School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

BSc (Hons) Environmental Science

Do you want to understand human environmental impact? You will build solutions to real environmental issues, using knowledge and cutting edge practical skills. Develop an understanding of climate change, biodiversity, conservation and sustainability, in marine and terrestrial ecosystems. Applying the latest techniques in the laboratory and the field – both in the UK and overseas, you will graduate ready to shape the future of fields from ecosystem management to environmental monitoring.

Don’t just sit in Piccadilly Circus

Get the skills and knowledge to really make a difference

Courses that will equip you with the tools necessary to tackle environmental problems and make a better world now and for future generations.

2020 NSS results for BSc (Hons) Environmental Science

97% of students were satisfied overall with the quality of the course; 98% of students agreed the staff were good at explaining things and 97% of students agreed they had the right opportunities to work with other students as part of their course.

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 environmental science 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.

Karst Mountains and River Li in Guilin/Guanxi region of China

Key features

  • In the 2018 National Student Survey (NSS), 90 per cent of students agreed that the course was intellectually stimulating 93 per cent of students agreed that staff were good at explaining things and 95 per cent were satisfied with the quality of the course*.
  • Benefit from enthusiastic, supportive staff and teaching informed by our renowned research.
  • Take part in regular UK and overseas fieldwork in destinations such as Dartmoor National Park, Malaysia and Malta, where you will explore and study terrestrial and marine environmental systems.
  • Experience in-depth coverage of natural sciences in the context of cultural and economic systems.
  • Learn about the latest actions and technological developments in the struggle against climate change.
  • Deepen your knowledge through our international exchange programme with the USA, Canada, Australia and various European countries.
  • Hone your skills and knowledge with a wealth of facilities, including our marine research vessel Falcon Spirit, high specification laboratories and analytical facilities, LABplus and our new Marine Station
  • LABplus is a unique open access laboratory and resource centre designed for students studying science and engineering courses. The lab provides a flexible workspace, computing facilities, specialist software, access to microscopes, microscope cameras and bespoke resources. 
  • Develop your employability with placement opportunities in the UK and abroad, with organisations such as Kew Gardens, Pell Frischmann, The National Trust and Hyder Consulting Ltd.
  • Qualify as a professional diver (HSE SCUBA) as part of your second year of study. 
  • Increase your confidence with support from student mentors in our externally recognised peer assisted learning scheme, PALS.

Course details

  • Year 1
  • In your first year, you'll establish solid foundations across a range of scientific, legal and economic subject areas in order to explore environmental challenges and enable you to propose solutions. Field and laboratory work are key, and our residential field course promotes team building and provides you with an opportunity to gain experience with scientific equipment and data interpretation. Your personal tutor will support and guide you throughout the course.
    Core modules
    • ENVS1002 The Physical Environment

      Introduction to the earth's lithosphere and hydrosphere and investigation of geochemical cycles.

    • ENVS1003 The Biosphere

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

    • ENVS1007 Environmental Pollution

      Introduction to chemical properties and environmental behaviour of priority pollutants and training in the skills of scientific research by way of planning, field, laboratory work and data interpretation.

    • ENVS1008 Environmental Management and Protection

      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.

    • ENVS1009 Sustainability Science

      Students are introduced to environmental systems and sustainability at a variety of scales. Training in the skills of environmental investigations is delivered through field and laboratory work. Personal and professional development are supported through tutorials and workshops focusing on transferable skills and professionalism.

    • ENVS1010 Global Environmental Challenges

      Students will consider contemporary global sustainability challenges in the context of social, economic and environmental systems. Within this inter-disciplinary framework, students explore and formulate solutions to a range of complex problems and consider the role of environmental sector professional operating across a variety of scales.

  • Year 2
  • Year 2 covers core themes including economics and resources, sustainable development, environmental law and policy. Your scientific knowledge and research skills will develop through a residential field course in Malaysia, Malta or Cornwall. Our optional diving module will qualify you for underwater work with the HSE SCUBA certification. You'll also have the opportunity to study the following topics: biodiversity and conservation; climate change; marine conservation; environmental management.
    Core modules
    • APIE215 Placement Preparation for Environmental Science

      This module is designed to assist students in their search and preparation for a work placement and careers. It is aimed at students who would like to undertake the work placement to enhance both programme specific and employment-related skills during Stage 3 and preparation for future careers.

