Environmental Biology BSc


Fact file - 2019 entry

BSc Hons Environmental Biology
UCAS code
3 years full-time (also available part-time)
A level offer
Required subjects
at least two science-based subjects at A level (biology required; chemistry, environmental science, geography, psychology, maths and physics accepted) and an additional A level or equivalent.
IB score
32-30 including 5/4 in two science subjects at Higher Level
Course location
University Park Campus 
Course places
We are still currently taking applications for 2018 entry


This is designed for biologists who wish to understand how plants, animals and microorganisms function and interact with their environment.
Read full overview

This knowledge is fundamental for effective management and conservation of natural and agricultural ecosystems, and for understanding the response of organisms to environmental change.

The degree shares some core modules with Biology and Environmental Science degrees in year one, to provide a solid foundation for the pursuit of more specialist options in subsequent years. 

The flexibility of the course provides the opportunity to follow your own interests and develop skills which will be highly valued by the many prospective employers in this field.

Fieldwork is an important part of the course and all students attend at least one residential field course, in Devon and/or Malaysia, Sweden or the Czech Republic. 

This degree is primarily studied at University Park Campus with some optional modules offered at Sutton Bonington Campus.

Year one 

You will gain a strong grounding in biological and environmental sciences. Core modules will cover the major domains of life (animals, plants, microbes). You will also be introduced to underpinning environmental processes such as nutrient cycling and the ecology and evolution of organisms. Key study skills include tutorials and an introduction to experimental design.

Year two

You may choose to specialise in areas of particular interest or retain a broader range of interests. Core modules include the Environmental Science Field Course, a residential field course in Devon where you will study various communities and ecosystems.

The wide range of optional modules include the Tropical Environmental Science Field Course, based on Tioman Island, off the west coast of
Malaysia, where you will study various tropical communities and ecosystems.

Year three

You will carry out an experimental or literature-based research project during this year. 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 projects include a field study of beetles in Central America, a laboratory study of the response of wheat roots to saline soils, and a desk-based study on the potential role of secondary biofuels in the UK.

Optional modules include the Arctic Ecology Field Course (Sweden) where you will focus on the function of arctic ecosystems, and the Environmental Pollution Field Course (Czech Republic) where you will gain practical experience of environmental pollution and its long term effects in a heavily polluted area in central Europe.

Industry placement year

This optional year in industry, normally as a paid employee, takes place between years two and three of your degree. It gives you the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills in a real-world environment, which will significantly improve your employment prospects.  Read more

Study abroad options

  • Students on this course have the opportunity to apply to study for a semester or the full academic year at the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus
  • Combining Environmental Biology with an international year offers the opportunity to study abroad at one of our partner universities in France or Spain for example. You can transfer to this four year route in your first semester of study.

  • Students can also apply to the University-wide exchange programme and spend a semester studying abroad at one of our world-leading partner universities in a variety of overseas locations including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the USA and South Korea.  Read more 

Year in Computer Science

You can combine this degree with an extra year (year three) spent in the University's School of Computer Science. This additional year will provide you with training in software development and computing skills relevant to your final year research project and to your future career.

You will be able to transfer into this programme from your BSc course (subject to progression criteria).


Entry requirements

A levels: ABB-BBB, including at least two science-based subjects at A level (biology required; chemistry, environmental science, geography, psychology, maths and physics accepted) and an additional A level or equivalent.

Citizenship studies, critical thinking, general studies and leisure studies
not accepted. We may also consider ABC depending on predicted grades in specific subjects.

English language requirements 

IELTS 6.0 (no less than 5.5 in any element)

For details of other English language tests and qualifications we accept, please see our entry requirements page.


If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking IELTS or equivalent.

Alternative qualifications 

For details please see alternative qualifications page

Foundation year - a foundation year is available for this course

Science Foundation Certificate

International students only

International students (non-EU) who do not have the required qualifications or grades to go directly onto an undergraduate degree course, may be interested in the Science Foundation Certificate delivered through The University of Nottingham International College. You are guaranteed a place on selected undergraduate courses if all progression requirements are met. 

Science with Foundation Year

Home, EU and international students

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 one year science foundation programme. 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.  

Flexible admissions policy

In recognition of our applicants’ varied experience and educational pathways, the University of Nottingham employs a flexible admissions policy. We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances. Please see the University’s admissions policies and procedures for more information.

Notes for applicants

Our modular courses are flexible and offer the opportunity to combine your main studies with modules in other subject areas (please note that all modules are subject to change).



The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as at the date of publication 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. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.

