Ecology and Conservation

BSc single honours Ecology and Conservation 2017/18

Year of entry

Our Ecology and Conservation degree takes an interdisciplinary approach and incorporates modules taught in the Life Sciences and Geography. This allows you to explore important aspects of ecology, population genetics, animal behaviour and other biological disciplines while also learning how they relate to geology, landscape as well as local and global geography.

The Ecology Research Group (ERG) also offers you opportunities to collaborate with lecturers on their research. The ERG has close links with environmental organisations, including Natural England and the Kent Wildlife Trust, creating opportunities for you to network and speak with professionals about employment and career advice.

As you progress through the course, you will have the opportunity to hone your skills in conducting independent research, analysing data statistically and presenting them effectively in writing and in oral presentations.  

The Ecology and Conservation course brings together modules on the most relevant and current aspects of biological and geographical sciences to create a truly integrated and multifaceted learning experience that prepares you for exciting careers.

The teaching on this course incorporates a significant amount of practical work, including field-based work, which prepares you for a range of roles in environmental consultancy, conservation and postgraduate research.

In addition to subject-specific skills required for careers in ecological consultancy, research and conservation biology, you will find the course also helps to develop key transferrable skills you and your future employers will find invaluable in the workplace. 

There is a growing need for professionals with a strong ecology and conservation background in many occupations. Practical skills and experience are central to gaining employment in this field.

You will study topics relating to how living things interact with each other and their environment (their ecology), how these interactions are shaped and determined by local and global environmental factors and how this affects our efforts to preserve and protect species of conservation interest. You will learn practical skills in the field and in the laboratory that are required for surveying, identifying and assessing environments and the organisms living within them. You will also learn how to use modern GPS and GIS technology, statistics and other tools that are commonly used in support of ecological research and conservation work.

Work experience

The ‘Ecology Field Club’ offers opportunities for participating in research of the Ecology Research Group at Canterbury Christ Church University. Usually, there are also other opportunities for gaining relevant practical experience, for example via summer internships.

You can study French, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish as part of, or alongside, your course.

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The final year dissertation project (‘Individual Study’ module) offers an excellent avenue for conducting practical research in your area of interest that can be carried out in collaboration with local or international partners and organisations. For example, a recent dissertation project carried out by an Ecology and Conservation student investigated the effect land management at a farm in Kent had on insects and other organisms that could sustain grey partridge chicks on the farm. Other students have investigated wildflower strips as management tools for biodiversity or have compared bird and butterfly populations in rural and urban environments.

Other information

The Ecology Research Group hosts an annual conference, at which students are welcome to present their research or attend as guests to listen to speakers from conservation organisations, research institutions and environmental agencies as well as network with potential employers. 

Follow us on Twitter ( @CCCU_LifeSci ) and in our blog.

Year one

Core modules

Core Science

This double module gives you the background skills in science necessary for the rest of the course. These include sufficient laboratory skills to perform experiments safely and successfully; the necessary mathematical and statistical skills for quantitative analysis of data. It also introduces the broad body of knowledge of chemical, biological and physical sciences necessary for the study of the biological and environmental sciences.

People, Nature and Place

This module introduces key ideas concerning the relationship between people and the environment and changing views of the natural world. It investigates how geography and related disciplines have viewed the relationship between society and the natural environment and develops understanding of both the impact of the environment on society (from environmental determinism to ideas of socially constructed nature) and the recognition of human agency in the landscape. It explores the impact of demographic, technological and economic pressures associated with societal development and processes of globalisation on environmental resources and their role in the growth of the concept of sustainable development.

Discovering Geography

This module provides an introduction to a range of fundamental geographical methods, techniques and resources that are relevant to studying social and physical environments at a number of spatial scales. It introduces, applies and develops basic geographical field, cartographic and analytical techniques both statistical and non-statistical, together with the relevant key concepts, in a range of practical projects and/or exercises many of which are need for year two modules and that are relevant in the workplace. You will be expected to learn independently and with others and to communicate the results of work both in written form and verbally.

Likely optional modules

Variety of Life

Life on earth is amazingly diverse, colourful and multifaceted. The Variety of Life module introduces you to this diversity, tracing the tree of life from its roots to its branches. Beginning with simple, single-celled organisms like bacteria and Protists, you discover the various forms of complex life that have evolved and how to classify them in a taxonomic system using characteristic features of each group. The module features a large number of practical sessions in which you engage with plants, animals and other organisms.

