Undergraduate study
Environmental Science

BSc (Hons) Environmental Science

UCAS code: F7M0 BSc/EnvSci

The impact of human activities on the planet has reached unparalleled levels and, coupled with an increasing population, is of significant concern. The detrimental impact of human activity is far reaching and includes changes to climate, depletion of natural resources and loss of biodiversity.

Course information

Full-time

  • Length: 3 years (or 4 years with work placement)

More full-time details

Part-time

  • 6 years if entering Year 1; 4 years if entering Year 2

More part-time details

  • Enrolment date: September
  • Admission enquiries: 01642 738800

Contact details

Further information

  • Facilities

    Microscopy laboratory

    Here at Teesside we have world-class facilities, including our microscopy laboratory, it's a 360 video so have a scroll around.

  • Facilities
 

Humans will have to develop new technological and environmental approaches to conserve the planet's natural resources, and change economic, political and social policies significantly if we hope to mitigate these detrimental impacts before it is too late.

As a graduate with an environmental science degree you can play a significant part in making the world a better place to live in. This degree provides you with the underpinning knowledge and skills to measure and assess the impact of human activities on the complex and interconnected environmental systems which support life on this planet - and to be able to harness science to develop solutions for a sustainable future.

In Year 1, you study a broad range of modules which provide an overview and introduction to the multidisciplinary nature of sustainability, addressing the key socio-political and economic debates that underpin the agenda, the core environmental sciences and exploring the role of science and technology in providing solutions.

In Year 2, you explore how the impacts of human activities on environmental systems can be monitored, the potential to minimise these impacts by more effective management and use of resources, energy and waste and how to remediate the effects on environments by harnessing natural ecosystems. You also study the legislative and economic drivers which can be used to make this happen. You consolidate and apply this learning through a second major team project working alongside biological scientists, focusing on measuring the ecological impact of an industrial activity and the effectiveness of the remediation and environmental protection measures.

In your final year, you focus in more detail on the potential of science- and technology-based innovations to identify and provide solutions to environmental problems and support the policing of legislative control. A second major team project ties together all strands of the course in the Sustainability Project. You also undertake a major individual project which focuses on the measurement and mitigation of environmental and ecological impact in a real-world sustainability problem.

Course structure

Year 1 core modules

Animal and Plant Biology

This module introduces the themes of ecology, diversity, variation within animals and plants, population biology and the complexity within ecosystems, and the relationships between animals and plants and their environment. You gain a thorough introduction to these themes within the lecture series and are given example problems to solve within tutorials. Learning is supported by a field trip surveying diversity within the local area, and laboratory sessions exploring the physiology of animals and plants.

Biodiversity and Evolution

You study the concept of evolution and how it led to the development of biodiversity and the world we now inhabit. You discuss evolution by natural selection and our development from the common ancestor, along with the principles of taxonomy, speciation and the evolutionary tree to demonstrate relationships between species. We highlight the impact of modern molecular methods of taxonomy in the form of phylogenetics, particularly the discovery of the domain of archaea. We discuss the complex biodiversity of the microbial, plant and animal worlds and their importance in ecological balance for the earth, human kind and society in the form of conservation. Lectures and tutorial sessions provide an insight into the theoretical aspects of evolution and biodiversity, and you discuss and analyse problem-based exercises to affirm your theoretical knowledge.

Biological Methods

Life sciences is a multifaceted field drawing on knowledge and understanding from the molecular level to whole organisms and ecosystems. Biologists must be able to work in teams, drawing on this vast knowledge to solve problems in the field. In this module, you work in teams to solve a biologically relevant problem, taking into account the principles of health, safety and ethics facing professionals in the workplace. You develop a range of employability skills such as time management and presenting your work. You also gain the research skills needed to support problem solving in the field and to help you become a well-rounded, professional scientist.

Core Skills in Life Sciences

Knowledge of the degree subject is not the only thing you learn whilst at university and it’s not the only thing that potential employers are looking for after graduation. You also need to develop a range of skills applicable for a variety of career pathways These include your ability to articulate yourself clearly, confidently and effectively to different audiences; to work independently or on your own initiative demonstrating creativity and adaptability when tackling problems where you don’t have all the necessary information available; to locate information and critically assess its usefulness; and to make efficient and effective use of the latest information technology.

