also available in 2017
A Level Requirements
see all requirements
see all requirements
Full time 3 Year(s)
Broaden your horizons. Learn how organisms interact with each other and their environment in locations such as the United States, Canada or Australia, and discover the impact of human activity in a series of exciting modules.
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. Second year modules, taken overseas, will equip you with a range of ecology, conservation biology and practical skills, and you can choose from a selection of relevant optional modules similar to those offered at Lancaster.
In the third year, you will return to Lancaster to carry out an independent research project. Your module choices include Animal Behaviour, Conservation in Practice and Issues in Conservation Biology.
During your degree, you may be able to move to our MSci Hons Ecology and Conservation (Professional Experience) programme. This programme includes a fourth year and provides a ten-week placement with a graduate employer. You will also have the opportunity to undertake Masters-level modules and an extended research project.
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, English Language grade C
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.
Access to HE Diploma 30 Level 3 credits at Distinction and 15 Level 3 credits at Merit in a science related subject. We require majority of Distinctions in science subjects. 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.
Contact Admissions Team + 44 (0) 1524 592028 or via firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
Field based practicals at the Doñana National Park, a natural reserve in Andalusia, southern Spain in the provinces of Huelva and Seville, allows students to explore the diversity of habitats and organisms living in the area and to learn about the actions that can be taken to promote the conservation of this biodiversity. Covering 543 km2, of which 135 km2 are a protected area, students will gain practical experience of identification, critical observation and accurate recording of plants, invertebrates and birds.
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.
Information for this module is currently unavailable.
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.
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.
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.
By illustrating the increasing importance of remotely-sensed data and how it extends our understanding of environmental processes, this module aims to provide students with an appreciation for the principles on which remote sensing systems operate and how we can derive useful environmental information from remotely sensed data. Students are required to compare the information provided by remote sensing to that from other means of sampling.
Essentially, the module will provide an introduction to the physical basis of remote sensing, electromagnetic radiation and its interactions with the Earth’s atmosphere and surface and the sensors and systems which are used to acquire data. Students will learn to recognise the increasing importance of remotely-sensed data in extending our knowledge of environmental processes, and will gain practical knowledge in a range of image processing techniques or remotely sensed imagery.
This module focuses on the phenotypic and genetic responses of organisms to their environment, and how a fundamental understanding of the principles of evolution and ecology can help us to explain many important biological phenomena. The module will address a number of recent advances in our understanding of ecology and evolutionary biology, and will serve as an introduction to different methods for conducting cutting edge science. Students will gain the ability to synthesise information from a range of sources and to present it in a balanced and coherent way.
This module will use a combination of lectures and workshops to examine a range of topical areas in ecology and evolutionary biology. Specifically, students will develop the ability to explain the fundamental principles underpinning ecology and evolutionary biology, and will gain confidence in constructing detailed arguments supporting or contradicting key issues in evolution and biology. Students will be encouraged in developing their own ability to analyse and assess complex topics in this area, therefore demonstrating their own expertise in problem solving. The module will present a wide range of primary literature, and will expect students to synthesise information from a variety of sources, and present their findings to their peers.
The module will be taught by a range of staff within the Biodiversity Theme and beyond, including individuals with specific expertise in the key topics covered, in order to tackle a number of contemporary and important issues in ecology and evolutionary biology. Students are prompted to think about the ‘bigger picture’ and to synthesise disparate sources of information in order to provide a balanced and unbiased summary of the issues. An emphasis will be placed on understanding and applying the scientific method to contentious areas in the field.
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.
Join a discussion and debate where you are encouraged to critically examine primary literature and ideas on topical issues in conservation biology in the UK and globally. Gain an understanding of the key factors that constrain conservation and of the interdisciplinary nature of conservation problems in the real world.
This module focuses primarily on the physical (hydrodynamic, sedimentary and morphological) processes and phenomena that determine the nature of lakes, rivers and estuaries. It also explores their chemical (water quality) and biological (ecological health) characteristics and how these aspects are related. The module is centred on three pieces of written work on current topics in the research literature, and practical sessions in which data sets from each type of waterbody are investigated in order to understand how the underlying processes manifest themselves in real data. The learning gained in the practical sessions is assessed via a computer-based exam at the end of the module in which you are presented with data sets similar to those used in the practical sessions and asked to interpret them. Learning for both elements of the assessed work is supported via a series of eighteen lectures.
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.
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.
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, you also graduate with the 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 2018/19 entry fees have not yet been set.
As a guide, our fees in 2017 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:
Lancaster University's priority is to support every student to make the most of their life and education and we have committed £3.7m in scholarships and bursaries. Our financial support depends on your circumstances and how well you do in your A levels (or equivalent academic qualifications) before starting study with us.
Scholarships recognising academic talent:
Continuation of the Access Scholarship is subject to satisfactory academic progression.
Students may be eligible for both the Academic and Access Scholarship if they meet the requirements for both.
Bursaries for life, living and learning:
Students from the UK eligible for a bursary package will also be awarded our Academic Scholarship and/or Access Scholarship if they meet the criteria detailed above.
Any financial support that you receive from Lancaster University will be in addition to government support that might be available to you (eg fee loans) and will not affect your entitlement to these.
For full details of the University's financial support packages including eligibility criteria, please visit our fees and funding page
Please note that this information relates to the funding arrangements for 2017, which may change for 2018.
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.