Introduction to Environmental Systems

You will investigate animals and plants living in selected habitats and review factors which control populations and methods of determining distribution and abundance. It will also introduce you to the concept of energy in physical and biological systems. In this way the theme of energy will be seen as unifying all the various aspects of the relationships between organisms and their environments.

The Physical Environment

This introductory module examines the broad area of environmental geography. It develops awareness of the essential concepts, principles and theories of how environmental processes work at a range of scales and starts to challenge some commonly held pre-conceptions. The module adopts an integrated, systematic approach to physical geography and starts by discussing how the nature of the discipline has developed over time. It develops an understanding of a selection of environmental processes (geomorphological, biogeographical, oceanic and atmospheric) and shows how these processes are dynamic, can cause change and may be applied to sustainable management of the environment. 

Year two

Core modules


Underpinning all of the biosciences, evolution is central to understanding the diversity of life and the behaviour of biological systems. By studying the processes and drivers that result in evolutionary change, you will consider the nature of evolution, developing an understanding of both macro- and micro-scale evolutionary change.

The Earth as a Planetary System

This module looks at environmental systems from two different but complementary ways, from the small and from the large. You will be introduced to the fundamental concepts of systems feedback control at an ecosystem and develops the skills relevant to the investigation of physicochemical factors relevant to the environmental sciences. Biological systems control in relation to inter-specific and intra-specific competition will be discussed. On a global scale, you will study the flow of energy, the structure of the atmosphere and the oceans. Finally, all of the mechanisms will be set in the context of a hypothesis of a non-sentient Gaia.

Biogeography and Landscape Ecology

This module examines the distribution of organisms and soils in space and time, and the environmental factors, including anthropogenic, that determine or limit these distributions. It introduces landscape ecology and its importance in conservation management. The module also introduces the world’s major biomes and more detailed study of habitats and micro habitats by drawing on a range of areas within the geographic and life sciences such as geology, climatology, palaeontology, plant and animal systematics, evolution and ecology. Biogeographical and landscape ecological processes are also important to other fields of geography; for example food production systems, sustainable livelihoods, etc., and the module examines human impacts on biogeographic systems the means by which these systems can be managed in a sustainable manner.

Environment and Development

Understanding the environmental problems facing the countries of the developing world and encouraging critical evaluation of various approaches to solving these problems is essential for managing environmental resources on a sustainable basis. This module examines these issues within the context of the historical legacy of colonialism and its environmental impacts, and the contemporary world economic and (geo)political system. It introduces and evaluates theories of development and how these affect the understanding of the exploitation of environmental resources of developing areas. It examines the evolution of varying forms of ‘environmentalism’ relating to developing areas. Environmentalist philosophies, as these underpin action, can be broadly divided into ‘technocentric’ and ‘ecocentric’ – a broad division which is utilised in the module to evaluate the nature and success of specific approaches to dealing with environmental problems. The module also explores a range of management approaches and techniques to evaluate their appropriateness for sustainable development.

Likely optional modules

Plant Control Systems

This module investigates the physiology of a range of plant groups, integrating biology with the underlying physics. By studying communication and homeostatic processes as unifying themes, you will develop a holistic approach to the investigation of biological control systems and the means by which they respond to the environment.

Communication and Analysis in Science

Scientists must be able to effectively analyse, present and communicate scientific data, whether it originated from their own research or whether they are engaging with literature produced by other researchers. In addition, successful research depends on the careful and considerate planning and design of experiments and studies in the laboratory and field. This module helps you to develop your critical thinking skills as scientists, introduces you to various mathematical and statistical methods for analysing and presenting scientific data and explores important concepts relating to experimental design, measurement and sampling.  

Molecular Biology

The Molecular Biology module offers you a unique practical experience of diverse laboratory skills associated with the isolation, handling and manipulation of DNA and proteins. During two weeks of intensive practical sessions, lectures and tutorials, this module will cover the main areas of theoretical molecular biology knowledge and its practical applications in current research. The module currently takes place during the summer vacation.

Chemistry for the Environmental Sciences

Chemical processes shape the world we live in; the soil we use to produce food, the air we breathe and the water we drink. This module aims to provide you with an understanding of the fundamental concepts and practical applications of chemistry in an environmental context. You will be introduced to the chemistry of soil, water and the atmosphere and you also will learn how these three environments interact. The impact of human activity on the chemistry of the environment will be discussed in topics like the ozone layer, greenhouse gases, freshwater quality and hydraulic fracturing (fracking). This module has weekly lectures, supported by practical lab sessions, workshops and two local field trips.


