School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

BSc (Hons) Environmental Geoscience

Interdisciplinary scientists play a vital role in addressing critical environmental challenges such as climate change and environmental degradation. This degree combines an understanding of earth materials and planetary change on geological timescales with environmental science concepts. You will explore complex issues around the transition to a low carbon economy, zero waste construction, carbon capture and storage, and sustainable development.

Scholarships for outstanding applicants

The School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences’ scholarship scheme recognises and rewards students joining our degree courses who have demonstrated outstanding academic achievement. 
Scholarships of £1,000 will be awarded to the two applicants in earth sciences who achieve the highest grades in their A level or equivalent exams. The scholarship will be awarded during their first year of study at the University of Plymouth.

2021 NSS results for our Earth Science degrees*

Please note that no NSS results are available yet for the BSc (Hons) Environmental Geoscience as this course started in 2021 with the first students graduating from this course in 2024. The NSS figures quoted below are averaged across multiple related courses. 

  • 88% of students were satisfied overall with the quality of the course
  • 96% of students thought that staff were good at explaining things
  • 93% of students felt that staff made the subject interesting
  • 93% of students agreed that the course was intellectually stimulating
  • 91% of students agreed that they have been able to contact staff when needed

Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2021*

The University of Plymouth has been ranked 23rd among institutions globally for its contribution to the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals*. In the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Studies, sustainability is at the heart of our research and teaching. From sustainable cities, affordable and clean energy, to climate policy, biodiversity, and natural hazards, our academic staff work with partners locally and overseas to help understand, communicate and solve fundamental and pressing sustainability challenges.

Find out more in our press release

New course structure for 2022

Earth science skills and expertise are critical to tackle today’s challenges of global environmental change. Ranging from locating and extracting the raw materials needed for a green energy transition to understanding climate history through time, the Earth sciences play an active role and provide crucial perspectives. We have recently updated our course structure to reflect the changing demands. 

On this webpage you will find more information about our current course structure, alternatively find out more information on the updated course which will start in September 2022.

Careers with this subject

Our Earth science students have tremendous opportunities to gain the knowledge and skills necessary for employment in a variety of work settings. Our hands-on approach to teaching and learning throughout the course will provide you with the topical skills and experience that you can apply to the wide range of career options as graduates.

Where could an Earth science degree take you?

Key features

  • Develop a range of knowledge and skills essential to a range of careers in the Earth and environmental sectors.
  • Our approachable staff share their cutting-edge research and expertise through varied teaching practices in lectures, tutorials, practical classes and field courses.
  • Learn to apply the latest techniques in the field and laboratory. Our substantial fieldwork programme provides opportunities in a variety of UK and overseas locations including Death Valley USA, Spain and Sicily.
  • Improve your skills in our open access laboratory, LABplus.
  • Develop your confidence with your personal tutor, providing you with regular guidance throughout your degree.
  • Get support from students in the year ahead via our PALS mentoring scheme.
  • Live and study close to the sea, Dartmoor and two geological UNESCO World Heritage sites.
  • Receive free essential field safety equipment as part of your welcome package.
  • Work towards becoming a Chartered Geologist, our accreditation by the Geological Society, the world’s oldest and most prestigious national learned society for geology, helps you to gain the required experience.
  • Take the opportunity to spend your second year studying abroad in Europe, Canada, Australia, USA or elsewhere through our bilateral and ISEP exchange programmes.

Course details
  • Year 1

  • Below you find information about our current course. Find out more information about our updated 2022 course

    Laying the foundations with modules that build core knowledge, your first year provides you with an introduction to essential laboratory and field skills. You'll learn about key Earth processes, take a practical approach to the study of minerals and rocks, develop your understanding of core concepts in sustainable geoscience. Our tutorials will help you gain effective study techniques and computing skills with a personal tutor, providing you with weekly guidance throughout your first year.

    Core modules

    • 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.

    • The Biosphere (ENVS1003)

      This module will describe, illustrate and explain principles, processes and concepts relevant to understanding life on Earth and human impacts upon it.