You also learn to assess your own performance, giving you the chance to recognise and build on your strengths, and identify and improve your weaknesses as a way to raise your aspirations. This module also introduces you to basic principles and good practice in collecting, recording and evaluating data, and using information resources and referencing. You also consider the assessment and handling of scientific errors. You review a range of basic mathematical skills and introduce statistical methods that are essential in a wide range of scientific endeavour. Emphasis is placed on using spreadsheets for data recording, presentation and statistical analysis.

Earth Sciences

This module provides students with an introduction to the concepts of the earth as a system and develops the skills used to investigate environmental issues. It begins by considering, rocks and minerals, the fundamental building blocks of the planet. Using this knowledge the internal physical and chemical structure of the planet can be defined, from which deep earth structure and processes can be deduced. This includes the theory of plate tectonics, which in 50 years has revolutionized our understanding of the development of the planet, its atmosphere and the evolution of life.

Complex interactions between the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and lithosphere are at the heart of current environmental issues, such as climate change, which will influence the immediate future of every aspect of life and commerce, perhaps even including survival of the species. Lectures, seminars, classroom problems and practical work are used to develop observational and data recording skills, culminating in a field-based activity to acquire data relating to a real-world environmental problem. The module is intended for those who have little or no previous experience of earth science and/or geoscience to enable them to appreciate environmental science in the context of the earth as a dynamic spatial system which evolves with time and human intervention.

Energy Systems

This module introduces students to the concept of energy and the physical laws relating to it. Modern energy generation, storage, distribution and use are explored along with the environmental consequences. Material is delivered through lectures, science laboratory practicals, IT workshops and field trips to local industrial sites. Students also work in groups examining case studies including power generation accidents.

Professional Skills

Knowledge of your degree subject is not the only thing you will learn at university, nor is it the only thing which potential employers will be looking for after graduation. You also need to develop a range of skills that are applicable in all walks of life. These include:
- the ability to communicate clearly and effectively to different audiences, both orally and in writing
- the ability to make an effective contribution as a member of a team, and also to work independently or on your own initiative when required
- the ability to tackle problems for which all the necessary knowledge is not available
- the ability to locate information and assess its usefulness
- the ability to make efficient and effective use of the latest information technology.

You also learn to assess their own performance - recognising and building on your strengths, identifying and improving your weaknesses.

This module is the first in a series running through each degree programme in which these key skills are explicitly developed and assessed, by means of a series of learning activities that require the use of different skills, while also teaching key aspects of the chosen subject. The module is delivered via a combination of seminars, laboratory classes and some lectures; the exact pattern will be different for different degree programmes. Assessment is via reflective statements, which require students to identify knowledge and skills that have been developed during the module

 

Year 2 core modules

Ecology and Biodiversity

This module is for students interested in ecology and how complex interactions shape the distribution and abundance patterns of species in the natural environment. You examine the ecology of populations and communities, and how the integration of powerful new molecular biology technologies can inform the study of ecology and ecological interactions. You explore the underlying theories used to explain the observed spatial and temporal patterns of diversity observed and the measurements which can be used to quantify diversity. These topics are aligned to current issues, enabling you to appreciate the environmental, ethical and socio-economic concerns raised by ecological studies. Field trips give you the opportunity to sample natural environments and interpret ecological data, such as diversity indices, based on these sites.

Geotechnology and Earth Catastrophes

This module provides you with an introduction to the engineering characteristics of geological material and the formation of rocks and soils. It provides a basic understanding of the use of rocks and soils in construction.

You also explore the fundamental nature of the catastrophic processes that have shaped the earth and the environment we live in and the materials, such as the soils and rocks that we use.

We look at cosmology and global catastrophes, the origin of the universe, dynamic earth and structure, life on earth and extinction, meteorite impacts, internal and external earth processes, plate tectonics, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes and atmospheric circulation.

We explore common rock types, mode of formation and identification, the role of ground investigation in the measurement of geotechnical parameters and landslides and related phenomena.

We use lectures, involving practical demonstrations, to outline the concepts and techniques augmented with class discussions of case studies. You use tutorials and assignments to gain skills in applying the techniques to designs. During the tutorial sessions we can give additional help to direct your further study.

At the end of the module you will have a working knowledge of soil and rocks how they are formed and how they impact on the stability of buildings. You will understand how earth processes affect civilisations.

