Skip to main content
  • UCAS Code:
  • Institution:
  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions

Evidence suggests that we’re living in the middle of a biodiversity crisis which means there's growing demand for professionals with skills in the areas of wildlife protection, biodiversity conservation, and ecosystem management. As such this course has been specifically designed to address that need, providing you with a solid scientific grounding in ecological interactions, species conservation, habitats, and landscape processes.

As well as examining the ecological processes themselves, the course also looks at the wider social and legal context in which ecological conservation operates. There is a strong emphasis on practical skills, with many opportunities for fieldwork during your studies, including two five-week placements or an optional placement year. 

Fieldwork and site visits form an essential part of this course as fieldwork provides excellent opportunity for you to consolidate your learning through practical application. You can find out more information in the fieldwork tab. 

100% of our final year students said that the course is intellectually stimulating and that our staff have made the subject interesting. Why not come and meet us to find out for yourself what a fascinating course this is?

What makes this course different?

  • Undertake fieldwork in a fantastic variety of local habitats including forests, meadows, heaths and maritime environments
  • Wide range of opportunities available to engage in local, national and international cutting-edge field research
  • Gain relevant employment skills with a wide range of local and international work placement opportunities. 

All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2017, September 2018


Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus


3 years with two 5-week placements, or 4 years with a minimum 30-week placement

Required subjects:

At least one of the following subjects: Geography, Environmental Science or Studies, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Maths.

Entry requirements:

For 2017 entry: (we will use the new UCAS tariff): 104 to 120 tariff points from 3 A-Levels, including 32 from one required subject or equivalent qualifications. BTEC Extended Diploma DMM. For more information check out our 2017 entry requirements page.

International entry requirements:

If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with minimum 5.5 in each of the 4 components or equivalent. For more information check out our international entry requirements page.

Course details

Effective conservation requires professionals that can integrate and understand ecology along with knowledge of the legislative frameworks in general and conservation biology.

This course integrates a variety of teaching methods including lectures, laboratory based practicals, field exercises, group activities and research project meetings for both theoretical and reflective based learning. You'll also be involved in a field research skills week of practical exercises and group based research within the local environment.

You will usually be taught by a range of staff with relevant expertise and knowledge appropriate to the content of the unit. This will include senior academic staff, qualified professional practitioners, demonstrators, technicians and research students. You will also benefit from regular guest lectures from industry.

Year 1

Core units

  • Diversity of Life: Gain an understanding of the origin and diversity of life on earth, how the environment and selection have shaped the patterns of distribution of plants, animals and micro-organisms since life first originated some 3.5 billion years ago, and how it is increasingly being influenced by humans. You will have insights into the basis for classifying organisms and in dealing with the relationships among major groups, and examine the organisation and structure of major groups of living (and some fossil) organisms (microbes, protists, higher plants, invertebrates and vertebrates). You will cover aspects of body size and life history strategies.

  • Ecology: Fundamental principles of ecology underpin effective wildlife conservation practice. This unit will teach you how humans can impact on species and ecological systems and affect their conservation, and key ecological theory, principles and processes for wildlife conservation. You will participate in fieldwork; conducting habitat surveys and discovering how results can be interpreted in the context of ecological theory principles and processes. You will gain knowledge of abiotic factors and biotic interactions between species, and how these affect species distributions and community diversity.

  • Ecological Research Skills: This unit provides the necessary skills to conduct independent research in ecology. You will research and evaluate academic literature, formulating scientific arguments and discussion, writing and presenting these ideas as essays, opinions and research papers. You may also collect ecological data and perform simple numeric calculations and present data in graphical formats. To facilitate discussion and questions, much of the unit will be taught in tutorial sessions, which also allows you to get to know the core teaching team.

  • Physical Geography: Taking an Earth Systems approach we will look at the evolution of our planet’s lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere focusing on the dynamic interactions between different earth system and how these interactions lead to environmental change through a narrative-based lecture series. Key themes will include the earth’s geological processes; basic principles of our solar system; heat engine atmospheric and oceanographic systems; biogeographical systems and surface processes, focussing on the physics common to all geomorphological processes.

