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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Biodiversity and Conservation Pathway

"The one process now going on that will take millions of years to correct is the loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats. This is the folly our descendants are least likely to forgive us." E. O. Wilson, The Biophilia Hypothesis 

Since Edward Wilson's observations in 1984, we have realised that at current rates biodiversity loss, we are living in the time of the greatest extinction crisis since dinosaurs disappeared 65 million years ago. These extinctions are irreversible, but they also pose a serious threat to our health and wellbeing. Humankind is behind the problem; scientists need to find the solutions.

Students following this pathway examine the diversity of living organisms on earth and their interrelationships with the environment. Key themes include plant and animal diversity and evolution, behaviour, ecological theory and applications, population ecology, ecosystem services, sustainable agriculture, and conservation biology.

Many of these subjects are covered in biological modules but can be supplemented with environmental, geographical and marine modules. Students can explore the principles of ecology and their application in environmental management for the protection and management of biodiversity, and sustainable development.

Year 1

Core Programme Modules (on all pathways)

Environmental Science: Concepts and Communication

Environmental Science: Research and Applications  (field/practical module)

Quantitative Methods

Compulsory pathway modules

Earth and ocean systems

Introduction to marine ecology

Dynamic Landscapes

Ecology and evolution

Environmental Field Techniques and Applications

Year 2

Core Programme Modules (on all pathways)

Environmental Pollution

Environmental Impact Assessment

Geographic Information Systems (GIS) for Environmental Scientists

Environment and Sustainability

Compulsory pathway module 

Pure and applied population ecology

Optional modules

Environmental Instrumentation

Quaternary Environmental Change

Coastal & Estuarine Oceanography I

Freshwater ecosystems


Remote sensing for earth observation

Concepts and Methods for Environmental Management

Phytoplankton and primary production

Global climate change: science, impacts and policy

Animal behaviour

Coastal and estuarine oceanography 2

Plant development and functions

Social Enterprise

Neural Basis of behaviour

Introduction to Energy and the Environment

Business skills for employability

Management of risk and uncertainty

Coastal Landscapes and Human Interactions

Marine Benthos Ecology

Year 3

Core Programme Modules (on all pathways)

Individual Project (BSc only)

Applied Ecology

Environmental Law and Management

Advanced Quantitative Methods (MEnvSci only)

Environmental Field Studies (MEnvSci Only)


Optional modules

Biodiversity and Conservation

Zooplankton ecology and processes

Global change biology: from molecules to ecosystem services

Topics in ecology and evolution

Applied Plant Biology

Environment field studies

Sustainable resource management

Environmental and Engineering Geology

Complex social-ecological systems: Past, present and future

UG Ambassador Scheme

Year 4 (MEnvSci only)

Core Programme Modules (on all pathways)

Advanced Research Project 

Work Based Learning (work placement)

Optional modules

Freshwater ecosystems

Biogeochemical cycles in the earth system

Energy resources and engineering

Waste resource management

Microfossils, environments and time

Global climate cycles

Water & Wastewater Engineering

Environmental Management Systems

Modelling Coastal Processes

Photo of Peter Newbold
The wide range of activities and modules as well as my dissertation stood me in great standing to get my first job with the RSPB on Ramsey Island.
Peter NewboldMEnvSci Environmental Sciences
Photo of Louise Glew
Southampton committed some funds towards a PhD and helped me raise some additional resources with external partners such as Marwell Wildlife and The Nature Conservancy (USA).
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