Typical year one modules


Global Environmental Processes
You’ll be given a general understanding of the interactions of organisms with one another and with the physical and chemical environment. You’ll learn about different levels from the biosphere to the population and learn how an understanding of ecology can help us manage our environment.
Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour
This module provides you with an introduction to the fundamentals of evolution, ecology and behaviour. Evolutionary processes are explored from the fossil record, through adaptation, speciation and the study of phylogenetics and how it shapes the tree of life, right up to the cutting edge of genomic evolution. Modern ecology has never been a more important subject than now, a result of our major environmental problems. In this module ecological topics are explored by examining ecosystem processes, competition, predation, pathogens, parasites and disease, life histories, resources, niches, demographic processes, and sustainability. Understanding animal behaviour in response to their ecosystem begins with asking rigorous questions about foraging, signalling, sexual selection, parental care, altruism and also allows us to understand human behaviour in an evolutionary context. You will have lectures, practicals and workshops.
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 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; read, understand and synthesise primary literature producing a literature review on your chosen topic.

Life on Earth
This course will introduce you to the vast range of living (and many extinct) species to be found on Earth. The various domains of life will be explored with due attention to the two prokaryote groups, the archea and eubacteria. The course will emphasise our current understanding of biodiversity and how a simple morphological-based taxonomy has been shaken up by current molecular techniques. The module concentrates on the unity and This course will introduce you to the vast range of living (and many extinct) species to be found on Earth. The various domains of life will be explored with due attention to the two prokaryote groups, the archea and eubacteria. The course will emphasise our current understanding of biodiversity and how a simple morphological-based taxonomy has been shaken up by current molecular techniques. The module concentrates on the unity and diversity of life set in an evolutionary context and how the genotype gives rise to both phenotype and behaviour diversity of life set in an evolutionary context and how the genotype gives rise to both phenotype and behaviour. You will have lectures and practicals.


Managing Tourism and the Environment: Conflict or Consensus?
In this module you’ll examine and explore: the interactions between and the management of tourism and the environment from the perspective of key stakeholders; debates surrounding the environmental and economic impacts of tourism and the role played by pressure groups in influencing tourism development. You’ll have a 90 minute lecture and spend two hours in seminars each week to study for this module
Micro-organisms and Disease
You’ll be introduced to a range of important human pathogens, their interactions with the immune system, mechanisms of disease causation and the laboratory procedures involved in diagnosis and treatment of infections. Each week you’ll spend four hours in lectures to study for this module. 
Plant Science

In this module you’ll be introduced to plant evolution and the cellular structure of plants, in particular seeds, leaves, flowers and roots, and how these multicellular tissues are constructed. You’ll become familiar with the techniques used to study plant science, including genetics and the use of mutants. Using model plants, such as Arabidopsis, you’ll look at the development of modern plant biology and genetics and then explore the applications of biotechnology in plant science. You’ll also examine the importance of plant nutrition and how the interaction with pathogens is crucial to plant growth and production. You’ll have a mix of lectures and practical laboratory sessions to apply your learning. 


Typical year two modules


Soil Science
This is an introductory module which provides a basic understanding of the nature and properties of soil and the application of soil chemistry, biology and physics to land management and environmental science. Broadly, the topics covered include: soil formation; clay mineralogy; soil organic matter (microbiology and chemistry); soil texture and structure; characteristic soil reactions (acidity, redox); the major and minor plant nutrients (chemistry and microbiology); soil fauna and flora; water relations (irrigation and drainage). You’ll spend around five hours in lectures each week to study for this module.
Environmental Management Field Course

This residential field course in south Devon involves studies of various communities and ecosystems using a range of field techniques to investigate factors which determine the distribution and function of living organisms. Particular focus is on understanding the cycling of nutrients within catchments and how these cycles are affected by land management strategies. The residential component takes place in June at the end of the first 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 you will undertake a variety of tasks working as a group to solve problems, design experiments, collect, analyse, interpret and present information. 
Introduces the study of populations and communities from an evolutionary point of view, and considers critically the extent of our understanding of ecological ideas. Study for this module consists of a 4 hour lecture once per week.