    • Sustainable Geoscience (GEOL1008)

      An introduction to sustainable geoscience and the role of geoscientists in the solution of global challenges and UN sustainable development goals.  Introduction to good, professional and ethical scientific practice. The module also introduces the Earth as a system of interlinked spheres (geosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, atmosphere), and the unifying paradigms associated with geological time and plate tectonics. 

    • Earth Materials and Resources (GEOL1009)

      An introduction to Earth materials (minerals, rocks and resources) and geological structures, focussing on their formation, composition and properties from a theoretical and practical perspective, supported by case study(ies). The environmental and ethical issues associated with resource exploitation will be introduced. Students will be introduced to safe and professional field practice. 

    • Climate Tectonics and Hazards (GEOL1010)

      This module provides an introduction to Earth Surface processes and their interactions with plate tectonics, at present and in the geological past. Participants learn how an understanding of Earth surface processes and environments can be used in determining the cause and nature of past and future climate and oceanographic change, and in the understanding, prediction and mitigation of a range of geological hazards. 

  • Year 2

  • Year 2 consolidates the knowledge and skills developed in year one, with an emphasis on practical skills. You'll develop observational, analytical and interpretive skills and the ability to use them to answer fundamental questions. You'll also learn how to use a GIS and develop new field skills during a field course in the UK. You’ll also have the opportunity to spend your second year studying abroad in Canada, Australia, USA or elsewhere through our direct exchange, Erasmus or ISEP programmes. 

    Core modules

    • 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.

    • Stratigraphy and Earth History (GEOL2004)

      This module provides learners with an understanding of the theory and concepts for of the elucidation of Earth History, including litho- bio- and chronostratigraphy, geochemical correlation and isotopic dating methods, sequence stratigraphy and basin evolution. It also provides training in the use and application of key techniques using real-life scenarios.

    • Landscape Evolution (GEOL2007)

      This module examines the concepts and techniques for reconstructing landscape development over Quaternary or longer timescales. The geomorphological landforms within fluvial, coastal, glacial and planetary settings amongst others are considered and how such landscapes change in space and time when subjected to tectonic, climatic and human related perturbations.

    • Environmental Sedimentology & Structural Analysis (GEOL2013)

      This module provides a practical (field and laboratory) understanding of how sedimentary and structural processes and their products can be applied in the (i) paleoenvironmental analysis of sedimentary rock successions; (ii) understanding of how porous rocks can be used in management of subsurface fluids and (iii) how rock type and deformation control the strength and stability at the Earth surface in contrasting geological settings.

    • Geographical Information Systems (GGX2203A)

      Module provides grounding in theory and practical techniques of GIS. Lectures are on theory, methods and spatial literacy. Practical work covers stages of handling geospatial data, construction of GIS models and automation, provides exposure to a range of techniques in spatial analysis and visualisation, and gives context and experience to spatial literacy concepts. Knowledge and skills are developed in project work.

  • Optional placement year

  • Take advantage of our optional placement year, giving you the opportunity to develop your knowledge and skills in the workplace gaining valuable experience.  Find your perfect placement with the help of our employability service and benefit from specialist workshops and tutorials in your second year, helping you prepare for your year in industry.

    Core modules

    • Placement in Earth Sciences (APIE316)

      This module aims to provide an opportunity for professional training of at least six months duration with an approved company or host organisation between stage 2 and 4. While on placement, students will gain experience of how Earth Science is used in the workplace, be able to apply their Earth Science knowledge and expertise, and learn further skills and relevant techniques.

  • Final year

  • Your third year gives you the opportunity to develop specialised knowledge and skills through selecting optional modules from the Earth and environmental science courses. Optional modules include engineering geology, global environmental solutions, climate change: adaptation and mitigation. You may also undertake advanced fieldwork and will complete an independent research project, which will develop your professional skills.

    Core modules

    • 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.

    • Earth Science Independent Research Project and Professional Skills (GEOL3002)

      An independent research project on an Earth science topic, normally involving field and/or laboratory work on a topic relevant to the degree programme. Independent work is linked to skills development appropriate to the management of the project and entry and success in the professional workplace.

    Optional modules

    • Climate Change: Adaptation and Mitigation (ENVS3011)

      The module introduces climate change adaptation and mitigation. Biotic and technological mitigation will be explored and evaluated in the context of different geographical settings.

