BSc Environmental Science

UCAS codeF750
Duration3 years
Typical offerAAB-ABB; IB: 34-32
DisciplineGeography
LocationTaught in Cornwall Campus Cornwall (Penryn Campus)

Overview

Environmental Science video

Staff and students discuss the BSc Environmental Science programme. View full size.

Do you want to make a difference and change the future of the planet? Are you inspired by the complexity of the natural environment? Could you help develop new ways to manage the world’s natural resources? If so, then environmental science is the subject for you.

Our BSc and MSci Environmental Science programmes are the University’s flagship environmental degrees enabling you to learn the science behind the Earth’s amazing complexity and its environmental processes. These programmes are at the cutting-edge of current thinking in the environmental field: you will learn practical and theoretical insights from world leading research experts in a range of environmental disciplines. Our mission is to train you in measuring, evaluating and making decisions about environmental issues. From day one of your degree you will take a hands-on approach to the collection and analysis of environmental data in the field and laboratory.

These challenging programmes will broaden your horizons by enabling you to learn about environmental processes at a range of scales from local issues affecting South West England to those with global impacts. You’ll engage with issues relating to climate change, its impact on the world and efforts to mitigate its effect. You will uncover the complexities of the legal processes which underpin environmental decision making and discover how the law facilitates the enforcement of environmental regulation.

Throughout the programme you will develop a wide range of practical skills to increase your employability, working with satellite data and using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) to guide real-world environmental decision making. You will have the opportunity to work and learn in inspiring places where you will gain practical field experience.

You will benefit from exposure to cutting-edge interdisciplinary research through the programmes’ close relationship with the University’s Environment and Sustainability Institute (ESI) on the Penryn Campus. Cornwall is an exceptional place in which to study issues related to the environment and sustainability: the county is a perfect living laboratory which offers a diverse range of marine and terrestrial habitats, a wealth of natural resources and creative and resilient communities.

Our programme structures allow you to pursue your interests and shape your ambitions. Importantly, throughout the degrees you will gain insights from industry leaders in the environmental sector and engage with other relevant organisations through field trips embedded in modules and work placement opportunities offered by the University.

Programme variations

There are many BSc Environmental Science degrees offered in the UK, but the programme here is, I believe, unique in incorporating a specifically legal and policy aspect, and the inclusion of these appropriate modules makes this programme distinctive and attractive.

The academic content is very comprehensive, including geographical and environmental subjects, combined with elements of biology and ecology as well as law and policy, fully delivering on the overall aim of training environmental practitioners. Modules incorporate a wide range of transferable skills, from conceptual and structural skills to technical and practical skills, which are all crucial to personal development and general employability.

The programme is comprehensive, rigorous and very well designed in its structure and modules. The learning outcomes, teaching methods, and assessments are very well coordinated and appropriate, with a good progression in content and advancement over the course of study. I congratulate the team for designing such an impressive, attractive, and highly relevant degree programme.

Dr Andreas Baas, Senior Lecturer, External Assessor for the Environmental Science degrees at the University of Exeter

Programme structure

The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.

The following tables describe the programme and constituent modules. Constituent modules may be updated, deleted or replaced as a consequence of the annual programme review of this programme.

This programme is designed to be interdisciplinary and therefore you may not take elective modules from outside of the programme in any stage.

Year 1

90 credits of compulsory modules, 30 credits of optional modules

Compulsory modules

CodeModuleCredits
GEO1405BEarth System Science 15
GEO1406BAnalysis of Environmental Data 15
GEO1408BGlobal Issues in Environmental Science 15
GEO1506BWest Penwith Fieldclass 15
GEO1504BTutorials 15
LAW1015 A Legal Framework for Environmental Protection 15

Optional modules

CodeModuleCredits
GEO1407BInvestigating Social and Spatial Environments 15
GEO1409BEnvironment and Society 15
GEO1410Introduction to Human Sciences 15
BIO1421Field and Laboratory Techniques 15

Year 2

105 credits of compulsory modules, 15 credits of optional modules

Compulsory modules

CodeModuleCredits
BIO2407Population and Community Ecology 15
BIO2425Introduction to Ecological Consultancy 15
GEO2438Key Skills for Environmental Scientists 30
GEO2440Geographical Information Science and Systems 15
GEO2441Remote Sensing for Environmental Management 15
LAW2016CEnvironmental Regulation and Redress 15

Optional modules

CodeModuleCredits
BIO2441Applied Insect Ecology 15
ECM2901Mathematics of the Environment II 15
GEO2428BAtmosphere and Ocean Systems 15
GEO2430BNature and Culture 15
GEO2431Natural Hazards and Risk 15
GEO2435Evolution of Human Societies 15
GEO2442The Politics of Climate Change and Energy 15
GEO2443Workplace Learning 15
GEO2444Landscape Evolution 15
GEO2445Rural Social Issues 15
GEO2446Time and Place 15