  • Residential Field Trip: This unit allows you to learn important field skills for your discipline and demonstrate your ability to work effectively as part of a team through experiencing the necessary conditions to conduct field research (both academically and socially). You will have four days of activities related to your discipline, followed by a final project day, where you will work on a team designed project of your choice.

  • Wildlife Protection: The protection of our wildlife has never been more important. This unit gives you a broad understanding of the dangers to our fauna and flora and the methods that can be used to protect them. The unit aims to equip you with: evaluating priorities for conservation, an understanding of wildlife protection in both protected and unprotected areas, a wider perspective on local and global issues and how to protect species that have been re-located. It will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and fieldtrips.

Year 2

Core units

  • Advanced Skills for Conservation: Conservation is an area where being able to collect and analyse a vast amount of data correctly is vital in your research. This unit will equip you with the necessary survey, experimental design and data analysis techniques. Part of the learning process will be to discuss in small groups how to plan a successful independent research project and write a research proposal. The unit uses a wide range of learning techniques lectures, seminars, practical work and tutorials.

  • Behavioural Ecology: Concepts will include the evolutionary underpinning of behaviour, and an understanding of the ways in which organisms make behavioural decisions. Applications will include how behavioural ecology can be used to understand population ecology, and support nature conservation. Topics covered will include foraging and reproductive behaviour, and the interactions between competitors, and predators and prey. The unit will focus on animals, but will also stress how behavioural ecology can be applied to plants, fungi and protists.

  • Ecosystems: We will enable you to develop an awareness of the importance of a range of ecosystems and develop your understanding of how ecosystems can be managed to conserve them.

  • Evolutionary Biology: Providing you with the fundamental understanding of evolutionary theory and population genetics, the unit gives you a broad overview of the factors involved in the species evolution, through an introduction to selection forces, heredity and Mendelian genetics. We will also introduce you to the concept of adaptation to a changing environment and how to apply this in future thinking.

Option units

  • International Field Trip: Information on each trip will be provided during option selection sessions in the previous year or semester. Each trip will have a key theme or themes (e.g. conservation in practice in China; preparation for climate change in farming communities in Nepal). Much of the work will involve field-based lectures, discussions and also local speakers, but the bulk of activities will involve work on individual projects focussed on specific tasks within these broad concepts. Tutorial sessions will be available daily when on field work with the unit tutors.

Please note if you choose to participate in the International Field Trip you must also choose one option from either semester. This will mean you have an asymmetrical work loading.

Semester 1 (choose one):

  • Animal Biology: This unit addresses the developmental, regulatory, physiological, sensory and cognitive processes of a wide range of animals (vertebrates and invertebrates). It provides a sound basis of understanding important differences and similarities in ‘model’ organisms in biomedical research (and the strengths and limitations of using them), and also of how sub-organism or organism level biology influences how individuals act with each other and their environment.

  • Environmental Pollution: You will learn to understand a range of polluting impacts that human activities have on the environment. The unit will provide an overview of the causes of environmental pollution, the harm caused to the environment and the strategies used to both reduce and ameliorate negative environmental impacts.

  • Marine Geography: The geography of the marine environment will be covered in this unit through consideration of the key resources found in marine and coastal environments and their management frameworks, including key factors affecting marine and coastal biodiversity and aspects relevant to biogeography, characterisation of the physical environment and associated dynamic processes, environmental change and implications to the sustainable management of renewable and non-renewable resources. An important element of this unit is the collection and interpretation of marine and coastal data.

Semester 2 (choose one):

  • Applications of Environmental Sciences: You will review a range of applied case studies in which environmental science is an important component. Topics likely to be covered are: air quality management, waste management and technology, Environmental Impact Assessment, renewable energy technology & policy, flood risk management & sustainable urban drainage systems, building efficiency & carbon management plans, environmental policy & legislation, concepts of sustainability, environmental economics.

