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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

Entry requirements for your country/region

  • 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
    32 points

    BTEC (Level 3)

    Essential subjects
    To include one of Biology, Chemistry, 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. Please check the SWAP progression routes document for details.

    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, 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, Mathematics or Physics..

  • 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 by possible depending on your qualifications. To find out more go to our advanced entry pages.

    Essential subjects
    To include one of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics or Physics.

  • Additional information

    General entrance requirements apply

    If you’ve taken exams over two sittings, repeated an exam, or been upgraded, the entrance requirements may be higher.

  • Other routes of entry

    If you’re an international student and don’t meet the academic and English-language requirements for entry onto this degree, there are other options. You could take our International Foundation in Science, Computing and Engineering which prepares you for entry onto our degrees. Delivered by INTO University of Stirling on our Stirling campus, you can benefit from excellent teaching and supportive English language training.  Successful completion of the International Foundation in Science, Sport Computing and Engineering or Maths provides guaranteed progression to this degree.

  • 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 6.0 with 5.5 in each skill
    • Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE) 169 overall with a minimum of 162 in each sub-skill
    • Cambridge C2 Proficiency (CPE) 180 overall with a minimum of 162 in each sub-skill
    • Pearson Test of English 54 overall with a minimum of 51 in each component
    • IBT TOEFL 80 with no subtest less than 17
    • Trinity ISE II Pass overall and Pass in each sub-skill, ISE III Pass overall and in all sub-skills, ISE IV Pass overall and in all sub-skills

    Last updated: 5 December 2019

    For more information on ways that you can meet our English language requirements, including options to waive the requirement, please read our information on English language 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

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 modules listed below are those currently intended for delivery in the next academic intake of this course. These may be subject to change as the University regularly revises and refreshes the curriculum of our taught programmes.

Course details

  • Teaching

    We've been awarded five star excellence for our teaching by the QS World University Rankings 2018.

    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 Portugal and Spain (the latter is optional). The location of the 10-day fieldtrip in ecology and animal biology varies, but in previous years it has taken 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.

  • Contact
  • Fees and costs

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

      2019/20 2020/21

    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 2019 and 2020 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 2021 when further guidance is available from the Scottish and UK governments, and will publicise information about fee levels and financial support available on our University and Europe information pages.

    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.


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


    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.

    £14,820 £15,600

    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

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

    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)

    The Undergraduate Choice Scholarship provides a £1,000 cash award to all students from England, Wales or Northern Ireland who meet the conditions of their offer and select the University of Stirling as their Firm or Insurance choice on UCAS.

    The University also offers the Undergraduate Merit Scholarship, which is awarded to selected students and provides a £1,000 cash award per year for years 1-3 of study. To be considered for the Merit Scholarship, students require a minimum of AAB at A-level or equivalent.

    In addition, students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland who enter in year 1 and progress successfully through years 2 and 3 will receive our Honours Year Scholarship, which covers the cost of undergraduate tuition fees in the Honours year of study.

    You don’t need to apply for the awards listed above - 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

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

  • 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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