BSc Honours Environmental Biology (UCAS Code: C150)
For entrance requirements
T: +44 (0)28 9097 3838
For course information
The School Manager
School of Biological Sciences
T: +44 (0)28 9097 5786
For students whose first language is not English
An IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each test component or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Further information on other acceptable English Language qualifications is available here
If you are an international student and you do not meet the entrance requirements, you should consider a preparation course at INTO Queen's University Belfast, which will prepare you for successful study on these degree courses. INTO Queen's University Belfast is based on the University campus and offers a range of courses including:
International Foundation in Engineering and Science
Environmental Biology deals with the responses of organisms - animals, plants and micro-organisms - to environmental stimuli and stress, and the ways in which organisms interact with their own and other species in populations and communities. Organisms are studied on every scale - from the very small to the very large, ie from the molecular to the biosphere. Environmental Biology also considers the history of life on earth.Back to top
Genetics and Molecular Biology
Introductory Skills for Biosciences
and usually Biochemistry
A field course is an essential component of the Environmental Biology module.
This broad base in Biological Sciences enables students after their Stage 1 year to transfer, should they so wish, to pathways leading to degrees in Biological Sciences, Marine Biology or Zoology.
Marine Ecology with field course
and four other modules, including at least three (preferably four) from the following:
Comparative Animal Physiology
Environmental and Applied Microbiology
Molecular Ecology and Evolutionary Genetics
Modules are based mainly on practical classes and lectures, but students are also expected to prepare seminars and extended essays. Applied Ecology has an associated field course held at a venue in Northern Ireland during September.
During final year, students take a two-module research project carried out under the supervision of one or more members of staff. The research project generally involves practical work conducted in the field and/or laboratory, and is carried out in one of the many active areas of ecological research in the School of Biological Sciences.
The four taught modules are:
Behavioural Ecology and Sociobiology
Marine Processes or Marine Zoology
and two other modules
Environmental Biology deals with the responses of organisms – animals, plants and microorganisms – to environmental stimuli and stress, and the ways in which organisms interact with their own and other species in populations and communities. Organisms are studied on every scale – from the very small to the very large, i.e. from the molecular to the biosphere. Environmental Biology also considers the history of life on earth.
Our degree courses are modular allowing for choice and flexibility. Students complete six core modules at Level 1 which equip them with key biological principles and provide a solid foundation for their degree. This broad base in Biological Sciences enables students after their Stage 1 year to transfer, should they so wish, to pathways leading to degrees in Biological Sciences, Marine Biology or Zoology. At Level 2 students choose six modules allowing them to focus on areas of special interest within the field of Environmental Biology. During the final year (Level 3), students will take four taught modules and a double-module research project. The research project is carried out under the supervision of one or more members of the academic staff and is most typically laboratory- and/or field-based.
As students’ progress through their degree programme, the teaching they receive will become more research-led and, therefore, the module content will reflect the fast- moving disciplines of biology, ecology and evolution, and the interests of our staff.
In addition to subject knowledge, modules aim at developing skills in critical, independent thought and management and decision-making.
At Queen’s, we aim to deliver a high quality learning environment that embeds intellectual curiosity, innovation and best practice in learning, teaching and student support to enable student to achieve their full academic potential. Training in the practical aspects of Environmental Biology includes residential field courses at both Level 1 and Level 2.
On the BSc in Environmental Biology we do this by providing a range of learning experiences which enable our students to engage with subject experts, develop attributes and perspectives that will equip them for life and work in a global society. Students can make use of innovative technologies and a world class library that enhances their development as independent, lifelong learners. Examples of the opportunities provided for learning on this course are:
Assessment (general): The way in which students are assessed will vary according to the learning objectives of each module. Most modules are assessed through a combination of coursework and end of semester examinations. Some modules [e.g. final year Honours Project module (BBC3025)] are assessed solely through project work or written assignments. Details of how each module is assessed are shown in the Student Handbook which is provided to all students during their first year induction, and is available on our School website School Website
Feedback (general): As students progress through their course at Queen’s they will receive general and specific feedback about their work from a variety of sources including lecturers, module co-ordinators, placement supervisors, personal tutors, advisers of study and your peers. University students are expected to engage with reflective practice and to use this approach to improve the quality of their work. Feedback may be provided in a variety of forms including:
Once students have reviewed their feedback, they are encouraged to identify and implement further improvements to the quality of their work.Back to top
A degree in Environmental Biology opens the door to a wide range of careers. Completion of the final year research project inspires many of our graduates to continue into the higher degree programmes of Master of Science (MSc) or Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), with the goal of pursuing a career as a research scientist or academic. There are also numerous opportunities for graduates in both the commercial and public sector, with many securing jobs in the pharmaceutical industry, government departments, environmental agencies and charities. Many of our graduates enter postgraduate teacher training programmes (PGCE) for entry into the teaching profession. Alternatively, the transferable skills obtained during completion of a biosciences degree will place graduates in excellent standing for specific graduate programmes to enter professions such as accountancy, management or journalism. Indeed, although the majority of our graduates are interested in pursuing careers in the life sciences, significant numbers develop careers in a wide range of other sectors including agricultural and medical laboratory work, forensic science, nature conservation, journalism, commercial life, Civil Service and accountancy. The following is a list of the major career sectors that have attracted our graduates in recent years:
Employer Links – Consultations:We regularly consult and have developed strong links with a large number of employers in the Life Sciences Sector through the Work Placement programme. The School of Biological Sciences offers students a Work Placement and Professional studies module, designed to help students develop important employability skills required for the graduate employment market.