    • ENVS2001 Environmental Field and Research Skills

      A range of professional skills, including report writing, GIS, statistics and field and laboratory techniques are developed. Generic principles of scientific research are explored and subsequently applied to a range of environmental settings.

    • ENVS2002 Environmental Expedition

      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.

    • ENVS2003 Environmental Management and Sustainability

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

    • ENVS2004 Environmental Issues and Communication

      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.

    Optional modules
    • ENVS2005 Weather and Climate

      Understanding weather and climate is essential for developing in-depth knowledge on how climate is changing today and will change in the future. This module will develop intellectual and practical skills in critical analysis of weather and climate data. In addition, an examination of the scientific evidence for current and predicted effects of weather and climate will be addressed.

    • ENVS2006 Natural Ecosystems and Their Conservation

      This module introduces students to natural ecosystems, including (but not limited to) biological adaptation, diversity, conservation, restoration and management.

    • ENVS2007 Environmental Pollution

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

    • GGX2203A Geographical Information Systems

      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.

    • OS205 Managing Human Impacts in the Marine Environment

      This module will introduce how human activities (such as fisheries, energy supply and mineral extraction) can impact the marine environment, including through pollution and biodiversity loss. The concepts of marine management and conservation will be introduced and methods of preventing and managing anthropogenic impacts will be introduced and evaluated and their role in marine conservation discussed.

    • OS207 Scientific Diving

      This module allows suitably qualified students (HSE SCUBA or equivalent) to develop industry and research-relevant skills in measurement and monitoring in the underwater environment using professional SCUBA and related techniques. These will then be applied in a multi-disciplinary context to the planning, execution, analysis and reporting of a field-based sampling activity.

  • 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. Previous placements have included the Marine Biological Association (marine ecology, surveying and conservation), Pell Frischmann (environmental consultancy), the National Trust (landscape and habitat conservation), Kew Royal Botanic Gardens (species inventories), and the Eden Project (ecological studies).
    Core modules
    • APIE317 Work Placement in Environmental Science

      This module provides 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 environmental science is used in the workplace, be able to apply their environmental knowledge and expertise, and learn further skills and relevant techniques.

  • Final year
  • In the final year, you will develop an understanding of concepts and practice of environmental impact assessment. You’ll learn how to debate and evaluate contemporary environmental issues, and your research project will see you working alongside world-leading scientists in state-of-the-art facilities. A choice of modules across four pathways allows you to pursue interests within the areas of climate change, environmental management and sustainability, biodiversity and conservation, and marine conservation.
    Core modules
    • ENVS3012 The Environmental Professional

      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.

    • ENVS3013 Global Environmental Solutions

      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
    • ENVS3001 Research Project

      An independent research project in a specific aspect of environmental science.

    • ENVS3003 Research Project with English Language Support

      An independent research project in a specific aspect of environmental science. Students will attend English language support sessions that apply scientific language in a research context and that aid adaptation to a different culture/ethos of research and plagiarism. Available to non-UK direct entrant Stage 4 students.

    • ENVS3011 Climate Change: Adaptation and Mitigation

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

    • ENVS3014 Contaminant Risk Management

      The module covers all aspects of contaminant risk management, including policy and regulation, and centres on the EU Waste Framework Directive, technology used to treat wastes and contaminated land and their long term sustainability. Critical evaluation of today¿s contaminant risk management practices are provided taking account of statutory, voluntary and economic measures, drawing on case studies from the UK, EU and the rest of the world.

    • GGP3204 Biological Conservation

      This module examinee the pursuit of biological conservation. Drawing on a wide range of case study material, in temperate and tropical, terrestrial and aqueous environments, the module examines the drivers and rationales for biological conservation, and the role of stakeholders, policies, legislation and practices in achieving it.