Year 3

90 credits of compulsory modules, 30 credits of optional modules

Compulsory modules

* GEO3513 and GEO3442 must be taken together

CodeModuleCredits
GEO3513Dissertation in Environmental Science [* see note above]40
GEO3442Preparing to Graduate [* see note above]5
GEO3 new moduleInternational Field Course 30
LAW3016CLegal Response to Environmental Destruction15

Optional modules

CodeModuleCredits
BIO3131Trends in Ecology and Evolution 15
GEO3409BEnergy Policies for a Low Carbon Economy 15
GEO3415BIssues in Climate Change 15
GEO3435BEnvironment and Empire 15
GEO3437BClimate Change and Society 15
GEO3446Sustainability 15
GEO3447Waste and Society 15
GEO3448Quaternary Environmental Change 15
GEO3449Volcanic Processes and Environments 15

The academic content is very comprehensive, including geographical and environmental subjects, combined with elements of biology and ecology as well as law and policy, fully delivering on the overall aim of training environmental practitioners. Modules incorporate a wide range of transferable skills, from conceptual and structural skills to technical and practical skills, which are all crucial to personal development and general employability. The programme is comprehensive, rigorous and very well designed in its structure and modules.

Dr Andreas Baas, Senior Lecturer, External Assessor for the Environmental Science degrees at the University of Exeter

Entry requirements 2015

Typical offer

AAB-ABB; IB: 34-32

Required subjects

GCE AL grade B or IB HL5 in a science subject.

GCE AL science includes: Biology/Human Biology*; Chemistry; Computing; Design and Technology; Electronics; Environmental Studies; Geography; Geology; Maths/Pure Maths/Further Maths*; Physical Education; Physics; Psychology; Science (applied); Statistics.

*If more than one of these is taken they would only count as one 'science' but could count as two A-levels towards our general requirements.

International students

International students should check details of our English language requirements and may be interested in our Foundation programmes.

Further information

Please read the important information about our Typical offer.

For full and up-to-date information on applying to Exeter and entry requirements, including requirements for other types of qualification, please see the Applying section.

Learning and teaching

You will be taught by internationally recognised research-active staff through a range of methods including lectures, seminars, tutorials, field work, and laboratory sessions, and will receive at least 15 hours of quality contact time per week. Emphasis is placed on developing your practical hands-on expertise, grounded by sound theoretical knowledge. We embed important environmental science skills within modules, including GIS, remote sensing and data analysis. We include a wide range of local, national and international trips and you will engage in fieldwork of all varieties and in many different environments throughout your programme of study.

At the University of Exeter we have developed novel methods of hands-on interactive teaching, which you will benefit from in the Environmental Science degree. From Year 1 you will engage with hands-on enquiries using databases, maps and satellite data, developing GIS tools to help you understand the local, regional, national and global picture of the natural world and all of its processes. Lecture material will be global in scope but practical work will build from a local focus in Year 1 to a global perspective by Year 3. By the end of your degree you will be able to use spatial datasets to answer environmental questions important to the future of our planet.

As a student of the programme you will benefit from excellent student:staff ratios, small group tutorials and accessible staff. In all three years you will be offered personal tutoring in small groups with an academic member of staff. In addition to participating in taught modules you are expected to undertake extensive independent and self-motivated study as part of your degree. You will learn to work independently and become a scientific thinker during this programme – learning these skills is not easy but we will be on-hand to guide you throughout the programme. Your independent study will culminate in an individual project (dissertation) in Year 3 where you will research an environmental subject of your choice.

Assessment

Assessment methods vary depending on your choice of modules, but are likely to include exams and coursework-based assessment. You must pass your first year assessment in order to progress to the second year. The assessments in the second and final years all contribute to your final degree classification.

Study abroad

Students registered on the BSc Environmental Science can apply for a place to study with a number of International Exchange partner universities in the United States and Australia. You can find a complete list of International Exchange partner universities on the International Exeter website.

This International Exchange programme enables you to spend a year abroad in an English speaking international (non-European) university. Whilst abroad you will study approved modules at the host university to the value of 120 credits; these will be credited towards your University of Exeter degree, which you would then complete after four years of study rather than three.

To qualify for application for an International Exchange place and transfer onto the BSc Environmental Science with Study Abroad, we would expect you to have successfully completed your Year 1 studies with an average mark of at least 60 per cent. Places are limited and will be awarded on a competitive basis. All assessments during the year abroad would be undertaken at the host university and would count towards your final degree. Upon return to the University of Exeter, you would then complete your degree in a fourth year (equivalent to the current Year 3 of our BSc Environmental Science programme).

