BSc (Hons) Ecology and Conservation

Stirling is a superb place to study ecology and conservation. Join us at Scotland’s academic hub for environmental conservation.

Ecology and Conservation

Key facts

  • Award BSc (Hons)
  • Start date September 2024
  • Duration 36 months or 48 months
  • Mode of study full time, part time
  • Delivery on campus
  • UCAS Code C185


People have an enormous impact on their environment through resource use, habitat loss and degradation, and climate change. Understanding how our actions impact the ecological balance across the planet, and what we can do about it, has never been more important. 

Our BSc (Hons) Ecology and Conservation course will teach you the science of ecology and conservation and provide practical training in field, laboratory and analytical techniques. You will understand how animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms interact with their environment, as well as the relationship between people and the rest of the biosphere. You'll learn about the policies and management strategies that aim to safeguard our biodiversity and the ecosystem services upon which humans depend.

Stirling is a fantastic place to study Ecology and Conservation. We're near to diverse landscapes and work closely with a wide range of national and international organisations including conservation charities, Government agencies and industry active in the environmental arena, many of whom are based nearby. Our external collaborative links are crucial to us in ensuring our research reaches the right places, and these also provide a wealth of opportunities for our students to find external partners for dissertations and placements, guest lectures and field training.

Top reasons to study with us

* Rankings are based on institutions included in the Guardian University Guide 2023

Prizes or awards

Each year a research based prize is awarded for best dissertation performance.

Entry requirements

Year 1 entry – Four-year honours

SQA Highers

AABB - by the end of S5
AAAB - by the end of S6

GCE A-levels

IB Diploma
30 points

BTEC (Level 3)

Essential subjects
To include one of Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, Mathematics or Physics.

Widening access students
Widening access students may be eligible for an adjusted offer of entry. To find out if this applies to you go to our widening access pages.

Care-experienced applicants will be guaranteed an offer of a place if they meet the minimum entry requirements.

Year 2 entry – Three-year honours

SQA Advanced Highers

GCE A-levels

IB Diploma
35 points

Essential subjects
To include Biology and one of Environmental Science, Geography or Geology.

Other Scottish qualifications

Scottish HNC/HND
Year one minimum entry - Bs in graded units.

Access courses
University of Stirling access course - for mature students only. You must pass the course with 50% or above.

SWAP access course - for mature students only.

Email our Admissions Team for advice about other access courses.

Foundation Apprenticeships
Considered to be equivalent to 1 Higher at Grade B

Essential subjects
To include one of Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, Mathematics or Physics.

Other qualifications

English, Welsh and Northern Irish HNC/HND
Merits and Distinctions

English, Welsh and Northern Irish access courses
Access to Higher Education - 60 credits, minimum 45 at QCF Level 3, pass at 60% or above.

Email our Admissions Team for advice about other access courses.

Essential subjects
To include one of Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, Mathematics or Physics.

International entry requirements

Advanced entry

Year 2 entry
Entry into Year 2 may be possible depending on your HNC/HND course. To find out more go to our articulation pages.

Other qualifications
Advanced entry may be possible depending on your qualifications. For more information, contact our Admissions Team at

Other routes of entry

If you don't currently meet our academic requirements, INTO University of Stirling offers a variety of preparation programmes that can earn you the qualifications and skills you need to progress onto some of our courses. Explore INTO University of Stirling to see the Foundation and International Year 2 routes available.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS Academic or UKVI 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each sub-skill.
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 56 overall with a minimum of 51 in each sub-skill.
  • IBT TOEFL 78 overall with a minimum of 17 in listening, 18 in reading, 20 in speaking and 17 in writing.

See our information on English language requirements for more details on the language tests we accept and options to waive these requirements.

Pre-sessional English language courses

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses

Course details

Our BSc (Hons) Ecology and Conservation course aims to introduce students to the main issues in managing and conserving biodiversity at national and global scales.

In the first two years you will be trained in key field, practical and analytical skills alongside learning about both biological and environmental systems and processes. There is increasing flexibility in the third and fourth years. Alongside modules in Environmental Policy and Management, and Population and Community Ecology, there is a wide range of optional specialist skills modules available for you to choose from, allowing you to pursue your specific interests. This includes technical skills such as Geographical Information Systems (GIS) for creating, managing, interpreting and visualising spatial data, remote sensing techniques, and advanced statistical approaches using the software R.

In the fourth year you will work with an individual member of staff on an independent research project to address an ecological or environmental question. There are a wide range of topics to choose from which may involve field and laboratory work, or computer simulations, and collation and analysis of existing datasets.

Recent projects have included:

  • assessing the implications of rewilding for freshwater biodiversity;
  • evaluating the effectiveness of conservation conflicts using online games;
  • associations between tropical exotic plants within oil-palm dominated landscapes;
  • quantifying the response of biological communities to woodland restoration;
  • use of camera trapping data for assessing species distribution, behaviour and ecology.

Some students design their own topics with guidance from our staff.


The module information below provides an example of the types of course module you may study. The details listed are for the academic year that starts in September 2024. Modules and start dates are regularly reviewed and may be subject to change in future years.

Course details


The University of Stirling achieved five stars for teaching in the QS Stars University Ratings 2024.

