Why study Ecological and Environmental Sciences?

The School of GeoSciences offers a number of undergraduate programmes that can be undertaken either as four-year or three-year honours degrees. The four-year format is more broadly based by providing a greater opportunity to take courses outside your chosen degree programme in the first two years of study, whilst the three-year format provides more focus on your chosen degree subject. Details of those degree programmes that provide the opportunity of three years of study along with their entry requirements can be found under the relevant discipline headings in the University Undergraduate Prospectus (see Second-year entry).

The study of ecology appeals to those who are concerned about what we are doing to the environment.

Ecology is defined as the study of plants and animals in relation to their physical and biological environment.

You may be interested in studying Ecology if you are fascinated by the diversity and rich web of interactions which characterise the natural world.

The human population is now more than six billion, and we face problems of over-exploitation of natural resources, rapid climate change, loss of biodiversity and habitat degradation. It is impossible to understand and tackle these issues without a knowledge of ecology and environmental science.

In the Ecological and Environmental Sciences degree programme, natural and managed ecosystems are investigated from an ecological and environmental perspective so we can learn from the past, understand the present and influence the future. A key outcome is the ability of graduates to use their powers of observation, analysis and imagination to make appropriate decisions in situations characterised by change and uncertainty. To that end, the exercises that students carry out in their later years are designed to simulate those that Ecological and Environmental Science professionals undertake.

At Edinburgh students have a wide choice of courses in every year of the degree programme. If desired, courses in modern languages, business and arts can be taken in Years 1 and 2. Students can transfer between many of the GeoSciences programmes in Earth Sciences and Geography in Years 1 and 2 by choosing an appropriate combination of courses. Every student has a Director of Studies to provide support and advise on course choice.

Field courses form an important component of teaching at Edinburgh and are a good way of getting to know staff and fellow students on the course. As part of the degree programme students attend three field courses (each approximately 10 days long), held during the summer vacations. There are also opportunities to arrange scientific expeditions overseas during vacations and to spend the third year studying abroad, as part of the University’s exchange programme.

The Ecological and Environmental Sciences degree programme provides a learning environment in which students can achieve excellence and choose courses to suit their personal career aims and aspirations. Students are taught by staff who are active researchers and collaborate with environmental agencies, government departments and policy makers in the UK and worldwide.


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