Understanding the well-established principles of process geomorphology is a prerequisite for any environmental management. This module examines the processes that operate within a selection of geomorphological systems and shows the relationship between process and landform at a range of scales within a modern conceptual framework. This module includes a field exercise that provides data that are used for critical analysis, problem solving and interpretation an environment and to produce a reasoned scientific argument structured as a research paper.

Introduction to Mapping and GIS

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) have been utilised for over quarter of a century, however, there is still a rapid growth in the applications of GIS to a wide range of business, public and academic fields. This module provides the practical and theoretical aspects of GIS and the fundamentals of cartographic design required to produce meaningful GIS results. To appreciate the potential and scope of GIS, an exploration of the core aspects (principles) of the subject is made, concluding with a variety of relevant case studies. Given the desirability of acquiring a large degree of practical software skills, in a number of complex and varied programmes, a substantial aim of the module is to provide ‘hands-on’ use of GIS, using industry-standard hardware and software.

Understanding Past Climate Change

Climate change is a critical concern these days, but many argue that to understand today’s climate change fully we have to understand how climates have changed in the past. This module examines the methods used by scientists to reconstruct past climates and environments and examines the theories proposed to explain the changes identified. It provides a geological context for understanding present day environmental problems and develops an awareness of the interaction between oceanic, atmospheric and cryospheric systems in explaining change.

Year three

Core modules

Ecology and Conservation

In order to conserve we must first identify underlying ecological issues that make conservation necessary. In the first two thirds of this course you will explore the underpinning ecological concepts that help us to effectively plan and carry out conservation work. In the final third of the course, which is partly student led, you will apply these concepts to modern conservation themed issues.

Individual Study

This module provides you with autonomy in your learning as you pursue in depth the study of a topic of your own choice. In doing so, you will gain practice at organising your thinking in a scientific context and will increase your confidence in dealing with scientific problems and issues. With a broad scope, this module allows you to work with external businesses and partners and to potentially produce work that can be either published as a peer-reviewed article or that may be of real world value to a partner organisation.  

Soil Science and Land Management

The module will start with the description of the fundamental concepts of soil, water and atmospheric chemistry and the chemical interactions of the three environments. There will be a special emphasis on the composition of rocks and soils and nutrient cycles and the role of biota in this context will also be examined. It will then focus on the available techniques for monitoring the chemical components of the environment. You will acquire practical skills in methods and instruments such as flame photometry. During this course, you will be encouraged to attempt critical evaluation of environmental evaluation procedures and data derived from these analyses.

Likely optional modules

Pests, Parasites and Pathogens

Here you will develop the knowledge necessary to enable you to make reasoned arguments on current issues in the field of pests, parasites and pathogens. You will develop a holistic view of the relationship between pests, parasites and pathogens, their target host species and their environments. You will also cultivate an understanding that human needs and activities can have a profound effect upon the prevalence and evolution of virulence in these species.

Plant Responses to the Environment

In this module we study how plants (despite being immobile) encounter various environmental threats (drought, high temperature, disease) and employ sophisticated genetic and biochemical mechanisms to thrive under stressful conditions. We need to grow 70% more food in the next forty years from ever shrinking land and lower quantities of fresh water. Understanding plant survival mechanisms especially those of crop plants is therefore vital for our food security in the coming decades. This module covers topics explaining plants/crop interaction with their environment to maximise productivity and is complemented with latest developments published in high impact peer reviewed journals.

Practical Ecology

You will spend 8 days in the mountains and coastlines of Snowdonia, North Wales. During this intensive course you will go from being a novice at quantifying habitats and asking ecological questions of the environment to an expert at turning the natural world into a form that can be quantified and objectively measured. Due to its intense nature, this module is one of the most mentally challenging of all the science modules you will take at Christ Church, but according to our student feedback, also one of the most enjoyable, both from an academic and general life skills point of view. There is a limit on the number of students who can take this module. This module is currently taken during the summer vacation.

Aspects of Pollution

With the growth in technology, in population and in rates of consumption of natural resources, pollution has had increasingly severe impacts on the environment in what appears to be a positive feedback process. The module aims to introduce you to the range of mechanisms which cause air, land and water pollution and to discuss and evaluate the ways in which these can be controlled. It aims to encourage you to adopt a critical approach to pollution prevention issues, and increase your awareness of the need to integrate scientific knowledge, economic interests and policy in order to achieve a more sustainable society.

