School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

BSc (Hons) Environmental Science

Environmental scientists are critical to addressing global environmental challenges. Your degree will provide you with the knowledge and skills to identify and develop solutions to a wide range of environmental challenges on land and in our oceans, including climate change, biodiversity loss, conservation and sustainability. Applying the latest techniques in the laboratory and the field, you will graduate ready to shape the future of fields from ecosystem management to environmental monitoring.

2020 NSS results for BSc (Hons) Environmental Science

  • 98% of students were satisfied overall with the quality of the course.
  • 98% of students agreed the staff were good at explaining things.
  • 100% 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.

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

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

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Contact us today to discuss your options and secure your place on one of our courses with vacancies this September.

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Careers with this subject

Our environmental 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 environmental science degree take you?

Key features
  • In the 2020 National Student Survey (NSS), 98 per cent of students agreed that staff were good at explaining things and 97 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.
  • Flexible workspace, computing facilities, specialist software, access to microscopes, microscope cameras and bespoke resources. 
  • Work placements – enhance your employability by gaining work experience via an optional 6 week or 6–12 month work placement in the UK, EU or further overseas such as Australia, Madagascar, Costa Rica, Ecuador, choosing from exciting opportunities in e.g. consultancy, conservation, NGO’s, EA, marine sectors.
  • Qualify as a professional diver (HSE SCUBA) as part of your third year of study.
  • Benefit from an Environmental Science Careers Fair to build your all-important employer networks and share career success stories from our graduates.
  • Our tutorial programme provides invaluable transferable skills, small group and one-to-one support. Our externally recognised Peer Assisted Learning (PALS) scheme helps increase your confidence with support from student mentors.
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

    • The Physical Environment (ENVS1002)

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

    • 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.

    • Environmental Pollution (ENVS1007)

      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.

    • 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.

    • Sustainability Science (ENVS1009)

      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.

    • Global Environmental Challenges (ENVS1010)

      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

    • Placement Preparation for Environmental Science (APIE215)

      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.

    • Environmental Field and Research Skills (ENVS2001)

      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.

    • 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.

    Optional modules

    • Weather and Climate (ENVS2005)

      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.

    • Natural Ecosystems and Their Conservation (ENVS2006)

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

    • Environmental Pollution (ENVS2007)

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

    • 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.

    • Managing Human Impacts in the Marine Environment (OS205)

      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.

    • Scientific Diving (OS207)

      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

    • Work Placement in Environmental Science (APIE317)

      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

    • 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

    • Research Project (ENVS3001)

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

    • Research Project with English Language Support (ENVS3003)

      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.

    • 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.

    • Biological Conservation (GGP3204)

      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.

    • Big Data & Spatial Analytics (GGX3204)

      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.

    • Marine Conservation Policy and Planning (OS307)

      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

    • 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 Science Programme Specification September2021 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.

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

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

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. For more information about fees and funding please visit www.plymouth.ac.uk/money.

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
Progression routes

International progression routes

The University of Plymouth International College (UPIC) offers foundation, first-year and pre-masters programmes that lead to University of Plymouth degrees. Courses are specially designed for EU and international students who are missing the grades for direct entry to the University, and include full duration visa sponsorship. You can start in January, May or September, benefitting from small class sizes, top-quality tuition and 24/7 student support.


Find out more at plymouth.ac.uk/upic or contact our team at info@upic.plymouth.ac.uk

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

Environmental science fieldwork*

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.

*We’re not undertaking residential fieldwork during the Covid-19 pandemic, but once the pandemic has passed our residential fieldwork will resume.

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

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

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

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.