Course overview

Are you passionate about environmental protection, wildlife conservation and ecology?

Our course uncovers the human impacts on our natural environment. You will study environmental threats and management. The biggest threats to biodiversity are climate change, habitat loss, invasive species. You'll study the effect of these threats, and learn ways to manage and reduce them.

This integrated masters develops advanced skills in research, analytics and communication.

Topics include:

  • Ecology
  • Conservation
  • Animal behaviour
  • Botany
  • Sustainability
  • Environmental protection

Our flexible course means you can choose the modules that interest you most. 

Practical work

You'll gain experience in surveying techniques that are used when working as an ecologist. Day trips, field work and visits to local sites will include activities such as:

  • bat surveys
  • phase one habitat surveys
  • sustainable homes
  • renewable energy
  • winter tree ID

There is no additional costs to you for these activities.

You can choose to do field courses in Malaysia and Sweden. You'll get a better understanding by seeing environmental issues up-close in these countries.

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Why choose this course?


by the Institution of Environmental Sciences. This means our courses meet high standards of practical, field and theoretical activities

Passionate teaching

You'll be taught by active researchers who work with environmental consultancies on bioenergy technology projects.

Placement opportunity

Get real-life experience with a possible industry placement year. You could work at the Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust or Dartmoor Zoo

Training by ecologists

Ecologists from local consultancies deliver training and expertise

Study abroad

You can choose to study abroad and take modules in Malaysia such as Earth Observation and Wildlife Behaviour

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level ABB including biology
Required subjects

A level biology

IB score 32 including 5/4 in biology at Higher Level

A levels

ABB, biology required

Other subjects can include chemistry, environmental science, geography, psychology, maths and physics.

Citizenship studies, critical thinking, general studies and leisure studies not accepted. 

Foundation progression options

If you have achieved high grades in your A levels (or equivalent qualifications) but do not meet the current subject entry requirements for direct entry to your chosen undergraduate course, you may be interested in our science foundation programme.

There is a course for UK students and one for EU/international students.

Applicants must also demonstrate good grades in previous relevant science subjects to apply. You are guaranteed a place on selected undergraduate courses if all progression requirements are met.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

Teaching methods

  • Lab sessions
  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops
  • Field courses
  • Computer labs
  • Practical classes
  • Problem-based learning

How you will be assessed

You will receive a copy of our marking criteria which provides guidance on how we will assess your work. Your work will be marked on time and you will receive regular feedback.

Your final degree classification will be based on marks gained in your second and third years of study.

You must pass each year to progress. This typically means that you will need to achieve marks of at least 40% in each module. Full details on our marking criteria and structure will be provided at your induction.

To study abroad as part of your degree, you must meet minimum academic requirements in year one.

Assessment methods

  • Coursework
  • Group project
  • Lab reports
  • Oral exam
  • Poster presentation
  • Research project
  • Written exam

Contact time and study hours

In your first year, you will take 120 credits of modules. As a guide, one credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. You will spend around half of your time in lectures, seminars and practicals. The remaining time will be independent study. Core modules are typically taught by professors or associate professors.

Study abroad

We offer designated support to guide you through the entire process of studying abroad.

  • study at University of Nottingham Malaysia for a semester or a whole year
  • study in Australia, New Zealand, Canada or the USA. We'll help you apply to spend a semester of your second year at one of our highly ranked international partner universities
  • study in France, Austria or Spain for an additional year between years two and three
  • the university offers a wide range of summer schools worldwide

Year in industry

We have excellent links with companies, and can help to find the best placement for you. Often a placement year can help you to secure to a graduate job.

Our students have been on placement with:

  • Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust
  • The Whitley Wildlife Trust
  • British Geological Survey

The industry placement takes place between years two and three of your degree. You can apply during year two of your degree, subject to meeting minimum academic requirements.


