School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

BSc (Hons) Environmental Chemistry

UCAS tariff 104 - 112
UCAS course code F141
Institution code P60

3 years

(+ optional placement)
Course type


Location Plymouth

Environmental chemists will play a vital role in tackling global environmental challenges, including sustainability, human health, green energy and protecting the environment. A unique skillset will be developed throughout the programme, ensuring a strong knowledge base in chemistry, with specialism in the environmental science sector to meet society’s sustainability needs for the future.

Environmental Chemistry
Students in Greece making environmental measurements as part of the ENVS2002 module

Careers with this subject

You will graduate into a rapidly expanding market, which is only set to grow further with pledges to substantially increase the number of ‘green jobs’ both nationally and internationally in the next decade.
The skills you learn during your degree make you very attractive to employers across a range of sectors. You could use your skills directly, in areas such as research and development within the green energy sector or in other laboratory-based analytical roles (for example with the Environment Agency), alternatively, you could use your skills to contribute to multi-disciplinary teams across the science, engineering, environmental and technology sectors. A significant percentage of our graduates go on to postgraduate study, including masters and PhD positions, which can be a way of specialising and gaining valuable research skills. Teaching (both primary and secondary) is another option open to you. 

Key features

  • Equip yourself for successful employment in a competitive job market – our focus on practical, professional skills means you graduate primed to enter the workplace.
  • Benefit from award-winning teaching in small groups and be inspired by staff who are world-leading researchers.
  • Hone your practical problem-solving skills in our newly-refurbished laboratories, kitted out with the latest analytical instrumentation.
  • Take part in fieldwork in the UK and/or overseas in a variety of locations.
  • 70% of assessment is based on coursework.
  • Experience chemistry in the real world and boost your employability by taking a placement, work-based project in your final year, or working alongside PhD and post-doctoral researchers in our high specification laboratories.
  • A diverse and respectful place in which to work and study is fundamental to everything we do. Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science.

Course details

  • Year 1

  • In your first year, a foundation in core chemistry knowledge will be established, which will be achieved through a combination of workshops, lectures, tutorials and practical sessions, providing you with the essential skills and knowledge for your degree in environmental chemistry. You will also be introduced core aspects of environmental sustainability through critical evaluation of social, environmental and economic aspects of the environmental issues faced by our planet. 

    Core modules

    • Practice of Chemistry (CHM1011)

      Ignite your passion for Chemistry. Get hands-on as part of a team, be trained in practical techniques, develop your laboratory practice, and enhance your scientific communication skills. This module will support your transition to university level study whatever your background.

    • Inorganic Chemistry (CHM1017)

      An exploration of atomic structure, relating the concepts of electron energy levels and atomic orbitals to real-world applications. Students will construct the periodic table, discussing its history, structure, and uncovering trends in elemental properties. Learn and apply bonding theory for simple molecules, metal complexes and crystal structures, through hands-on laboratory experimentation and analysis.

    • Organic Chemistry (CHM1019)

      Join us on a voyage of molecular discovery. In a series of hands-on lab sessions, workshops, and small group tutorials, you will explore the wonder of organic chemical reactions and gain a deep understanding of the concepts underpinning them.

    • Physical Chemistry (CHM1020)

      Further your ability to predict and model chemical parameters. Understand the states of matter, chemical kinetics, electrochemistry, and thermodynamics. Workshops will provide you with opportunities to investigate and ask probing questions, and lab sessions will train you in accurate observation and data collection.

    • Approaches to Data Analysis (CHM1021)

      Learn how computing, maths and chemistry interweave. Enhance your IT skills and gain a thoroughly supported experience using the programming language “R” to process, analyse and present environmental chemical data sets.

    • Environmental Management and Protection (ENVS1008)

      Introductory aspects of environmental sustainability. Critical evaluation of social, environmental and economic aspects of the environmental issues faced by our planet and how they may be solved by using regulation, the law, corporate social responsibility, specific European Union directives, impact assessments and environmental management systems.

  • Year 2

  • Building on the theoretical and practical areas covered in your first year, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the key areas of chemistry required to become an environmental chemist. You’ll be trained in the use of advanced instrumentation and develop the skills and knowledge to tackle chemical problems in real-life contexts, laying the foundations for more extended projects. Increasing optionality will allow you to begin to forge your own environmental specialism and you will have the option to develop your research skills through a residential field course in the UK or overseas. 

