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BSc (Hons) Ecology

UCAS Code C180 Part-time study available Fast-track your degree Study abroad opportunities

Stirling is a great place to study ecology. Our degree is based on research-led teaching and fieldwork opportunities in Scotland, Spain and France.

Key facts

  • Award BSc (Hons)
  • Start date September
  • Duration 48 months
  • Mode of study Part-time, Full-time, Campus based

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

We’ll give you a rigorous introduction to the science of ecology. You’ll understand how animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms interact with their environment, as well as the relationship between people and the rest of the biosphere.

This course covers the core conceptual issues of Ecology in its broadest sense, but also provides hands-on opportunities for learning transferable skills and analysing ecological relationships across all types of organisms. We’ll train you in essential field and laboratory techniques, including on our inspiring 10-day fieldtrip in Cévennes, France, a landscape of exceptional natural beauty and tremendous biodiversity recognised by UNESCO.

Whether you are interested in pursuing an academic career, or want to participate in the practical solution of ecological problems, we’ll provide you with the tools and concepts you need to make a difference.

Fieldwork – an essential part of training – takes place in Scotland and France. There’s also an optional trip to Spain. Students may spend all, or part, of Year 3 studying abroad as part of an exchange programme with the University of Guelph, Canada, as well as participating in other international exchange programmes.

  • Top reasons to study with us

Semesters 1-4 cover core modules in: Biological Sciences; Environmental Sciences; and Practical Skills in the Natural Sciences.

Semesters 5-6 cover the following advanced modules: Animal Ecology; Plant Ecology and Physiology; Population and Community Ecology; plus further optional modules, including the Spanish fieldtrip.

In Semesters 7-8, you’ll carry out an independent research project and go on the overseas fieldtrip in France. You’ll also take four to six advanced modules from a defined list of options.

The research project in the final year takes up around a third of the timetable, and is strongly linked with the active research interests of academic staff in Biological and Environmental Sciences.

Examples of recent high-quality student work include:

  • Plant biodiversity patterns in the southern Highlands
  • Buzz-pollination and ecology of bumblebees
  • Climate change and the altitudinal limits of native montane plant species
  • The influence of diet on seaweed fly mating and oviposition behaviour
  • Heavy metal adaptation in rare plants


The module details given below are subject to change as the University regularly revises and refreshes the curriculum of our taught programmes. The modules outlined below represent those offered in 2018/19 on this course of study.

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Course details

  • Teaching

    We've been awarded five-star excellence for our teaching by the QS World University Rankings 2017/18.

    Our academics use their international research activities to teach you the latest thinking and trends in ecology. Our teaching is delivered in the form of formal lectures and practical classes, tutorials, seminars, computer-based learning, guided reading and research.

  • Fieldwork

    Fieldwork is an essential part of an ecologist’s training. Our 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 in the Forth Estuary.

    As well as fieldwork in Scotland, the Ecology (Hons) course includes fieldtrips to France and Spain (the latter is optional). The 10-day fieldtrip in ecology and animal biology takes place in the Cévennes of France, a rugged mountain landscape of exceptional natural beauty and tremendous biodiversity. The organisms that live there include over 2,300 flowering plant species (24 of which are endemic), 2,000 invertebrate species and 300 vertebrate species. Notable among these are wild boar, otters, three vulture species (including endangered Cinereous 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. There, you’ll learn techniques in identification, field sampling, experimental design, data analysis and presentation.

    Students participating in the week-long fieldtrip in Spain stay at a field station 2km away from the traditional hill-top town of Sorbas, near Almeria, in one of the driest parts of Europe. Through a series of excursions and intensive field projects you’ll be introduced to environmental processes and resource management in arid environments

  • Assessment

    Modules are assessed by a combination of coursework and examination, completed during each 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.

  • Study abroad

    You may spend all or part of Year 3 abroad. We have a well-established reciprocal exchange programme with the University of Guelph in Canada where you’ll take subjects equivalent to those at Stirling. In addition, there are exchange opportunities with a range of universities in the USA, Australia and Europe.

    Find out more about studying abroad.

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  • Fees and costs

    Fees shown are per year (Fees are different for each course)

      2018/19 2019/20

    Scottish/EU Students

    Although you’re liable for annual tuition fees, students domiciled in Scotland or the EU will be able to apply to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish government on their behalf. If you’re unsure of your fee status, you can check your eligibility online.