Core modules

Global Environmental Processes
The unifying theme of this module is biogeochemical cycling - the production, distribution and cycling of materials on the Earth and their availability to, and use by, biological organisms. The module starts by covering the history of the universe, from the big bang to the evolution of the Earth's surface environment. Then you will explore the major global systems and their circulations as they are today - solids, liquids and gases. In the final section you will examine the major materials - including carbon, nitrogen, sulphur, oxygen and metals - and their budgets and cycles; and the interactions between biological and physical/chemical processes on a global scale. You will have a two-hour lecture once a week for this module. 
The Ecology of Natural and Managed Ecosystems

Pollinator species are hugely important for natural systems and for managed systems like agriculture, but there is concern that numbers are declining. This module introduces you to the principles of ecology and looks at how organisms have evolved to interact with their environment.

You’ll cover:

  • population and community ecology
  • the various definitions of biodiversity
  • the loss of species and habitats

You’ll have lectures from current researchers in the field and the opportunity to apply your learning in the laboratory and through field visits. This is a 20 credit module.

Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour

Starting with Darwin’s theory of evolution, you will learn how natural selection and other evolutionary forces have shaped the ways in which organisms interact with each other and their environment. In addition to lectures, practical classes will give you hands-on experience with a range of ecological and behavioural concepts in the laboratory and the field.

Habitat Management

In this module you will explore a variety of UK habitats and the ecological requirements and adaptations of the species found within them. You will be introduced to methods for wildlife conservation and the sustainable management of wildlife resources . Developing skills in identification and an understanding of the methods used to classify and monitor species and habitats.

Environmental Science and Society

This module introduces you to the role and limitations of environmental science within the context practical environmental decision making. The three themes of the module which will be illustrated through a series of environmental case studies are: 1. General scientific methods. 2. The limits and assumptions of science 3. The social context of science based decision making. You’ll have a two hour lecture each week to study for this module. 

Tutorials in Environmental Science

This 20 credit module will enable you to study effectively at university. Through lectures, practical's and tutorials you will develop your written presentation and data handling skills. You will learn:

  • how to use the library and other sources to retrieve information
  • how to read, understand and synthesise primary literature
  • how to produce a literature review on your chosen topic
Environmental Management Field Course

On this residential field course you will study communities and ecosystems, using a range of field techniques. The Devon field course is based in a coastal habitat in south Devon, particular focus is on understanding the impacts of local agriculture and tourism, and the strategies used to manage a national nature reserve and SSSI (site of special scientific interest).

You are required to pay a contribution towards the cost of the field course which takes place in June after the end of the first year.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Friday 14 January 2022.

The fieldwork skills module is a non-residential field course, it will develop your practical skills through trips out through the year.

Core modules

Fieldwork Skills - sampling and surveying techniques

This module, run as a non-residential field course, will introduce you to a range of skills for environmental monitoring and ecological assessment. You will develop key practical skills and gain valuable experience in planning and conducting fieldwork.There will be a strong focus on developing practical skills and enhancing employability in the environmental job sector. You'll choose from a range of 1 or 2 day activities running through the year.

Environmental Science in Practice

This module will help you prepare for your third year project and start thinking about possible future careers. The module will focus on developing your communication and project management skills, and you will undertake a variety of tasks working as a group to solve problems, design experiments, collect, analyse, interpret and present information. 


You will learn about the forces determining the distribution and abundance of species and be able to use models to predict the dynamics of populations under a range of conditions. You will recognise how interactions between species can drive co-evolutionary processes leading to an understanding of the organisation of natural systems working systematically from populations through to communities, ecosystems and biogeographical scales.


Soils are the most complex biomaterial on earth. An understanding of the basic concepts concerning the form and function of soils is important for future management strategies such as mitigating the effects of climate change and providing safe and sustainable food. This module focuses on the important soil properties from physical, chemical and biological perspectives including soil organic matter, soil chemical reactions, soil fauna and flora, and soil-water relations.

Optional modules

Tropical Environmental Science Field Course

This one-week residential field course is based on Tioman Island, off the coast of peninsular Malaysia. You'll explore coral reefs and rainforests to introduce you to the enormous diversity of life found in tropical environments.You'll gain skills in different environments, sampling and identifying animals and plants, and looking at the relationship between diversity and the physical environment. Looking at recent anthropogenic change such as climate change and ocean acidification.

