BSc (Hons) Environmental Biology - Course overview
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Anaerobic glove box

'What I have learnt will shape the rest of my life.'
'Thank you for expanding my mind. I have really enjoyed every module.'
'The teaching has been superb and many of the staff truly inspirational.'
'I found the course inspiring, challenging and motivating, exceeding my highest expectations. The most rewarding three years of my life!'
'An excellent and worthwhile hands-on residential field course in a wonderful part of the world.'
'I hope that other students will be given such a good opportunity to learn with enjoyment.' 
Clearing Crytomeria japonica - Azores, Portugal

Society of Biology logo

 This course is recognised by the Society of Biology.


This environmental biology and ecology degree explores a range of contemporary issues in conservation, biodiversity and monitoring the ecological impact of human activity, by drawing together a unique blend of laboratory and field disciplines. An understanding of key concepts in biogeography, ecosystem services, habitat loss, pollution and climate change is developed. This course equips graduates for careers in environmental protection, research, consultancy and ecosystems management by training in ecosystems biology, environmental microbiology, pollution monitoring, ecotoxicology and environmental biochemistry.
The 21st century is a challenging time for those for whom the natural world is a source of pleasure or employment. The planet is increasingly threatened by extinction and degradation, yet new and exciting areas of traditional disciplines such as ecology are emerging in response to these forces. This course aims to provide students with two different elements that are crucial in equipping them to work in this changing environment. Firstly, we provide a sound theoretical underpinning in science and especially ecology, a broad base in biology upon which to build specialist knowledge. Secondly, we provide practical skills and real-world experience through field days and residential field courses that allow the theory to be placed in context. Environmental biology also allows students to diversify, adding elements of ecotoxicology and microbiology to their portfolios. These subjects are ever increasing fields in the challenged environment of the 21st century.
This course is offered by the School of Biological Sciences.

Working on the estuary - Santec, France

​Course highlights 

  • A multi-disciplinary course, but taught by biologists for biologists!
  • Specialist pathways through years two and the final year, one in ecology, the other in ecotoxicology
  • Overseas residential field courses in years one and two. These are compulsory residential field courses. They give you first-hand experience of a range of ecosystems, and are a lot of fun. There’s no extra to pay: it’s all included within your tuition fees!
  • Optional work placement between year two and the final year
  • Fieldwork provision commended by the government's agency and external examiners
  • Personal and course tutor systems to provide help when needed
  • Tailor-made to provide employment-related skills
  • Enriched by cutting edge research in terrestrial ecology, aquatic ecology, ecotoxicology and stress biology


​Career opportunities​

This course equips graduates with the skills they need to work in environmental protection, consultancy and research, in fields from pure ecology through to laboratory-based science. The blend of field-based and laboratory-based skills is designed to maximise breadth of employment possibilities.
The important scientific publication Nature recently ran an article highlighting career opportunities for ecologists. In industry, ecologists and ecotoxicologists are responsible for monitoring and managing the environmental impacts of the activities of a company. In consultancy, ecologists and ecotoxicologists are contracted to perform independent studies to assess likely impacts of development, or to determine threats to sensitive ecosystems and to propose strategies for managing them. Ecologists work in conservation, ecotourism, the media and journalism, and in environmental law. As a science that deals with nature and wildlife, environmental biology combines a scientific training with an interesting and absorbing subject to produce capable, flexible and highly employable graduates. 


Image of Dr Mick HanleyDr Mick Hanley, Programme Leader

 Research interests: plant-animal interactions and their influence on ecosystem structure and function. Teaches: habitat management; conservation biology; field ecology (in the UK and overseas).

Iron-rich mineral spring at Lombadas - Azores, Portugal

Local workers weeding the 'restored' laurisilva

Searching the mud in Santec, France

Students at Plymouth University have been putting theory into practice after meeting some of the subjects of their studies at Dartmoor Zoo. Read the full story here...