BSc (Hons) Natural History and Media
Earth Sciences at USW rated top in Wales for teaching and learning resources National Student Survey 2023
The BSc (Hons) Natural History and Media degree combines the study of photography, film-making and digital production with the philosophy of natural history and research in the natural world.
Field work experience is a key component of this course and you can develop your field skills in the UK and overseas.
When you study Natural History and Media, you will cover subjects that range from biodiversity, evolutionary genetics, zoology, wildlife tracking, ecology, and core values relating to natural history.
You’ll gain practical, scientific skills that are vital to ecology and conservation, with specialist skills in photography, film-making and digital production.
Your experiences will take you from the laboratory to out in the field and into the digital production suite. You’ll study different organisms, their environment and conservation, and document species using digital production skills.
On our Natural History degree you will get to explore the diversity of life, wildlife management for conservation, marine biology and environmental survey skills. A key feature of this natural history degree is gaining practical skills that you can apply on land, in freshwater environments and in the oceans. To develop these skills, you will go on a range of one-day and residential field courses operating in both the UK and overseas.
Overseas field trips presently go to Portugal or Spain, Iceland and an optional module to Botswana.
Wildlife photography and film-making is another exciting part of the course where you will develop your skills to produce a documentary.
You will study different organisms and how they are identified, their life history and relationships. Through the study of their habitats and environments you will learn to identify animal behaviour and ecological interactions. You will explore the processes that shape our land and define our natural world.
Your first year modules aim to give you the underlying foundation knowledge in the subject areas that you will be pursuing.
Your second year studies develop this knowledge and start to expand your laboratory and field skills. The third year will develop the biological, geo-physical and ecological themes, whilst enabling you to choose an optional module in one of the subject areas.
The final year builds on your knowledge and skills, and again allows you to choose an optional module. Each year has a residential field course which will consolidate much of your theory, whilst developing more field skills. The final year has an optional field expedition to Botswana.
Year One: Natural History Degree
- Principles of Ecology
- Digital Production for Natural History 1
- Observational Fieldwork
- Introduction to Bio-geosciences
- Natural History
- Introduction to Natural History and Media
Year Two: Natural History Degree
- Natural History Filmmaking and Photography
- Biodiversity and Biogeography
- GIS for Wildlife Conservation Management
- Natural History Field Course
- Digital Production for Natural History 2
Year Three: Natural History Degree
- Natural History Research Project
- Marine and Freshwater Biology
- Professional Development in Natural History Media
- Natural History Field Expedition
- Mediterranean Fieldwork
- Work-based Learning
- Climate Change
The Natural History and Media course is delivered full or part time. You will be taught via a combination of lectures, practicals and fieldwork.
Students receive on average 18 contact hours per week, and will be expected to do a total of 200 hours of independent study per module.
Our Natural History and Media degree has three bespoke digital production and media modules. Students will gain significant hands-on experience of using both traditional and emerging media technologies as well as skills that will allow them to enter the research sector of media production.
The natural sciences course also offers numerous transferable skills including GIS, numeracy and statistics, data handling and interpretation.
The alignment of the course for CIEEM accreditation ensures that students develop key skills in ecology which will enhance graduate employment prospects in the ecological sector.
You will be assessed using a range of approaches depending on your module choice and year of study.
A number of modules are assessed through a combination of examination and associated assignments, while all the digital and media modules are continuously assessed through assignments.
Your assignments can range from laboratory write-ups, open book tests, structured essays, oral presentations and field reports through to a photographic portfolio and field note books.
In your final year you will write a dissertation, worth two modules, based on a topic that you pick from a list of subjects or a topic of your choice which is developed in conjunction with your project supervisor.
The BSc Natural History course is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management, and we would aim to achieve accreditation for this programme. Course content has been aligned with CIEEM requirements for accreditation.
The optional work-based learning module enables you to take a placement for up to four weeks, either in the UK or in some of the world’s exciting wildlife locations.