Renewable Energy

This module develops the ideas discussed in the level 4 module “Energy Systems” by reference to the growing field of renewable energy which will be seen in the wider context of reliability and flexibility of energy generation and its relationship to the energy market. The module will include a low tech construction project in which students will collaborate to design, construct and operate a wind turbine or similar generator.

Science Communication and Bioethics

Central to this module is using teamwork for problem-based learning and monitored or facilitated self-directed learning. You explore the way science is communicated within the scientific community, to stakeholders and the general public. You discuss and critically analyse the different communication methods. You are also introduced to bioethical issues central to your programme of study. You are expected to debate these issues and sensibly communicate the complexity of the themes which are embedded within the scientific disciplines.

Science Research Methods and Proposal

You will take this module if you are studying a science degree and complete a hypothesis-driven research project at Level 6 of your degree studies. It is delivered though lectures, tutorials and workshops.

You develop a proposal for your research project, which includes an explanation of the project targeted at both a specialist audience and the general public, and details of experimental design and statistical analysis to be employed. The proposal considers academic beneficiaries and economic, environmental and societal impacts. Project costs are estimated on the basis of a full economic costing model. In addition, the proposal is supported by a targeted CV.

A short lecture series at the start of the academic year provides you with an introduction to the module and advice on completing the research proposal documentation, followed by a series of assessment centre-style workshops and tasks which help assign you to a specific research project area and supervisor. These tasks familiarise you with the type of activities you might face during the application, interview and selection procedures.

You must produce a research proposal for your individual project. You are supported by a series of meetings with your supervisor to provide feedback on your progress.

For the proposal to be considered you must acquire ethical clearance from the School Research Ethics Committee. Once you are allocated a project you join discipline-based tutorials with other students. Each discipline operates tutorial sessions, which are used to provide academic guidance and support for completing ethical clearance documentation and the proposal. A series of research methodology-based workshops introduce you to various experimental designs and statistical techniques relevant to your discipline. These sessions also demonstrate how you can use software such as Minitab, SPSS and Excel to present and analyse datasets. These workshops help you decide on the design and analysis of the data associated with your project.

The module is assessed by you successfully acquiring ethical clearance (pass/fail) and submitting a completed research project proposal and supporting CV (100%).

Waste Management and Sustainability

An introduction to the definition of waste and waste management and its role in sustainable development.

Throughout this module you explore the key methods used to investigate organic and inorganic pollutants in the environment, including sampling procedures and analytical techniques.

You examine the core principles of resource management, waste management legislation and compliance management systems using online interactive distance learning software. This software is accredited by the Chartered Institution of Wastes Management and is supported through tutorials, laboratory sessions and industrial site visits.

Laboratory-based practical sessions introduce you to sampling procedures and analytical techniques. These sessions enhance your lab skills and your ability to handle data.

 

Final-year core modules

Employment Skills

You learn how to prepare for situations you are likely to face in your future career, including:
• demanding technical interviews testing your subject knowledge and ability to sell yourself
• scenarios requiring difficult ethical judgements
• tasks or problems where you don't possess all the necessary knowledge at the start.

You enhance your knowledge and understanding of your subject and learn to deal with similar situations effectively in the future.

Environmental Resource Management

In this module students will critically evaluate international agreement-derived sustainability models. In particular, eco-efficiency and ecological models, and their underpinnings of key thrusts, such as industrial symbiosis and sustainable product development. These will be analysed at the local, national and international level. The module will consider in detail the importance of energy policies and energy technologies and their implications in climate change. Specifically, the roles of renewable energies, such as wind, wave, solar, biomass and biofuels will be evaluated. The potentially important role the hydrogen economy could play in satisfying future energy requirements, taking cognisance of the pivotal role of carbon dioxide sequestration and storage, will be discussed.

Science Research Project

You bring together a range of practical and academic skills, developed in previous years of study, to interrogate a particular aspect of your field of study. You specialise in a particular area of science, supported by an appointed research supervisor who will act as a mentor and guide you through the development and completion of your research project.

You are required to present a poster and abstract at the School’s annual Poster Day event, which is attended by academics of the School, external examiners, and professionals from the region. The poster contributes to your final project mark. Throughout the project you are expected to maintain systematic and reliable records of your research which are reviewed on a regular basis by your supervisor and assessed at the end of the project. You submit your research in the style of a paper which could be submitted to an appropriate scientific journal related to your discipline.

