also available in 2018
A Level Requirements
see all requirements
see all requirements
Full time 4 Year(s)
Learn how organisms interact with each other and their environment, and discover the impact of human activity in a series of exciting field-based and lab-taught modules.
Our MSci Hons degree is a four-year integrated Masters programme that includes a ten-week placement with a graduate employer. Our renowned researchers deliver an exceptional training programme that provides a thorough grounding in ecological theory and practice, combining lectures, practicals, fieldwork and small-group tutorials. You will gain a deep understanding and hands-on experience of how these principles are applied in the study and conservation of species and the ecosystems in which they live.
Throughout your degree, you will have the opportunity to experience a range of exciting field-work opportunities and residential courses. You will explore the Doñana National Park in the southwest of Spain, which is home to a plethora of plant and animal species, including the world’s most endangered cat, the Iberian Lynx; you can visit some of the UK’s last remaining natural habitats in rural Scotland, and observe a range of animals including red deer, mountain hare, pine marten, osprey and golden eagle; or contribute to an expert-led study of the Rift Valley of Kenya, where you will evaluate the challenge of balancing tropical conservation and human activity.
Your first year will begin with a rounded introduction to ecology and conservation biology. You will participate in the field course in southern Spain, and you will study a series of modules in ecology, evolutionary biology and conservation.
Specialisation from the second year onwards allows you to choose topics that match your interests. A diverse range of modules will equip you with a range of ecology, conservation biology and practical skills, and you can choose from a selection of relevant optional modules such as Evolution and Environmental Physiology.
In the third year, you will carry out an independent research project. Your module choices include Animal Behaviour, Conservation in Practice and Issues in Conservation Biology.
In your fourth year, you will take four Masters-level modules from the wide range on offer such as Environmental Toxicology and Wildlife Monitoring Techniques. You will also undertake a dissertation and a ten-week placement with a graduate employer as part of your professional experience.
A Level AAB
Required Subjects A level grade AB in two sciences from the following; Biology, Chemistry, Computing, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, Human Biology, Mathematics, Physics or Psychology.
GCSE Mathematics grade B or 6, English Language grade C or 4
IELTS 6.5 overall with at least 5.5 in each component. For other English language qualifications we accept, please see our English language requirements webpages.
International Baccalaureate 35 points overall with 16 points from the best 3 Higher Level subjects including two science subjects at HL grade 6
BTEC Distinction, Distinction, Distinction to include sufficient science. We require Distinctions in majority of relevant science units. Please contact the Admissions Team for further advice.
We welcome applications from students with a range of alternative UK and international qualifications, including combinations of qualification. Further guidance on admission to the University, including other qualifications that we accept, frequently asked questions and information on applying, can be found on our general admissions webpages.
Many of Lancaster's degree programmes are flexible, offering students the opportunity to cover a wide selection of subject areas to complement their main specialism. You will be able to study a range of modules, some examples of which are listed below.
This module provides an introduction to the structure and function of aquatic food webs in freshwater, estuarine and marine environments. Emphasis is placed on the role of nutrients (bottom-up control) and predation (top-down control) on participating organisms in their freshwater, estuarine, and marine environments. Students will understand the importance of algae, whether planktonic or attached, in the primary productivity of aquatic ecosystems and how this is affected by nutrient concentration and composition. The way in which anthropogenic influences can alter the balance of aquatic food webs, and the subsequent problems which may arise, is discussed.
There will be practical sessions on areas such as algae, zooplankton and macroinvertebrates. Workshops will cover the analysis of data using excel, and the characteristics of lake trophic status in The Lake District.
Introducing the nature of biological diversity and the patterns of distribution of organisms on global, regional and ecosystem scales, students discover the underlying causes of the observed biodiversity patterns and the main current threat to biodiversity. The reasons why species become extinct is explored and then the reasons why species should be preserved. Students will be able to outline the criteria that can be used to identify species and areas of high conservation importance.
Fieldtrips take place on campus, where students will look at sampling techniques and biodiversity, and to sites of special conservation interest in the Arnside and Silverdale AONB. There will also be an excursion to Blackpool Zoo.
This module provides an introduction to environmental processes and their impacts in a variety of different environments. We discuss the physical processes governing the Earth's global climate system and their influence on recent and future patterns of climate and environmental change. We investigate the Earth’s surface materials and the laws that govern the behaviour of fluids, and how these affect environmental flow and fluid transport processes. We also explore the processes which influence the development of soils and associated ecosystems at the land surface, including deposition and erosion processes.
Introducing students to the development of evolutionary theory and the evidence for the evolutionary processes of natural and sexual selection, this module examines the evolutionary relationships of the major groups of organisms, and deals with speciation and human evolution.
Using specific examples of animal behaviour, we demonstrate how an understanding of natural and sexual selection can explain the diverse evolution of body structures, reproductive behaviours and life-history strategies.
This module examines how the biosphere reacts to environmental change. It concentrates on the responses to changes such as increasing drought, global warming, ozone depletion, and air pollution. Emphasis is placed on understanding plants as the driving force for the effects of environment change on other organisms within terrestrial ecosystems. This will range from consideration of changes in complex natural ecosystems through to effects on humans, through changes in global food production. The module will also consider the direct effects of environmental change on human populations.