  • Environmental & Societal Challenges: Whilst you consider the relationships between humanity and the environment, you will be introduced to some of the big challenges faced by society today that stem from the impact of humanity on the earth system. By discussions about your place in society and your role in providing solutions to these challenges this unit will further your knowledge of science policy and application.

  • Microbiology: Providing detailed knowledge of structure, organisation, metabolism, growth and evolution of viruses, bacteria, protists and fungi, information is also given on microbial motility, adhesion and on some of the diverse metabolic pathways present in microbes, including anaerobic micro-organisms. Selected aspects of microbial ecology, including the microbial loop, will be introduced to enable you to appreciate the roles of microorganisms in natural habitats and in some created by man. There will be a short formal treatment of sterilisation, disinfection, and cryopreservation. Climate change and past environments will be explained from a microbial perspective as well as microbial consortia (e.g. symbioses). Practicals will aim to further elucidate material covered in the lectures and to develop skills in handling, characterising and identifying microorganisms. Practicals will try to accommodate field work and/or a visit an industrial unit.

  • Geographic Information Systems: Developing your expertise and knowledge in the area of geographic information systems (GIS) and geo-spatial science, we will provide you with an understanding of the principles underpinning spatial information science and its associated technology as well as its use in the real world to answer a wide variety of questions. You will manipulate and interrogate spatial data of various kinds whilst developing expertise in GIS and modelling. Emphasis is placed on data capture, analysis and the application of spatial information science for geographic and environmental decision making.

  • Quaternary Environments: The aim of this unit is to enable understanding of the principles and practice of palaeoenvironmental reconstruction and how palaeoecological and Quaternary data can inform our understanding of the climate and environmental change during the Quaternary. We will also look at the changes that are believed to have taken place during the last 2.6 million years of the Quaternary. Data covered will include different biological and physical proxies such as pollen, molluscs, insects, mammals and sediments as well as more modern methods including ancient DNA. The applied nature of the discipline will also be covered. Data on past environmental change is beginning to be used to a greater extent as a base-line to understand what the environment was like before the increase in human influence i.e. during the time of hunter-gatherers (during pre-agricultural and pre-industrial times). Palaeoecological data from different proxy organism remains (animals and plants) also provide a longer timescale over which to understand ecological processes that operate beyond the length of a human lifetime or even the time represented by written history. Both climate change and other forms of environmental change such as human changes to the landscape will be covered and case studies from around the world will be included. Case studies will be used to further illustrate the theoretical perspective of the 'past as the key to the future'.

Please note that option units require minimum numbers in order to run and may only be available on a semester by semester basis. They may also change from year to year.

Year 3: optional work placement

You may choose to complete an optional a 30-week minimum work placement, or two 5 week placements, which can be carried out anywhere in the world. The placement year offers a chance to gain experience and make contacts for the future.

Year 3/4 (Final year)

Core units

  • Independent Research Project: The Independent Research Project provides you with an opportunity to gain experience of research in a topic of your choice relevant to your degree and to demonstrate your ability to report that research. Such experience is considered essential for those students interested in pursuing academic and/or professional research at a higher level of responsibility and achievement.

Option units

Semester 1 (choose two):

  • Biological Oceanography: Making use of our fantastic location along the south coast, this unit will give you the opportunity of practical ‘hands on’ study, via field trips to locations such as Poole Bay and Poole Harbour. Through a combination of lectures, group problem-solving sessions and field trips, you will develop knowledge and understanding of the history of biological oceanography, the plankton, the benthos, the overall functioning of the ocean biota, as well as introducing some practical problems in biological oceanography (accumulation of pollutants, ocean acidification, and the possible manipulation of the biological pump).