The module is assessed by a poster presentation (20%) and the submission of a journal paper supported by a research diary and/or laboratory notebook (80%).

Sustainability Project

The generic spectrum of sustainability encompasses a range of disciplines, from those based in empirical sciences through environmental economics to social science. As such, environmental scientists must be able to work in expertise teams and communicate with teams in complementary but disparate disciplines. The goal of this module is to develop professionalism and employability skills relevant to pertinent environmental challenges.

The use of team work for problem-based and self-directed learning will be central to this module. Appropriate context will be fundamental to this. Expertise in problem-solving will be gained together with key skills such as interpersonal interactions, time management, budget management and research presentation. Due cognisance will also be taken of the principles of health, safety and ethics.

 

and two optional modules

Biogeography and Conservation

This module is ideal for you if you’re interested in the biogeographical distribution of species and how this information can inform conservation practices.

Biogeography, with its focus on the distribution of species at a range of scales, provides an important theoretical framework within which ecosystem services, and the increasing impact of human activity on global biodiversity and ecosystem functions, can be evaluated.

You explore the contribution of habitat destruction and fragmentation and invasive species to biodiversity losses. You examine underlying principles in biogeography, including the historical development of the discipline, and investigates how these principles can inform effective conservation practices targeted at preventing biodiversity losses. You explore how endangered species are characterised, the selection and design of conservation areas, and the legal and policy frameworks in place to support conservation efforts.

Ecological Sustainability

The module is for life and environmental sciences students. You explore key areas in which biological-based technologies have the potential to offer more sustainable solutions to environmental problems. You consider the complementary and multidisciplinary analytical techniques that are used to understand and ensure the sustainable management of different ecological systems. You learn through a combination of lectures, student-led seminars, tutorial sessions and a field trip where possible.

Environmental Protection

This module explores the principles of environmental protection. Environmental protection is distinct from other aspects of law because of the potential impact of any given incident on a large sector of the community, wildlife and habitats.

Environmental protection issues have significant health implications. For example there may be long-term adverse effects on the environment and future generations, effects that go way beyond simple visual blight and loss of amenity. There is also increasing evidence of a connection between local environmental degradation and increasing incidences of environmental and other crimes.

Through keynote lectures, seminars and case studies you develop a critical understanding of national and global environmental protection strategies and the approaches used to investigate the impact of pollutants on the environment and health.

 

Modules offered may vary.

How you learn

A key and unique element of our sustainability programmes is the multidisciplinary and practical solutions focused approach where you develop and apply your learning by addressing real sustainability problems. Project-based learning is extensively utilised throughout, both in specific group and individual project modules and through various activities in other modules which together make up approximately 50% of the course. These modules and activities allow you to develop and apply your learning to real-life problems and situations by engaging in a variety of activities including site visits, field trips and design-based investigations for local companies and community-based projects.

The course provides a number of contact teaching and assessment hours (such as lectures, tutorials, laboratory work, projects, examinations), but you are also expected to spend time on your own - self-study time - to review lecture notes, prepare coursework assignments, work on projects and revise for assessments. Each year of full-time study consists of modules totalling 120 credits and each unit of credit corresponds to ten hours of learning and assessment (contact hours plus self-study hours). So, during one year of full-time study you can expect to have 1,200 hours of learning and assessment.

One module in each year of your study involves a compulsory one-week block delivery period. This intensive problem-solving week, provides you with an opportunity to focus your attention on particular problems and enhance your team-working and employability skills.

How you are assessed

Assessment is based on a combination of project work, examinations and in-course assessments aimed at encouraging team work and independent management skills essential to academic study and your professional development.


Our Disability Services team helps students with additional needs resulting from disabilities such as sensory impairment or learning difficulties such as dyslexia
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Work placement

We produce graduates with the problem-solving and leadership skills necessary to forge successful careers.

This programme allows you to spend an optional year - in-between your second year and final year - learning and developing your skills through work experience. You have a dedicated work placement officer and the University's award-winning careers service to help you with applying for a placement. Advice is also available on job hunting and networking. Employers are often invited to our School to meet you and present you with opportunities for work placements.

