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Conservation Biology, BSc

Conservation Biology, BSc

Course Overview


Conservation Biology focuses on the skills you need to explore strategies for conserving biodiversity in the face of rapid increases in human impacts on the planet. You build on expertise in ecology, zoology, plant and soil science, evolution and genetics. You learn about the arguments and the effectiveness of different approaches to conservation and develop a conceptual and practical understanding of conservation. You explore a diversity of case studies in Scotland and internationally to examine the diversity of approaches ranging from the conservation of threatened species to the challenges of working inside and outside of protected areas.

Conservation Biology is naturally cross-disciplinary. You graduate with a deep understanding of the underpinning principles of conservation, an awareness of the range of arguments for and against different strategies, links to a range of practitioners and policy advisors, and quantitative skills useful for managing wildlife and threatened species.

LEARNING MODE On Campus Learning
DURATION 48 months
What You'll Study

Each year you take a selection of compulsory courses and optional courses that can be chosen from those on offer across the institution. The first two years lay a foundation for the more specialised third and fourth years.

How You'll Study

Combine practice and theory

Typically, one third of your class time is practical and many courses include full-day practical classes and field visits. Most students attend at least one residential field trip during their degree; these trips bring the subjects to life and provide the opportunity to make great friendships and get to know staff members.

Research experience

You are actively involved in scientific research throughout your degree. In Year 4, you conduct independent research which can be pivotal to your career choice whether it be in dolphins, water voles, rare plants, tropical forest ecology, climate change in the Arctic, or any one of a diverse range of other exciting topics!

Engaging and inspiring teaching

Our teaching methods are diverse, innovative and based on research on how students learn. For example, we use problem-based learning approaches, creative presentations, peer and self-assessment, presenting posters in public meetings, writing and editing wikis, writing grant proposals, science writing for publication, and the creation of portfolios using multi-media.

Opportunities for Study Abroad and work-related learning

You can take advantage of an optional year-out on a work placement in any of our degree programmes. Study Abroad is encouraged for students in their second year; we have established partnerships with institutions in the USA, Canada, Australia, China and numerous countries in Europe.

All students take eight courses in year 1. You will also undertake a one-week field course on Plants 

Compulsory Courses

Professional Skills Part 1 (NT1001)
Frontiers in Biological Sciences (NT1009) – 15 Credit Points
Diversity of Life 1 (NT1012) – 15 Credit Points
Ecology and Environmental Science (NT1511) – 15 Credit Points
Diversity of Life 2 (NT1512) – 15 Credit Points
The Cell (NT1501) – 15 Credit Points

Optional Courses

Select a further 30 credit points from courses of choice

In year 2 compulsory courses include Life Sciences, a dedicated Conservation Biology course as well as courses on Ecology, Genes and Evolution and a field course in Zoology. You will also select electives from courses across the university.

Compulsory Courses

Genes and Evolution (NT2017) – 15 Credit Points
Biological Enhanced Skills Training (BEST) (NT2018) – 15 Credit Points
Ecology (NT2020) – 15 Credit Points
Conservation Biology (NT2509) – 15 Credit Points

Optional Courses

Select a further 45 credit points from courses of choice, plus one of the following field courses:

In year 3 courses include Animal Population Ecology, Plant Biogeography, Ecosystem Processes and Sustainable Resource Management. 

Compulsory Courses

Statistical Analysis of Biological Data (NT3010) – 15 Credit Points
Animal Evolution and Biodiversity (NT3011) – 15 Credit Points
Animal Population Ecology (NT3307) – 15 Credit Points
Society and Environment (NT3507) – 15 Credit Points
Conservation in Practice (NT3506)
Conservation Issues in Scotland – Field Trip (NT3902) – 15 Credit Points

Optional Courses

Select a further 30 credit points from courses of choice.

n year 4, the Honours year, you will carry out a research project as well as writing an extended essay and completing advanced courses of your choosing.

Compulsory Courses

SBS Honours Project (Semester 1) (NT4016) – 45 Credit Points
Topics in Conservation Biology (NT4802) – 15 Credit Points
Wildlife Conservation and Management: Concepts and Practice (NT4541) – 15 Credit Points

Optional Courses

Select a further 45 credit points from courses of choice, at least 15 of which must be courses delivered by the School of Biological Sciences.

Assessment Methods

Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:

  • coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course;
  • practical assessments of the skills and competencies learnt on the course; and
  • written examinations at the end of each course.

The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, year of study and individual courses.

Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.