We deal with many of Northern Ireland’s leading Environmental and Life Science employers including Northern Ireland Environment Agency, the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, Invest Northern Ireland (Life Sciences Division), Almac, Randox, National Trust, Ulster Wildlife Trust amongst many others throughout the UK, Ireland and Internationally.
Each year students undertake placements abroad through programmes such as IAESTE, Operation Wallacea, and Frontier. Over the last couple of years, students from the School have worked in New Zealand, Switzerland, the US, Honduras and Indonesia.
The School has employed a dedicated Work Placement and Careers Adviser, who helps students find suitable placements and provides information and guidance when students are making important career decisions, throughout their degree programme from first year to final year.
Placement Employers:Our past students have also gained work placement with organisations such as:
Other Employer Links:Graduates from the School of Biological Sciences are employed in organisations working within environmental monitoring and management, environmental consultancy, water quality management, animal welfare, academic research, the agri-food industries, biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, teaching and education, and science communication. We have developed extensive links with employer in these areas.
These employment areas have always been important but have now become increasingly important due to global issues such as climate change, food supply and security, biodiversity loss and global health issues.
You should also take a look at www.prospects.ac.ukfor further information concerning the types of jobs that attract Biological Sciences Graduates.
Further study is also an option open to Environmental Biology graduates. For those wanting a career in biosciences research, the normal route is to obtain a PhD (a three year postgraduate degree which involves intense research into a topic under the supervision of one or more academics). Every year, some of our Environmental Biology graduates have secured fully funded PhD studentships at leading universities, and associated research institutes. Details of relevant courses offered by the School of Biological Sciences can be found at: www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofBiologicalSciences/Education/. Students can choose from a wide range of Masters programmes as well as a comprehensive list of research topics, see: www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofBiologicalSciences/Education/Postgraduates
Other Career-related information: Queen’s is a member of the Russell Group and, therefore, one of the 20 universities most-targeted by leading graduate employers. Queen’s students will be advised and guided about career choice and, through the Degree Plus initiative, will have an opportunity to seek accreditation for skills development and experience gained through the wide range of extra-curricular activities on offer. See Queen’s University Belfast fullEmployability Statementfor further information.
Degree Plus and other related initiatives: Recognising student diversity, as well as promoting employability enhancements and other interests, is part of the developmental experience at Queen’s. Students are encouraged to plan and build their own personal skill and experiential profile through a range of activities including; recognised Queen’s Certificates, placements and other work experiences (at home or overseas), Erasmus study options elsewhere in Europe, learning development opportunities and involvement in wider university life through activities, such as clubs, societies, and sports.
Queen’s actively encourages this type of activity by offering students an additional qualification, the Degree Plus Award (and the related Researcher Plus Award for PhD and MPhil students). Degree Plus accredits wider experiential and skill development gained through extra-curricular activities that promote the enhancement of academic, career management, personal and employability skills in a variety of contexts. As part of the Award, students are also trained on how to reflect on the experience(s) and make the link between academic achievement, extracurricular activities, transferable skills and graduate employment. Participating students will also be trained in how to reflect on their skills and experiences and can gain an understanding of how to articulate the significance of these to others, e.g. employers.
Overall, these initiatives, and Degree Plusin particular, reward the energy, drive, determination and enthusiasm shown by students engaging in activities over-and-above the requirements of their academic studies. These qualities are amongst those valued highly by graduate employers.
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Professional Recognition: the most generally appropriate professional body for graduate environmental biologists is the Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management.Back to top