Five reasons I loved studying ecology

 

Going to uni should be a fun and exciting time – but how do you stop yourself drifting off in the lecture theatre or feeling envious of friends who chose to take a gap year in Asia?  Well, how about a degree that takes you out of the classroom and puts you on a boat with warm sunshine on your skin and azure water teasing your toes?

Nottingham Trent University student Joe Heard certainly thought he’d hit the jackpot when he discovered the thrilling expeditions he would be going on as part of his course, diving and studying tropical marine systems.

Of course, beaches and reefs aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Student Hannah Knipe chose to visit South Africa, which was perfect to satisfy her fascination with savannas.

Whether you end up in the wilds of Africa, the breathtaking brilliance of the Icelandic fjords or the tropics of South America, there are so many amazing places where you can not only find adventure but you can learn some valuable skills too.

Travel while you learn – or learn while you travel

 

Heaps of students finish their A-levels, want a break from studying and so take time out to travel the world. Imagine if you could do this as part of your degree though – visiting somewhere exotic and learning at the same time!

Opportunities to go on trips to South Africa and Mauritius are offered as part of Nottingham Trent’s environmental degrees including ecology and wildlife conservation.

Joe says: “I went on a Mauritius trip as I wanted to gain some additional experience learning how to conduct research within tropical marine ecosystems. As part of the dive team my time was spent surveying fish and benthic communities inside and outside of a marine protected area, either by snorkelling or with SCUBA. I particularly enjoyed improving my reef fish identification skills and getting to spend long days out on the water.”

Dr Nicholas Ray, a lecturer in ecology at Nottingham Trent adds: “Studying with us will help to put all learning into practice, particularly if you opt for the four-year course which will enable you to travel far and wide. Our students really benefit from seeing first-hand what they have been learning about in the lecture theatre and of course may well want to go on to work abroad in their futures.”

Changing the world

 

We humans may think we’re top of the ecological tree and in many ways we are. But we live in a delicately balanced ecosystem – one which we constantly upset with pollution, overpopulation and overuse of scarce resources. Studying ecology or conservation is your chance to make a big impact on the future health of our planet. You will learn about protecting endangered species and about safeguarding important habitats.

Hannah says: “My South Africa trip was one of the highlights of my time at Nottingham Trent and I left feeling more passionate and inspired to protect endangered species. I had already spent time in South Africa and was eager to return and saw this as an ideal opportunity.”

A career as a conservationist

You could be setting up wildlife camera surveys on selected game reserves across South Africa while exploring a huge variety of habitats. Or you could you could be spotting rare marine wildlife in the Indian Ocean. You’ll get to meet others in your field while seeing some pretty amazing animals and sea life.

Joe says: “Field trips are an invaluable opportunity to put into practice skills and knowledge you have acquired throughout your course, while at the same time gaining first-hand insight into the realities of what you might be able to expect from a career working as a conservationist in the tropics.”

Making amazing contacts all over the world

 

Of course, you’ll learn loads when you’re away but be sure to keep in touch with the wonderful people you meet. You never know when you might need them – especially when it comes to looking for a job.

Dr Ray says: “We have links all over the world and around 7,000 students studying abroad in our partner colleges. We are proud to have one of the biggest collaborative provisions in the UK as well as our impressive portfolio of international research partnerships. We appreciate how pooling common interests, assets and skills benefits broader goals and outcomes for all involved.”

Practise your new skills while you learn

Ecology is really hands-on and you’ll gain practical experience of investigating interactions between organisms and their environment. You’ll look at topical and current threats to biodiversity and the ecological concepts and techniques you’ll need to further your career in ecology or wildlife management. The skills you’ll learn are exactly what future employers are looking for.

Hannah says: “If you have the opportunity to go abroad, you should definitely take it. For me, with rhinos being so endangered and continuing to decline, the chance to see them up close and in their natural habitat was an opportunity not to be passed up. Being able to collect data in the field and to write a study based on your findings can be a rewarding task as well.”

Visit Nottingham Trent University for more information about conservation and ecology courses at Nottingham Trent.

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