The End of the Botany Degree in the UK

An article highlighting the continuing decline in the number of students pursuing degrees in plant science.

Bioscience Education The last student enrolled in a pure “Botany” degree in the UK began in the University of Bristol this year, 2010. In recent years only the University of Reading also offered the Botany degree, before it was dropped there 3 years ago. This short article is written to draw attention to this fact and to a more general relative decline in the number of students pursuing degrees in plant science highlighted in a recent extensive report on the “Uptake of Plant Sciences in the UK” completed in 2009. We explore potential implications and causes by focusing on third level education, specifically full time degree courses as available through the UCAS application system. Findings are related to the preceding secondary school education and succeeding employment market that surround and influence the undergraduate experience.

Sinéad Drea, Department of Biology, University of Leicester, UK. The End of the Botany Degree in the UK. Bioscience Education 17-2 (2011)


Ann Bot is a gestalt entity who works in the office for the Annals of Botany.


  • I just spoke to Sinéad and we agree the solution is to put “Medical” in front of the name, whatever the content, so we’re talking “Medical Botany” here 🙂

  • It is really a sad news for UK people. Universities must take an initiative to make Medical Botany degree available at least for some students.

    • After discussion with many other Plant Scientists/Botanists/Plant Biologists I have found that this appears to be a worldwide problem. Many students seem to be reluctant to read for an undergraduate degree in Botany – even though they are interested in (and recognise the need for) a sustainable and geen economy, conservation, medical botany etc. There appears to be not only a strong bias in favour of biomedical (or percieved biomedical) subject areas but a concurrent rejection of plants…….from an early age for example see the response that Jamie Oliver had when asking school children whether they recognise common food plants

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