    Core modules

    • Inorganic Chemistry (CHM2011)

      Develop an in-depth understanding of bonding in transition metal complexes. Apply ligand field theory to explain a diverse array of magnetic and electronic properties. Through an enhanced understanding of inorganic, organic and physical chemistry, you will begin to rationalise the complexity of everyday natural processes and discover their beauty.

    • Organic Chemistry (CHM2012)

      Discover reaction pathways and understand how molecules rearrange themselves during a reaction. Learn the importance of the carbonyl (C=O) group in organic synthesis reactions. Use powerful spectroscopy techniques to identify organic molecules and their formulation. Enjoy plenty of hands-on, lab-based work on this module.

    • The Analytical Toolbox (CHM2017)

      Can you trust your data? Explore the importance of obtaining representative and reliable data using a series of case studies to apply fundamental theoretical concepts. During workshops, we will unpick robust approaches to sample collection, processing, and analysis. This will prepare you for your final year project and your future career. 100% coursework assessed.

    • Placement Preparation (GEES2000)

      This module explores the role of placements, work experience and volunteering for enhancing employability whilst at university and as a future graduate. It considers placement options (types, durations) and supports students in developing applications and preparing for interviews.

    Optional modules

    • Research Skills (CHM2016)

      This module will develop research and professional skills within the context of chemical problems, including a business challenge, and prepare students for modules CHM3011 and CHM3012.

    • Practical Environmental Chemistry (CHM2018)

      Enjoy an entirely practical-based module. We will take you into the field to collect samples and put into practice theoretical concepts you’ve already mastered. Gain experience using a range of modern instrumentation to gather large volumes of high-quality environmental data. 100% coursework assessed.

    • Environmental Expedition (ENVS2002)

      Students engage in the full cycle of a scientific project: literature research, hypothesis development, experiment planning, field-laboratory work, health & safety issues, data analysis and presentation. Personal development planning and professional skills are advanced in preparation for and during a residential field course through contact with professionals in the environmental sector.

    • Environmental Management and Sustainability (ENVS2003)

      The module covers areas of knowledge essential for all environmental science graduates: ecological economics, life supporting resources and environmental law.

    • Environmental Issues and Communication (ENVS2004)

      Through immersion in contemporary environmental issues, this module develops the knowledge and skills necessary to locate, analyse, evaluate and communicate scientific information in a range of contexts and to a range of audiences. Students develop their professional skills, as well as the skills to engage with a wide range of stakeholders and decision makers, from scientific experts to the general public.

    • Pollution: Measurement and Mitigation (ENVS2008)

      This module introduces students to the science, measurement and regulation of environmental pollution including contaminant sources, pathways and impacts.

  • Optional placement year

  • You can take an optional placement year before completing your degree, an invaluable opportunity to gain workplace experience from research institutes, companies and government organisations. Placements can include Fiberlean Technology, Imerys, the Marine Biological Association, the National Trust and the Eden Project. 

    Core modules

    • Placement (GEES3000)

      This module is a placement position, where a student undertakes a programme of work within a host company or organisation. The placement occurs within a yearlong period, meeting minimum duration requirements. Students experience applying their degree, experience professional practice, develop enhanced subject-related knowledge and skills, and undergo personal-professional development.

  • Final year

  • In the final year, you will develop an understanding of contemporary environmental chemistry, with a focus on developing your skills to a professional standard. You’ll hone your practical skills and project management know-how by planning and undertaking a project with an internationally recognised research group, working with the latest instrumentation and paving your way for successful entry into your profession. You’ll learn how to debate and evaluate contemporary environmental issues, and a choice of modules allows you to pursue your interests, spanning the terrestrial and marine environments. 

    Core modules

    • Advanced Research Project (CHM3018)

      A research project, normally involving laboratory work, but which may also include fieldwork, on a topic relevant to the degree programme. Both independent research and collaborative team-work is linked to the development of skills appropriate to the management of the project and entry and success in the professional workplace.

    • The Environmental Professional (ENVS3012)

      A series of real-world scenarios, which typical professionals in the environmental sector are exposed to, will be considered in an objective, scientific and interdisciplinary manner, taking into account a range of stakeholders. The material and professional development will be supported with guest speakers, seminar and workshops.

    • Global Environmental Solutions (ENVS3013)

      In this module students will take an interdisciplinary solution-based approach to contemporary global environmental issues employing both ecological economics principles and environmental law.