The Natural History degree is practically oriented and you will have opportunities to further develop practical skills by attending residential field courses. Current residential fieldwork destinations include Pembrokeshire, Portugal/Spain, Iceland and Botswana (optional). Additional costs may apply to field courses.
The Natural History Field Expedition module to Botswana is undertaken in a camp established to train wildlife trackers. As part of this optional module you will study the wildlife and ecology of the Mashatu region and develop your tracking skills. Please note, the exact locations of all overseas field trips may vary each year and are based on the area’s suitability.
This Natural History course has modules with significant fieldwork elements, which come with certain physical demands. If you have a disability that is likely to be affected by physical demands, please get in touch with us as soon as possible.
As well as making use of the great outdoors, our natural sciences courses work in modern laboratories and classrooms.
Our George Knox laboratories are part of a £15m investment in science, meaning you will be taught in new and well-equipped spaces.
We also have a state-of-the-art media room with access to a range of media equipment including Canon 700D and 550D DSLR kits; Sony a7 kits; telephoto lenses and macro lenses; camouflage hides and fieldcraft equipment.
Natural History is a broad subject and you will be taught by experts in the different subject areas. However because staff are all based in one school and on one site, your teaching team are easy to get to know. We encourage an open door policy so that you can speak to any lecturer whenever they are available.
Key staff include:
We regularly revalidate courses for quality assurance and enhancement
At USW, we regularly review our courses in response to changing patterns of employment and skills demand to ensure we offer learning designed to reflect today’s student needs and tomorrow’s employer demands.
If during a review process course content is significantly changed, we’ll write to inform you and talk you through the changes for the coming year. But whatever the outcome, we aim to equip our students with the skillset and the mindset to succeed whatever tomorrow may bring. Your future, future-proofed.
The entry criteria below reflect our standard entry requirements for the course for September 2023. However, all applications received by the University are reviewed holistically and individually. Entry criteria for September 2024 is changing and will be published on ucas.com from 8th May 2023. Entry criteria for September 2024 will be updated on our website from the end of October 2023.
We may make you a lower offer based on a range of factors, including your background (where you live and the school or college that you attended for example), your experiences and individual circumstances (as a care leaver, for example). This is referred to as a contextual offer and we receive data from UCAS to support us in making these decisions. USW prides itself on its student experience and we support our students to achieve their goals and become a successful graduate. This approach helps us to support students who have the potential to succeed and who may have faced barriers that make it more difficult to access university. Here is a link to our Contextual Admissions Policy.
Other qualifications and experience
We can also consider combinations of qualifications and other qualifications not listed here may also be acceptable. We can sometimes consider credits achieved at other universities and your work/life experience through an assessment of prior learning. This may be for year one entry, or advanced entry to year two or three of a course where this is possible.
To find out which qualifications have tariff points, please refer to the UCAS tariff calculator.
If you need more help or information or would like to speak to our friendly admissions team, please contact us here
Typical A-Level Offer
BCC - CDD (excludes General Studies)
Typical Welsh BACC Offer
Pass the Advanced Welsh Baccalaureate Diploma with Grade C/D in the Skills Challenge Certificate and BC - CD at A Level- excludes General Studies
Typical BTEC Offer
BTEC Extended Diploma Distinction Merit Merit - Merit Merit Pass
Typical Access to HE Offer
Pass an Access to Higher Education Diploma and obtain a minimum of 80 UCAS tariff points
GCSEs: The University normally requires a minimum 5 GCSEs including Mathematics/Numeracy and English at Grade C or Grade 4 or above, or their equivalent, but consideration is given to individual circumstances.
Full-time fees are per year. Part-time fees are per 20 credits. Once enrolled, the fee will remain at the same rate throughout the duration of your study on this course.
August 2023 - July 2024 Fees
Full-time UK: £9000
Full-time International: £14400
August 2024 - July 2025 Fees
Full-time UK: TBC
Full-time International: £15260
At the University of South Wales, you’re investing in so much more than a degree. We strive to provide our students with the best possible experience, no matter what you chose to study. Whether it’s access to top of the range mac books and PCs, state-of-the-art facilities packed with industry-leading equipment and software, masterclasses and events led by industry experts, or a wide range of clubs and societies to meet likeminded people, better tomorrows start with extra perks.