Forest Ecology and Management

This module will introduce you to some key ecological processes in forest ecosystems and provides an overview of forest biodiversity and its assessment. You will develop practical skills in tree species identification and survey techniques during fieldwork and site visits. We will look at the scale, rates, distribution and causes of deforestation and forest degradation and the implications of this for global and local ecosystem services. We will examine different management objectives including timber production, environmental services, amenity and conservation.

Climate Change Science
A broad overview of the science behind climate change and its effects is studied on this module. Topics include: historical climate change; the principles of climate forcing; the role of modelling; responses of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, including impacts on humans; the political environment; and options for climate stabilisation. You will have a two-hour lecture once a week with complementary practical and computing classes.
The Green Planet
This module explores the evolution of key plant systems through deep time, and the significance of this process for understanding modern ecology and food security. You will learn about the challenges that plants faced when moving onto land and evolutionary innovations within the early spermatophytes. You will also gain an understanding of the power of natural selection in producing plant diversity over deep time.
Ecosystem Processes

The course will focus on the processes that govern terrestrial ecosystem function. We will identify key ecosystem drivers and processes and explore how these have shaped the biosphere. Students will gain an understanding of the mechanisms that control changes in the physiochemical environment and their impact upon communities. Particular topics will include primary productivity, decomposition, herbivory, biodiversity and human impact on ecosystems. Classes comprise a mix of lectures, laboratory practicals, a computer practical, a seminar and fieldwork

Animal Behaviour and Physiology

A comprehensive introduction to the study of animal behaviour, from the physiological and genetic bases of behaviour to its development through learning and its adaptive significance in the natural environment. Through practical classes, you will learn about the physiological basis of fundamental behaviours. Using examples from across the animal kingdom, you will learn how predictive modelling, experimental and observational approaches integrate to explain how and why animals behave as they do.

Biological Photography and Imaging I

Through practical sessions, you will learn the techniques of biological image production and manipulation, including the ability to generate biological images of the highest technical quality and scientific value. You will build an understanding of the principles behind photography and how to get the most out of state of the art photographic and imaging equipment.

Environmental Geochemistry

This module will develop your understanding of the important chemical and physical processes that operate in the terrestrial environment. It will principally look at soils and fresh water systems.

You will study the hydrological cycle and surface and sub-surface water chemistry. This includes rainfall, rivers and lakes, and the processes that govern the movement of solutes and colloidal materials, adsorption, redox, solubility, diffusion and kinetics.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

Core modules

Environmental Biology Research Project

You will carry out an experimental or literature based research project. This project is often linked to current research being carried out in the school. Project areas include animal ecology, plant responses to environmental stress and air pollution.

Examples of recent research projects include:

  • a field study of beetles in Central America
  • a laboratory study of the response of wheat roots to saline soils
  • a desk-based study on the potential role of secondary biofuels in the UK.

Optional modules

Arctic Ecology Field Course

The course will focus on the function of arctic ecosystems. We will identify key terrestrial ecosystem drivers and processes in order to gain a broad understanding of arctic areas. During the field course, you will put ecological methodology into practice. Working on projects that analyse landscape patterns and processes in different habitats. The course will also address climate change impacts on arctic ecosystems. You'll develop skills in ecological methodology, experimental design, data collection and analysis, interpretation and presentation. You are required to pay a contribution towards the cost of the field course.


Consider a range of approaches to conservation biology, such as the measurement and monitoring of biodiversity, and the legal frameworks and management strategies that exist to protect it. You will discuss particular threats to biodiversity, such as habitat loss and invasive species. You will spend around four hours per week in lectures and have four three-hour practicals to study for this module.

Evolutionary Ecology

Considers current knowledge of, and research into, the ecological causes and evolutionary processes that govern natural selection, adaptation and microevolution in natural populations. You will examine three approaches to the study of evolutionary ecology: theoretical and optimality models; the comparative method; and direct measurement of natural selection in the wild. You will have two-to three hours of lectures each week in this module.