Why Study Conservation Biology?
  • The Northampton University is uniquely placed to teach Conservation Biology. The Cairngorms National Park is on our doorstep and there is a broad range of outstanding habitats and species within easy reach. We are also closely linked to various conservation organisations, government institutes and policy advisors.
  • In the School of Biological Sciences the strong disciplines of Zoology, Ecology and Plant & Soil Science forms the basis of the course with contributions from a range of other disciplines.
  • Staff are active in conservation research, the development of policy and work in close collaboration with a wide range of external organisations.
  • Students benefit from field course teaching throughout the programme in a diversity of environments. There is a specific field course to explore conservation issues across Scotland and students may also participate in other field courses in Scotland and overseas (for example in Germany or the Mediterranean).


One of the great advantages of having a biology degree from the Northampton University is that it provides you with a very broad range of skills to offer employers. Not only do we train students in scientific methodology in the laboratory and in the field, we incorporate what we call ‘graduate attributes’ into the whole curriculum. Employers now expect an impressive list of skills, knowledge and experience in their graduate recruits and we aim to help you acquire these.

Many career possibilities are open to graduate conservation biologists. Our graduates have gone on to work in USA conservation agencies, National Parks, national and international NGOs, environmental consultancy, environmental protection agencies, environmental law, environmental education, industry, local government environmental departments and research.

As a Conservation Biologist you will be in increasing demand in similar posts with an edge over more traditionally qualified graduates. With your scientific training you will also be in demand for jobs requiring general graduate abilities.



  • Conservation Biologist
  • Conservation Scientist
  • Environmental Lawyer
  • Environmental Protection Officer
  • Nature Conservationist
  • Researcher

        Entry requirements


        SQA Highers

        Standard: AABB*

        Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

        Minimum: BBB*

        Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

        Adjusted: BB*

        Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

        * Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

        A LEVELS

        Standard: BBB*

        Minimum: BBC*

        Adjusted: CCC*

        * Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

        International Baccalaureate

        32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL*.

        * Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

        Irish Leaving Certificate

        5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3 OR AAABB*, obtained in a single sitting. (B must be at B2 or above)

        * Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

        English Language Requirements

        English Language Requirements

        To study for an Undergraduate degree at the University of Northampton University it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:


        IELTS Academic:

        OVERALL – 6.0 with: Listening – 5.5; Reading – 5.5; Speaking – 5.5; Writing – 6.0

        TOEFL iBT:

        OVERALL – 78 with: Listening – 17; Reading – 18; Speaking – 20; Writing – 21

        PTE Academic:

        OVERALL – 54 with: Listening – 51; Reading – 51; Speaking – 51; Writing – 54

        Cambridge English Advanced & Proficiency:

        OVERALL – 169 with: Listening – 162; Reading – 162; Speaking – 162; Writing – 169

        How to apply


        This programm by online learning has start dates in September and January of each academic year. 

        We recommend that you apply as early as possible; this is particularly important for applicants who may need to allow sufficient time to take an English language test

        Documentation required

        Applications are made online via the University Application Service, EUCLID.

        Please follow the instructions carefully and make sure that you have included the following documentation with your application:

        • Degree certificates showing award of degree.
        • Previous academic transcripts for all past degree programmes.
        • A reference in support or your application. The reference should be academic and dated no earlier than one year from the start of study on the LLM programme.
        • Evidence of English language proficiency, if required.

        If you are currently studying for your degree or you are not in a possession of an English test result you may still apply to the programme. Please note that it is your responsibility to submit the necessary documents.

        After you apply

        After your application has been submitted you will be able to track its progress through the University’s applicant hub.

        Application processing times will vary however the admissions team will endeavour to process your application within four to six weeks of submission. Please note that missing documentation will delay the application process.

        You will be informed as soon as possible of the decision taken. Three outcomes are possible:

        • You may be offered a place unconditionally
        • You may be offered a conditional place, which means that you must fulfil certain conditions that will be specified in the offer letter. Where a conditional offer is made, it is your responsibility to inform the College Postgraduate Office when you have fulfilled the requirements set out.
        • Your application may be unsuccessful. If your application has not been successful, you can request feedback from us or refer to our guidance for unsuccessful applicants, which explains some of the common reasons we why we reach this decision.
          View the University’s guidance for unsuccessful applicants
        Terms and conditions of admissions
        • The University’s terms and conditions form part of your contract with the University, and you should read them, and our data protection policy, carefully before applying.

          Northampton University admissions terms and conditions