    • GGX3204 Big Data & Spatial Analytics

      This module provides an overview of advanced spatial analysis concepts and facilitates practice of data processing and management skills. Data manipulation through programming is introduced and the concept of big data is presented. Themes and practice around the acquisition, processing, analysis, visualisation and application of big data are explored, drawing on examples from across the natural and social sciences.

    • OS307 Marine Conservation Policy and Planning

      This module explores issues surrounding the maintenance of a healthy marine environment. It will develop an understanding of marine governance, including policy frameworks and agencies responsible for implementing marine conservation strategy. Topics include the range of measures and approaches for successful marine conservation and the importance of taking holistic approaches to management, including policy and planning

    • OS309 Marine Pollution and Environmental Change

      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 Science programme specification 4704

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: 104–112 points, to include a minimum of 2 A levels and preferably from one of the following subjects: Maths, Physics, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, Psychology, Geography, Geology, Applied Science, Use of Maths, Applied Science, Biology or Human Biology, Statistics, Science in the Environment, Design Technology. General Studies not accepted.

IB: 26–27 points overall from an International Baccalaureate to include science/technology-related subjects. English and mathematics must be included.

BTEC: 18 Unit BTEC National Diploma/QCF Extended Diploma: DMM preferably from a science/technology related subject (applied science, animal management, countryside management, forensic science).

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.

GCSE: mathematics grade C required. English language grade C or above.

Access: pass an Access to HE Diploma (science-based) with at least 33 credits at merit, and to include at least 12 credits in a relevant science units at merit. Including GCSE English and Maths grade C or above or equivalent.

Applications from international students and those with no recent formal qualifications are welcome and will be assessed on an individual basis.
Direct entry to year two or the final year is possible.

Accepted subject include: applied science, animal management, countryside management, forensic science.

The BSc (Hons) Environmental Science course is also available for intercalating students

English language requirements.

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

Fees, costs and funding

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated Brexit webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

New Student 2020 2021
Home/EU £9,250 £9,250
International £13,800 £14,200
Part time (Home/EU) £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. For more information about fees and funding please visit

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 require the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code. 

Apply for this course on the UCAS website.

For more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, visit the UCAS website.

For enquiries about direct entry to years two and four, contact Admissions Tutor John Bull.

Intercalating students wishing to apply for the final year of this course should complete a direct entry form

Assessment breakdown: Coursework 73% Exam 7% Practical 20%

Welcome to environmental science at Plymouth

Dr Paul Lunt discusses the possibilities environmental science can offer you.


in our conversation on Twitter:

Epic voyages of legacy and discovery

In August and September 2020, scientists from the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences joined an ambitious round Britain voyage. Coordinated by UK-based charity Darwin200, the tall ship Pelican of London set sail from Folkestone and visited the major ports of the British Isles before arriving in London almost seven weeks later.

Dr Charlotte Braungardt and Dr Richard Sandford led a range of scientific experiments in fields including marine plastics, ocean chemistry, plankton, marine ecology and ocean processes. This voyage is a precursor to the global Darwin200 expedition in 2021, which will harness the legacy of Charles Darwin by retracing his journey onboard HMS Beagle.

Find out more about about Dr Braungardt and Dr Sandford's research

Darwin200 voyage: inspiring young people for ocean sustainability

Follow our Environmental Scientists Dr Charlotte Braungardt and Dr Richard Sandford who are leading a unique programme of ocean science outreach, monitoring the health of our seas aboard the tall ship Pelican.

Instagram: @envplyuni 

Facebook: @darwin2002021

Instagram: @darwin200_

LinkedIn: @darwin200

After your degree

Environmental science graduates are currently employed in a wide variety of roles around the world, from ecosystem management to environmental monitoring

You will develop essential practical and transferable skills and understanding required by the environmental sector and beyond.

After your degree

Slapton Ley field trip

Watch this video to find out more about the stage 1 field trip at Slapton Ley Field Centre, including interviews from our current international students, from the Caribbean and Kenya.

Malaysia field trip

You couldn't pick a more appropriate place for an environmental scientist because the challenges are enormous, and the whole issue of sustainability is at the forefront of the field trip.

