The University of Southampton
Biological Sciences

C181 BSc Ecology (3 years)

Develop your passion for our natural environment and equip yourself with the skills to help protect our planet with Southampton’s three-year BSc Ecology.

You will gain a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of life, from molecules and cells, to whole organisms and ecosystems, developing vital skills for a variety of rewarding careers including conservation and policy making.

Introducing your course

This is a truly hands-on degree offering fieldwork in locations as diverse as Spain and Belize. More locally, our students develop their field techniques in the nearby New Forest National Park, Jurassic Coast of Dorset (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and the South Downs National Park.

On campus, your learning will be underpinned by the ground-breaking ecological research carried out by many of our staff. You will have access to our state-of-the-art facilities; building your laboratory skills within our Life Sciences building.

We have links to a number of local conservation organisations such as Marwell Wildlife and work placements are available for ambitious and talented students.

BSc Ecology


The course gives you the opportunity to develop a comprehensive knowledge and understanding of life from the molecular, through cells and whole organisms, to ecosystems. Compulsory and optional modules in your first and second year will be followed by original research in the third year.

Visit the Programme Specification for BSc (Hons) Ecology: 2015-16

To Apply

All undergraduate applications should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Click on the How to Apply tab of the navigation menu for detailed information on how to apply and further details about UCAS' website, phone and contact details. Specific application deadlines are available on the UCAS website.

Key Facts

Flexible, interdisciplinary programme, with opportunity to choose modules from other disciplines and change degree in year one

Field trip to Spain in year one

100 per cent of our research has been rated world leading or internationally excellent for it's impact on society (REF2014)



Fieldwork in Spain, the New Forest and Belize

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Hands-on experience

Hands-on experience

Excellent teaching facilities

Explore our facilities

Entry Requirements

Typical entry requirements

GCSEGrades A-C in English, Mathematics and Science. If you lack these formal qualifications, your aptitude for the course will be assessed at interview. International students, whose first language is not English, must have already attained the necessary standard in English, such as 6.5 in IELTS.
A Levels:
GCE A-level

AAB (excluding general studies):
Biology must be offered at A-level (B) along with at least one other A-level science subject
A-level Science subjects considered include:
A-level Biology (minimum grade B)
Other science A-levels 
Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Psychology, Environmental Science, Geology, Geography

We do offer entry through a one year Science Foundation programme designed to enable you to qualify for entry to Honours degree programmes in Biological Sciences if you have not studied the appropriate Science subjects at GCE A level or an equivalent standard in other qualifications approved by the University.  It is particularly appropriate if you are a mature student or if you have obtained good grades in non-science A levels.

International Baccalaureate34 points on the IB scale, to include 17 points at the higher level, including a minimum of 6 in Chemistry and Biology at Higher level.
Alternative qualifications and International applications

Applications are encouraged from students studying for GNVQs, BTEC, Access, International and European Baccalaureates and other UK, EU and overseas qualifications.  If your first language is not English then you are required to reach a satisfactory standard in an approved test in English, e.g. Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English grade C or above, IELTS grade 6.5 or TOEFL score of 600.

Mature applicants

We will consider applications from mature students with none of the above qualifications, but with evidence of recent successful study.


All “non-standard” applications are considered on a case-by-case basis.

Selection process:

Typical entry requirements

Contextual Offers

The University of Southampton is committed to widening participation and ensuring that all students with the potential to succeed, regardless of their background, are encouraged to apply to study with us. The additional information gained through contextual data supports our admissions teams to recognise a student’s potential to succeed in the context of their background and experience. Students flagged in this way will be given additional consideration and not be rejected solely on the basis of their predicted (or actual) grades.

Please see our contextual admissions pages for more information.

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.


Typical course content

On this degree you will be able to take certain optional modules in Years 2 or 3, you may need to have passed specified modules previously.

Innovation modules outside of your subject area

Our Curriculum Innovation Programme offers you the chance to take optional modules outside of your chosen subject area. This allows you to personalise your education, to develop new skills and knowledge for your future. Modules range from "Living and working on the web" to "Business skills for employability".

View the Curriculum Innovation modules for this course

Learn a language

Some of our courses also give you the option of taking a language module, which can count towards your degree. These modules cover ten languages and range from absolute beginner to near-native speaker level.

View the language modules on offer for this course

Year 1

Additional modules from outside the Faculty may also be selected (including CIP modules)

CHEM1012 Introduction to Chemistry (for students without A-level Chemistry)

Year 2

Additional modules from outside Biological Sciences the Faculty may also be selected (including CIP modules)

Year 3


One of the following research projects: BIOL03034, BIOL3058 or BIOL3059


One of the following combinations:

i) Two literature-based research projects BIOL3031 and BIOL3032

ii) BIOL3050 (short research project) together with BIOL3031 or BIOL3032

iii) Science communication BIOL3060 with either the BIOL3031 or BIOL3032 literature projects

iv) Science Communication BIOL3060 with 3050


Additional modules from outside the Faculty may also be selected (including CIP modules)

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Fees & funding

Tuition fees

Course fees for 2017/18 full-time UK and EU undergraduate students are typically £9,250 per year. Tuition fees for international students differ between each course. Most part-time courses cost 50% of the full-time fee.

View the full list of course fees


Scholarships, bursaries or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.