Tropical Environmental Science Field Course
This residential tropical field course module is based on Tioman Island of the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and involves studies of various tropical communities and ecosystems using a range of field techniques to investigate factors which determine the distribution and function of living organisms in tropical ecosystems.
Animal Behaviour
This module provides a comprehensive introduction to the study of animal behaviour, from the physiological and genetic bases of behaviour to its development and adaptive significance in the natural environment. Using examples from across the animal kingdom, it emphasizes how predictive modelling, experimental and observational approaches integrate to explain how and why animals behave as they do. You’ll have a weekly three hour lecture to cover material for this module. 
Climate Change Science
This module presents a broad overview of the science behind climate change and its effects. These topics are: 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 stabilization. You’ll have a two hour lecture each week to study for this module.
Biological Photography and Imaging 1
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'll spend around 6 hours per week in lectures studying this module.
Natural Systems
We will consider the principles underlying the structure and higher organisation of natural systems. This encompasses diversity theory, community ecology, ecosystem functioning and biogeography. As this is a rapidly developing area, much of the material is recent and often controversial, so the content is updated every year to keep track of new findings. You’ll have a weekly three hour lecture to cover material for this module.
Patterns of Life

This module focuses on patterns in the distribution of organisms in space and time, and the theories proposed to explain these patterns. You’ll spend two hours per week in lectures studying for this module.

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. You will gain an understanding of the mechanisms that control changes in the physiochemical environment and their impact upon communities. Particular topics 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. 
Soil and Water Science 
The aim of the module is to provide a sound understanding of important physical and chemical processes that take place within soils and fresh water systems. This includes providing a basis for the understanding of more applied aspects of the behaviour of these systems (e.g. plant-soil interactions, pollution and its remediation). You will take lectures, two practicals and two computing sessions. 
Computer Modelling in Science: Introduction 
Modern biological and environmental science includes the study of complex systems and large data sets, including imaging data. This necessitates the use of computer models and analyses in order to understand these systems. This module contains an introduction to computer programming and modelling techniques that are used in the biological and environmental sciences. 
Evolutionary Biology of Animals
In a series of lectures, this module aims to provide a general introduction to key evolutionary concepts in different fields of animal biology including human. 
Plant Pests and Diseases 
Sugarbeet root aphids feed on the sap in the roots, causing damage and production losses. But how does this pest work and what can be done? In this module, you’ll explore how microbes and insects cause disease in plants and the effect of interactions between plants, microbes and insects. Looking globally, you’ll be able to explain the importance and the nature of the organisms that are pests and diseases of plants, including population dynamics and epidemiology. You’ll also assess the main approaches for control and management of pests and diseases, including chemical interventions, resistance breeding in plants and biological control. You’ll have lectures complemented by practical laboratory sessions, videos and demonstrations. 

Typical year three modules 


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 (eg drought, salinity) 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.

Read BURN the Biosciences Undergraduate Research at Nottingham web pages to find out more about undergraduate research projects. BURN is a freely accessible e-journal which showcases final-year research projects undertaken by biosciences students.



Applied Bioethics 1: Animals, Biotechnology and Society
Animal-human interactions raise some prominent ethical issues. In this module, you’ll examine the ethical dimensions concerning animal agriculture, modern biotechnologies and research in the biosciences, in relation to both humans and non-human species. You’ll learn about the ethical frameworks used to analyse specific dilemmas raised by the human use of animals. Using specific animal and biotechnology case studies, you’ll interpret the main ethical theories and principles and apply them to the case studies to inform professional decision-making. You’ll have a mix of lectures and seminars to explore these concepts.
Environmental Pollution Field Course
Through a one week field course you’ll gain practical experience of environmental pollution and its long term effects in a heavily polluted area in central Europe. You’ll gain practical experience of foreign field work, working in teams, chain-of-custody issues concerning field samples, in situ and ex situ analysis of samples, oral presentation techniques and report writing.
Arctic Ecology Field Course
This module focuses on the function of arctic ecosystems. You’ll identify key terrestrial ecosystem drivers and processes in order to gain a broad understanding of arctic areas. During the field course, you’ll put ecological methodology into practice in projects that analyse landscape patterns and processes in different habitats.
Biological Photography and Imaging 2
This module extends and develops your skills of creative and critical biological photography. You’ll 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 CS 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 6 hours of lectures per week studying 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’ll 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'll have 2 hours of practicals as well as 2 hours of seminars per week studying for this module.
Environmental Pollutants: Fate, Impact and Remediation
This module is concerned with the behaviour and effects of pollutants in terrestrial and aquatic environments and how their impacts can be ameliorated and managed. The focus is on both the scientific understanding of environmental pollutants and on the intervention strategies currently available. Topics covered include study of the common water and soil pollutants: heavy metal contamination of land; radionuclide behaviour in the environment; persistent organic contaminants and pesticides; nitrate pollution of groundwater; pollution of surface waters by agriculture; eutrophication of lakes; acidification of soils and freshwaters; biological monitoring of rivers; ecotoxicology and environmental epidemiology; quantitative risk assessment; land reclamation, including landfill sites. You will have lectures, tutorials, a field visit and laboratory work and demonstrations.
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.
Geobiology explores the relationship between life and the Earth's physical and chemical environment over geological/ evolutionary time. The module will focus on the geological consequences of evolution and how life has influenced physical and chemical environment. Topics covered will include: origins and evolution of life; evolution of the atmosphere and biosphere; geobiology of critical intervals and palaeobiology and evolutionary ecology.
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.
Plants and the Soil Environment
What happens below the ground that affects the water and nutrient uptake by plants? In this module, you’ll examine the acquisition of water and nutrients by plants in both agricultural and natural systems, and how plants interact with the soil environment. You’ll learn about the evolution of root adaptations which enable plants to thrive in environments with limited or excess water and nutrients. In an agricultural setting, you’ll explore how water and nutrient uptake by plants can be used to improve crop productivity and resource management, and use the practical study component to investigate new methods and technologies for below-ground phenotyping of roots. You’ll have a mix of lectures and computer-based practicals to gain a fundamental understanding of how water and nutrients are acquired by plants from the soil environment, and their influence on plant growth and development.
Plant Disease Control
In this module, you’ll gain an understanding of the applied aspects of plant disease control, in particular transmission, epidemiology, detection and diagnosis and control strategies. You’ll analyse the problems of plant diseases and be able to describe the options available to control losses due to disease and the strengths and weaknesses of these options. You’ll examine control strategies based on a range of approaches – including application of fungicides, biological control, deployment of disease resistant varieties and biotechnological approaches. Importantly, you’ll learn about the strategies used by plant pathogens to spread between plants and cause disease epidemics. You’ll have lectures and a field visit, as well as practical laboratory sessions to develop laboratory skills associated with disease diagnosis.
Computer Modelling in Science: Applications