Watch this video to find out more about the main residential field trip to Malaysia.

Liam Eslick - BSc (Hons) Environmental Science

BSc (Hons) Environmental Science student, Liam Eslick, shared some footage of his field trip to Malaysia. Watch what he has been up to.

Liam spent an additional two weeks travelling around Vietnam and Bali.

Conserving our environment

Ben Ellett, BSc (Hons) Environmental Science student

I’m passionate about educating others on how to preserve the environment. I want to ensure what we've got is still here for future generations.

I love to be hands-on and the practical elements of the course was a huge selling point. 

There is a great range of facilities – from LABplus to the Marine Station, which made Plymouth the best choice for getting me prepared for industry.

Discover why Ben wants to inspire others to save the planet

Updates and news from our students and staff

Gain insight into what's happening in environmental sciences at the University of Plymouth. Enjoy reading about staff achievements, research, field trips, learning opportunities, placements and more.

Read our latest newsletter

Additional fieldwork and equipment costs

This course includes residential fieldwork. Typically, where the fieldwork is a compulsory part of the course, transport, accommodation and the majority of food costs are paid by the Faculty.

Some courses offer alternative or optional field courses with an additional cost.

Find out more information

Marine Station

Boasting lecture facilities overlooking the sea, a wet lab for sample examination and analysis, a seawater aquarium, and field equipment storage and changing facilities.

The Marine Station is a landmark £5 million development; a state-of-the-art teaching and research facility on the shores of Plymouth Sound.

Discover more about the Marine Station

PALS (Peer Assisted Learning Scheme)

Now in its fourth year, the environmental science PALS scheme continues to support stage 1 students through the efforts and creativity of the stage 2 PALS leaders. As the introduction of the Curriculum Enrichment Project has transformed the stage 1 curriculum, it has proved harder to advise on unfamiliar projects and assessments. Nevertheless, the leaders have adapted well; using exercises targeting generic skills that feature in both the old and new programmes and setting up 'big conversations' on the environmental issues that face us all.

“Getting help on work has been particularly useful, especially for the Slapton field books and poster work. Guidance on referencing really helped!"
Find out more about PALS (Peer Assisted Learning Scheme).

Academic staff

Digging deeper into the science of soil

"When I attended the open day the environmental science ambassadors were inspirational and clearly happy with the course."

Gain an insight into studying at Plymouth and discover some top tips for your university experience from BSc (Hons) Environmental Science graduate, Harry Barrat, who is now undertaking research as a soil scientist.

Discover more about Harry's experiences

"Buy a decent pair of walking boots that won't leak"

Lewis Bird shares his advice and experiences.

"Plymouth gave me a good heads up of what to expect working in the field. Be it getting drenched during field exercises on Dartmoor or tight report deadlines."

After graduating Lewis actively pursued a career in the environmental sector. He is now an Environmental Consultant for OHES Environmental Ltd in Birmingham.

Find out more about Lewis

James Barwick - BSc (Hons) Environmental Science graduate

The location, the facilities, and the course all drew James Barwick to Plymouth University.
Find out more about James

Laura Blake – BSc (Hons) Environmental Science graduate

The nature of the course and the enthusiasm of all of the academics gave me the motivation, aspiration, and encouragement to […] achieve my ambitions.
Find out more about Laura

BSc (Hons) Environmental Science graduates Jeff Lamb and Josh Beech

*These are the latest results from the National Student Survey. Please note that the data published on Discover Uni is updated annually in September.

** This course is accredited by the Committee of Heads of Environmental Sciences (CHES), the education committee of the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES). CHES is the collective voice of the environmental sciences academic community and serves to enhance the quality of environmental education worldwide. A programme accredited by CHES is assured to meet high standards, contain a strong component of practical, field and theoretical activities, and has excellent opportunities for training, work experience and links to the professional environmental sector. Students enrolled on CHES accredited programmes can apply for free Student Membership of the IES and for a fast-track route to membership once they graduate, starting you on a route towards becoming a Chartered Environmentalist or Chartered Scientist.