The module will focus on the processes that govern the interplay between the biosphere and geosphere. It will identify key events and processes in geological time which demonstrate the geological consequences of evolution. Students will gain understanding of the mechanisms that control changes in the physiochemical environmental and their impact upon evolution and in turn how life has impacted on the physiochemical environment.

Environmental Biotechnology

In a series of lectures, this module provides training in environmental biotechnology, with particular emphasis on the interaction between microorganisms and the environment. The main topics covered will be wastewater treatment, bioremediation of organic and inorganic pollutants, microbes as indicators of risk factors in the environment, microbes in agriculture (biocontrol and biofertilisers) and the role of microorganisms in bioenergy production.

Applied Bioethics 2: Sustainable Food Production, Biotechnology and the Environment

Building on Applied Bioethics 1, you’ll investigate widely accepted ethical principles and apply your insights to contemporary ethical issues in agricultural, food and environmental sciences. You’ll explore the ethical dimensions of prominent issues raised by the agricultural practices (including the use of biotechnology and GM crops) designed to meet the nutritional needs of the global population. You’ll also learn about how ethical theory can inform professional choices and public policies related to food production and environmental management. You’ll have a mix of lectures, tutorials and team-based exercises to develop a sound understanding of ethical principles.

Biological Photography and Imaging II

Extend and develop your skills of creative and critical biological photography through this advanced module. You will continue to develop the practice and experience gained in Biological Photography and Imaging 1. You are encouraged to demonstrate increasing expertise in selected subject areas and/or specialist photographic techniques such as digital imaging and manipulation (using Photoshop software), digital video photography and editing, ecological and environmental photography, landscapes, macro and long lens photography and specialist lighting. Field and studio work continue to be essential elements of the module. You will have around three hours of lectures per week studying this module.

Conservation Genetics

Consider the genetic effects of reduced population size, especially relating to the conservation of endangered species. You will study topics including genetic drift and inbreeding in depth, from theoretical and practical standpoints. You will spend around one and a half hours per week in lectures studying this module, plus a two and a half hour computer practical.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

This is an advanced research year that enables you to understand and gain a detailed knowledge of environmental science, developing a confident, scientific approach to answering questions through theoretical analysis, the formulation of hypotheses, practical experimentation, data analysis and communication of results.

Core modules

MSci Research Project in Environmental Science

This module will train you in the planning, execution and reporting of an independent advanced level research project. The module will help develop the skills associated with: planning, recording and executing an individual research project; presenting research both orally and visually to an audience of peers; writing scientific papers; effective time management and assimilating new research skills associated with a specific project.

Statistics and Experimental Design for Bioscientists

This module explains the major principles and techniques of statistical analysis of research data without becoming too involved in the underlying mathematics.  It explains the importance to collect data in an appropriate and planned manner for later analysis. There are two routes through the module; one focusing on crop improvement and one focusing on more general issues. You will gain an understanding of the major analytical techniques available, and how they relate to each other, and have developed abilities in experimental design, data analysis using appropriate software and presentation of results.

Writing and Reviewing Research Proposals for Environmental Science

This module will train you in the planning, execution and reporting of an independent advanced level research project. The module will help develop the skills associated with: planning, recording and executing an individual research project; presenting research both orally and visually to an audience of peers; writing scientific papers; effective time management and assimilating new research skills associated with a specific project.

Project Management

Project management skills are a highly transferable skill directly relevant to work. The module covers the fundamentals of project management:

  • project lifecycles
  • leadership in project management
  • managing risk in projects
  • analysis of project successes and failures
  • project management software

You will produce a documented project management outline tailored to your research project. You'll identify the key constraints, bottlenecks and milestones. You'll produce a project management visualisation diagram such as Gantt or PERT chart. You'll present an interim verbal report to your supervisors and the module convenor to rehearse such reporting skills.

Communication and Public Engagement Skills for Scientists

This module aims to equip you with the knowledge and skills that you need to communicate confidently with a wide range of stakeholders about the research that you are engaged in and the contribution that it makes to society.