You will learn to describe the effects of global warming and pollution on plants and terrestrial ecosystems as well as the links between basic plant physiology and the consequences of environmental change. We also explore the direct and indirect effects of environmental change on human populations. You will take part in workshops that look at the effects of the environment on carbon fixation and water use, and human health and environment change.
The global environment and human society are now threatened by unprecedented changes resulting from human activities such as intensive agriculture and fossil fuel combustion, as well as facing natural hazards like volcanic eruptions and climatic extremes. This module introduces you to the major contemporary environmental issues and the complexities associated with researching, explaining and managing the Earth's environment. It provides a broad foundation in the skills required to contribute to future understanding and management of global environmental challenges. You will gain a clearer understanding of the connections between social, environmental and biotic processes and explore possible solutions for key environmental issues.
Students will explore the diversity of habitats and organisms living in the Doñana natural area and the actions that can be taken to promote the conservation of this biodiversity. They will gain practical experience of the identification, critical observation and accurate recording of plants, invertebrates and birds. The unique understanding gained by such practical experience will give students an important advantage when it comes to gaining employment in this field.
By the end of this module, students will be able to describe the physical nature of a variety of habitats and the characteristic species associated with them and identify, classify and comment on specimens of plants and animals from those habitats. They will also learn to describe how the distribution and abundance of different plants and animals is determined by the physical conditions and biotic factors in their environments.
In addition to this, students will indicate how the anatomical, physiological and behavioural features of selected organisms are adapted to different habitats and modes of life. Another topic covered will be how human activities affect biological communities, and what can be done to conserve those communities.
This module will provide you with an understanding of how and why organisms are classified and named, and an appreciation of how identification keys are constructed and used. You will learn to construct simple classificatory and evolutionary trees, and to indicate their significance.
Evolutionary relationships will be evaluated using anatomical and other characteristics, and the distinctive features of major groups of animals will be outlined so that you are able to indicate the functional, evolutionary, and, in some cases, ecological and economic significance of them.
Practical sessions will enable you to take part in the identification of both invertebrate and vertebrate groups.
The aim of this module is to introduce students to understanding the scientific method, designing experiments, and collecting data in an unbiased scientific manner, analysing it using robust statistical techniques and presenting findings in a clear and concise form. Students will be provided with the skills they will need to successfully complete their dissertation projects. They are encouraged to critically appraise information, conduct a wide range of statistical analyses and to present and critically analyse data.
Students will be able to relate the notion of the scientific method to their own scientific endeavour, and will gain the level of knowledge required to measure, describe and discuss the varieties of environmental and ecological systems in the study of natural systems.
Students will learn to design and execute experiments which distinguish effectively between variation due to experimental effects and underlying uncontrolled variation, and will also understand the application of statistical tests to analyse data, taking into account the underlying assumptions of those tests, as well as the uses of computer based statistical packages, such as SPSSx) to analyse data. Critical skills developed on this module will enable students to report their findings in a style appropriate for their audience.
Employers expect graduate biologists, especially those aiming for careers as field biologists or ecologists, to have gained experience of basic field biology skills and common survey techniques. This module offers an introduction to the fieldwork and methodology relevant for conducting ecological surveys. Students are taken through a habitat and biodiversity survey, and will develop skills in several areas, such as species identification, monitoring bird breeding parameters, moth trapping, and small mammal trapping.
The weeklong intensive course will take place in the local area and the work will mostly be conducted outdoors. Students will take part in two off-campus excursions, for example, to a species-rich meadow in the Yorkshire Dales, and to sites of highly diverse insect communities in the Morecambe Bay region to see Fritillary butterflies. They will also gain the ability to identify appropriate sampling methods and apply them in the field, as well as developing transferable abilities such as report writing, teamwork, observation skills and safety awareness.
Recent emphasis on global change and biodiversity has raised awareness of the importance of species and their interactions in determining how sustainable our lifestyle is. This module explores the factors that drive population and community dynamics, with a strong focus on multi-trophic interactions and terrestrial ecosystems.
Students will be introduced to population ecology and will discover the abiotic factors that regulate populations, life history strategies of populations, competitive interactions within populations, and meta-population dynamics, in addition to an understanding of how species interact both within and across trophic levels. The module exposes students to the belowground system and will look at how the species interactions and soil communities discussed impact on community structure and dynamics. The module aims to give students a fundamental understanding of ecology - such knowledge is essential for informing conservation and sustainable land-use practices, and efforts to mitigate climate change.
In order to complete this module, students will develop the ability to outline the primary factors that drive population dynamics, whilst critically discussing examples, and will reinforce their understanding of the implications of species interactions for community dynamics. Students will also gain a critical awareness of biotic responses and their contribution to climate change.
This module aims to provide students with broad understanding of the discipline of conservation biology. The module starts by defining biodiversity, discussing its distribution in space and time, and its value to humankind, before examining the key anthropogenic threats driving recent enhanced rates of biodiversity loss. The module then focuses on the challenges for conservation of biodiversity at several levels of the biological hierarchy: genes, species, communities and ecosystems, and the techniques used by conservationists at these levels. The final part of the module looks at the practice of conservation through discussion of prioritisation, reserve design and national and international conservation policy and regulation.
