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BSc (Hons) - Woodland Ecology and Conservation (With Sandwich Year)

Climate change and biodiversity loss are the twin challenges of our time. Study a woodland ecology and conservation degree to become part of the solution by gaining expertise in forest management, biodiversity and woodland conservation.

On this degree course, you’ll be living and studying at our inspirational Ambleside campus in the heart of the Lake District National Park – the ideal location to appreciate and value the conservation and ecology of woodlands.

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Accredited by:

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Institute of Chartered Foresters

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Course Overview

The Woodland Ecology and Conservation programme has been designed to prepare you to be a new kind of graduate, one that the world desperately needs to meet the challenges of the 21st century. This degree will provide you with the ecological knowledge that underpins modern sustainable forest management. Graduates are able to manage trees, woods and forests to protect biodiversity and optimise the delivery of benefits to human society directly through timber production and space for recreation, but also to apply knowledge of essential ecosystem services; carbon, nutrient and water cycling, flood and erosion control amongst others. Graduates in Woodland Ecology and Conservation are equipped to contribute solutions to the twin environmental challenges of our times: climate change and biodiversity loss.

As an undergraduate in Woodland Ecology and Conservation at the University of Cumbria, you will learn how to sustainably manage trees, woods and forests at our National School of Forestry. Throughout the course, hands-on experience will back up the theory from ancient woodlands through to commercial forests, residential study tours to the upland and lowland habitats. There will also be an opportunity to take a one-year work placement in a related profession, bolstering your confidence and putting your knowledge into practice in the real world.

You’ll be living and studying in the ideal location to appreciate and value the conservation and ecology of woodlands, with the National School of Forestry based on our inspirational Ambleside campus in the heart of the Lake District.

You will also have the opportunity to take a one-year work placement in a profession related to woodland ecology and conservation, bolstering your confidence and putting your knowledge into practice.

On this course you will...

  • Have easy access to local woodlands giving you the chance to explore different forest types and the ecosystems they support.
  • Benefit from great opportunities for paid placements and graduate job prospects thanks to our links with organisations like the Royal Forestry Society and Woodland Trust.
  • Learn from tutors with field experience, who conduct ground-breaking, international research that will inform your studies.
  • Appreciate the role of global forests in climate change mitigation and the greatest threats to their conservation.
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Course Structure

What you will learn

Develop your knowledge and skills around forest management. This degree programme will increase your understanding of the physical, biological, economic and sociological principles and processes that underpin forestry. Furthermore, you will develop this understanding in the field with a one-year placement opportunity found through one of our partners.

You will learn to apply such principles and processes to the sustainable management of woodland multiple goods and ecosystem services (for example, , protection of soil and water, and recreation, and support of a diversity of threatened plants and wildlife). You will critically assess contemporary issues in woodland conservation such as rewilding and species reintroductions.

Our programme will allow you to explore the commercial, social and environmental contexts in which forestry is practised and the consequences of forestry for the rural economy, society and the environment. You will learn how to conduct research monitoring changes in forest condition, health and carbon capture, as well as acquiring skills at describing tree and forest types and the ecological systems and processes that they support.