Optional modules

Environmental Management in Practice

The module will introduce the student to a range of approaches to environmental management and their use in practice within Government and Non-Governmental agencies and the private sector. Indicative approaches covered: • Tendering for projects in the context of environmental consultancy• Environmental management practices• Participatory approaches to environmental policy and planning

Structural Biology

This module will equip you with a firm appreciation of the techniques used to characterise biomolecular structure in solid state and in solution form. Advanced solution structural techniques: Sedimentation analysis, diffusion analysis, x-ray scattering. Solution modelling of structures. High resolution structural techniques: molecular graphics, x-ray crystallography, nuclear magnetic resonance and electron microscopy.

Plant Cell Signalling

How does a plant know when it is being attacked? In this module you’ll learn about plant signalling molecules and the ways in which these signals are integrated to ensure appropriate responses to environmental conditions or plant pathogen attack. You’ll gain a detailed knowledge of how plants use intercellular and intracellular signalling strategies to provide information about their environment, with particular emphasis on the use of molecular genetics in enabling us to determine the nature of the signals and the cross-talk that takes place between them. You’ll have lectures and demonstrations, as well as laboratory sessions to gain practical experience of the techniques for studying plant hormone signalling.

Syndicate Exercise: MSc Law and Environmental Science & MSci Environmental Science

This module covers the preparation of a group presentation and individual report on an environmental subject. You’ll have a one hour lecture and three hour practical each week to study for this module. 

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

Tropical Conservation Field Course - Malaysia

Get a global perspective on environmental issues. This field course on Tioman Island gives you a chance to see the impact of tourism first hand.

You'll gain experience through practical work in mangroves, visit palm oil plantation, and see deforestation of tropical forest.  

env bio field 1

Arctic Ecology Field Course - Sweden

We'll take you up to the arctic circle to look at the impact of climate change on this pristine arctic ecosystem. This part of the world is predicted to have significantly more warming than other areas.

You'll do ecological surveys to measure the impact on the tundra.

env bio

Fees and funding

UK students

Per year

International students

Per year
*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2022/23 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

As a student on this course, you should factor some additional costs into your budget, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses.

There are no additional costs for visits and the non residential field courses. Students are currently asked for a contribution of £250 towards the cost of the optional residential field course in Sweden. 

You should be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies. If you do these would cost around £40.

Due to our commitment to sustainability, we don’t print lecture notes but these are available digitally. You will be given £5 worth of printer credits a year. You are welcome to buy more credits if you need them. It costs 4p to print one black and white page.

If you do a work placement, you need to consider the travel and living costs associated with this.

Personal laptops are not compulsory as we have computer labs that are open 24 hours a day but you may want to consider one if you wish to work at home.

Scholarships and bursaries

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £1,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International students

We offer a range of international undergraduate scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

International scholarships


You could work for conservation organisations, environmental consultancies, alternative energy companies, local authorities and government agencies.

Roles include:

  • environmental education officers
  • engineering consultants
  • marine biologists
  • nature conservation officers
  • hydrology, recycling and sustainability officers

These degrees can also lead into roles in teaching, scientific journalism or further research degrees.

Average starting salary and career progression

85.3% of undergraduates from the School of Biosciences secured employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £24,418.*

*Data from UoN graduates, 2017-2019. HESA Graduate Outcomes. Sample sizes vary.

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

Institution of Environmental Sciences

This course is accredited by the Committee of Heads of Environmental Sciences (CHES),the education committee of the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES). A programme accredited by CHES is assured to meet high standards, contain a strong component of practical, field and theoretical activities,and has excellent opportunities for training, work experience and links to the professional environmental sector.

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" Everyone tells you that doing a placement will give you invaluable experience in your industry. Whilst that is true, your year out can be so much more. I expanded my experience within research science in one of the coolest workplaces ever at Paignton Zoo, then after work I was at the beach exploring with my workmates. It was such a great lifestyle, and I came back with a much better idea of what I wanted as a graduate. "

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Important information

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.