Students will develop a range of skills including the ability to discuss the principle threats to global biodiversity and the rationale for biodiversity conservation, in addition to application of a range of metrics to quantify biodiversity. Students will gain a critical understanding of the various approaches to conserving genetic, species and ecosystem diversity, as well as an enhanced knowledge of quantification of popularisation approaches to prioritisation of conservation goals, and how nature reserves can be designed to improve conservation potential.
The aim of this module is to provide students with the opportunity to design and undertake a project from start to finish, which will involve working as part of a team and collecting individual and group data in an unbiased scientific manner. Students will develop the ability to distinguish effectively between variation due to robust effects and underlying uncontrolled variation, whilst statistically analysing and presenting their findings to the class in a suitable format.
By the end of the module, students will have the ability to critically appraise information and report the findings of their scientific endeavours to different audiences using a variety of methods, including scientific reports and PowerPoint presentations, in addition to developing a range of generic and specialist skills gained that will be useful in a competitive job market.
Students will be able to understand and integrate information from a variety of sources, whilst utilising skills of written critique of primary and secondary literature. They will also be developed in the ability to interrogate bibliographic databases and summarise pertinent information.
Environmental Physiology "crosses the great divide" between animal and plant biology. The scope of this module is broad, extending from the consequences of environmental change on human health to communication between plants. It explores the whole-organism responses of animals and plants to light, to pollution and to disease-causing micro-organisms. It goes on to consider how such responses are controlled and co-ordinated, and how information is communicated between individuals in both animals and plants.
The unifying theme of this module is the central role of physiology in determining a wide range of biological responses, with the overall aim of providing an integrated understanding of the mechanisms by which both animals and plants cope with their environment. Students will gain an appreciation of the complex interactions between plants and animals and their natural environments, and particularly the notion of phenotypic plasticity. Practical work will develop laboratory skills, and assessment will develop skills in literature searching, data analysis, writing and argument.
Students will develop a sophisticated skillset, including the ability to describe mechanisms by which plants and animals perceive environmental signals and co-ordinate their responses to them, as well as being able to describe the effects of ultraviolet light on animals and plants and the mechanisms for protection from its damaging effects. In addition, students will gain the necessary experience required to show how various environmental pollutants affect the health of plants and humans, and will be knowledgeable of the various forms of innate immunity in animals, whilst gaining awareness of the conservation of anti-microbial defence mechanisms during evolution. Finally, students will be able to explain how plants resist attack by herbivorous insects and pathogenic microorganisms.
Evolution is the fundamental concept in biology and an understanding of its processes and effects are important for biologists in all disciplines. The module aims to show how the morphology and behaviour of animals and plants is adapted to their environment through interactions with their own and other species, including competitors, parasites, predators and prey, and relatives. Students will explore the concept of adaptation to natural and sexual selection pressures at the level of the individual and the effects on the wider population.
Students will gain the ability to describe the roles that variation, heritability and selection play in the evolutionary process, along with a developed understanding of how numerical changes in population occur, and enhanced knowledge of how to analyse such shifts in order to make predictions about future changes. This module will also reinforce students’ understanding of the application of theoretical models, the changing effects of costs and behaviours due to circumstance, and how conflicts of interest might influence the reproductive success of individuals.
Students taking this module will gain a range of transferable skills including: report writing, data analysis and presentation, team working, verbal presentation, summarising technical texts and design of scientific enquiries.
This module takes a molecular approach to understanding heredity and gene function in organisms ranging from bacteria to man. It begins by reviewing genome diversity and how genomes are replicated accurately, comparing and contrasting replication processes in bacteria and man. The module discusses in detail molecular mechanisms, particularly those that ensure information encoded in the genome is transcribed and translated appropriately to produce cellular proteins.
Students will focus on the importance of maintaining genome stability and damaging effects of mutations in the genome on human health. Examples are drawn from a range of inherited genetic diseases such as phenylketonuria and sickle cell anaemia, paying particular focus to how mutations in key genes are driving cancer development.
Teaching is delivered by a series of lectures supported by varied practical work, workshops, guided reading and online resources. Laboratory practicals include investigating how exposure of bacteria to ultraviolet light induces mutations – providing a model for understanding how skin cancer may develop as a consequence of excessive sun exposure.
This module explores the characteristics of landscapes with an emphasis on the biogeographical and geomorphological processes that underpin them. Delivered in two integrated ways, this module will provide substantive material that will be taught through two weekly lectures before applying and developing the knowledge at twice-weekly field trips.
Students undertaking this module will develop a detailed understanding of key concepts of biogeographical and geomorphological interactions in three related environments. Additionally, they will gain the ability to communicate their knowledge in the area whilst demonstrating a critical appreciation of the conceptual base.
Eco-innovation, being the development of new products, processes or services that support business growth with a positive environmental impact, is one of the key enabling instruments identified by the European Union for the transition to a more resource efficient economy. It is embedded in the Europe 2020 strategy for supporting sustainable growth. This module will provide several case studies which outline the way in which businesses have applied eco-innovation in practice Students will gain knowledge of the key approaches to, and models of, eco-innovation in a range of business and policy contexts in addition to a reinforced understanding of how innovative ideas can be turned into practical solutions for complex socio-environmental problems, and how different business models and financing approaches can be used to make the solution commercially viable and potentially profitable.
