BSc (Hons) in Ecology


Program Description


People have an enormous impact on their environment through resource use, habitat degradation, and climate change. Understanding how our actions impact the ecological balance across the planet has never been more important.

We’ll give you a rigorous introduction to the science of ecology. You’ll understand how animals, plants, fungi and microorganisms interact with their environment, as well as the relationship between people and the rest of the biosphere.

This course covers the core conceptual issues of Ecology in its broadest sense, but also provides hands-on opportunities for learning transferable skills and analysing ecological relationships across all types of organisms. We’ll train you in the essential field and laboratory techniques, including on our inspiring 10-day field trip in Cévennes, France, a landscape of exceptional natural beauty and tremendous biodiversity recognised by UNESCO.

Whether you are interested in pursuing an academic career or want to participate in the practical solution of ecological problems, we’ll provide you with the tools and concepts you need to make a difference.

Fieldwork – an essential part of training – takes place in Scotland and France. There’s also an optional trip to Spain. Students may spend all, or part, of Year 3 studying abroad as part of an exchange programme with the University of Guelph, Canada, as well as participating in other international exchange programmes.

Top reasons to study with us

#1 Research-led teaching by leaders in research around the world, from the alpine tundra to the tropics

#2 This is the perfect place to study Ecology with diverse landscapes and habitats on our doorstep, and field trips in Scotland, France and Spain

#3 We'll teach you the science of ecology and provide practical training in the essential field and laboratory techniques

Course details

Semesters 1-4 cover core modules in: Biological Sciences; Environmental Sciences; and Practical Skills in the Natural Sciences.

Semesters 5-6 cover the following advanced modules: Animal Ecology; Plant Ecology and Physiology; Population and Community Ecology; plus further optional modules, including the Spanish field trip.

In Semesters 7-8, you’ll carry out an independent research project and go on the overseas field trip in France. You’ll also take four to six advanced modules from a defined list of options.

The research project in the final year takes up around a third of the timetable and is strongly linked with the active research interests of academic staff in Biological and Environmental Sciences.

Examples of recent high-quality student work include:

  • Plant biodiversity patterns in the Southern Highlands
  • Buzz-pollination and ecology of bumblebees
  • Climate change and the altitudinal limits of native montane plant species
  • The influence of diet on seaweed fly mating and oviposition behaviour
  • Heavy metal adaptation in rare plants


We've been awarded five-star excellence for our teaching by the QS World University Rankings 2017/18.

Our academics use their international research activities to teach you the latest thinking and trends in ecology. Our teaching is delivered in the form of formal lectures and practical classes, tutorials, seminars, computer-based learning, guided reading and research.


Fieldwork is an essential part of an ecologist’s training. Our location is an ideal base from which to make field excursions, whether to study lekking Black Grouse in the Highlands, the growth of trees on the sides of the Ochil Hills, or the distribution of animals in the Forth Estuary.

As well as fieldwork in Scotland, the Ecology (Hons) course includes field trips to France and Spain (the latter is optional). The 10-day field trip in ecology and animal biology takes place in the Cévennes of France, a rugged mountain landscape of exceptional natural beauty and tremendous biodiversity. The organisms that live there include over 2,300 flowering plant species (24 of which are endemic), 2,000 invertebrate species and 300 vertebrate species. Notable among these are wild boar, otters, three vulture species (including endangered Cinereous vultures), and grey wolves. The region exemplifies the deep historical connection between humans and the natural world and is recognised as a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve and World Heritage Site. There, you’ll learn techniques in the identification, field sampling, experimental design, data analysis and presentation.

Students participating in the week-long field trip in Spain stay at a field station 2km away from the traditional hill-top town of Sorbas, near Almeria, in one of the driest parts of Europe. Through a series of excursions and intensive field projects you’ll be introduced to environmental processes and resource management in arid environments


Modules are assessed by a combination of coursework and examination, completed during each semester. For many modules, the marks awarded for coursework contribute 40 – 50 percent of the final grade, but for some modules, this is as high as 100 percent.

Study abroad

You may spend all or part of Year 3 abroad. We have a well-established reciprocal exchange programme with the University of Guelph in Canada where you’ll take subjects equivalent to those at Stirling. In addition, there are exchange opportunities with a range of universities in the USA, Australia and Europe.

Find out more about studying abroad.


Dr Mario Vallejo-Marin

+ 44 (0) 1786 467822

Fees - 2018/2019

  • Overseas students (non-EU) £ 14,460.00
  • Scottish and EU students £ 1,820.00
  • Students from the rest of the UK £9,250
Last updated Nov 2018

About the School

At the University of Stirling, being the difference is in our DNA – providing education with a purpose and carrying out research that helps to shape society.

At the University of Stirling, being the difference is in our DNA – providing education with a purpose and carrying out research that helps to shape society. Read less