The aim of this module is to show the range of techniques for computer-based models applied to the biological and environmental sciences using suitable important examples. You’ll have a 2 hour weekly lecture and a 2 hour practical. The module is designed for students with relatively little mathematical or computing experience.

Conservation Genetics
In a series of lectures, this module presents an advanced review of the role of genetics in the conservation of endangered species. The course aims to give you an advanced knowledge of the effects of limited population size upon genetic structure; the theory of inbreeding and inbreeding depression in captive and wild populations; the use of genetic technology to investigate population structure; ways of managing endangered species to maximise their genetic variability; and modern views of specific concepts.

Industry placement year

The optional year in industry takes place between years two and three of your degree, extending your degree to a four year programme. Students apply for a placement during year two of the degree programme. A growing number of students across the School of Biosciences are choosing to undertake the year in industry. The majority of placements are paid positions. 

A year in industry gives you the opportunity to put your learning into practice, giving you a better understanding of your studies and the chance to solidify your knowledge in an industry setting. Past students have found the experience transformative, as they were able to use science and innovation to solve problems which are current and relevant. 

Work experience will help you stand out from the crowd as a graduate: many students secure a graduate job as a direct result of their placement year. It’s a unique opportunity for you to learn about what you enjoy doing, and your strengths and weaknesses, putting you in a strong position when considering your future career.

The school has excellent links with a wide range of businesses and research institutes. The dedicated School Placement Team work with you in partnership to help you search for, apply for and secure a placement, as well as supporting you prior to, during and after the placement.

More information and profiles of student experiences



You will have developed understanding of the enivronment through taught modules, private study, labratory classes and a range of field courses both in the UK and abroad. You will also have an awareness of the challenges to be overcome in ensuring a sustainable future, and knowledge of possible solutions to environmental problems.

In addition to providing a solid academic and practical grounding, our emphasis is on teaching realistic and transferable skills. For example, you gain experience in writing research papers, reports and public speaking.

Our graduates are widely regarded as being well-trained and of high quality, and are in an excellent position to obtain rewarding and well paid jobs. You will be ideally suited for:

  • Conservation organisation
  • Environmental consultancies
  • Local authorities
  • Government agencies and industry
  • Teaching
  • Scientific journalism
  • Or research degrees.

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 2013-2017, High Fliers Research).


Average starting salary and career progression

In 2016, 93.1% of first-degree graduates in the School of Biosciences, who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £21,597, with the highest being £30,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home undergraduates who were available for work, 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK. 

Careers support and advice

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.  


Fees and funding

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £2,000 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/EU students

Our International Baccalaureate Diploma Excellence Scholarship is available for select students paying overseas fees who achieve 38 points or above in the International Baccalaureate Diploma. We also offer a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected countries, schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees. Find out more about scholarships, fees and finance for international students.


Key Information Sets (KIS)

KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.

How to use the data

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.


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