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14+6 Science Majors

Major in Ecology & Biodiversity


About the Major

This Major is directed at teaching students: (1) the evolution and diversity of life forms on Earth and the diversity of their habits and behaviours, (2) how organisms interact with each other and with their environments, and (3) key threats and approaches for conserving biodiversity and ensuring sustainable management. Special reference is made to Hong Kong and other Asian flora and fauna, within both aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, the ways in which humans are impacting natural environments, and the approaches used to manage or mitigate those impacts.


Photo credit: Stefano Cannicci

This Major includes introductory courses which emphasize the diversity of plant and animal species, their evolutionary history, as well as applied tools such as biostatistics. There is field-work experience with a compulsory five-day residential field course focusing on the ecology of local habitats. At the advanced level, the Major teaches students about the ecology and biodiversity of different ecosystems (e.g. marine, terrestrial and freshwater environments), again emphasizing field work experience, and introduces the use of quantitative and experimental methods in ecology through direct access to dedicated facilities at the Swire Institute of Marine Science. Students can focus on applied or specialised topics such as fisheries and mariculture, tropical terrestrial and marine ecology, and biodiversity conservation.

Experiential learning is encouraged and facilitated to develop expertise in one or a few groups of plants or animals, to provide knowledge in species identification and detailed understanding of their biology and ecology as essential prerequisites for ecologists and conservation biologists. Students are also offered opportunities to conduct independent research in ecology, evolution and biodiversity in the context of a final year project or internship, or they may undertake a dissertation under the close supervision of an individual staff member. A variety of other experiential or capstone opportunities is also offered, including overseas field trips and internships with local organisations.


Photo credit: Billy Hau

The Ecology & Biodiversity Major has been conferred accreditation by the Royal Society of Biology (RSB), UK, for the purpose of meeting in part the academic and experience requirement for the Membership and Chartered Biologist (CBiol) after an independent and rigorous assessment. It is noteworthy that the Ecology & Biodiversity Major is the first programme of its type accredited by RSB in Asia. Graduates will receive one year of guest membership of RSB at Associate level. This will help them to stay up to date with what is happening across the life sciences, gain additional recognition for their skills and experience, develop their professional network and demonstrate their support for the future of biology. Enhancement of this Major will be reflected in the curriculum starting from September 2018, and the intake of cohort 2018-19 will be able to apply for the accredited options of this.

accredited degree

Career Prospects

  • Graduates have an excellent track record in local and overseas employment in jobs directly related to their studies or in other fields;
  • Graduates and postgraduates have secured employment in the Government (e.g. in the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, Environmental Protection Department, Food and Environmental Hygiene Department), Ocean Park Conservation Foundation, environmental consultancies, research, teaching, ecotourism, conservation groups such as World Wide Fund and the Conservancy Association, and community services;
  • Graduates also find careers in universities and intergovernmental organisations; 
  • As awareness of the need to protect our natural environment and biological resources grows in Hong Kong and elsewhere in Asia, demand for graduates with expert knowledge of biodiversity and conservation issues is increasing and is important for policy formulation and decision making by Government, NGOs and the private sector; 
  • An increasing number of Ecology and Biodiversity graduates have entered the education sector as school teachers in recent years, as the new secondary school curriculum contains added components pertaining to ecology and environmental sciences in several required and elective courses. 

LO Pei Lai Janice

2012 BSc graduate (major in Ecology & Biodiversity)
Participant of field trip to Kenya and Tanzania, Africa in 2010


"Throughout my study in HKU, I was constantly amazed by the unbelievable diversity of natural wonders. I never got bored in my study. Whenever our class got outside the classroom into the field, every piece of land was a new adventure to us. We even got a golden chance to visit Kenya and Tanzania, travelling around national parks on safari. The African savannah was so wide that one can never capture it with any media, but only with one’s own eyes. I hope one day everyone on Earth could be touched by nature as we were in the savannah.”