  • Climate & Environmental Change: Combining the expertise of our lecturers and special guest lecturers, this unit will provide a scientific background in the causes of climatic change, both natural and anthropogenic, and the trends that characterise and attribute this. With a key focus on examining the environmental, social and economic impacts of climatic change, you will have the opportunity to explore and voice your predictions of future impacts and the inevitability of uncertainty of those predicted futures. Including a local field trip to investigate microclimates, this unit will allow you to critically evaluate the potential for climate change mitigation and adaptation and the role of policy makers in this.

  • Emergence & Extinction - Reconstructing Pliocene & Pleistocene Environments: Giving you an understanding of past and current theories surrounding the nature and effects of environmental change during the last 10 million years, various lines of evidence are considered including geomorphology, palynology, ice cores, fossil flora and fauna and genetics. The unit will include aspects of evolutionary theory and will consider theories relating both the emergence and extinction of species to wider environmental change. Consideration will also be given to differing approaches to understanding broad ecological changes and to competing hypotheses regarding both individual and mass extinctions.

  • Environmental Remote Sensing: The unit develops expertise and knowledge in the area of environmental remote sensing, providing a detailed understanding of the principles of remote sensing as a source of spatial information. You will learn to manipulate and interrogate remotely sensed data of various kinds whilst developing expertise in image analysis and integrated Geographical Information Systems. Emphasis is placed on data acquisition, analysis and the application of spatial information science for environmental assessment and decision making. Indicative topic areas include land cover mapping, climate change monitoring, coastal management, landscape ecology, habitat characterisation, urban modelling, archaeological prospecting, pollution or hazard mapping.

  • Marine Conservation: This unit aims to enable you to critically evaluate approaches to the conservation and management of marine biodiversity including fisheries and protected areas. You will also examine legal processes and mechanisms that are applied to the conservation of marine and coastal environments.

Semester 2 (choose two):

  • Applied Biogeography: focusses on the analysis and description of geographical patterns and their effects on biological processes. The unit will look at changes in such patterns over time in response to natural and anthropogenic factors, and the relationships between spatial pattern and biological processes that operate at landscape and regional scales. Many of the environmental pressures affecting sites managed for conservation relate to the surrounding patterns of land use, and to a range of processes operating at larger spatial scales. Contemporary environmental management is thus increasingly supported by spatially explicit analyses that take a broad geographical perspective. Successful completion of the unit will enable you to recognise, assess and analyse landscape and regional scale patterns of land use resulting from both natural processes and human activities, and critically evaluate how such patterns influence key processes affecting biodiversity and the provision of environmental services.
  • Environmental Law & Management: Giving you an understanding of past and current theories surrounding the nature and effects of environmental change during the last 10 million years, various lines of evidence are considered including geomorphology, palynology, ice cores, fossil flora and fauna and genetics. The unit will include aspects of evolutionary theory and will consider theories relating both the emergence and extinction of species to wider environmental change. Consideration will also be given to differing approaches to understanding broad ecological changes and to competing hypotheses regarding both individual and mass extinctions.
  • Freshwater Resource Management: The aim of the unit is to present theory and practice for issues relating to the conservation and management of freshwater resources. It covers a range of aspects of freshwater resource management including sustainable development, conservation and key issues from a planning policy and decision making perspective. By providing a framework to actively make managerial decisions, the unit enables problems to be identified, analysed and solutions to be proposed including the promotion of sustainable communities and public participation in the planning process and environmental assessment.

  • Globalisation & Sustainable Development: Exploring the inter-relationships between controversial and contested terms, sustainable development and globalisation, you will develop the knowledge and skills to analyse, interpret and evaluate, the current issues and debates related to both concepts. We will extend conceptual knowledge of how sustainable development might be achieved in a context where globalisation is the predominant development ethos and unsustainable development and social injustice are accepted. The concepts will be examined from a number of disciplinary perspectives to enable you to evaluate the potential for, and limits to, the development of alternative relationships between people and their environments in a rapidly globalising world.