By taking a work placement year you gain experience favoured by graduate recruiters and develop your technical skillset. You also obtain the transferable skills required in any professional environment. Transferable skills include communication, negotiation, teamwork, leadership, organisation, confidence, self-reliance, problem-solving, being able to work under pressure, and commercial awareness.

Throughout this programme, you get to know prospective employers and extend your professional network. An increasing number of employers view a placement as a year-long interview and, as a result, placements are increasingly becoming an essential part of an organisation's pre-selection strategy in their graduate recruitment process.

Potential benefits from completing a work placement year include:

  • improved job prospects
  • enhanced employment skills and improved career progression opportunities
  • a higher starting salary than your full-time counterparts
  • a better degree classification
  • a richer CV
  • a year's salary before completing your degree
  • experience of workplace culture
  • the opportunity to design and base your final-year project within a working environment.

Career opportunities

Graduating with an environmental science degree can lead to a variety of careers, including that of an environmental consultant working on commercial or government contracts, addressing a variety of environmental issues. Your role and responsibilities could cover a wide range of disciplines including:
• assessment of air
• land and water contamination
• environmental impact assessment
• environmental audit
• waste management and the development of environmental policy
• environmental management systems.

Graduate starting salaries can reach £24,500. The upper end of the salary range for senior consultant grade positions is £44,000, and for those at principal consultant grade, £55,000 (prospects.ac.uk, 2015).

Entry requirements

Year 1 entry
If you live in the UK you may be invited to attend an interview. The interview helps us tailor your offer to your individual circumstances. The interview process also enables us to consider applicants from a wide range of backgrounds and those with non-traditional qualifications, including individuals who may be returning to study after a period of employment.

When you visit the University for your interview you will be offered a tour of our fantastic campus, a visit to our excellent laboratory and teaching facilities, and an opportunity to meet our staff. You will also learn more about your course and the range of scholarships, bursaries and grants you might be eligible for.

If you can't come for an interview, we will consider making you an offer based on the information you provide in your application.

Eligibility for entry to Year 1 of this programme requires previous study of any of the following subjects at Level 3:
• biology
• chemistry
• geography
• environmental science
• applied science
• physics

The most common acceptable Level 3 qualifications are (typical minimum grades are shown in brackets):
• A levels (grades BBC)
• BTEC Extended Diploma (grade DMM)
• Access to HE Diploma (with 30 Level 3 credits from science units awarded at merit or higher)

You also need to have numeracy and literacy skills equivalent to at least GCSE grade 4.

If the qualification you are studying for is not listed, please contact our Admissions Office for advice. We accept many alternative UK and international qualifications.

If you don't meet the entry criteria for Year 1 entry, you can be considered for one of our degree courses with an integrated foundation year. The recommended extended route for this course is BSc (Hons) Environmental Science (Extended).

Applicants qualified to BTEC Higher National Certificate (HNC) or BTEC Higher National Diploma (HND) level may request direct entry to Year 2 of this degree. Applicants qualified to BTEC Higher National Diploma (HND) level may request direct entry to the final year of their degree. To be considered for advanced entry you must provide a full detailed transcript of your previous studies with your application.

English language requirements
Entry to a degree programme requires you to have a good command of spoken and written English. An example of an acceptable qualification is GCSE English Language at grade 4 or above.

Non-EU international students who need a student visa to study in the UK should check our web pages on UKVI-compliant English language requirements. The University also provides pre-sessional English language courses if you do not meet the minimum English language requirement.

Secure a guaranteed course place now*
Guaranteed Place Scheme (for UK/EU students only)

If you have completed Level 3 qualifications (for example AS Levels, BTEC Nationals) and have at least five GCSEs at grade 4 or above, including English and Mathematics, you may be eligible for a guaranteed place on an Extended degree course in your chosen subject whilst still working towards meeting the conditions required for a course with higher entry requirements.
Find out more and check your eligibility

For additional information please see the entry requirements in our admissions section

International applicants can find out what qualifications they need by visiting Your Country


You can gain considerable knowledge from work, volunteering and life. Under recognition of prior learning (RPL) you may be awarded credit for this which can be credited towards the course you want to study.
Find out more about RPL

Part-time

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Course information

Full-time

  • Length: 3 years (or 4 years with work placement)

More full-time details

Part-time

  • 6 years if entering Year 1; 4 years if entering Year 2

More part-time details

  • Enrolment date: September
  • Admission enquiries: 01642 738800

Contact details

Further information