Each course also has their own unique student benefits to prepare you for the real word, and details of these can be found on our course pages. From global field trips, integrated work experience and free course-related resources, to funded initiatives, projects working with real employers, and opportunities for extra qualifications and accreditations - at USW your future, is future-proofed.
As a student of USW, you’ll have access to lots of free resources to support your study and learning, such as textbooks, publications, online journals, laptops, and plenty of remote-access resources. Whilst in most cases these resources are more than sufficient in supporting you with completing your course, additional costs, both obligatory and optional, may be required or requested for the likes of travel, memberships, experience days, stationery, printing, or equipment.
|Kit / Equipment *||
"Students undertaking courses that contain elements of outdoor fieldwork must wear appropriate outdoor clothing, which includes suitable wet weather gear (trousers and coat), rugged walking boots and hat/gloves. We also recommend that students have appropriate clothing for winter fieldwork activities including warm layers. Students will also need to supply suitable field notebooks in order to take observations/notes during field courses. The location and weather will determine the nature of clothing/footwear worn, and therefore the cost, and students will be informed of these requirements at the start of their studies. Please note that inappropriate clothing/footwear may prevent students from participating in an activity. The School of Applied Sciences subsidises the cost of compulsory fieldwork in the UK and overseas. Although kept to a minimum, some overseas compulsory fieldwork may have additional costs applied. Optional fieldwork modules are typically at the cost to the student. Generally, students will be expected to pay for their food unless specifically included within the field course. Please note that some fieldwork may require visas and vaccinations, which are at the cost to the student and will vary depending on individual circumstances."
|Kit / Equipment *||£10 - £100||
Media storage card and USB memory stick or Cloud Storage for Digital Production for Natural History modules.
|Drone Introductory Training *||£200||
This will be a introductory course USW based course delivered in Year 2.
|Field trip||£2000 - £2500||
Natural History Field Expedition in year 3 presently conducted in Botswana and generally covers a 2 week period studying the ecology of the region plus training in tracking and field guide skills. The costs include ‘internal’ transport – generally between Johannesburg (S. Africa) and Mashatu (Botswana) – accommodation at the training camp plus accommodation the night before and after the camp (Johannesburg) – all food and soft drinks at the camp. Additionally, students need to purchase their own flights to Johannesburg. We are unable to estimate the costs of flights which may be impacted by the global Covid-19 pandemic.
Work Based Learning is an optional year 3 module which requires a work placement. However, students who successfully secure a placement in industry to complete their project would be expected to pay their own travel costs to and from the venue during the period of placement. The cost of this will of course vary and some students have also paid for accommodation close to their place of work for the duration of their placement.
Funding to help pay for (or cover) course tuition fees and living costs
Whilst you’re studying, you’ll have two main financial obligations – tuition fees and living costs. There’s lots of financial help available from the University of South Wales and external funding sources, that may provide loans (which have to be paid back) and grants, scholarships and bursaries (that don't).
To learn about course fees, funding options, and to see if you are eligible for financial support, visit our Fees and Funding pages.
Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Science Travel Bursary
The Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Science offers a travel bursary of £500 which is available to all students undertaking an undergraduate sandwich degree. Find out more.
Apply via UCAS if you are a UK residing applicant, applying for year one of a full-time undergraduate degree, Foundation Year, Foundation Degree or HND and you have not applied through UCAS before. If you are applying to study part-time, to top up your Foundation Degree or HND, or to transfer to USW from another institution, please apply directly.
International and EU students
Apply directly to the University if you live outside the UK.
Recent graduates of our Natural History degree have gone on to work for environmental consultancies; Natural Resources Wales; Environment Agency and Government agencies and NGOs and in eco-tourism. We would expect graduates to progress into careers in the wildlife photography and natural history film-making sectors.