  • Parisitology & Epidemiology: The necessary tools to understand and discuss parasitology and disease epidemiology will be provided to present a broad overview of how parasites influence human and wildlife health, behaviour and population dynamics. You will learn to appreciate how policies are adapted to protect public health and the health of farmed and wildlife populations. Quantitative skills will be enhanced by performing survival analysis and evaluating potential disease impacts. Identification of parasites will also be covered.

  • Primate Behavioural Ecology: This unit aims to provide students with an understanding of how primate behaviour can be interpreted from an evolutionary viewpoint, and how human and non-human primates’ behavioural strategies are adapted to the environment (social and ecological) in which they live. The unit is aimed at stimulating discussion and the critical analysis of theories.

  • Topics in Wildlife Conservation: You will critically evaluate currently important topics in wildlife conservation from a range of perspectives and develop i) your skills in evaluating ecological data in the context of conservation ecology ii) your powers of reflection on your own perspective and ability to appreciate and integrate other perspectives within conservation ecology.

Please note that option units require minimum numbers in order to run and may only be available on a semester by semester basis. They may also change from year to year.

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

Contact hours

The hours below give an indication of how you can expect to spend your time during each year of this course. You will learn through a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, workshops and practical sessions. Your independent learning could include reading books and journal articles, working on group projects, preparing presentations, conducting library research and writing your assignments.

Learning and teaching activities includes demonstrations. Contact time across the different years varies, ensuring an academic basis for learning prior to practice, and a reflective understanding of the task.

Year 1 – 24% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 239 hours
  • Independent learning: 961 hours  
  • Non-assessed learning and teaching: 20 hours

Year 2 – 22% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 319 hours
  • Independent learning: 881 hours  
  • Non-assessed learning and teaching: 6 hours

Year 3 - 13% of your time will be spent in timetabled learning & teaching activities

  • Learning and teaching: 157 hours
  • Independent learning: 1043 hours  
  • Non-assessed learning and teaching: 6 hours

67% of the course is assessed by coursework

  • Year 1: 75%
  • Year 2: 58%
  • Year 3: 67%

Throughout the course you will be assessed by coursework culminating in your final year research project, but you will also undertake group work and written exams.

Programme specification

Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with quality assurance agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes; plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

Download the programme specification for BSc (Hons) Ecology & Wildlife Conservation.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.

All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

Placement opportunities

At BU, we recognise that placements are extremely valuable and can give you a head start when it comes to your future career, so we offer every student the opportunity to undertake a work-based placement as part of their course.

We will provide a great deal of help and support to ensure you achieve a rewarding and satisfying placement. We have many links to outside agencies and organisations to best support you along your professional development. Our dedicated team of placement officers are there to guide and support you through the placement process and experience. A placement year is a vital part in developing well-rounded and industry-ready graduates. Why not read about some of our students’ experiences?

What’s more, you can also choose to take your placement abroad, giving you the opportunity to develop yourself personally, academically, and professionally and gain skills to help you stand out in the job market.

How long is my placement?

You will begin your placement after completion of your second year of study for a short period of time, or during your third year of study for 30 weeks.

Placements may be paid, although some employers may offer expenses only. A number of students have secured placements through the STEP project, which guarantees payment for an eight-week placement.

Recent placement organisations have included Wildlife Trusts, the National Trust; the Royal Society of the Protection of Birds and with environmental consultancy firms. Other students have chosen to do placements with international organisations working on a range of conservation issues such as orang-utan conservation in Borneo, bear conservation in America, or the conservation of rain forest and coral reefs in a number of sites across the globe.

Through the Student Environment Research Teams (SERTs), you can also gain experience and practical skills, as a volunteer, through a wide range of short projects relevant to your professional practice. The Student's Union has an active Conservation Volunteering initiative.

Our students have previously worked for:

  • Wildlife trusts
  • The National Trust
  • The Royal Society of the Protection of Birds
  • Environmental consultancy firms.