    Optional modules

    • Advanced Inorganic Chemistry (CHM3014)

      Study a selection of advanced inorganic chemistry topics related to current cutting-edge research areas (e.g. modern catalysis, materials chemistry and bioinorganic chemistry). Apply your knowledge, new skills and understanding to plan and deliver laboratory-based investigations and theoretical problem solving related to these research areas.

    • Advanced Organic Chemistry (CHM3015)

      How does organic chemistry work in our daily lives? What reactions go on in our bodies and how can we use this understanding to design effective medicines? What are the environmental effects of the organic molecules, such as pharmaceuticals, we make? Explore these questions in detail and unearth the fascinating world of enzyme chemistry and other essential molecules of life, such as steroids and terpenoids.

    • Frontiers in Analytical Science (CHM3020)

      Learn how to use modern and industrially relevant instrumentation, with guidance from expert staff. Workshops will allow you to explore the complimentary theory and look at the instrumentation of the future. This is a hands-on module, designed to give you the practical experience that employers are looking for.

    • Marine Pollution and Environmental Change (OS309)

      This module will consider the sources, transport, sinks and impacts of a wide range of pollutant types (including nutrients, trace elements, sediments, anthropogenic pollutants and carbon dioxide). Practical field techniques will be introduced and used to assess the environmental condition of estuarine waters. Emphasis will be placed on critical evaluating the links between human activities and marine water quality.

Every undergraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the course aims, the course structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest course structure and may be subject to change:

BSc Environmental Chemistry Programme Specification September 2024 7706

The modules shown for this course are those currently being studied by our students, or are proposed new modules. Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to amendment from time to time as part of the University’s curriculum enrichment programme and in line with changes in the University’s policies and requirements.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

104 - 112

A level
Three A levels to include at least a B/C in Chemistry and one further subject from the below:
Maths, Physics, Statistics, Geology, Environmental Science, Biology or Human Biology, Use of Maths, Applied Science, Science in the Environment, Engineering,
Psychology or Design Technology – Product Design Economics. 
BTEC National Diploma/QCF Extended Diploma
Candidates may be interviewed before an offer is made. 18 units, Grade DMM. Science related including chemistry units.
Access to Higher Education at level 3
Candidates may be interviewed before an offer is made. Pass in Access to HE Diploma in Science with at least 33 credits at Merit and / or Distinction and to include at least 15 credits in Chemistry with Merit including Ordinary Level Grade C/4 Maths and English
Welsh Baccalaureate
Can be used to replace one A level alongside two others to include chemistry.  
Irish Leaving Certificate
112 points to include H3 in chemistry
International Baccalaureate
28 overall to include 5/4 at HL Chemistry, plus one further from table above sciences subjects.
English and Maths accepted within
If Advanced Level = 4+ (A1) or 5 (A2/B)
If Standard Level = 5+ (A1) or 6 (A2/B)
If overseas and not studying English within IB, must have IELTS 6.0 overall with 5.5 in all other elements. Read more about International students – English language requirements 

Fees, costs and funding

Student 2023-2024 2024-2025
Home N/A £9,250
International N/A £18,100
Part time (Home) N/A £770
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances. More information about fees and funding.

Additional costs

This course is delivered by the Faculty of Science and Engineering and more details of any additional costs associated with the faculty's courses are listed on the following page: Additional fieldwork and equipment costs.

Tuition fees for optional placement years

The fee for all undergraduate students completing any part of their placement year in the UK in 2023/2024 is £1,850.
The fee for all undergraduate students completing their whole placement year outside the UK in 2023/2024 is £1,385.
Learn more about placement year tuition fees

How to apply

All applications for undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). 
UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code. 
To apply for this course and for more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.
Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email

Hands-on fieldwork experience

Fieldwork is an important part of studying environmental chemistry. Our programme of residential and non-residential fieldwork enables students to immerse themselves in different environments where they can experience and investigate environmental challenges in a range of national and international locations. 
Fieldwork may be subject to change due to staffing and external factors.
Chemistry student undertaking fieldwork in a river

State-of-the-art facilities

Students at Plymouth have access to state-of-the-art analytical equipment. 
We are a world-renowned centre for the analyses of chemicals in the environment. Three of our laboratories are certified to the ISO 9001 standard and you will work in these during your degree. 
Chemistry facilities - student using lab equipment

Learn from experts