Field work

Environmental Science field work video

Staff and students discuss the fieldwork aspect of the BSc Environmental Science programme. View full size.

We believe that students learn a lot by getting field experience in the natural environment and we exploit our unique position in West Cornwall to our advantage. As a student on this programme you will engage in fieldwork of all varieties and in many different environments. Led by expert staff, field trips are embedded into modules throughout your degree to give you a first-hand understanding of the subject.

We begin in Year 1 with a range of local field excursions, exploring ecological and environmental principles in West Cornwall. There is an overnight trip to West Penwith, and various field classes within the local region. This includes a three day volunteering exercise with a local environmental organisation, learning practical environmental stewardship and working with local groups.

In your Third Year we take you further afield to think about bigger issues in environmental science. You'll attend a residential field course; for students enrolling in 2015 this will almost certainly be a 10 day trip to Kenya*. This will give you the opportunity to apply your research and practical skills.

By the end of the programme you will have gathered a suite of unique field working skills that will place you in a strong position to move into environmental employment.

Find out more about our field courses.

*Please note that the field class location may be subject to change.

Careers

A degree in Environmental Science from the University of Exeter will equip you with a wide range of skills suitable for progressing onto further study or employment. These skills, highly sought after by employers, include: data gathering; information retrieval; problem solving; project planning and management; organising and communicating information; report production and presentation (written and oral); plus the ability to work effectively on your own and as part of a team.

Jobs in environmental sectors across the globe are likely to increase in the future as population growth intensifies the demand for resources such as energy and emerging global environmental policies place a question mark over the longevity of carbon-hungry energy supplies. A growing body of scientific evidence, with significant contribution from staff at the University of Exeter, is highlighting the fragile future of biodiversity, water resources, food security, and natural carbon stocks under global climate change. Climate change is now acknowledged by scientists, governments, businesses and social, environmental and economic organisations as one of the greatest challenges of our time. Our changing environment presents a fascinating and urgent set of challenges and opportunities for today’s practitioners, policy makers and researchers.

Environmental consultancy is increasing in prominence globally. There is an emerging need for skilled graduates to feed into this industry, bringing sound scientific understanding of environmental issues, coupled with practical training in how to solve or mitigate environmental problems. For example, in the UK, the skills of environmental scientists are required to implement EU legislation at local and regional levels in relation to sustainable development, rural and urban regeneration and access to the countryside. There are also many jobs for environmental scientists with an understanding of remote sensing data and information management in Geographical Information Systems. In addition, the UK is currently one of the poorest waste managers in Europe, so waste disposal and recycling are likely to remain important issues for both householders and businesses over the next few years. Furthermore there are new openings for environmental scientists in the water industry, where sustainable management of water supplies is a growing concern. This list is by no means exhaustive: a degree in environmental science will place you at the forefront of a discipline where resource management and environmental decision making are critical to the future health and function of planet Earth.

The University of Exeter has an excellent reputation with graduate recruiters and our students and graduates compete very successfully in the employment market. On campus we offer a careers advisory service which provides high quality careers information and guidance to all students as well as online facilities such as a CV creator and advice on application and interview techniques. Whatever path you want to follow after graduating, we’re here to help and support you with all your career and employability needs.

Developing your skills and career prospects

The University provides a range of support and opportunities to help you develop skills that are attractive to employers. Visit our Careers and employability pages on the Biosciences and Geography websites for more information.

Further study

Further study is a popular choice for a number of students following graduation from a Biosciences or Geography undergraduate degree. Below are a few examples* of further study undertaken by recent graduates of our undergraduate programmes. Please note that, due to data protection, the job titles and organisations are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.

Subject areaInstitution
Sustainable development
Climate science
Countryside management
Ecology
Practical conservation, management and education
Surveying
Environmental management
Geo-sciences
Marketing
Energy policy
University of York
University of Exeter
The University of Edinburgh
The University of Liverpool
Bangor University
University of Warwick
Lancaster University
University of Reading

Find out more

Further information about the opportunities the University of Exeter offers to maximise our graduates’ employment prospects can be found on the CareerZone website.

* This information has been taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Survey 2011/12.

Contact us

Penryn Campus, Cornwall

Email: cornwall@exeter.ac.uk
Phone: +44 (0)1326 371801

How to apply Get a prospectus Visit subject website 2014 degrees Print course Key Information Set from Unistats

View our Geography brochure

Download PDF

Transformational Climate Science conference 2014

In May 2014 we hosted the first gathering of Co-Chairs and authors from all three IPCC working groups with over 500 climate scientists, policy makers, industry professionals, students, and members of the public participated in this exciting event. View full size.