Students will gain knowledge of eco-innovation and understand how the concept relates to business opportunities for environmental goods and services. In addition, students will gain the knowledge and skillset required to analyse how both small businesses and large global organisations apply eco-innovation into their business planning, whilst
Evaluating business opportunities related to the environment in the context of products and services to address flooding or other complex problems. Students will learn how to create proposals for eco-innovation, and prepare presentations for a panel of experts, and will develop the necessary level of understanding required to analyse technical, financial, and environmental information from a wide range of sources in order to comprehend and evaluate strategies to address complex environment-society problems and challenges.
This module aims to introduce and demonstrate the nature and properties of soils in an environmental context. It will provide an introduction to soil formation, soil description (including field work), chemical and physical properties, and biology, which will lead to the application of soil science to a variety of practical problems. This module gives exciting grounding in the nature and importance of soils in context with wider environmental issues. As well as detailed knowledge of fine scale soil processes, students will learn interdisciplinary thinking that helps them connect different and complex strands of knowledge from around the earth system.
Students will be able to describe the nature and roles of soils in the environment, and will gain the level of understanding required to describe the nature and role of soils in the environment. Successful students will be able to give a basic account of soil chemical and physical properties, as well as soil biology, and will develop the ability to discuss applied aspects of soils, specifically nutrient recycling and carbon storage.
Vertebrates (including fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals) display a staggering diversity of shapes and sizes, and are adapted to a wide array of environments, from hot deserts to freezing oceans. The aim of this module is to introduce this broad range of forms and functions, putting physiological and behavioural processes firmly within a whole organism and evolutionary context.
This module will introduce students to the major vertebrate taxonomic groups: it will explore how they have evolved to exploit different environmental niches on land, in water and in flight; and how their anatomy, reproduction, thermoregulation, etc. have all become fine-tuned to cope with the challenges of their evolved lifestyle. Students will be able to apply their general knowledge of vertebrate biology to species-specific examples: comparing and contrasting different forms and functions; and critically evaluating hypotheses proposed in order to explain vertebrate diversity.
They will also gain more generic transferable skills such as critical discussion, application of knowledge to new situations, data analysis and report writing.Throughout the module, students will consider how form, function and strategy will impact the vulnerability of vertebrates to on-going environmental change.
The dissertation project is an individual and individually supervised extensive project ending in submission of a substantial dissertation report. Students will choose from a set of dissertation research areas or topics based on a LEC-wide list compiled by the module conveyor. There will be regular meetings with dissertation supervisor, and students will develop a specific dissertation topic, along with research questions, aims, objectives and methods. This will be followed by a period of background reading, discussion and planning, before their dissertation drafts are analysed, marked and a final draft of up to 10,000 is submitted in week 11 of the term.
Students must take active involvement in the module and make good use of interaction with the supervisor in order to deepen their subject specific knowledge and ability to work independently. Depending on the discipline, style and topic, students may focus on methods, field techniques, lab techniques, or a combination of computer and software tools.
You will have the option of taking either a Dissertation or a Dissertation with External Partner. However, please note that students taking a Study Abroad year must take the Dissertation option.
The placement dissertation provides you with experience of the workplace in a context that is relevant to your academic study. It enables you to take your academic knowledge and to experience at first hand how it can be applied in the workplace. You will also get to see how the requirements of a particular organisation influence the interpretation and implementation of academic knowledge. The placement thus provides a unique opportunity to study the ways in which the academic and commercial worlds intersect and to appreciate both the opportunities and constraints involved in applying geographical, environmental and biological knowledge in a real-world context. The experience will both enhance your academic knowledge and understanding and improve your employability in sectors relevant to your degree.
You will have the option of taking either a Dissertation or a Dissertation with External Partner. However, please note that students taking a Study Abroad year may not take this option, as the work placement element would clash with the year abroad.
This module explores how and why animals behave in the way that they do, building on many of the major themes of the Evolution module to highlight the links between behaviour, ecology and evolution. The central aim will be to understand the fitness consequences of behaviour - by focusing on three of the most important topics in behavioural research (reproduction, sociality and communication), we will investigate how the behaviour of an individual has evolved to maximise its survival and reproductive success.
Students will gain an understanding of how and why we study animal behaviour, at the same time developing their appreciation of scientific best practice. Students will be encouraged to relate specific knowledge to broader issues in ecology and evolution, and to critically reflect on what animal behaviour can tell us about behaviour in our own species. Additionally, students will be able to describe what behaviour actually is and understand the major factors that influence how animals (including humans) behave. Students will also develop the level of knowledge necessary to discuss a wide diversity of animal behaviours in a broad range of species, and describe the major approaches to understanding behaviour and apply Tinbergen's four questions to behavioural processes. Students will gain an enhanced understanding in a range of areas, including the importance of both nature and nurture in the evolution of behaviour, the ecological pressures that shape behaviour, the importance of the fitness consequences of behaviour at the individual level and the concepts of kin selection and inclusive fitness
This module explores climate change in the context of it being a ‘wicked problem’. The aim is to provoke students to look beyond the simple narratives pushed at us about climate change and to start to think critically as wicked problems require us to do. In doing so, students are invariably forced to abandon often naive assumptions about what can and can't be done to tackle climate related risks. Despite understanding climate change from the perspective of wicked, problems often lead to a sense of powerlessness.
