The UNSW Ecology, Sustainability and Environmental Science (BIOS1301) course provides you with a strong grounding in present biological, ecological and environmental problems and their effects on biodiversity.

Across the world, climate change, pollution, degradation of rivers and waste disposal are growing problems that need to be addressed urgently. You’ll explore the role that environmental science plays in mitigating and providing solutions for management and policy decisions. Though often complex, these issues involve major decisions by governments and communities. A consolidated approach by all parties involved is fundamental to delivering a sustainable planet for future generations.

The Ecology, Sustainability and Environmental Science course encourages logical and critical thinking and hinges heavily on interactive lectures and practical classes in laboratories. Common ecology software will be introduced such as Geographic Information System (GIS) and R statistical packages. You’ll gain hands-on experience in field observation, data analysis techniques and ecological monitoring.    

Term offering: Term 1

Course attendance: In person

Level: Undergraduate - First Year


  • Biology.
  • Climate science.
  • Earth science.
  • Ecology.
  • Geography.
  • Marine science.

Course code: BIOS1301

Course breakdown

Course learning outcomes include:

  • understanding how environmental science is used to identify, monitor, address and manage ecological problems such as key threatening processes
  • conducting basic scientific field observations and monitoring techniques (such as species identification and counts, water quality testing, inputs and outputs and mark recapture)
  • collecting, analysing (spatially and statistically) and interpreting results from field and laboratory data
  • developing skills in written and oral scientific communication
  • developing quantitative skills for analyses of data
  • working collaboratively to engage in creative problem-solving.

Career opportunities 

The course develops student skills in critically assessing scientific information, routinely debated by the public and decision-makers. It will also provide you with a fundamental base for specialising in environmental science, ecology, zoology, botany, geography, marine biology and environmental management. The quantitative, writing and critical thinking skills that students learn provide an essential foundation for future careers.

There are also some significant opportunities in the management and policy for natural resources (e.g. water, catchment management, biodiversity, vegetation, climate policy and management (e.g. greenhouse emissions), sustainability, restoration of land and water). Positions can be within government (local, state, federal), private industry and the non-government sector.

Relevant roles

  • Environmental scientist
  • Environmental engineer
  • Ecologist
  • Marine biologist
  • River scientist
  • Environmental consultant
  • Government (local, state, Federal) natural resource manager
  • Government (local, state, Federal) policymaker
  • Non-government project officer or scientist (e.g. WWF)
  • Catchment management organisation
  • Industry scientist

What our graduates say      

“BIOS1301 was one of the first subjects I undertook at UNSW and was pivotal in my decision to pursue a career in conservation ecology. I appreciated the pragmatic nature of the course which focused on fundamental ecological and conservation issues past and unfolding, while always incorporating the socio-political factors inherently intertwined with environmental outcomes.
I was also inspired by the quality of the teaching, which involved UNSW and guest lecturers whose work in environmental management, conservation and policy has made and continues to drive lasting, positive change in increasingly threatened ecosystems and communities around the world. I highly recommend this course for anyone interested in ecology, sustainability, conservation, environmental management and policy, and more broadly for those who may engage with these areas through their own fields."

- Simon Gorta, Bachelor of Science (Adv) (Hons) graduate.

Find out more

For more information, please contact Lecturer Hayley Bates and Professor Richard Kingsford.

E:  bios1301@unsw.edu.au