Your application

Background and experience

For this course we are looking for applicants who:

  • Have enthusiasm to learn about a wide range of issues relating to the science and practice of wildlife conservation
  • Are keen on active learning through fieldwork and to apply the skills they gain on their degree course to real working environments in conservation ecology
  • Can demonstrate an academic interest and ability in sciences relevant to ecology by having suitable science qualifications
  • Take a practical interest in wildlife conservation by having participated in volunteer work or by having other relevant experience.

We are looking for students who are keen to develop their intellectual skills by gaining a sound scientific understanding of conservation ecology and who wish to also develop a broader cross disciplinary awareness of the role of human societal issues in wildlife conservation. We particularly encourage applications from people who have an enthusiasm for developing practical field biology skills such as species identification and habitat survey techniques that are considered to be key attributes by many employers. Students on this degree course will typically have a wide range of interests and have strong science backgrounds which could include biology, geography and chemistry.

Selection methods

We’ll be selecting the candidates for this course by looking at your UCAS applications. For that reason, make sure your application really stands out from the crowd, and leave us in no doubt as to why you should be joining BU. You can find some handy hints about filling in your UCAS form on our how to apply webpages.

Our offer making process

Our offer making will typically be based on your three main graded qualifications, including any required subjects. Additional study may be valuable for breadth of study, and we will look at a range of qualifications and subjects, including the Extended Project Qualification and General Studies, although these may not be part of our offer.

If you do not meet the criteria of your original offer, we may still offer you a place. We will review your whole application and consider all academic qualifications (including those not in the offer) and the rest of the application to see if you have the academic potential to succeed on the course. If we feel the answer is yes, we will still confirm your place.

How we'll assess your application

We look at individual applications and make a tailored offer based on your potential to succeed on the course considering a range of factors, including your academic achievements, work and other experience, predicted grades, reference and personal statement, and in some cases, your performance at an interview/selection test.

If you meet one or more of our contextual data indicators for educational disadvantage (such as being in care, living in a low participation neighbourhood or in an area with less advantaged socio-economic characteristics), your offer could be between 6-20 points below the published tariff.

Unconditional offer scheme

Our Unconditional Offer Scheme seeks to reward exceptional applicants who are predicted to achieve top academic results. The scheme is offered to applicants on all courses who are predicted AAA at A-level/triple Distinction in BTEC Extended Diploma, or above, or equivalent, subject to any course selection measures and meeting other entry criteria (i.e. required qualifications). What’s more we’ll recognise your achievement if you meet these grades with an Academic Excellence Scholarship from £1,500 when you arrive*.

We believe that unconditional offers will reduce pressure on applicants who will continue to strive to achieve the best grades possible. Excellent grades will become a part of applicants’ CVs and are also required for BU’s scholarships. International qualifications are considered in the scheme; however applicants must satisfy the English language requirements. *Our scholarships are subject to terms, conditions and eligibility criteria, detailed on our scholarships pages.

2017 entry requirements

The new UCAS Tariff will be used for September 2017 entry. 

The entry requirements for this course are 104 to 120 tariff points including 3 A-Levels or equivalent qualifications. BTEC Extended Diploma DMM.

UCAS have created a helpful calculator so you can calculate points to use for courses starting from September 2017 onwards.

Excluded subjects: This course does not accept General Studies

Numeracy and literacy: We need to be sure that you can express yourself in written English and have basic numeracy skills. We look at Level 2 of the National Qualifications Framework, which includes, but is not limited to, GCSEs, iGCSEs, Key Skills and Functional Skills Level 2. If you do not have formal qualifications to this level or have alternatives, we may still be able to consider your application – please contact the askBU Enquiry Service to find out more.

GCSEs: A minimum of 4 GCSEs grades A* - C (or grade 4 or above in the newly reformed GCSE grading) including a Science, Maths and English or equivalent qualifications.

Excluded subjects: This course does not accept General Studies.

Other qualifications

We have outlined below other qualifications that we consider for this course. If you are studying a qualification that is not listed, please contact the askBU Enquiry Service. It may be that we can still consider it.