This module employs debate and discussion as its primary learning devices. As a result, students will be expected to actively participate in debate, holding and developing their line of argument both in small groups and in class wide discussions and debates. The module also employs a group structure and activities to engender team working skills. Practical decision making is a theme running through the module supported by approximate quantitative analysis.
By the end of this module, students will recognise the role of societal and climate dynamics in climate change management, and will gain the necessary knowledge required to comprehend the basis of sustainable development arguments in the context of climate change management to be able to perform simple, yet meaningful evaluation of a range of climate related options. Further skills which can be gained from this module include the ability to distinguish the relative positions of adaptation, mitigation and geoengineering and to be able to argue between various options within each.
This module will address the major challenges facing tropical forest regions, such as deforestation, biodiversity loss and rural poverty. Students will spend eight days participating in field work in Brazil, where they will study topics in conservation and ecology, along with development. Whilst studying in the Jari region of the north-eastern Brazilian Amazon, students will engage with a range of research approaches necessary to address conservation and socio-economic issues, including biodiversity monitoring.
Students will be required to conduct social surveys in rural communities, and the module will address a range of literature from conservation science, tropical ecology, agricultural economics and sustainable development. They will analyse evidence based on ecological and well-being indicators, and will develop research ideas for monitoring social and ecological systems in tropical forest regions, making informed viewpoints from the point of view of diverse actors.
Additionally, the module will offer students an opportunity to develop critical arguments based on evidence from natural and social sciences. They will gain the ability to write effectively using a diverse evidence base, and will be able to critically evaluate international and national policies.
This interdisciplinary module draws on perspectives from Geography, Conservation Science, Archaeology and more to explore the past, present and future of Amazonia. You will cover a broad range of topics, including debates around the question of whether the Amazon is a pristine forest or a cultural artefact; deforestation and agricultural transitions; conservation and extractive reserves; mega-dams and environmental justice; rural-urban migration and future resilience of Amazonian socio-ecological systems. By the end you will have learnt to see the world’s largest rainforest and its people through a variety of lenses, and that almost everything you thought previously about the Amazon was wrong!
The aim of this module is to illustrate some of the ways in which plants achieve this and to provide an insight into the physiological mechanisms that underlie plant ecology. Students will explore how plants respond to specific environmental cues and the ways in which they are able to adapt to a variety of stressful environments. All of these processes will be viewed from both an agricultural and an ecological perspective. Students will also gain an understanding of the environmental constraints on plant growth and productivity and an appreciation of the degree of plasticity and adaptability that plants display. They will develop an appreciation of the importance of a detailed understanding of these plant traits if we are to achieve the increases in crop productivity (through management or breeding) that will be required for food security in the face of global climate change.
This module will equip students with the ability to describe a range of features related to the subject, including the range of plant photomorphogenic and photoperiodic responses to light and their ecological significance, the response of plants and communities to high temperature and salinity, the rationale behind the use of deficit irrigation to increase water use efficiency , plant adaptations for efficient extraction of nutrients from the soil, the way in which leaves and roots function in drought-prone environments, and the regulation of growth of leaves and roots in drought-prone environments. Students will also develop the skill level required identify the practical applications of modifying plant responses to their light environment, discussing the problems posed by a hot dry climate for plant growth and functioning and the rationale for breeding/engineering plants for increased water use efficiency, in addition to gaining the necessary understanding of the cellular and whole plant tissue basis of plant drought resistance and the physiological basis of salt tolerance.
Students will learn both the principles on which remote sensing systems operate, and how useful environmental information can be derived from remotely sensed data. From this, students will be able to compare the information provided by remote sensing sensors from several areas of research such as ecology, biology, geography, geology, marine and atmosphere science.
They will also develop image processing skills and learn how remote sensing data can be used to extend our understanding of ecosystems and global environmental changes.
The aims of this module are fulfilled by initially examining the physical basis of remote sensing in terms of the characteristics of electromagnetic radiation and its interactions with the Earth's atmosphere and biosphere. This physical basis is also examined in terms of how the sensors and satellites operate in a modern earth system observatory. The techniques used to analyse and interpret images will then be used to understand local, regional and global environmental changes.
This is followed by an investigation of the environmental applications of remote sensing. Here, satellite images from NASA, ESA and several international space agencies are used to illustrate the increasing importance of remotely-sensed data for environmental and climate applications.
Laboratory practicals allow students to study the physical principles of remote sensing, and computer practicals are used to demonstrate image analysis techniques using ENVI Imagine: a state-of-the-art software package.
This module will examine how biological understanding can contribute to “global change solutions” in respect to a number of key issues, including food production, biofuels and the continuing protection of the ozone layer. However, it will also place that biological understanding in its wider context, not least by considering how the same fundamental information on specific biological approaches can lead to diametrically opposed positions on the utility and desirability of actually using the biology (e.g. the debate around GM crops).
