoration Ecology
- Conservation Genetics
- Molecular Evolution and Phylogenetics
- Sustainable Development
- Agriculture in the 21st Century
- Geographical Information Systems
- Remote Sensing
- Reconstructing Quaternary Environments
* These modules are required
Fieldwork is an essential and enjoyable part of this degree course. Stirling’s campus location is an ideal base from which to make field excursions, whether to study lekking Black Grouse in the Highlands, the growth of trees on the sides of the Ochil Hills, or the distribution of animals on the Forth Estuary. As well as fieldwork in Scotland, the Conservation Biology and Management (Hons) course includes field courses to Spain and/or France. Students attending the week-long field course in Spain stay near Almeria, one of the driest parts of Europe. Through a series of excursions and intensive field projects students are introduced to environmental processes in arid environments. The 10-day field course in ecology and animal biology takes place in the Cévennes in France, a rugged mountain landscape of exceptional natural beauty and tremendous biodiversity. The organisms that live there include over 2,300 flowering plant species, 2,000 invertebrate species and 300 vertebrate species. Notable among these are wild boar, otters, vultures, and grey wolves. The region exemplifies the deep historical connection between humans and the natural world, and is recognised as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site. During the field trip students learn various techniques in field sampling, identification, experimental design, data analysis and presentation
Teaching and assessment
Teaching is delivered in the form of formal lectures and practical classes, tutorials, seminars, computer-based learning and guided reading and research. Modules are assessed by a combination of coursework and examination, completed during semester. For many modules the marks awarded for coursework contribute 40 – 50 percent of the final grade but for some modules this is as high as 100 percent.
Biological and Environmental Sciences (BES) within the School of Natural Sciences is a multi-disciplinary department that participates in research and teaching in a broad range of subjects in the biological and environmental sciences. The principle focus of the research is at the interface between the environment and society. Within BES, staff conduct research in areas as diverse as the reconstruction of past landscapes; conservation, environmental impact assessment and environmental management; evolutionary ecology of plants and animals; and cellular biology and immunology. BES is a friendly, vibrant, and dynamic place in which to learn and research with a great sense of belonging engendered in our students from their very first days at the University.
Research-led teaching is the key to deep learning and understanding. The academic staff in Biological and Environmental Sciences at Stirling are typically world leaders in their respective fields, thus ensuring that research-led teaching is at the core of all of our courses. Many students work closely with academics throughout their time and benefit from actively participating in research programmes. We have strong contacts with external conservation and environmental organisations who also contribute to the undergraduate experience. This approach ensures that our students appreciate the transferable nature of a science degree and see how their learning can be applied to the real world.
Students can spend all or part of year 3 abroad. There is a well-established reciprocal exchange programme with the University of Guelph in Canada where you will take subjects equivalent to those at Stirling. In addition, there are exchange opportunities with a range of universities in the USA, Australia and Europe.
I chose Stirling because of its excellent reputation for environmental sciences and emphasis on both practical and theoretical studies. I have not been disappointed, the skills and knowledge base taught has been outstanding with the added benefit of experience through a work placement. The campus is perfectly situated to learn and be inspired with wild meadows, lochs and proximity to the Ochil hills, whilst lecturers are enthusiastic and approachable, encouraging questions, debate and independent thinking. As a mature student I have found their support to be unwavering and invaluable through my years of study.
Anwen Bill Conservation Biology & Management student (graduated 2012)
Kirsty Park is a lecturer in conservation biology. After completing a BSc Biology at Leeds University she went on to study bat ecology for a PhD at Bristol University. Her primary research focus is animal ecology and conservation in managed environments (e.g. urban, agricultural, forestry), and human-wildlife conflicts. Much of this work is done in collaboration with external organisations such as the Forestry Commission, Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Bat Conservation Trust.
94% of University of Stirling 2012 graduates have found work, or are in a
further programme of study within 6 months of graduation. The Telegraph
ranks Stirling in the top 12 UK universities for getting a job.
We have strong links with conservation bodies such as Scottish Natural Heritage and various Conservation Non-Government Organisations, such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), British Trust for Ornithology, Bumblebee Conservation Trust. There is an active Conservation Volunteers group at the University, enabling you to develop and expand your experience of survey work and other practical skills.
Demand for well-qualified graduates in Conservation is high and our students have gone on to work for a wide range of employers in the UK, including Scottish Natural Heritage, the RSPB and the wildlife trusts as well as environmental consultancies. Other students have gone on to work overseas or to postgraduate research leading to a doctorate.