    • 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.

    • Advanced Geological Fieldwork (GEOL3008)

      A residential fieldtrip centred on the analysis of the geological evolution of a region, where students will integrate their own field observations with published work from a variety of locations in developing and understanding of the geological history of that region and its wider significance to the Earth Sciences.

    • Engineering Geology (GEOL3010)

      This module examines the application of earth science techniques and knowledge to civil engineering. Includes desk studies, remote sensing interpretation, database analysis, UK and European Codes of Practice, site investigation design, ground model development, engineering geology in a range of construction situations, and technical reporting.

    • Environmental Change in Earth History (GEOL3013)

      This module evaluates cutting-edge techniques to understand and interpret modern and ancient environmental change. It uses an integrated approach using fossils, sediments and geochemistry to investigate topical and exciting case studies from the geological past and modern systems. The module has important implications for understanding and responding to modern-day environmental change.

    • Geohazards and Risks (GEOL3014)

      This module will provide an overview of common and destructive geological hazards (e.g. earthquakes, landslides and volcanic eruptions), how they interact together and ways of assessing risk. Physical processes of the hazards will be covered and how they will interact together. Quantifying hazard and risk will be illustrated through case studies. Practicals will have a numerical theme and will link to employability.

    • Energy Transition Geoscience (GEOL3015)

      This module gives an understanding of current and predicted energy scenarios, impact of energy use and the role of geoscientists in decarbonisation and meeting global sustainable development goals. You learn how energy resources form (petroleum, geothermal, critical minerals) and theory, strategies and practical skills used in resource exploration, development and production, and evaluation of carbon capture & storage.

    • Polar and Alpine Change (GGP3210)

      This module is designed to promote student engagement with a range of contemporary issues emerging from a changing global cryosphere, and to learn about the processes and landforms associated with glacial, periglacial, and other cryospheric activity. The module also considers the environmental and socio-economic impacts of cryospheric change.

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 Geoscience ProgrammeSpecification September2022 6961

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.

In light of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the changeable nature of the situation and any updates to government guidance, we may need to make further, last minute adjustments to how we deliver our teaching and learning on some or all of our programmes, at any time during the academic year. We want to reassure you that even if we do have to adjust the way in which we teach our programmes, we will be working to maintain the quality of the student learning experience and learning outcomes at all times.
Entry requirements

UCAS tariff

112 - 120

IB
28 - 30 points overall to include science related subjects.

A level
112-120 points including a minimum of 2 A levels, relevant subjects Biology, Mathematics/Use of Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Environmental Science/Studies, Applied Science, Geography, Geology, Design Technology. Excluding General Studies.

BTEC QCF Extended Diploma/RQF National Extended Diploma: DMM to DDM – science related subject. You are encouraged to contact admissions@plymouth.ac.uk if you do not meet this criteria.

BTEC National Diploma modules
If you hold a BTEC qualification it is vital that you provide our Admissions team with details of the exact modules you have studied as part of the BTEC. Without this information we may be unable to process your application quickly and you could experience significant delays in the progress of your application to study with us. Please explicitly state the full list of modules within your qualification at the time of application.

Access:
Pass an Access to HE Diploma (science based) with at least 33 credits at merit. You are encouraged to contact admissions@plymouth.ac.uk if you do not meet this criteria.

GCSE
All applicants must have GCSE (or equivalent) English and Mathematics at grade C / 4 or above.

English language requirements.

We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

The UK is no longer part of the European Union. EU applicants should refer to our Brexit information to understand the implications.

New Student 2021-2022 2022-2023
Home £9,250 £9,250
International £14,200 £14,600
Part time (Home) £770 £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.

Undergraduate scholarships for international students

To reward outstanding achievement the University of Plymouth offers scholarship schemes to help towards funding your studies.

Find out whether you are eligible and how you can apply

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.

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 admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

Additional information

Centre for Research in Earth Sciences (CRES)

Our world-class research keeps staff at the cutting edge of recent scientific developments within the field.

Explore the interdisciplinary research carried out within Earth sciences.

Find our more about our research

Aerial shot of an active volcano.

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