Students will examine how different interpretations of biological technology relate to the underlying biology, and will additionally benefit from a workshop that will consider the needs of “science communication” beyond the scientific community. The module will not only provide a detailed understanding of a range of “global change solutions”, it will also consider how biology is used (and abused?) in assessing climate change and the possible responses and solutions.
Successful students will be able to describe the biology of a range of examples of both responses to global change, and possible biology-based solutions to ameliorate those responses, and recognise the wider context of the underlying biology of global change effects and/or solutions, for example in policy or the practical deployment of new technologies. Students will develop their critical skills, enabling them to evaluate the biological evidence in relation to global change effects and solutions, and assess how such evidence is used to support sometimes diametrically opposed views specific issues. This module will enhance students’ ability to write effective, concise, accurate summaries of complex biological topics in styles appropriate for different audiences, e.g. the scientific community, policy makers or the general public.
Plants and animals in their natural environments interact with a wide range of other living organisms. These include both beneficial interactions and damaging encounters with parasites, pathogens and herbivores. The module examines the different kinds of organisms that have evolved a parasitic lifestyle and the ways in which they parasitize their hosts. In parallel, the module will introduce the different strategies that plants and animals use to defend themselves, including the recruitment of other organisms to act as allies. The continuing conflict between hosts and parasites results in a so-called 'evolutionary arms race'.
Practical work will develop laboratory skills, and assessment will develop skills in data analysis, writing and argument. The module will also examine the evolutionary costs and benefits of defence, and the evidence for short and long-term immunological memory. Since the module is aimed primarily at addressing ecological and physiological questions rather than the biomedical aspects of parasitology, the focus will be on invertebrate rather than vertebrate hosts.
Students will be able to describe a range of subject specific topics, such as the main groups of parasitic organisms and their lifestyles; the structural and behavioural defences against parasites, pathogens and herbivores in plants and animals, and the key features of innate and adaptive immunity in plants and animals. This module will also enhance students’ ability to identify the main selective processes shaping the evolution of host resistance to parasites, along with providing explanations as to why many defence mechanisms are inducible rather than permanently expressed, and how specialist herbivores and parasites have co-evolved with their hosts to overcome resistance.
This module covers primarily the physical processes and phenomena that govern the nature of lakes, rivers and estuaries. It also covers the biological and chemical processes that operate within the framework of their physical structure and investigates how the physical, chemical and biological aspects of lakes, rivers and estuaries influence and relate to each other.
Students shall become well versed in the following areas: the nature and functioning of aquatic environments, the ways in which physical, chemical and biological processes and phenomena interact in the environment,and ways in which fundamental scientific concepts play out in the environment. From this, they will be able to determine the water quality and ecological health of these areas.
Students will also acquire the skill of interpreting data sets generated by instrumentation that are widely deployed for monitoring and management purposes in lakes, rivers and estuaries.They will also learn how curiosity-driven scientific understanding can be applied in the exploitation, management and conservation of aquatic environments.
The Quaternary geological period has been a time of enormous environmental changes, on both a global and a local scale. The most obvious is the growth and decay of ice sheets in mid-latitudes, but this went hand in hand with many other changes throughout the globe. This module considers the big picture of global change in terms of six great interlinked themes of environmental change during the Quaternary: the growth and decay of ice sheets, the changing level of the sea, changes in atmospheric and oceanic circulation, terrestrial biological changes, human influences and the engine of the ice ages.
Students will learn the dramatic environmental and climatic changes which have occurred at global and regional scales over the Quaternary, and will gain the ability to summarise the possible drivers, both natural and anthropogenic, of such changes, as well as explain the techniques and resultant datasets that inform us of these changes. Additionally, they will illustrate the complex and non-linear nature of the Earth system responses to Milankovitch forcing, outlining the ramifications for our understanding and prediction of present and future climatic and environmental change. The module will also describe the paradigm shifts that have occurred over the last few decades in Quaternary science and will require students to correlate and interpret palaeoclimatic data, globally and regionally.
In this module, students will be shown how, through manipulation of species, communities and ecosystems, habitats can be managed in a sustainable way that preserves and enhances their aesthetic, scientific, recreational, and often utilitarian, value. The creation of new habitats will be considered, as well as management of existing areas of conservation interest. The module is largely taught by external lecturers who are directly involved in the application of ecological principles to practical problems.
Students will develop the level of ability required to describe the nature of selected habitat types, as well as explaining a series of underlying ecological processes which necessitate management. Students will also be able to identify the techniques used for conservation management specific to a range of habitat types, in addition to reinforcing a range of transferrable skills, such as the ability to present scientific data clearly and concisely, in both written and oral format. Students will learn to work autonomously as well as being involved in group work.
Modern resource-intensive agriculture has proved incredibly successful in delivering relatively abundant, cheap food (at least in the developed world), but sometimes at considerable environmental cost. Therefore the general public is usually keen to embrace "sustainable agriculture" but is generally unaware of the economic and food production costs of proposed changes in crop management. By emphasising the concept of crop resource use efficiency, this module focuses on the viability of less intensive agricultural systems.
Students will critically examine primary literature on topical issues concerning the sustainability of different agricultural systems. They will gain an understanding of the key factors constraining food production, and the environmental and food production consequences of different crop production systems.
