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Ecology, BSc

Ecology, BSc

Course Overview


If you answered yes to the above question, an Ecology degree at Northampton will enable you to explore the science of all these topics, taught by experts who are actively involved in ecological research and its applications to environmental management and nature conservation. It will also provide you with opportunities to gain practical field experience in Scotland and abroad, on field trips, expeditions and through doing your own research project.

Our graduates have proven that an Northampton Ecology degree gives students a great start for careers in which they can make a difference to the world, working in wildlife research, nature conservation, environmental protection, environmental education and science communication.

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 Institute. 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. Ecology students take at least two residential field trip during their degree and can choose to take up to four; 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.

Compulsory Courses

Genes and Evolution (NT2017) – 15 Credit Points
Biological Enhanced Skills Training (BEST) (NT2018) – 15 Credit Points
Ecology (NT2020) – 15 Credit Points
Plants, People, and the Environment (NT25P4) – 15 Credit Points

Optional Courses

Select one of the field courses listed below, plus a further 45 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:

Compulsory Courses

Statistical Analysis of Biological Data (NT3010) – 15 Credit Points
Ecosystem Processes (NT3304) – 15 Credit Points
Animal Population Ecology (NT3307) – 15 Credit Points
Experimental Community Ecology (NT3502) – 15 Credit Points

Optional Courses

Select a further 45 credit points from courses of choice.

Compulsory Courses

SBS Honours Project (Semester 1) (NT4016) – 45 Credit Points

Optional Courses

Select a further 75 credit points from courses of choice, at least 45 of which must be from 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 Ecology?
  • This degree combines the biology and ecology of plants, animals and ecosystems, with the opportunity to include our particular specialisms in marine biology and conservation biology in your curriculum.
  • The Northampton University has long been renowned for teaching and research in Ecology and is home to one of the largest and most vibrant groups of staff in this subject area in the USA.
  • The degree is taught by a wide range of staff who are active in field ecological research from the Tropics to the Arctic, and from the deep sea to the mountain tops; our teaching reflects our research and is always up to date and relevant.
  • Students have the opportunity to get involved in our research through summer research assistantships and project work.
  • Ecology students attend at least two residential field courses selected from our range of courses in the Cairngorms, Shetland, Yorkshire, Spain and at our own Oceanlab on the Ythan Estuary, sea mammal research centre on the Black Isle, and field centre at Bettyhill, on the North coast of Sutherland.
  • Students benefit from contact with practising ecologists from a number of research and conservation organisations based in and around Northampton.
  • At our regular careers events you will have the opportunity to listen to and meet prospective employers from outside the university, giving you excellent opportunities to get a fulfilling and challenging job in a biological field.


Our Ecology degree provides you with academic training and transferable skills relevant to both specialist employment in ecology and the wider biology graduate job market. Our graduates have gone on to develop specialist careers in ecological research, nature conservation, local government, environmental protection, forestry, ecological consultancy, environmental law, outdoor education and the media. Very helpful information on careers in ecology is available in the booklet ‘Rooting for a Career in Ecology and Environmental Management?’

One of the great advantages of a 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, including communication, working with others, use of specialist IT and time management.

Students in the School of Biological Sciences have the opportunity to collaborate with external organisations such as Scottish Natural Heritage and RSPB, for example whilst undertaking an Honours project. In addition to allowing you to develop a valuable link with a potential employer, this gives you the opportunity to experience the application of your learning in the ‘real world’ and to develop a range of skills, all of which will make you a more effective employee following graduation.



  • Ecologist
  • Ecology Researcher
  • Environmental Lawyer
  • Environmental Protection Officer
  • Graduate Ecologist
  • Nature Conservationist

      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