Our teaching builds on the latest thinking in Ecology and Conservation. Teaching is delivered in the form of formal lectures and practical classes, tutorials, seminars, computer-based learning and guided reading and research.


Our BSc (Hons) Ecology and Conservation course places great emphasis on practical training, hands-on experience and preparation for a wide range of careers in conservation. Fieldwork is an essential and enjoyable part of this degree course – we have a wide range of habitats on our doorstep and regularly use the campus for practical work. Some modules also conduct short excursions to visit sites and species close to the University.

You will have the choice of two residential field trips. We are currently seeking new locations overseas for these. The 7-day field ecology and animal biology course introduces students to the process of designing, conducting and analysing your own scientific project. Travel, accommodation, and subsistence on residential field courses are not included in the course fees.

We are conscious that residential field courses are difficult for some students to attend and incur an environmental cost. To widen participation and increase sustainability in our teaching, there is the option of a non-residential field course module based on day trips around the University.


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.

Work placement opportunities

The course includes an optional placement with an organisation involved in ecology and conservation biology and management. Students are free to arrange their own placements or work with a member of staff to find suitable options.

Study abroad

Study abroad opportunities are available to all Stirling students, and we have a well-established environmental course with the University of Guelph in Canada. Students in Biological and Environmental Sciences have also taken part in exchanges in Canada, Florida, Alaska, Sydney, and Hawaii. You can spend one semester there during your third year, studying courses equivalent to those taken at Stirling, giving you the opportunity to broaden your environmental and cultural experience.

Fees and funding

Fees and costs

Academic year: 2023/24 2024/25
Scottish students £1,820 £1,820
Students from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland £9,250 £9,250
International students (including EU) £20,300 £21,300

Scottish students

This fee is set by the Scottish Government and is subject to change.

Although you’re liable for annual tuition fees, if you are domiciled in Scotland you can apply to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have your tuition fees paid by the Scottish Government on your behalf.

You will be charged the annual tuition fee each year when you enrol.

If you need to take additional modules or resit modules, you will be liable for an additional fee.

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Students from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland

This tuition fee may be subject to change depending on guidance provided by the UK Government.

You can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of your tuition fees, from your relevant funding body. Students from the Republic of Ireland are eligible for a tuition fee loan of up to £9,250 from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).

We also offer additional funding – such as our Honours Year Scholarship – for students from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland. See our funding opportunities section below for more information.

You will be charged the annual fee each year when you enrol. Your fees will be held at the same level throughout your course.

If you need to take additional modules or resit modules, you will be liable for an additional fee.

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

International students (including EU)

Eligible students will automatically receive a scholarship worth between £8,000-£30,000 over the duration of your course. See our range of generous scholarships for international undergraduate students.

You will be charged the annual fee each year when you enrol. Your fees will be held at the same level throughout your course.

If you need to take additional modules or resit modules, you will be liable for an additional fee.

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Additional costs

There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.

Additional student costs are kept as low as possible, but include purchase of lab coat and some personal lab kit.

We subsidise costs for fieldtrips, but you’ll be required to make a financial contribution towards your travel, accommodation and subsistence for the Scottish field class in Year 2 and the optional field classes in Years 3 and 4.

Additional costs will be approximately £400.


See what funding opportunities and loans are available to help you with tuition and living costs.

Students from Scotland

Find funding opportunities for Scottish students.

Students from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland

Eligible students will automatically receive our Undergraduate Welcome Scholarship, Undergraduate Merit Scholarship, and our Honours Year Scholarship, which are worth between £1,000 and £9,250.

International students

Eligible international students will automatically receive a scholarship worth between £8,000-£30,000 over the duration of your course. Find funding opportunities for international students.

Cost of living

If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.

International (including EU) students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support.

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling.

Payment options

We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay.

After you graduate

Many graduates progress to scientific careers in research or advisory roles in government agencies and non-governmental organisations. However, the skills learned in the Ecology and Conservation degree are fundamental to those required in a wide range of other careers. Our graduates have progressed to a range of jobs in academic and applied ecology and conservation positions such as:

  • conservation advisor / ecologist with NGOs, government agencies and local authorities, or in industry
  • scientific researchers at universities, research institutes or conservation NGOs
  • ecological consultancy positions
  • warden and ranger positions
  • project and programme management conservation positions
  • environmental education communications and marketing positions
  • fundraising and development positions

Careers course

You will have the option of enrolling on a free eight week career course, specifically designed to improve the employability of students interested in conservation. This is provided by the company Conservation Careers.

Companies we work with

We've strong links with research and conservation bodies in Scotland (e.g. NatureScot, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Plant Health Centre), the rest of the UK (e.g. Forest Research, Natural England, Defra) and international (e.g. International Union for Conservation of Nature, European Environment Agency, Gabonese National Parks Service, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research).

We also have strong links various conservation non-government organisations, such as the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, British Trust for Ornithology, Bat Conservation Trust, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, wildlife trusts and environmental consultancies.

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What our students said

Laura Kerr
Laura Kerr
BSc (Hons) Conservation Biology and Management
From the placement to the residential field courses, I learned numerous practical and research skills that can simply not be learned in the classroom. Stirling is unique in offering such a variety of field courses, with destinations including Iceland, France and Gabon.
Read Laura's story

Flexible study

This course is not available as a combined degree.