School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

BSc (Hons) Environmental Science with Foundation Year

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.

Our foundation year provides the opportunity for progression to BSc (Hons) Environmental Science or BSc (Hons) Environmental Management and Sustainability degree courses. This is the ideal pathway if your current qualifications don’t allow you direct entry to the course or if you are returning to education.

Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2022*

The University of Plymouth has been named among the top 5% of universities globally in 2022 for its contribution to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals*, in particular, work on marine issues and on climate change. In the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, 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

Amazing cable bridge over the tropical rainforest island landscape in Langkawi, Malaysia. Image courtesy of Getty Images.

Careers with this subject

Our graduates have excellent career prospects; currently they work in over 50 countries e.g. UK, China, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, North America and South East Asia. 

Your core skills, subject specialisms and transferable skills equip you for a wide range of occupations, for example in industry using environmental management to mitigate climate change impacts or environmental consultancy working on projects ranging from habit surveys, air pollution, water quality, contaminated land, flood defence through to impact assessments of renewable energies or being involved with Crossrail in London.

Other potential work areas could include marine/terrestrial conservation with, for example, Natural England, a local Council environment officer, the Environment Agency, media, the UN, universities, teaching, research and many other sectors.

What can you do with an environmental science degree?

Key features

  • These four year degrees incorporate a foundation year and the chance to progress into either BSc (Hons) Environmental Science or BSc (Hons) Environmental Management and Sustainability. Great if your current qualifications don’t allow you direct entry to the course or if you have been out of education for some time.
  • Benefit from enthusiastic, supportive staff and teaching informed by our renowned research.
  • Take part in fieldwork in the UK and/or overseas in a variety of locations.
  • Experience in-depth coverage of natural sciences in the context of social, cultural and economic systems.
  • Learn about the latest actions and technological developments in the struggle against climate change.
  • Take the opportunity to spend your second year studying abroad in Europe, Canada, Australia, USA or elsewhere through our bilateral and ISEP exchange programmes.
  • 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.
  • Qualify as a professional diver (HSE SCUBA) as part of your third year of study.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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
  • Foundation year

  • We'll provide you with an introduction to environmental science and an overview of key issues and solutions. You'll also develop independent, reflective and self-managed approaches to study, being taught for example, scientific writing, time management and mathematical skills as well as other key soft skills that enhance your employability. You will study the two core modules Environmental Science and Study and Mathematical Skills for Science and also choose two of the optional module pathways, these being biology, chemistry, physics or mathematics and statistics for science with the requirement that to study e.g. Chemistry 2 in semester two you will need to have taken Chemistry 1 in semester 1.

    Core modules

    • Biology 1 (BIO012)

      This module introduces students to the study of biology and its fundamental importance as a cornerstone of modern science. No prior knowledge is required or assumed. The emphasis is on understanding some of the core principles of biology, and applying these across the breadth of the subject. To ensure that key practical skills are developed, the module will incorporate many hands-on learning experiences.

    • Chemistry 1 (CHM009)

      This module introduces students into the world of chemistry and its fundamental importance as a cornerstone of science. No prior knowledge of science is required and the emphasis is on applying the principals of chemistry across a wide subject area, with many hands-on learning experiences.

    • Environmental Science (ENVS001)

      To provide an Introduction to environmental science and an overview of the key issues and solutions

    • Study and Mathematical Skills for Science (GEES001)

      This module is designed to enable learners to adapt to the Higher Education Learning Environment by the development of a more independent, reflective and self-managed approach to study, learning, scientific writing, time management and mathematical skills for the study of science.

    Optional modules

    • Biology 2 (BIO013)

      This module builds on the core ideas introduced in BIO012, introducing a range of additional biological concepts. There will be a strong emphasis on applying scientific principles to a wide range of topics in biology, including many hands-on learning experiences to ensure that key practical skills are developed.

    • Chemistry 2 (CHM010)

      This module is designed to build on the knowledge, understanding and skills inculcated in CHM009 and to provide an introduction to the fundamentals of organic Chemistry at a level sufficient for entry to the degree programmes offered by the Faculty of Science and Engineering, including the Chemistry Degree programmes.

    • Mathematics and Statistics for Science (MATH019)

      This module provides the basic mathematical background to enable learners to progress to honours degree programmes in science.

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 (Hons) Environmental Science with Foundation Year programme specification_5475

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

32 - 48

A level: including at least one science A level, excluding general studies.

BTEC: 18 Unit BTEC National Diploma/QCF Extended Diploma MMP in a science related subject.

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 (e.g science/combined studies/natural sciences).

T level: Pass or above. Any subjects related to science or technology.

International Baccalaureate: 24 points overall to include 3 at Higher Level science subject. English and mathematics must be included.

GCSE: English and mathematics grade C/4 or above.

For all admission information and queries please contact our admissions tutor John Bull or Richard Sandford who is the Environmental Science Foundation Year lead who will be pleased to discuss options.

Applications from students with non-standard qualifications, including those without science qualifications at Level 3, are welcomed and are assessed on an individual basis. This course is also suitable for those returning to study who can offer work or other related experience in place of formal qualifications and who have the equivalent of basic mathematical, English and science skills (i.e. the equivalent of a grade C at GCSE level).

English language requirements.

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

Fees, costs and funding
Student 2022-2023 2023-2024
Home £9,250 £9,250
International £14,600 £16,300
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.

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, equipment and graduation 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

Environmental science fieldwork

Fieldwork is an important part of studying the environmental sciences. 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, such as covid restrictions.
<p>Environmental science fieldwork at the Marine station</p>

Academic staff

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