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MSci Hons Environmental Biology

Mode of Study: Full Time Department: Lancaster Environment Centre
UCAS Code: C154 Duration/Length: 4 Year(s)
QAA Subject Benchmark: Biosciences Director of Studies: Dr MR Menendez Martinez
Total Credit Points: 480 Credit Points Year 2: 105
Credit Points Year 3: 135 Credit Points Year 4: 120

Syllabus Rules and Pre-requisites

  • PartI
  • The student must take the following modules:
  • The student must take 1 modules from the following group:
  • PartII (Year 2)
  • The student must take the following modules:
  • The student must take 4 modules from the following group:
  • PartII (Year 3)
  • The student must take the following modules:
  • The student must take 5 modules from the following group:
  • PartII (Year 4)
  • The student must take the following modules:
  • The student must take 4 modules from the following group:

Educational Aims: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

  • Biologists are at the forefront of responses to the significant challenges that confront human populations and the biosphere.  The Environmental Biology degree encompasses the links between environmental factors and biota at a range of levels from molecules to ecosystems, and the application of this knowledge to challenges such as sustainable food production, biodiversity conservation and maintenance of ecosystem services. Students learn about the relationships between organisms and their environment, including the study of animal behaviour, animal and plant physiology and ecosystem science and gain a solid understanding of mankind's impact on the environment.

    In the final year of this integrated masters scheme, students will be expected to engage with information at the forefront of the field and to develop the interpretive and analytical skills necessary to critically evaluate the current state of knowledge. They will gain first-hand experience of a substantial piece of independent research in their fourth year, providing them with high-level independent research and organisational skills. Students will be made aware of the applicablity of biology to the careers to which they might progress as graduates.

Learning Outcomes: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

  • Subject Specific: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

    On successful completion of this scheme of study students will be able to:

    • Describe basic organism structure and diversity
    • Describe mechanisms for the life processes and appreciate how the physiology of an organism fits it for its environment
    • Demonstrate an appreciation of the linkages between the cellular, physiological, whole organisms and community scales
    • Critically describe the principles and processes governing the interactions of organisms with each other and the environment
    • Plan, conduct and report on scientific projects
    • Collect and present experimental and field survey data
    • Apply practical techniques and skills relevant to the biosciences
    • Use appropriate equipment effectively
    • Carry out risk assessments and list appropriate safety measures applicable to both laboratory and field research
    • Interpret numerical data
    • Apply relevant numerical skills (including statistical analysis, where appropriate) to biological data
    • Evaluate and critically analyse the effects of human interactions on natural populations and ecosystems
    • Discuss and demonstrate comprehension of nutrient and energy flow through individuals, populations and communities


    General: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

     On successful completion of this scheme of study students will be able to:

    • Access and evaluate bioscience information from a variety of sources and communicate the principles both orally and in writing (e.g. essays, laboratory reports) in a way that is well organised, topical and recognises the limits of current hypotheses
    • Plan, execute and present an independent scientific investigation in which qualities such as time management, problem solving and independence are evident, as well as interpretation and critical awareness of the quality of evidence
    • Prepare, process, interpret and present data, using appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques, statistical programmes, spreadsheets and presentation packages
    • Communicate about their subject to a variety of audiences using a range of formats and approaches
    • Use relevant information technologies competently
    • Manage their time effectively
    • Work effectively both individually and as members of a team
    • Appreciate the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving
    • Develop initiative and responsibility for reflecting upon and developing skills and knowldge relevant to thier future careers and CPD.

Learning and Teaching Strategies and Methods: Knowledge, Understanding, Skills

  • Subject Specific: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

    Degrees in the Lancaster Environment Centre aim to provide students with a broad exposure to a range of environmental issues, delivered from practitioners with different perspectives from environmental biology and ecology, through environmental science to physical and human geography. The Environmental Biology programme achieves this in two main ways: in the first year, students are exposed to the core LEC modules covering environmental issues, environmental processes and interdisciplinary skills, in parallel with a variety of subject-specific modules in covering core biology and ecology. In subsequent years, students take compulsory core environmental biology modules, supported by a range of optional modules from the Division of Biomedical & Life Sciences and ecology and conservation biology, environmental science and geography modules from within LEC. The final year includes masters level taught modules and an extended project, to provide students with in-depth experience of a professional research environment.

    Knowledge is acquired mainly through lectures and student-centred learning, supported by practical classes, smaller group workshops sessions and tutorials. Teaching is hierarchical, with a relatively broad-based introductory-level first year, and becomes progressively more specialised in years two, three and four. A mixture of core, compulsory modules and optional modules will be offered from across a range of disciplines. This will ensure the required range of knowledge relevant to the programme will be imparted to students. The third year will include a research project on a relevant topic in ecology or conservation biology. There are also three residential field courses available to students taking this degree which provide important subject knowledge and practical skills.

    General: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

    A range of generic transferrable skills will be introduced through the LEC.101 module and associated tutorial system, but are also embedded into all modules, including dissertation projects and field courses. The course includes some modules aimed principally at delivering generic skills, such as basic experimental design, data collection, data presentation and analysis and statistical skills. Second year skills modules also include employability skills such as CV writing. Team working skills will be learnt through practical and fieldwork classes and via group work conducted in workshops and tutorials. Research projects will deliver skills related to project planning and management and risk assessment and safety.

Assessment Strategy and Methods: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

  • Subject Specific: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

    Subject knowledge will be assessed using a variety of means, enabling all students to demonstrate their full range of abilities. These include course work assignments, end-of-module tests and unseen examinations. Coursework will take a variety of forms, including essays, practical class and fieldwork reports, literature reviews and summaries, poster and oral presentations, etc. End-of-module tests will generally comprise multiple choice and/or short answer questions, whilst examinations will take the form of essay questions, with the inclusion of data analysis questions for some modules. Research projects will be assessed through the production of a written dissertation and an oral examination.

    Clear criteria used by staff in marking different forms of assessment are published, along with the grade descriptors reflecting the necessary levels of performance required by students to attain increasing levels of achievement.

    Many modules also employ formative assessment, often using on-line tools such as the QuestionMark Perception system, to enable students to directly assess their own knowledge. In addition, students receive individual feedback on coursework which enables them to identify areas for improvement and provides suggestions on how this can be achieved. For many pieces of coursework, students are also given generic feedback in the form of model answers.

    General: Knowledge, Understanding and Skills

    Generic skills will also be assessed within the framework described above. The ability to critically assess information from a variety of sources and construct a reasoned argument will be a central element of several styles of assessment, especially written coursework and essay questions in examinations. Data collection, presentation, analysis and interpretation will be assessed through practical and fieldwork reports, and through data analysis questions included in examinations. Other forms of coursework will assess oral and visual presentation skills through the use of poster or slide presentations.

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