Biological Imaging and Photography

This module will enable you to use a range modern photographic and other image capture and processing techniques as tools for studying of biological organisms. With a focus on using these techniques to extract biological information, and on developing an awareness of the limitations of the different approaches, you will learn to critically evaluate imaging approaches in a contextual setting

Applied Biological Chemistry

The focus of this module is on analytical chemistry techniques applied to biological systems. You will gain practical experience in protein purification techniques such as ion-exchange, gel filtration and affinity chromatography using modern fast protein liquid chromatography equipment. Combined with a solid theoretical foundation you will become familiar with many analytical spectroscopic methods including infrared (IR), UV-VIS, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and crystallography, together with separation techniques like gas chromatography (GC), fast protein liquid chromatography (FPLC) and high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC). By the end of this module, in addition to the practical skills, you are expected to be able to interpret and analyse experimental data independently. There is a limit on the number of students who can take this module.       

The Countryside: conservation and management

This module investigates countryside and rural planning policies and associated management issues, as well as introducing specific conservation and management approaches and techniques. A major theme is the study of land as a multiple resource, with emphasis on conflicting interests and uses. The module concentrates on the United Kingdom, but draws on material from Europe and elsewhere as appropriate. The past, present and future of countryside conservation is inherently linked to changing patterns of land use and to the economic, social and political processes and pressures which contribute to change.

Regions of Risk: Human and Environmental Security

There is an increasing public awareness of the nature and importance of natural hazards and their potential effects on humans and the environment. The module aims to introduce the spatial and social dimensions of vulnerability to hazards by examining the connections between the risks people face and the reasons for their vulnerability. In recent years, the redistribution of risk has created conditions for natural and technological disasters to become more widespread, more difficult to manage, and more discriminatory in their effects. It critically examines why geophysical or biological events are often implicated in some way as the trigger event or the main link in a chain of causes in disasters yet there are social, economic and political factors that cause people’s vulnerability and influence how hazards affect people in differing ways and with differing intensity.

Introduction to Mapping and GIS

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) have been utilised for over quarter of a century, however, there is still a rapid growth in the applications of GIS to a wide range of business, public and academic fields. This module provides the practical and theoretical aspects of GIS and the fundamentals of cartographic design required to produce meaningful GIS results. To appreciate the potential and scope of GIS, an exploration of the core aspects (principles) of the subject is made, concluding with a variety of relevant case studies. Given the desirability of acquiring a large degree of practical software skills, in a number of complex and varied programmes, a substantial aim of the module is to provide ‘hands-on’ use of GIS, using industry-standard hardware and software.

Applied Physical Geography: Climate and Society

This module examines how society uses the climatic environment and investigates how climatic change during the latter part of the Holocene has affected society. The module aims to develop understanding of the reciprocal relationship between the physical and human environments by examining how human activity uses, alters and is altered by climatic processes. Since scientists believe that increasing use of the atmospheric system is likely to increase future climatic change (‘global warming’), and that this may increasingly threaten human societies, the module aims to examine the possible environmental impacts and critically evaluate issues associated with managing the environment.

The Ecology and Conservation course prepares you for a diverse range of careers in environmental conservation organisations, such as the RSPB and Natural England; for careers in environmental and ecological consultancy or for work with government environmental agencies. The course also provides you with the necessary skills and knowledge to go into further study toward a postgraduate degree (MSc, PhD) and a research career in ecology, conservation and environmental sciences.


The 2017/18 annual tuition fees for this course are:

Full-time £9,250*  £11,000** 
Part-time £4,625  N/A 

Tuition fees for all courses are payable on an annual basis, except where stated.

*Full-time courses which have a Foundation Year 0 will have a 2017/18 UK/EU tuition fee of £6,165 in Year 0.

**Tuition Fee Scholarship discounts of £1,500 are available to eligible overseas students. Visit the International webpages for further information.

Please read the 2017/18 Tuition Fee Statement for further information regarding 2017/18 tuition fees and year on year fee increases

Further information

Additional course costs

Although we aim to minimise any additional costs to students over and above the course tuition fee, there will be some additional costs which students are expected to meet.

Costs applicable to all students

Text books Own purchase text books
Travel to other sites Where travel to other sites is required, this will be payable by the student
Library Fees and Fines Where students fail to return loaned items within the required time they will be responsible for the cost of any Library Fees and Fines applicable
Printing & Photocopying The cost of printing and photocopying undertaken by students to support their individual learning are payable by the student
Graduation ceremonies It is free for the student to attend the ceremony itself. Guest tickets and robe hire / photography are additional costs payable by the student

General principle policy

The University’s general principles policy for additional course fees are set out here

CategoryIncluded in the tuition feeAdditional cost to student
Field trips (including trips abroad and trips to museums, theatres, workshops etc) Yes, if the trip contributes to the course (whether it is part of an optional or compulsory module), but not including food and drink. Yes, if the trip is not an essential part of the course but is offered as an enhancement or enrichment activity, or for a student’s personal development.
Travel and accommodation costs for placements  No

Travel and accommodation costs for professional placements within the Education and Health & Wellbeing Faculties.