    You will be liable to pay tuition fees for every year you’re in attendance, and your fees will be held level upon entry. Please note if you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for an additional fee.

    Important note for EU students

    The Scottish Government has confirmed that EU students enrolling in the 2018 and 2019 academic year will be entitled to free tuition fees in Scotland. EU Students will retain that status for the duration of their four year degree. The future fee status of EU students enrolling in UK universities will depend on the timing and terms of the UK’s exit from the European Union. The University will make decisions on fee levels for EU students enrolling in 2020 when further guidance is available from the Scottish and UK governments, and will publicise information about fee levels and financial support available on the University website.

    While students should be aware this may mean a change from the current position where EU students are treated with equivalence to Scottish students, it is also important to note that any changes would also require changes to existing UK and Scottish legislation. Current indications are that the UK would leave the EU at the earliest in 2020, so any changes would not take effect before the academic year 2020/21.


    *This tuition fee is set by the Scottish Government, and may be subject to change.


    Students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland

    If you’re domiciled in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, you’ll be able to apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of your tuition fees, from your relevant funding body.

    You will be liable to pay tuition fees for every year you’re in attendance, and your fees will be held level upon entry. Please note if you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for an additional fee.

    If you successfully complete Years 1-3 of your course, you will also be eligible to receive an Honours Year Scholarship valued at £9,250 to cover the tuition fee costs of your fourth and final year of study. Learn more about the Honours Year Scholarship.

    There is additional funding available for students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland – please see Funding opportunities below.

    £9,250 £9,250

    Overseas (Non-EU) Students

    You will be liable to pay fees for every year you’re in attendance, and your fees will be held level upon entry. Please note if you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for an additional fee.

    £14,460 £14,820

    You should expect to pay fees for every year you attend. Fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.

  • Funding opportunities

    Students domiciled in Scotland and the EU

    The University of Stirling offers undergraduate funding opportunities for students domiciled in Scotland or the EU. To find out if you’re eligible to apply for an award, use our scholarship finder.

    Students domiciled in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (RUK)

    Eligible students domiciled in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be able to receive the University’s Undergraduate Choice Scholarship, which offers a £1,000 cash award for Years 1-3 of study to eligible students coming to us with a minimum of AAB at A-level or equivalent

    Alternatively, the Undergraduate Merit Scholarship offers a £1,000 cash award for Years 1-3 of study to eligible students coming to us with a minimum of AAB at A-level or equivalent.

    You don’t need to apply for these awards - we’ll automatically identify your eligibility as part of the admissions process.

    To explore other scholarships and learn more about funding opportunities, use our scholarship finder.

    Students domiciled overseas

    The University of Stirling offers generous undergraduate funding opportunities for overseas students. To find out if you’re eligible to apply for an award, use our scholarship finder.

  • Additional costs

    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 fieldtrip in 2nd year and the optional fieldtrip in 4th year.

    If you choose to attend your graduation ceremony, you will be liable for an additional charge. There is no charge if you wish to graduate in absentia. Learn more about additional fees.

  • 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.

    EU and overseas 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.

What jobs can you get with an Ecology degree?

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 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, including jobs as:

  • environmental consultant
  • environmental education officer
  • environmental manager
  • university and government researchers
  • nature reserve managers
  • policy makers and consultants with both environmental agencies and conservation bodies,
  • natural history film maker
  • journalist
  • nature conservation officer
  • recycling officer
  • sustainability consultant
  • waste management officer
  • water quality scientist

Ecology underpins sustainable development, and, as such, it’s becoming mainstream in policy development and planning. 

The skills learned in the Ecology degree – such as the ability to gather, interpret, synthesise and present information in an interesting and original way – mean that you’ll be well-qualified to work in a broad spectrum of careers.

  • The University of Stirling consistently earns five QS Stars for employability, with more than 97% of our students in employment or further education within six months of graduating. (HESA DLHE 2016/17)
  • Companies we work with

    We have strong links with research and conservation bodies both in Scotland (e.g. Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency), the wider UK and overseas (e.g. International Union for Conservation of Nature, European Environment Agency, Gabonese National Parks Service, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research).

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

The lecturers create a supportive and friendly atmosphere and are always willing to help solve any problems I encounter.
Jamie Hutchinson
BSc (Hons) Ecology
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I am now equipped with the skills I need to progress in my chosen career.
Viki Bates
BSc (Hons) Ecology
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