How you learn is as important as what you learn. The learning experience at Birmingham combines a wide variety of study methods extending way beyond the lecture theatre, to include extensive fieldwork, practical work and tutorials.
You will be taught by a mixture of professors, doctors and doctoral researchers, thereby receiving a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience.You can find out more about the members of staff in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences where you can read about their qualifications, publication history and specific areas of interest.
An inspirational and enquiry-based learning environment
Our cutting-edge teaching programme is built on a foundation of over one hundred years of research and teaching excellence. From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner shaping your own intellectual development with us. We have an impressive track record for environmental research, so you will be taught by international experts with a passion for their subjects. The research-led teaching on our flexible degree courses ensures an inspirational and enquiry-based learning environment in the classroom, lab and field.
As well as lectures, tutorials and practical classes you will have access to extensive educational facilities across the School and University including library resources, a well-equipped map room, laboratories, IT facilities and purpose-built learning spaces. Our laboratories are state-of-the-art, with the latest, an eco lab for the study of river systems, soon to open its doors. Acquisition of a range of first-class field, analytical and IT skills that companies seek is one reason that our graduates have such a high employability rate. You will also have a wealth of opportunities to go out into the field; gaining hands-on experience on residential courses across the UK and overseas.
Support during your studies
You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.We also have dedicated welfare tutors who provide professional support, advice and guidance to students across a range of issues. They can meet with you to discuss extensions, disabilities, reasonable adjustments, extenuating circumstances, or talk through any problems you might be experiencing, and help you access wider support on campus and beyond.
During your first year it is important that you have a smooth transition into University. You will be able to talk to your tutors about this and discuss if there are particular areas where you need support.
Our Academic Skills Centre also offers you support with your learning. The centre is a place where you can develop your mathematical, academic writing and general academic skills. It is the Centre's aim to help you to become a more effective and independent learner through the use of a range of high-quality and appropriate learning support services. These range from drop-in sessions with support with mathematics and statistics based problems provided by experienced mathematicians, to workshops on a range of topics including note talking, reading, writing and presentation skills.
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Fieldwork is another important component of your study, and you will receive a thorough training in laboratory skills including basic measurement, classification and calibration. The School's excellent microscopy, sedimentology, and analytical chemistry facilities are available to you to support work in individual modules and, if necessary, for your research project.
In the first year, you will attend a residential field course in the Peak district. The field course takes a systems based approach to examine the links between geology, soil, water and biota, considering how an understanding of these can be used in management of systems. You will learn how to use a range of research techniques, including the use of soil coring, water sampling and analysis, and ecological surveys in an informal environment.
In the second year, you will choose a field course, according to your area of interest, from the following:
- The Freshwater Environments field course has a base beside Lake Bala in North Wales, where you will investigate how changes in fish, plankton and macroinvertebrate communities are linked to water quality, changes in land-use, acidification and eutrophication.
- The Physical Processes and Atmosphere field course takes place in Portugal where you will consider the problems of recent environmental changes in Portugal's Alentejo region. These include the impact of natural and accelerated physical processes on the landscape, urban climatology, remote sensing of landscape change, and water resource development.
- The Biogeography and Geomorphology field course is based in Tenerife where you will examine how geological, climatological, geomorphological and ecological processes combine to shape the island’s environment.
- The Environmental Management field course travels to Malta and explores environmental management problems on the island. Prospects for future sustainability in relation to waste, water and marine resources, biodiversity conservation, and tourism are considered. The field course is supported by the staff of the University of Malta.
- A Birmingham field course looks at urban wildlife conservation and management at Kings Norton Nature Reserve. On this course you will investigate the biodiversity of local habitats, including the lake, stream and surrounding woodland. You can choose from a range of small projects linked to the objectives of the reserve management plan.
The costs of travel and accommodation on all compulsory field courses are covered by the School. We will also contribute towards the costs of your independent research project carried out at the end of Year 2. We will make the necessary arrangements to accommodate students with disabilities for field courses throughout their time at Birmingham.
In the second and third year of the programme, some modules may involve additional fieldwork components (usually non-residential). Such work is especially important in ecology, biogeography, and hydrology where experience in field methodologies is essential.
Find out more about fieldwork costs and funding.