Access Courses: BU welcomes Access to HE Diploma applicants. This course requires applicants to Pass the Access to HE Diploma (Science) (with 60 Credits - at least 45 at level 3, remainder at level 2 or equivalent).  Any combination of grades to meet the overall tariff is acceptable (subkects may be specified).

BTEC Qualifications

  • Extended Diploma: This course requires from Distinction, Merit, Merit.

  • Diploma: This course requires at least Distinction, Merit in addition to one A-level to acheive the overall tariff.

  • 90-credit Diploma: The 90-credit Diploma will be accepted as part of your overall tariff but it must be accompanied by A-levels or equivalent qualifications.

  • Subsidiary Diploma: This course requires at least a Distinction in addition to two A-levelsin required subjects.

A combination of BTEC qualifications to meet the overall course tariff is also acceptable.

Cambridge Pre-U Diploma: We welcome applicants studying the Cambridge Pre-U Diploma or a combination of Pre-U subjects and A-levels.

European Baccalaureate: Applicants are required to achieve a minimum score of 71-75% overall.

International Baccalaureate (Diploma): The IB Diploma is welcomed as part of the International Baccalaureate (IB). This course requires 28-31 points including 5 points from each of the 3 Higher Level subjects.

Scottish Qualifications: Scottish Advanced Highers, Scottish Highers and other Scottish qualifications are all welcomed providing that your results meet the overall course tariff.

Welsh Baccalaureate: The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Diploma is welcomed alongside A-Levels or equivalent, to meet the overall course tariff.

OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical Qualification: The OCR Extended Diploma or a combination of one Diploma plus one Introductory Diploma is acceptable for entry to this course.

  • Extended Diploma: This course requires Distinction, Merit, Merit in a required subject.

Other combinations of OCR Level 3 Cambridge Technical qualifications to meet the overall course tariff may be acceptable.

Extended Project Qualification: The grade achieved for the Extended Project may be taken into account when considering whether or not to accept a candidate who has marginally failed to meet the conditions of their offer.

Deferred Entry: We are happy to consider applicants for deferred entry.

International entry requirements

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with minimum 5.5 in each component, or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

If you do not meet the English language requirement for your degree then why not join our Pre-Sessional English course. Successful completion of our Pre-Sessional English course will meet your English language requirement, without the need to re-take IELTS.

Academic entry requirements

You can find details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our entry requirements for non-UK students’ page.


Fieldwork and site visits form an essential part of this course as fieldwork provides excellent opportunity for you to consolidate your learning through practical application.

We make extensive use of our unrivalled local environment, which has the greatest levels of biodiversity in Britain and includes the UNESCO Dorset and East Devon World Heritage Coast and the New Forest. You will learn through direct experience in the field how to investigate, understand and conserve wildlife in habitats ranging from sand dunes and coastal cliffs to rivers, forests meadows and heathlands.

Students who wish to develop their field ecology skills further will be welcome to participate in one or more of several ongoing projects set up between staff teaching on this degree course and local wildlife organisations. Full training is given for free and you will gain skills while directly helping wildlife conservation. Projects include surveys of birds, deer, fish, butterflies, bees, and small mammals such as dormice, investigations of how best to restore heathlands and forests and understanding the effects of invasive species and global warming on shore communities.

There are also a wide range of opportunities for you to learn through fieldwork by joining staff-led research projects overseas. Current projects include studies of bears and big cats in the cloud forests of Ecuador; plants, pollinators and wildlife in Spainish mountains, fish in Kenyan lakes; forests and orchards in the Himalayas and birds in the Mediterranean.

All fieldwork that is part of a credit-rated unit, with the exception of research projects, is included in your course fees. Overseas fieldwork is not included in your fees, but there may be travel bursaries available to successful applicants to support you to gain such valuable experience.