In addition to gaining the ability to identify key issues affecting the sustainability of agriculture, students will critically appraise the literature on these issues, and will develop the skillset required to recognise the economic and societal problems constraining the adoption of more environmentally sustainable agriculture. Ultimately, students will gain the ability to discuss alternative scenarios and solutions for key environmental problems associated with agriculture and document said issues in a cogent and critical manner.
Water is fundamental to life and is therefore a critical natural resource for human society and for all ecosystems. Employers of graduates from a wide range of environment-orientated degrees increasingly value understanding of the frameworks and technologies through which water resources can be conserved and restored, alongside the interactions between water and other natural resources such as land. This module focuses on providing this understanding, drawing on a wide range of real-world examples from the UK water sector. Students will cover the major UK and European regulatory frameworks that currently drive water resource management, the technologies available to treat wastewater, the approaches used to assess chemical and biological water quality, and the links between agricultural and urban development and water quality. This learning will be reinforced by field visits to wastewater treatment works, and by practical work dealing with datasets collected by the Environment Agency of England and Wales.
Over the duration of the module, students will be required to apply standard Environment Agency statistical procedures to assess chemical water quality, along with applying standard Environment Agency procedures to evaluate biological water quality. The module will enhance students’ ability to identify the strategies for assessing and managing water quality in the UK, and they will be able to derive simple dilution models to describe pollutant concentrations in river networks. Finally, students will gain the knowledge required to be able to explain and describe the fundamentals of water treatment processes.
Information for this module is currently unavailable.
This module focuses on the fate and behaviour of contaminants in the environment, considering fundamental principles and processes which control their fate in environment systems. You will gain and understanding of the fundamental principles relating to the fate and behaviour of contaminants in environmental media for scientists with relevant degrees.
Please note, this is a core module for the Pollution pathway.
This module will provide you with a broad view of issues related to contaminated land, in particular: typical contamination problems; methodologies for assessing the extent and seriousness of contamination; and the applicability and effectiveness of remediation techniques as a function of contaminant and site conditions.
The legislation pertaining to and the processes used to assess the risk associated with contaminated land will be appraised, as will risk-based approaches to contaminated land assessment in general. The fate and behaviour of contaminants in the environment will also be examined. Students will gain knowledge in these matters via the risk assessment and remediation case studies.
An awareness of the scale of contaminated land in the UK will be acquired, and students will gain the ability to scientifically discuss the processes which control the behaviour of chemicals in soil.
The aim of this module is to introduce students to key issues surrounding the loss of agricultural and horticultural produce to a range of pests and diseases, and the approaches that can be used to minimise these losses. This understanding will be underpinned by providing detailed knowledge of natural plant defence mechanisms and of the biology and ecology of plant-pathogen and plant-insect interactions.
Students will learn how these features can be exploited to assist in crop protection. They will be taught that problems faced by researchers and practitioners aiming to improve food production in the 21st century are complex, and cannot be solved by single technological advancements. Instead, they should understand that a holistic, integrated approach is required. As such, students will come to understand the complex interactions between multiple approaches to crop improvement, and will readily discuss the need for interdisciplinary research in the field of sustainable agriculture.
Please note, if taking the Food Security pathway this is a core module.
Current approaches to cutting-edge research in the environmental sciences are highly dependent on digital data, and a wide variety of different data types can now be accessed relatively easily. You only need to consider the data required to understand climate change to appreciate the diversity of information that is currently available, and which is needed to address the biggest global issues.
In this module you will learn the fundamentals of retrieving, annotating, analysing and interpreting digital data from a variety of sources, applying integrated, scientific methodologies. You will develop data manipulation skills and an awareness of the tools available to maximise the value of heterogeneous digital data. We demonstrate everyday problems in data collection, both avoidable and unavoidable, and explore techniques that minimise their impact. We discuss the strengths and weaknesses of current software for data mining and visualisation, and you will get hands-on experience of data integration using spreadsheet, database and GIS technologies.
This module covers the possible positive and negative effects that various forms of renewable energy have on the environment. You will develop a critical understanding of the key concepts of renewable energy, and the tools and techniques for assessing the environmental impact of renewable energy schemes. In particular, you will be able to assess the challenges facing the development and deployment of large renewable energy schemes and the uncertainties related to their environmental impact.
Please note, this is a core module for the Energy pathway.
The focus is to understand the component parts and the interdisciplinary basis of the global food system. To this end, students will examine challenges facing global agricultural production as a result of climate change. They will also gain an understanding of the shortage of key resources for food production and the subsequent issues that affect people’s access to food.
In addition to this, the module will demonstrate how basic plant physiology can inform both plant breeding and agronomy to increase the sustainability of agriculture. The factors impacting food safety and food quality (especially nutritive value) will also be explored.
Ultimately, students will develop a familiarity with several current/impending crises in global food security.
Students will be given an introduction to the foundations of lake ecology, an area with an acknowledged national lack of expertise. The module presents a holistic approach to the drivers and internal interactions that control water quality in lakes.
Those who take this module will be taught basic ecological principles, which will be elucidated using lake ecology. They will also be introduced to the various applications of state-of-the-art techniques and provided with essential background information for dealing with regulation such as the Water Framework Directive.
