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.

We’re very proud of our National Student Survey (NSS) 2018 return showing that 90 per cent of students agreed that the course was intellectually stimulating and 93 per cent of students agreed that staff were good at explaining things*.

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
    • ENVS1001 Carbon in Environmental Systems

      Students are introduced to environmental systems and the carbon cycle, and undertake preliminary training in the skills of environmental investigation by way of field and laboratory work.

    • 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.

    Optional modules
    • CHM1014PP Solving Chemical Problems

      This module introduces the application of fundamental theoretical chemical concepts and practical skills to well-defined chemical problems. It provides training and application of practical chemical techniques, good laboratory practice and scientific communication.

    • GEES1001PP Natural Hazards

      This module examines the major short-term natural hazards that affect the contemporary Earth. The various different hazards will be covered ranging from geohazards including landslides, volcanoes, earthquakes as well as weather related hazards such as tropical cyclones, extra tropical storms. Emphasis is placed upon natural hazard processes, identification, risk potential and hazard mitigation.

    • GEES1003PP Sustainable Futures

      This module explores the concepts and principles of sustainable development and critically examines their application to a range of real-world contemporary issues. The module provides opportunities to enhance knowledge and understanding and develop key skills by exploring an aspect of 'sustainability in practice' through student-led research.

    • OS106PP Our Ocean Planet

      In this module students will explore important topical issues associated with our ocean planet. Students will have a creative opportunity to work in teams on a topic of their choice using a project based learning approach. They will develop a variety of communication skills in order to present their ideas in a medium of their team's choice.

    • SPNX100PP Spanish 1

      This module is designed for beginners in Spanish, or those whose previous qualification/experience is not equivalent to GCSE grade B. It develops communicative competence at a basic level, enabling students to establish and maintain adequate social relations with speakers of Spanish, negotiate everyday needs in Spain / a Spanish speaking country, and communicate using spoken and simple written language in a limited social or work setting.

  • 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.

    Optional modules
    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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
    • ENVS3004 Interdisciplinary Approaches to Environmental Science

      This module provides an introduction to the process of environmental impact assessment, including planning and best practice guidance. It provides critical evaluation of political and legislative aspects of EU environmental policy. It examines the fate and regulation of chemicals in the environment and provides an insight into selected aspects of environmental economics.

    • ENVS3005 Global Environmental Perspectives

      A series of contemporary issues in environmental science will be considered in an objective, scientific and interdisciplinary manner with opposing viewpoints being debated by the learner. The material will be supported with guest lectures, seminars and workshops.

    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.

    • ENVS3008 Biodiversity Management in Tropical Ecosystems

      The module covers tropical ecosystems and ecological concepts with relevance to management; tropical biodiversity; impacts on, conservation and monitoring of tropical communities.

    • ENVS3009 Waste Management

      The module covers all aspects of waste management, including policy and regulation, and centres on the EU Waste Framework Directive, technology used to treat wastes and their long term sustainability. Critical evaluation of today's waste 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

English language requirements

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

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

For a full list of all acceptable qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2018 2019
Home/EU £9,250 £9,250
International £13,000 £13,400
Part time (Home/EU) To be confirmed To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of 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.

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:

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

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.

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

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

Potential High Achievers Scheme

In the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences we recognise that our students are the future leaders in our subject disciplines and core to the development of a sustainable planet. We know that our applicants will thrive in the environment we can provide, and we want to ensure our best applicants become our future.

The scheme is now open for students who have applied to study, from September 2018, any full-time undergraduate course within the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, including chemistry. We will be contacting applicants who are not only on course to achieve top marks but who have an outstanding personal statement, in order to offer them a chance to receive an unconditional offer immediately.

Find out more about the scheme.

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

Academic staff

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

The results of the National Student Survey (NSS) and the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey (DLHE) are made available to prospective students and their advisors through the Unistats website.

** 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.