Year one
  • Introduction to Managing Trees, Woods and Forests
    Provides students with a basic understanding of the history of forestry in the UK and worldwide, the underlying principles of soil and plant science and an overview of current practice of sustainable forest management to protect biodiversity, produce timber and other benefits to human society.
  • Measuring Trees and Forests
    To learn to apply the standard methods of tree and woodland measurement used in British forestry.
  • Silviculture
    Aims to give a grounding in silvicultural practice, to include a thorough and applied understanding of plantation, conservation and amenity woodland establishment and maintenance.
  • Woodland Ecology
    Gives a broad introduction to ecology and ecological processes. Ecology, the study of interactions between organisms and with their environments, provides a theoretical and practical framework for managing and working with natural and semi-natural ecosystems, but also in managed landscapes.
  • Forestry Fundamentals
    The aim of this module is to enable students to learn the key writing and presentation skills necessary to succeed in their studies and their future career.
  • Biodiversity 1
    This module aims to introduce you to the range of biodiversity on the planet. Lectures will provide a comprehensive introduction to biodiversity while field- and laboratory-based sessions will give practical experience and the skills to identify major taxonomic groups.
  • Biodiversity 2
    Field identifications will be using easily observed characteristics and field guides whereas the laboratory sessions will be using microscopes to observe the required details to use in scientific keys. When possible, specimen for identification will be collected by students in the local environment.
Year two
  • Biodiversity Monitoring
    This module builds on your identification and field skills gained in first year to put your knowledge and experience with biological monitoring techniques into practice. You will develop the theory and practical application of biological survey design and monitoring schemes.
  • Geographic Information Systems
    The aim of this module is to provide students with a sound understanding of the theory and application of GIS in a manner relevant to their field of study and potential future employment.
  • Research Methods and Data Analysis
    The aim of this module is to introduce you to the scientific method, research design, collecting data in an unbiased manner and the analytical skills required to complete an undergraduate honours dissertation project.
  • Forest Policy and Governance
    Throughout the module, students will develop the knowledge and skills required to manage modern, sustainable, multipurpose forestry within the constraints of national and international legislative and policy frameworks.
  • Forest Health and Protection
    The aim of this module is to enable students to identify, understand and manage the main biotic (pests and pathogens) and abiotic (nutrient and climate) factors that adversely affect trees and forests.
  • Forests & People (Optional)
    Forests and woodlands in both the rural and urban environments have always played a wide and varied role for communities throughout our history, both as a physical resource to be exploited and also providing spaces for our mental and physical health and wellbeing.
  • Valuing the Environment (Optional)
    Students will explore the concepts associated with valuing the environment including: natural capital, nature’s contribution to people and ecosystem services. You will critically evaluate these as frameworks for enabling people to “value” the environment.
  • Environmental Change: Past Present Future (Optional)
    Explores the evidence for and forcing of past climate change through the Quaternary period, how this has impacted upon the landscape, and also the evolution of humans and society.
Year three

During this year, you will undertake a placement with a partnered institution. Develop on-the-job experience through field research and lab opportunities.

  • Work Placement
    Enables you to gain knowledge and understanding of a sector appropriate to your studies. You will be able to consolidate and further develop your professional, technical and personal skills in a work place and demonstrate independent learning and initiative outside a formal teaching environment.
Year four
  • Forest Plan
    Provides opportunity for students to engage in a systematic and integrated approach to objective-led forest management planning in accordance with the principles and criteria of sustainable forest management.
  • Dissertation
    You will develop objectives for a self-selected business; evaluate in a structured way the impacts upon a business and plan the resources requires. You will learn to apply a range of business tools and how to write and present a business plan.
  • Woodland Conservation
    Comparing the concept of conservation to those of ecology and sustainability. Examining how British Romanticism inspired by the English Lake District landscape contributed to the start of the conservation movement alongside with developments in the USA.
  • Applied Field Studies (Optional)
    It provides you with experience of collecting and analysing a scientific data set and preparing a scientific report on a small scale and allows you to develop higher level analytical skills in hypothesis testing and reporting.
  • Advanced Silviculture (Optional)
    Aims to develop further your understanding of silvicultural practices and their role in ensuring the productive and sustainable management of forests across a range of objectives in both temperate and tropical regions.
  • Business Skills (Optional)
    You will develop objectives for a self-selected business; evaluate in a structured way the impacts upon a business and plan the resources requires. You will learn to apply a range of business tools and how to write and present a business plan.
  • Advanced GIS and Remote Sensing (Optional)
    The aim of this module is to provide students with the skills and knowledge to plan and implement projects using GIS and remote sensing to solve issues in the fields of conservation and natural resources management.
  • Climate Smart Forestry (Optional)
    To provide forest managers an overview of the causes and impacts of anthropogenic climate change and the adaptation strategies necessary and mitigation options available.
  • Wildlife Management (Optional)
    Students apply their knowledge of wildlife and conservation to real life situations. The module will give students an in-depth knowledge of wildlife management techniques, stressing the importance of planning, administration and funding for effective management of habitats, populations and species.

Attend an Open Day at Cumbria

An Open Day is your opportunity to explore one of 5 campuses, meet your lecturers, and find out how the University of Cumbria could become your new home.

Take the next step towards achieving your dreams.
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