This module also includes a field trip and practicals that will give students experience of working with the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in a management/policy context. Modelling to predict impact of management measures is also an important aspect of the module, and an appreciation of its principles and uses when it comes to lakes and catchment will be encouraged.
Students will come to understand the state-of-the-art tools and approaches needed to study and manage lakes as used in industry, government and science.
Please note, this is a core module for the Water pathway.
Students will be introduced to the interactions between microorganisms and naturally occurring organic matter, and how this relates to the degradation and persistence of environmental pollutants. The mechanisms of organic matter decomposition and pollutant degradation will be discussed in detail, with emphasis being placed on environmental systems, particularly that of soil.
The application of these processes in biological treatment of chemically contaminated ecosystems will also be considered, with the strengths and weaknesses of the processes being highlighted using case studies.
The module will encourage discussion of pollutant degradation in the environment, focusing on the interactions between pollutants and the abiotic and biotic environment and how this impacts on biodegradation.
After completion of the module, the students will be aware of the importance of microorganisms within different ecosystems, considering biotic interactions, nutrient cycling and organic matter turnover. Furthermore, they will be cognisant of the role of microorganisms in waste treatment systems, how microorganisms adapt to and metabolise man-made chemicals, and their role in the assessment and remediation of contaminated land.
Students will consider four inter-related, important factors (soil water, nutrients, physics and biology) that determines a soil’s ability to produce crops, and the agricultural/economic consequences of failing to manage this resource properly. Most agricultural production is dependent on the soil not only to anchor plants, but to supply their hydraulic and nutritional needs. This module will teach students a range of management approaches that contribute to the long-term ability of the soil to sustain agricultural production. They will learn to compare and contrast soil carbon stocks in agricultural/non-agricultural land and to evaluate methods used to raise soil carbon status.
From this, students will learn to recognise effective soil and plant-based crop nutrient management. They will also be able to evaluate the impacts of plant-microbe interactions on crop disease and nutrient status, and appraise the impact of soil erosion on water body pollution.
Students will gain knowledge of identification, sampling and monitoring methods for some key taxa and an understanding of how these methods may be used in a wider context, e.g. local, national and international contexts of different types of survey.
The module will have five sections, each delivered with one or two lectures and including a field component on campus or away. It will also include the analysis of quantitative data.
Those who take this module will be taught to identify some taxonomic groups to appropriate levels (species, genus, etc.) and will devise appropriate sampling regimes to derive population estimates or indices for population monitoring. They will also use other monitoring techniques that may be appropriate for recording behaviour and quantifying biodiversity.
Lancaster University offers a range of programmes, some of which follow a structured study programme, and others which offer the chance for you to devise a more flexible programme. We divide academic study into two sections - Part 1 (Year 1) and Part 2 (Year 2, 3 and sometimes 4). For most programmes Part 1 requires you to study 120 credits spread over at least three modules which, depending upon your programme, will be drawn from one, two or three different academic subjects. A higher degree of specialisation then develops in subsequent years. For more information about our teaching methods at Lancaster visit our Teaching and Learning section.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, but changes may be necessary, for example as a result of student feedback, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes, and new research.
Our programmes maintain an excellent record for graduate prospects spanning a wide range of roles including Environmental Consultant, Nature Conservation Officer and Recording Officer with the Wildlife Trust. Alternatively, many of our graduates continue their studies to postgraduate level and pursue scientific research in areas such as soil and crop science. Our goal is to empower all our graduates with the skills, confidence and experience they need to achieve a successful career. You will be offered a wide range of support, helping you realise your career ambitions and providing you with the skills to reach your full potential.
We offer a variety of extra-curricular activities and volunteering opportunities that enable you to explore your interests and enhance your CV. Our weekly careers bulletin and careers blogs are written by student volunteers, and inform you of all careers events. The Students’ Union-run Green Lancaster programme offers placements with external organisations, allowing students to gain volunteering experience at weekends by working in the local community, taking part in a wide range of activities and developing their practical skills.
Lancaster University is dedicated to ensuring you not only gain a highly reputable degree, but that you also graduate with relevant life and work based skills. We are unique in that every student is eligible to participate in The Lancaster Award which offers you the opportunity to complete key activities such as work experience, employability/career development, campus community and social development. Visit our Employability section for full details.
We set our fees on an annual basis and the 2019/20 entry fees have not yet been set.
As a guide, our fees in 2018 were:
Some science and medicine courses have higher fees for students from
the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. You can find more details here:
For full details of the University's financial support packages including eligibility criteria, please visit our fees and funding page
Students will be required to pay for travel to field sites and will have to purchase wet weather clothing, boots and waterproof notebooks for fieldtrips for which the estimated cost is approximately £110. The course offers optional field trips and students will have to pay for any travel and accommodation costs. If students undertake placements then they may incur additional travel costs. Students on certain modules may wish to purchase a hand lens and compass clinometer but these may be borrowed from the Department.
Students also need to consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, photocopying, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits. Following graduation it may be necessary to take out subscriptions to professional bodies and to buy business attire for job interviews.
Take five minutes to experience Lancaster's campus
Booking is now open for Lancaster University's summer 2018 open days. Reserve your place
Typical time in lectures, seminars and similar per week during term time
Average assessment by coursework