Undergraduate study - 2020 entry

Subject area: Ecological and Environmental Sciences

Why choose Ecological and Environmental Sciences at the University of Edinburgh?

  • Edinburgh is the only place in the UK where you can study ecological and environmental sciences together in an integrated programme.

  • We're ranked 4th in the UK and in the world's top 20 universities for Earth and marine sciences in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2019.

  • You will take part in residential fieldwork trips around Scotland from Year 2 to 4.

  • You will conduct a research project in Year 4 and many students perform fieldwork in the UK or overseas during the summer between Years 3 and 4.

Study abroad

The programme involves fieldwork, with projects in nearby Braidburn Valley Park. We independently designed and completed our own projects. This provided valuable experience designing projects and collecting data.

Rhianna Shearer 4th year BSc (Hons) Ecological & Environmental Sciences
Rhianna Shearer 4th year BSc (Hons) Ecological & Environmental Sciences

Introducing Ecological and Environmental Sciences

The growing world population means we now face problems of over-exploitation of natural resources, rapid climate change and habitat degradation.

Ecology is the scientific study of the interaction of organisms with each other and their physical, chemical and biological environment. Environmental sciences, by contrast, integrates biological, chemical and physical sciences to understand our changing environment. A combination of the two is vital for understanding and tackling these global issues.

The study of ecological and environmental sciences will appeal to students with an interest in the diversity of the natural world and those concerned with environmental issues.

Curriculum choice

We offer a choice of two programmes: you can either take Ecological & Environmental Sciences or Ecological & Environmental Sciences with Management. For each, there is a broad range of topics available, with the opportunity to specialise in the area(s) of ecology and environmental sciences that interest(s) you most in later years.

Ecological & Environmental Sciences

You will study a wide variety of courses, starting with those focused on the origins of life, the basics of ecological theory, and global environmental processes. You will examine topics such as biodiversity, conservation management and land-use change, while also gaining a broad understanding of physical, chemical and biological sciences. Through field studies and taught courses you will discover and test methods used in ecological and environmental analysis.

Later in the programme you will explore topics such as water resource management, land use, environmental pollution and environmental modelling. You will be taught by staff involved in high-level research in these subject areas. You will have the opportunity to undertake research projects, including an independent research project in Year 4, and will complete field and laboratory assignments, including at least three week-long field trips in Scotland.

The programme will provide you with the skills and knowledge to tackle environmental issues, design robust strategies for sample collection, make ecological and environmental measurements, evaluate the significance of results and manage conservation and environmental protection projects.

Ecological & Environmental Sciences with Management

You can combine your study of ecological and environmental sciences with the study of management. In addition to the above, you will study management courses from the Business School and the School of Economics as well as from schools across the College of Science & Engineering. This programme is particularly relevant to those seeking careers in policymaking, consultancy or in the management of natural resources.

You will still study all the compulsory courses in the normal Ecological & Environmental Sciences programme, so your understanding of the subject will not suffer. However your additional options will be limited, with many of your option slots replaced with management courses. A typical balance over a year would be three Ecological & Environmental Sciences courses, two management courses, and one further option course.