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BSc (Hons) Ecology and Sustainable Land Management

BSc (Hons) Ecology and Sustainable Land Management

About the course

The course is delivered at University Centre Myerscough and awarded by the University of Central Lancashire. Some of the modules on the course are taught at the University (see course content).

Do you want to be part of the growing ecology and conservation management sector? The increasing worldwide focus on environmental issues has resulted in a corresponding growth in the sector. The CIEEM claim that around 400,000 people are employed within the environmental sector in the UK and over 17,000 companies identify themselves as operating within it. The sector currently has an annual turnover of around £25 billion which puts the environmental industry on a par with the aerospace and defence sectors.

This course aims to equip students with identification, survey and data handling skills needed for work such as ecological surveying and conservation consultancy. It will broaden the students' view of the management of the UK's rural resource. It will include the analysis of the legislation, issues, policy and planning that drive rural change; an examination of landscape scale ecology and investigation of land use from a sustainability perspective. It will also provide students with an opportunity to investigate a topic of their choice through a research dissertation.

Course modules

Year 1

Academic and Professional Skills

This module aims to develop the students’ key academic, cognitive, professional and transferable skills in order to develop more independent modes of learning. These skills will be developed in the subject specific context in conjunction with other year 1 modules and will underpin subsequent years of study. Through personal development, the module also aims to aid future employability potential.

Ecology (Taught at UCLan)

This is taught at UCLan and investigates climate change and some of the possible impacts on biodiversity. In addition, you will be introduced to the ecological principles of competition, predation, population dynamics and landscape ecology.

Ecology and Identification of Native Species (1.5 module)

Identification techniques are key to being an effective ecologist / countryside manager. You will be taught how to identify animals in the field and a range of plants and invertebrates in the laboratory. The module also covers mammal survey techniques such as field signs and trapping methods, including camera traps

Essential Plant and Soil Science

This module aims to provide students with an essential knowledge of plant biology and physiology. In addition, the nature and role of soil properties in supporting plant growth and the importance of sustainable soil management will be examined. The module will also develop skills in analysis and presentation of data, report writing and give students experience of using a range of laboratory equipment.

Geographical Information Systems and Semi-natural Habitats (1.5 module)

Semi-natural habitats in the UK are under increasing pressure from pollution, urban development, agriculture and poor management practice. This module aims to explore the ecological value of these habitats, some of the threats to them and the methods used to ensure their sustainable management. In addition, you will be introduced to survey techniques used to classify and monitor these habitats and Geographical Information Systems used to map and record this survey data and you will be taught how to use the software to create professional reports showing the distribution of habitats and species.

Year 2

Ecological Survey Techniques

This will introduce you to the techniques used to survey birds, vegetation, amphibians, butterflies and other invertebrates. In addition, you will be given an overview of the legislation and methodology behind Environmental Impact Assessments. Part of this module is taught as a week-long field trip to a range of habitats in the North West during the summer.

Global Wildlife Conservation

This aims to develop knowledge of international conservation initiatives and techniques to monitor wild animals. The module will also develop an understanding of the impacts of global economic development and wildlife trade on endangered species and the implications for in situ conservation programmes.

Industry Project

This module applies the practical, technical and personal skills developed in the academic and vocational skills module. It will utilise a structured work environment for students to identify a suitable project, and work with their supervisor in developing and managing the project and reporting on the outcomes. Students will be encouraged to use the work project to develop professional working relationships and identify their chosen career options.

Managing the Agricultural Environment

Students will evaluate some of the impacts of recent changes in farming practice (in the UK) on plants and animals living in agricultural habitats such as moorland, upland rough grazing, lowland pastures, silage, crops and field margins. Strategies for the conservation of farmland biodiversity are investigated, as is the concept of ecosystem services which is a way of attributing economic value to the environment.

Research Methods

This will introduce concepts of statistical testing and further develop skills in presenting and interpreting results of scientific investigations. The module will give you vital skills in formulating research questions and designing an effective experiment which is particularly valuable for those who wish to continue studying for a top up degree.

Woodland and Veteran Tree Management

This module considers how trees and woodlands may be best managed to deal with the pressures that impact on them. Students will learn to assess trees and woodland as environmental, social and economic assets, as well as developing the decision making skills needed to manage conflicting uses and opinions.

Year 3

Applied Conservation Science (Option)

This module aims to examine current conservation strategies, critically evaluate their effect on biodiversity through research and discussion. The module will investigate the management of ecosystems and the strategies used to conserve them. The module will develop skills in habitat and population management alongside methods for predicting future trends.

Applied Ecology (Taught at UCLan)

This module provides students with a working knowledge of how ecological principles affect the lives of all, using examples drawn from industries and practices. These demonstrate how fundamental concepts of ecology are utilised to promote production and profit, often at the detriment of the environment.

Developments in Global Land Use

This module critically evaluates the issues with current global land uses. In particular, it will focus on subjects such as climate change, energy use, water management and soil degradation and how current techniques could be altered to achieve lower impacts.

Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental Management Systems (Option) (Taught at UCLan)

This module focuses on the practical and institutional difficulties facing application and use of EIA, EMS and related procedures, the performance and potential of different forms of environmental and policy assessment, and their relationship to Sustainability goals. The material is integral to 'real life' situations, and aims to enhance students' awareness of the employment market.

Field Work (Option)

This module is based entirely around a residential field visit where students will study a number of ecosystems in detail and explore some of the techniques used to understand and investigate the natural world.

Research Project (Double module)

This module will provide an opportunity to pursue an in-depth study of the student's own choice which is related to their substantive areas of study. Students will work independently, under limited supervision, in order to develop and demonstrate their academic skills and abilities. The dissertation will normally be based on an academic topic using primary and/or secondary data collection techniques. In both cases academic theory is to be critically evaluated and applied to the research topic.

Policy Developments in the Rural Environment (Option)

This module focuses on the global political, economic and legislative developments and how they will affect the rural environment in the future. The module will establish the economic framework within which land use operates and the direction in which legislation and policy are headed.

Entry requirements & additional information

Entry requirements

5 GCSE passes at Grade C (4) or above (including Maths and English or equivalent)

Plus 104 UCAS Tariff points from one or more of the following:

  • 3 A-levels (A2) at C or above
  • BTEC/C&G Level 3

  • 4 Scottish Highers at C or above

  • 4 Irish Highers at C or above

  • International Baccalaureate at 24 points

AS levels, BTEC Subsidiary Diploma and Scottish Intermediate 2s may be used to contribute to entry requirements but they are not sufficient for entry on their own. Alternative equivalent qualifications will also be considered positively.

Applicants who believe they may be eligible for Accreditation of Prior Certificated and/or Experiential Learning (APCL/APEL) for certain modules will be considered on an individual basis.

Applicants for whom English is a second language must be able to demonstrate proof of International English Language Testing System (IELTS) at level 6.0 (with no component score lower than 5.5) or equivalent.

All offers may be subject to successful interview

Learning and assessment

Learning activities on the course are diverse, including lectures, laboratory practicals, tutorials, site visits (including a one week field trip) and workshops. This course makes the most of the diverse range of habitats and farmland found in the NW of England and our contact with various environmental organisations. Students will be expected to undertake extensive independent study and research to support lectures, site visits and assessments. Group work and group presentations will form an important part of the course. In addition, students will have access to Myerscough’s virtual learning environment.

Students will face a variety of assessments including survey reports, management plans, examinations, essays, debates, assignments, technical reports, group and individual presentations, individual study projects and industry based case studies.

Additional Information:

The course has a one week, non-residential field trip (usually the last week in June) during which students will meet on a daily basis at College and will visit a range of habitats (including protected sites and nature reserves) in NW England and N Wales. This will be an opportunity to see and identify a wide range of plants and animals found in this part of the world. In addition, Farm diversification and commercial energy generation projects are also visited including large scale anaerobic digestion units, biomass plants, trial plots and habitat creation projects.

What work experience can I get?

There is no formal industry placement on this course. The Academic and Professional Skills Development and Industry Project modules utilise both on and off site working environments to provide opportunity for students to develop practical, technical and professional skills and help prepare them for employment in their chosen subject area.


On successful completion of the BSc (Hons) programme students may wish to apply for further qualifications such as MSc, M Phil, PhD.


There is increasing pressure on organisations to build links between agriculture and newer methods of managing the land. The top-up degree is therefore aimed at students who want to pursue careers within organisations such as DEFRA, Environment Agency, Natural England, local planning authorities, Councils, advisory bodies and land management consultancies.

Other opportunities include countryside ranger, ecological surveyor, farm conservation advisor, education officer. Many job opportunities exist within the conservation and commercial sectors, and potential employers include the Environment Agency, River Trusts, Natural England, Local Authorities, National Trust, Canal and Rivers Trust, Wildlife trusts and private consultancy.

Professional accreditations

Students will be encouraged to form links with local and national environmental organisations such as the National Trust, The Wildlife Trusts, Local Authorities, National Parks and AONBs, River conservation trusts and Ecological Consultants.

Special requirements

Extra Costs:

  • Field trips and visits - £150
  • Waterproofs boots - £80
  • Binoculars – £150
Students examine the latest brood of hatchlings
Students examine the latest brood of hatchlings

Countryside Studies

The management of land for the conservation of flora and fauna, general recreation, environmental education and urban regeneration requires a blend of skills. These include an understanding of ecological principles, a sound knowledge of management and the practical ability to carry out conservation techniques – from river catchment systems to rural and coastal habitats.

Many job opportunities exist within the conservation, gamekeeping and commercial sectors, and as part of your progamme you will have the opportunity to develop countryside craft skills such as hedgelaying and drystone walling, useful for a range of future careers.

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