Travel and accommodation costs for other work placements. 
Text books No Own purchase text books.
DBS / Health checks No Yes
Professional Body registration No Yes
Travel to other sites (e.g. travel to swimming pool for lessons) No Yes
Clothing / Kit Yes, where the clothing / kit is essential for Health & Safety reasons. Yes, where the clothing is kept by the student and not essential for health and safety reasons.
Learning materials Essential learning materials (excluding text books) in connection with the course. Additional materials beyond the standard provision essential for the course or where the costs are determined by the student’s area of interest and the outputs are retained by the student.
Library fees and fines No Yes
Printing and photocopying No Yes
Social events No, unless the event forms an essential part of the course. Yes, unless the event forms an essential part of the course.
Graduation ceremonies It is free for the student to attend the ceremony itself. Guest tickets and robe hire/ photography are additional costs payable by the student.

Depending on the choice of module options, a full-time student on the Ecology and Conservation programme typically has between 14 and 18 contact hours a week during teaching term with academic staff (60 contact hours per module per academic year). Some intensive modules scheduled outside of teaching terms also feature full-day or week-long field work or laboratory work.

Contact hours incorporate a combination of lectures, field and laboratory practicals and seminars. Most of these sessions provide opportunities for receiving continuous feedback from lecturers and engaging in discussions with them and your fellow students. Feedback on assignments is delivered in a variety of ways which includes written feedback, oral feedback or online feedback. As a full-time student, you will be expected to carry out self-study of typically 140 hours per module over an academic year. 

Academic input

Academic staff teaching on the Ecology and Conservation programme have PhDs in their respective discipline and typically are actively involved in research relevant to their teaching. Depending on your choice of modules, you may be taught by academic staff at the level of Lecturer, Senior Lecturer, Reader and Principal Lecturer. Some practical sessions and field trips are also supported by postgraduate students.  

Assessment of the modules is a varied. Some modules are assessed entirely by coursework and some by a combination of coursework and examination. Coursework will include one or more of essay,  calculation and problem solving exercises, practical write ups,  portfolios, log books, group and or individual work, group projects, oral presentations, assessed practical, laboratory work, graph drawing exercises, (group) poster presentation, computer-based assessment, group presentation, data handling exercises, multiple choice questionnaire, seminar presentation, paper presentation, seminar papers, case study (involving the analysis of biological data) audio or video presentation.
The Ecology and Conservation course benefits from the ‘research involved teaching’ approach taken by the Life Science and Geography Sections at Canterbury Christ Church University. The Ecology Research Group gives you the opportunity to participate in current and relevant research in conservation and ecology, use research equipment as part of your participation and use these experiences to build a CV that shows practical, hands-on experience. Our links with partner organisations provide opportunities for connecting with employers and research collaborators.

The Ecology and Conservation course was developed and continues to be improved by speaking to employers and other stakeholder partners. We have established numerous links with local and regional wildlife parks and organisations e.g. Wildwood, Howletts, Aspinall Foundation, The Powell-Cotton Museum, Natural England, Kent Wildlife Trust. They either collaborate with our researchers or provide opportunities for research projects for our students.

1st October 2015 saw the launch of the Life Sciences Industry Liaison Laboratory at Discovery Park. Discovery Park, the enterprise zone based at Sandwich, is a fabulous site with well over 100 companies now based there. The potential of the Liaison Laboratory lies in the work we and our students will do with the businesses based at Discovery Park. The Liaison lab will allow all of our students to have the chance to experience an industry environment and will, for those seeking to work in the field, allow them to do research or to study in that environment for a substantial period.

BSc Hons Ecology with Science Foundation Year

This course can also be studied over four years with an additional foundation year (Year 0) for those without the formal entry qualifications. The foundation year is designed to provide you with the grounding you need to progress on to the degree.

Find out more.


Full-time study

Apply via UCAS

Part-time study

Apply directly to us


Full-time study

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For advice on completing your application please contact the Admissions Enquiry Team:

Tel:+44 (0)1227 782900


Contact our International Team

Fact file

UCAS code

  • C180 Ecology and Conservation
  • C182 Ecology and Conservation with Foundation Year

Institutional code

  • C10


  • 3 years full-time

    4 years full-time including a Foundation Year

    6 years part-time


  • September 2017

Entry requirements



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Last edited: 04/05/2017 16:04:00