UCC Undergraduate courses

Ecology and Environmental Biology

About This Course

Fact File

Course Outline

The BSc Ecology and Environmental Biology degree is the only one of its kind in Ireland. The course was established in response to the increasing awareness of environmental and wildlife issues. It is the study of the interactions between animals, plants and microbes and their environment. It includes the study of how individual organisms interact in communities and how communities interact with the surrounding ecosystem.

This degree addresses such questions as: what controls animal and plant distribution, abundance and biodiversity? How do energy and nutrients move around ecosystems? How do species interact with each other? It also examines the biology of various habitats from marine and freshwater to terrestrial habitats and the soil. It uses the understanding of basic ecological principles and concepts to predict and manage environmental change caused by the human impact on natural ecosystems.

It includes subjects such as:

  • Conservation
  • Pest Control
  • Wildlife and Fisheries Management
  • Pollution and Ecotoxicology
  • Resource Management


Year 1 Modules:

  • BL1002 Cells, Biomolecules, Genetics and Evolution (5 credits);
  • BL1004 Physiology and Structure of Plants and Animals (5 credits);
  • BL1005 Habitats and Ecosystems (5 credits);
  • CM1003 Introductory Chemistry for Environmental Scientists (10 credits);
  • ER1006 Applied Earth Systems (5 credits);
  • EV1002 The Environment (5 credits);
  • GG1010 Introduction to Physical Geography (5 credits);
  • GL1001 Introduction to Geology (5 credits);
  • GL1004 Geological Evolution of Ireland (5 credits);
  • MA1001 Calculus for Science I (5 credits);
  • PY1009 Physics for the Environment Sciences I (5 credits)

Year 2 Modules:

Fundamentals of Ecology;  Practical Ecological Skills;  Plant and Animal Genetics;  Practical Environmental Science;  Fossils as Living Organisms;  Ecological Plant Physiology;  Plant Identification;  Introduction to Biostatistics;  Vertebrate Diversity;  Invertebrate Diversity;  Practical Invertebrate Skills

Year 3 Modules:


Introduction to Ecotoxicology;  Practical Field Ecology (residential field course);  Literature Review;  Evolution and Diversity;  Conservation Biology;  Ecology and Hydrology of Wetland Systems;  Biostatistics


Micropalaeontology and Palynology;  Valuing the Environment;  Plants and Hostile Environments;  Animal Behaviour;  Sustainable use of Freshwater;  Advanced Vertebrate Biology; Adaptation to Extreme Environments

Year 4 Modules:


Advanced Ecotoxicology;  Biology and Management of Alien Species;  Research Project;  Frontiers in Biology;  Research Skills in Biology;  Biostatistics;  Landscape Conservation and Management or Temperate Marine Biology (residential field course)  


Biological Work Placement;  Market Forces and the Environment;  Food Production;  Environmentally Protective Management of Plant Pests and Pathogens;  Crop Physiology and Climate Change;  Biology of Marine Mammals

See the College Calendar for additional information on the Programme and the Book of Modules for further details on modules.

Course Practicalities

Field courses form an important part of this course. You will visit a variety of sites in West Cork in Year 2, go to Portugal in Year 3, and choose between the Burren, Co Clare, or Millport, West of Scotland, in Year 4.

Why Choose This Course

I received a well-rounded introduction into the life sciences with an emphasis on field work and research skills.

Lorraine Guerin

BSc, Ecology and Environmental Biology

Ecology and Environmental Biology is the only degree of its kind in Ireland and was established in response to increasing awareness of environmental and wildlife issues.

A degree in Ecology and Environmental Biology provides you with a sound scientific knowledge and experience in a wide range of scientific techniques relevant to addressing current environmental issues. In particular, you will possess field skills and theoretical knowledge required for ecological work such as environmental and pollution monitoring, toxicity testing, impact assessment, and nature conservation and management.

In addition, you will learn laboratory techniques relevant to other biological fields including biochemistry, biotechnology, environmental sciences, aquaculture, fisheries and zoology.

Placement or Study Abroad Information

The School of BEES operates an exchange system mainly with North American universities that allows students to substitute a year abroad for Year 3 in UCC.

A work-experience module is also available to students in Year 4, enabling you to spend 6-10 weeks in a structured working environment, where you will be evaluated both on your contribution to the placement institution and by a report on your experience.

Skills and Careers Information

A degree in Ecology and Environmental Biology allows you to work in many different fields in Ireland and abroad such as: 

  • research in universities or industry
  • research in government agencies such as OPW, EPA, ERU, Forestry, Fisheries
  • consultancy
  • journalism
  • teaching at second and third level
  • administration in civil service, county councils or industry
  • environmental scientists in industry, agriculture, aquaculture and fisheries and government
  • management conservation working in habitat management, nature reserves, landscape planning, and fisheries


Refer to CK404

Non-EU Candidates

Non-EU candidates are expected to have educational qualifications of a standard equivalent to the Irish Leaving Certificate. In addition, where such candidates are non-native speakers of the English language they must satisfy the university of their competency in the English language.

To verify if you meet the minimum academic and language requirements for this programme please visit our qualification comparison pages.

For more detailed entry requirement information please refer to the International website.

Mature Students Requirements

Please refer to the mature student entry requirements for details. 

Fees and Costs

The State will pay the tuition fees for students who satisfy the Free Fees Criteria. In 2017/18 the Student Contribution Charge was €3,000 and the Capitation Fee was €165. Full-time EU/EEA/Swiss State undergraduate students may be exempt from paying tuition fees.

Non-EU Fees

The 2017/2018 Undergraduate Fees Schedule is available here.

How Do I Apply

Refer to CK404

Non-EU Applications

Applicants who are interested in applying for the programme can apply online.

For full details of the non-EU application procedure visit our how to apply pages for international students.


**All Applicants please note: modules listed in the course outline above are indicative of the current set of modules for this course, but these are subject to change from year to year. Please check the college calendar for the full academic content of any given course for the current year. 

In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools and departments. 

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