Career opportunities

Our Ecology & Wildlife Conservation degree will prepare you for work in a range of organisations relating to this fascinating field, including conservation biology and general environmental management. The skills you develop throughout your course are highly transferable, allowing you to pursue a career in other sectors if you wish.

By developing your practical skills in the field, as well as gaining a good understanding of conservation in a global context, you will be perfectly placed to find an exciting role in this sector.

Among the organisations you can go on to work for are wildlife trusts, Natural England, RSPB, The Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, The Environment Agency, the National Trust, local authority departments and international conservation NGOs.

Industries worked in

  • Ecology
  • Conservation
  • Environmental management
  • Education.

*All statistics shown are taken from Unistats, Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE), BU institutional data and Ipsos MORI (National Student Survey) unless otherwise stated.

Further study

Once you have completed an undergraduate Honours degree, you can further develop your education by studying for a postgraduate degree. Please visit our Postgraduate section for further details about our range of Master's degrees.

No hidden extras

Course specific material(s) included in your tuition fee:

  • Lab coats, safety glasses
  • Compulsory/assessed fieldwork

As a student at BU we will provide many things to support you and there will also be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying at BU. The information below will help you understand our provision and what you need to budget for.

What you can expect from us

All of your teaching and assessments are included in your tuition fees including lectures/guest lectures and tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions and specialist teaching facilities. You will also have access to a wide range of support and services. You will receive more details about these if you are offered a place on the course.

  • One set of study-related consumables such as a memory stick/DVD
  • Materials for laboratory and field-based teaching activity
  • Support for placements (UK or abroad) and fieldwork
  • A range of student services – advisors, help desks, counsellors, placement support and careers service
  • The Library – access to a wide range of electronic resources (databases, e-journals and e-books), print and multimedia collections, subject librarians and study spaces
  • IT labs (some open 24/7), wireless network, AV equipment to borrow
  • Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme
  • Disability and additional learning support
  • The BU Language Centre to help you develop/improve foreign or English language skills
  • 24 hours a day, 365 days a year security team.

Costs of living and other expenses you need to consider

  • Accommodation and living costs: view our price guide
  • Text books: remember that our award-winning library is stocked with a large range of text books for all courses, as well as online resources such as industry journals, free of charge
  • General stationery and other supplies such as print and presentation materials: the Students’ Union shops stock a wide range of stationery supplies on both campuses
  • Travel to, from and between BU campuses: our bus service operates in the local areas offering a subsided travel rate; we also have a large number of secure bike storage compounds
  • SportBU membership: check out our student membership packages, sports events, varsity teams, information about our new facilities and more on the SportBU webpages
  • Fieldwork travel, outdoor wear and footwear (where applicable)
  • Telephone and travel costs incurred when undertaking interviews for coursework/securing placements.
  • A fee will be payable towards the cost of an Educational Psychology Assessment if this is required in connection with additional learning support. BU pays for approximately two-thirds of the cost of this assessment for UK students. For more details and current pricing please visit the Students section of the website.

Repeat Units

If you need to repeat one or more units during the course of your studies, you may be required to pay an additional fee of £1,500 per 20 credit unit.  

Financial help available from BU

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to students who are beginning their studies at BU. Our website also provides details on living costs, budgeting and paying your tuition fees.

What our graduates think

Dan Gracias

The first 6-week placement I did was with the Atlantic Whale Foundation in Tenerife, so it's hands-on practical work, every day out in boats following whales and dolphins.

Hear from our staff

Dr Anita Diaz

This course includes lots of opportunity for field work in the UK and overseas, and the diversity of our local habitats are second to none.




Find out about our biodome and see how you can make use of it during your course.

Instruments lab

Analytical facilities

Discover what equipment we have in our instrument labs and how this can enhance your studies.

Additional information

Fees and funding

Fees and funding

Find out about fees and funding, including scholarships and bursaries.

Open Days

Open Days

Discover what makes Open Days so enjoyable and useful – and register to attend one of our events.

International students

International students

We have a strong international student community. Find all the practical advice and information you need here.