Explore funding opportunities

Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In addition to this, students registered for this programme typically also have to pay for:

Printing and copyingCoursework such as essays; projects; dissertations may be submitted on line. In the majority of cases, though, students will be asked to provide a printed copy. The University printing costs are currently: A4 - 5p per side (black and white) or 25p per side (colour) A3 - 10p per side (black and white) or 50p per side (colour) Please Note: Paper sizes not recognised by the printing devices will prompt you to select the size and then charge a minimum of 50p per black and white copy and a maximum of £1 per colour copy. You can pay for your printing by using the money loaders or by using print copy payment service by going to Please remember that we are unable to refund any credit that has not been used by the end of your course, so please consider this when topping up your printing/copy account. Students entering Year 1 in 2015/16 will be given a printing allowance of £3 per 7.5 ECTS BIOL towards the costs of printing lecture handouts (except BIOL1001 as there is nothing to print out). Practical handouts and module guides will be provided by the University. The University Print Centre also offers a printing and copying service as well as a dissertation/binding service. Current printing and copying costs can be found here: They also provide a large format printing service, e.g. Academic posters. Details of current costs can be found here:£0.05-1.00

There will also be further costs for the following, not purchasable from the University:

EquipmentApproved calculators: Candidates may use calculators in the examination room only as specified by the University and as permitted by the rubric of individual examination papers. The University approved models are Casio FX-570 and Casio FX-85GT Plus. These may be purchased from any source and no longer need to carry the University logo.
StationeryYou will be expected to provide your own day-to-day stationery items, e.g. pens, pencils, notebooks, etc. Any specialist stationery items will be specified under the Additional Costs tab of the relevant module profile.
BooksWhere a module specifies core texts these should generally be available on the reserve list in the library. However due to demand, students may prefer to buy their own copies. These can be purchased from any source. Some modules suggest reading texts as optional background reading. The library may hold copies of such texts, or alternatively you may wish to purchase your own copies. Although not essential reading, you may benefit from the additional reading materials for the module.
EquipmentLaboratory and field equipment and materials: All materials required for laboratory or field work are provided. Where necessary, suitable specialist safety equipment will be provided.
EquipmentIT: Computer discs or USB drives Students are expected to provide their own portable data storage device.
EquipmentIT: Software licenses All software is provided.
EquipmentIT: Hardware It is advisable that students provide their own laptop or personal computer, although shared facilities are available across the University campus.
ClothingLab coats and safety spectacles: One laboratory coat and a pair of safety spectacles are provided at the start of the programme to each student. If these are lost the student must replace them at their own expense. The Students Union Shop stock these items.
ClothingField course clothing: You will need to wear suitable clothing when attending field courses, e.g. waterproofs, walking boots. You can purchase these from any source.
FieldworkAccommodation, insurance (travel/health), travel costs, immunisation/vaccination costs, other costs: For compulsory residential fieldcourses accommodation and travel are normally provided though where necessary, you will be expected to cover the cost of getting to and from the departure point which may be an airport. You are usually expected to cover the costs of food and drink, although some courses may include meals. For optional fieldcourses, you may be asked to make a contribution to the travel and/or accommodation costs. Undergraduates are automatically covered under the University’s travel insurance whilst on organised and supervised fieldcourses. Those travelling independently in connection with their programme can be included under the University’s travel insurance upon application – there may be a cost attached to this. There are also opportunities to undertake fieldcourses with another organisation, e.g. Operation Wallacea – for example see here: Where necessary students will need to arrange and pay for any vaccinations. Specific details on what additional costs there are detailed in the individual module profiles which can be found under the modules tab of the programmes details of the relevant academic unit.
PlacementsStudents who choose to go on an industrial placement at the end of Part 2 can expect to cover costs for health and travel insurance, accommodation and living expenses, travel costs and visa costs. This will vary depending on which country you are travelling to.
OtherParking costs: There may be a requirement to undertake work at Southampton General Hospital (SGH), for example during a final year research project. Students may need to cover costs for transport to travel to SGH or for car parking.
OtherTravel costs: Students who opt to undertake a module delivered at Marwell Wildlife will be responsible for their own travel expenses.

In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

Career Opportunities

With a BSc Ecology degree you could be expected to find work in the following areas:

• Research
• Teaching
• Conservation and the environment
• Agriculture
• Industry
• Journalism

Learning & Assessment

The academic year

Eight modular units are taken each academic year, four in semester one and four in semester two. A unit normally consists of two lectures a week plus a three-hour practical on alternate weeks. Practicals and other components of in-course assessment make up 25% of your final mark for the year. We also provide workshops and pastoral tutorials in which you can get specific help on the content of your lectures. Each week students therefore attend eight 45-minute lectures, an average of two 2 to 3 hour practical classes and may also attend a small group tutorial, which should take up to two hours to prepare.
Examinations are held in the two weeks after each semester, in January and June. The marks for the first year do not count towards the final degree classification, but you do have to gain an overall pass in your first year. Currently the second year counts 35% towards the degree and the third year 65%.

The tutorial system

Every student is assigned a personal tutor when they start their university degree. Your course tutor changes every semester, but your personal tutor will stay the same throughout your time here. Your personal tutor will meet you when you enrol, and you will see him/her three or four times a term in the first year, for academic as well as pastoral support. He or she is accessible throughout your time in Southampton.


Our research is relevant to your undergraduate course because you will be taught by people who are experts in their area of research. This is especially important for science subjects, where knowledge is advancing rapidly. This is particularly true for your final year.

In your third year, you have the opportunity to do an individual research project in one of our research laboratories. You will use equipment bought for current research, and do a project designed to further your understanding of your topic.


We have our own team of administrators who act as a point of contact for day-to-day advice and information for undergraduate students. They are also responsible for collecting assignments and issuing the documents and forms which are required during your period of study.

Programme leader: Dr A Marchant and Dr Lex Kraaijeveld

Study Locations

The Life Sciences Building

Biological Sciences Building, Highfield Campus

The Life Sciences building is a £50 million state-of-the-art laborator...Find out more

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