Environmental Studies and Conservation Level 3

Whether you are a school leaver, new to the industry or a keen conservationist this programme will start you on your way to a career in countryside and estate management.

The countryside sector needs people who understand both the science and the practical elements required to manage the many conflicting demands on rural areas. This course aims to prepare you for the task of successful countryside management.

You’ll study a wide range of relevant conservation issues and analyse the complex impact that tourism and development have on the countryside and have a greater understanding of the scientific implications relating to these issues, enabling you to evaluate the threats and solutions that conservationists currently face.

Practical skills underpin every element of this course. You will gain a broad knowledge of the different habitats around us including relevant legislation, and hands-on experience of the ‘gold-star’ management techniques that can be implemented to conserve the flora and fauna they contain.

All 16-19 year olds on full-time programmes will be required to retake GCSE English and Maths or to undertake Functional Skills, if they have not already attained the equivalent of a GCSE grade C in these subjects, every year of their course, until they complete their studies.

Year 1
  • Professional Working Responsibilities
  • Plant and Soil Science
  • Work Experience
  • Countryside Estate Skills
  • Managing Environmental Habitats
  • Identification, Planting and Care of Trees
  • Wildlife Ecology and Management
Year 2:
  • Contemporary Issues in Land-based Sectors
  • Woodland Management
  • Ecological Concepts
  • Countryside Recreation
  • Land-based Machinery Operations
  • Coastal Habitats Management
  • Freshwater & Wetland Management
  • Managing Countryside Visitor Activities

A range of practical ‘real’ projects on the Merrist Wood estate, along with workshop, classroom and laboratory studies.

Work Experience – You will undertake 150 hours industry experience with a conservation organisation. We have dedicated industry placement officer who will help you arrange this.

Our courses are run by professional staff who are passionate about conservation and ecology, and have strong links with local organisations such as the Surrey Wildlife Trust.The course is ideally set up to ensure that you are able to progress into careers in the environment and ecology and conservation or onto University.

To ensure that you have a detailed understanding of how the environment changes and its effect on the land, you will be undertaking real-life projects across our extensive estate that will incorporate studying the science of plants, biological environment and applied ecology. But it’s not all about science, you will also learn a wide range of environmental, conservation and wildlife skills such as the management of habitats and woodland, as well as learning about how recreation impacts the countryside.

In addition you will also have the opportunity to be trained in the safe use of machinery in our specialist workshops, therefore ensuring you develop the practical skills needed to manage the land. You will also have the opportunity to get involved in estate management, the annual lambing season and traditional greenwood crafts such as charcoal burning and coppicing.

Many of our former students have moved on to work for local government as ecology officers or national organisations such as the National Trust, Surrey Wildlife Trust and the Woodland Trust either managing the estates or as ecological advisors. There really is no better place to study the environment, conservation and ecology than at Merrist Wood College!

You need to have 4 GCSEs at grade 4 and above including English, maths and science, or a relevant L2 technical qualification, ideally at a merit. (if the learner has dropped to a grade 3 in maths only or has a pass in a L2 qualification please put through to faculty approval so we can assess overall grade profile)

Be prepared to work outdoors in real working situations that range from hedgelaying and tractor driving to wildlife surveying, with everything needed in between to prepare you for a career in countryside and estate management.

Explore your career progression options

If you are considering applying for this programme, why not explore your potential career progression routes using our handy tool.

You can explore live job vacancies, next level qualifications and apprenticeship standards in your local area. Not only this but you can also watch videos of real people talking about their experiences of working in your specific industry or occupation of interest.

Why not visit us at an Open Event and find out more about this pathway.


Dawn Rigby

Tutor Dawn Rigby I believe that young children need a special environment in which to grow and deserve practitioners who are inspiring, dynamic, reflective and passionate about their learning.
Read Dawn's full story here

Why Merrist Wood College?

  • Clear routes of progression with qualifications ranging from foundation level to degree level!
  • Industry experienced teaching staff give you the responsibility and independence you need to take charge of your own future.
  • 100+

    different courses

  • 50+

    years of experience in teaching land-based subjects

  • 400

    -acre campus specialising in the land-based industries

About us