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MSci Environmental Science

Start date
4 years
UCAS code
Course Type
Undergraduate, Single Honours
£9,250 (Home - 2024-25)
£27,180 Fee Band 3a (International Students - 2024-25)
More detail

Our Environmental Science MSci, built around our impressive research record, will allow you to develop an in-depth understanding of the Earth’s most complex environmental problems.

We will give you the knowledge and skills you need to help resolve the world’s most pressing problems in a sustainable way.

There is a growing need for graduates with a strong scientific background but who are also able to apply their knowledge to environmental management and protection globally.

The Environmental Science MSci degree is designed around three key themes – understanding environmental processes and systems; investigating changes and impacts; and enabling their prediction and mitigation.

This programme has been designed to provide choice and flexibility whilst ensuring that you develop appropriate skills with a sound scientific foundation. The course includes both core modules taken by all Environmental Science students, and selected optional modules which allow you to concentrate on themes which are of particular interest to you.

Our MSci Environmental Science programme offers the opportunity for you to follow your interest in the area more fully, and to develop key skills for career development. The MSci uses the same modules as the BSc degree for the first three years, followed by an additional specialist fourth year.

IES logo thumbnailOur programmes in Environmental Science are accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES).

Why study this course?

There are plenty of reasons to study Environmental Science MSci at Birmingham:

  • Accreditation – Our programmes are accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES) highlighting our academic excellence and our programmes’ professional relevance and applicability to the workplace.
  • FieldworkRecent destinations have included the Peak District, Tenerife, and Wales. The costs of travel and accommodation on all compulsory field courses will be covered by the University.
  • Facilities – State-of-the-art laboratories including an ‘eco lab’ for the study of river systems, soon to open its doors.
  • Research projects - we have extensive links with industry including Public Health England, the Environment Agency and the Wildlife Trusts. These links provide opportunities for our students’ individual research projects.
  • Research - The latest Research Excellence Framework (REF) results rank research at the University of Birmingham as 3rd* in the UK for ‘Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences’.
  • The University of Birmingham is proud to be a member of the Met Office Academic Partnership. Find out more.


We are committed to continual improvement of our programmes and to ensuring we respond to the changing needs of the world and our student body. As such we are in the process of updating our year one curriculum for this course (to be launched in 2025-26). These changes have developed with student and staff consultation and have research-based teaching at their core. Our core programme outcomes will not change, but module structures in year one will. More information will be available before the Summer 2024 open days.  

Below you can find the current year one structure to give you a sense of what you will learn.

First year

Compulsory modules

Second year

Compulsory modules

Optional modules - Example optional modules may include:

Third year

Compulsory modules

  • Research Paper and Independent Scholarship

Optional modules - Example optional modules may include:

Fourth year

Compulsory modules

Optional modules - Example optional modules may include:

Please note: The modules listed on the website for this programme are regularly reviewed to ensure they are up-to-date and informed by the latest research and teaching methods. Unless indicated otherwise, the modules listed for this programme are for students starting in 2024. On rare occasions, we may need to make unexpected changes to compulsory modules after that date; in this event we will contact offer holders as soon as possible to inform or consult them as appropriate.


Standard Home student fees 2024-25

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2024, the University of Birmingham will charge the maximum approved tuition fee per year. The fees for your first year of study will therefore be £9,250. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

Standard international student fees 2024-25

International fee
Fee Band (Undergraduate) Full-time
Band 3a (Laboratory) £27,180

Learn more about fees and funding

Learn more about our scholarships and awards

How To Apply

Apply through UCAS at
Learn more about applying

Standard offer

International Requirements

Number of A levels required:
Typical offer:
Required subjects and grades:
At least one science° A level subject

°Subjects considered to be sciences: Biology/Human Biology, Chemistry, Computing, Electronics, Environmental Studies, Geography, Geology, Maths, Further Maths, Physics, Psychology and Statistics. 

Specified subjects excluded for entry: General Studies and Critical Thinking

BTEC Extended Diploma not accepted.

BTEC Diploma accepted in combination with a science A level.

BTEC Subsidiary Diploma accepted in combination with two A levels to include one science.

Applicants who take the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) and meet our offer criteria will be made the typical offer for the programme, plus an alternative offer, which will be one grade lower plus a grade A in the EPQ.

Alternative offers through our Pathways to Birmingham programmes and our Contextual Offer scheme

Students who are eligible and successfully complete a Pathways to Birmingham programme will receive special consideration from admissions tutors and an alternative offer (typically two grades below the standard offer). In addition, our Contextual Offer Scheme recognises the potential of students whose personal circumstances may have restricted achievement in school or college. If you are eligible to benefit from the contextual offer scheme, you will receive an offer which is one grade lower than the standard offer.

International Students

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6, 6, 5 in Higher level subjects plus 32 points overall. Higher level subjects need to include the required subjects as defined for the A-level qualification, where applicable.

Standard English language requirements apply 
Learn more about international entry requirements

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

The Collaborative Teaching Laboratory is a brand new state-of-the-art facility designed to support the latest methods in laboratory teaching for STEM subjects.

Collaborative Teaching Laboratory

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 have access to a comprehensive support system to help you make the transition to Higher Education.

  • Personal tutors - 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.
  • Wellbeing officers - We have dedicated wellbeing officers 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.
  • Academic Skills Centre - The centre aims to help you become a more effective and independent learner through a range of high-quality support services. The centre offers workshops on a range of topics, such as note-taking, reading, academic writing and presentation skills.
  • Student experience - Our Student Experience Team will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.

Seminars and tutorials

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.

Research Project

Student collecting samples from a stream during fieldworkMSci students undertake two independent research projects, one in each of their third and fourth years, thereby really honing their research skills. Lab and/or fieldwork experience can also be gained as part of a these research projects, which may be in your local area or overseas, or indeed aligned with the research of one or more of our world-leading academic researchers. In recent years students have undertaken enjoyable research trips to the French Pyrenees, Iceland, Sweden and the Swiss Alps amongst others. Many students have participated in the work of Operation Wallacea in Honduras and Sulawesi, thereby combining academic research with important conservation projects, usually during the summer break. MSci projects have also included assessing the impacts of nanoparticles on wheat plants, among others.

Past student projects in the final year have included:

  • Assessing the possibility of transmission of the psyllid-vectored bacterial strain 'Candidatus Liberibacter europaeus' (Rhizobiales: Rhizobiaceae) to the kowhai tree (Sophora spp.) in New Zealand
  • The Effects of Features in and around the enclosure of the captive sumatran tigers (Pathera tigris sumatrae) on their activity patterns and behaviour at the West Midlands Safari Park
  • The Hempstead Farm study: an Investigation into the impact of pollinators and pollinator management on the quality of a cherry harvest
  • The Cooling Effects of Parks within Birmingham, UK
  • Investigating the social and environmental impact of the Ardley Waste Incinerator
  • Testing the critical thermal maxima of aquatic macroinvertebrates with the goal of identifying suitable biological indicators of thermal alteration within stream ecosystems
  • Evaluating the success of management strategies in reducing air pollution (CH4 and CO2) from the decommissioned North Herts landfill site
  • Herd Dynamics and Management Techniques for Population Control of African Elephants (Loxodonta africana)

Lecturers and world leading researchers 

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.

Resources and facilities

Our facilities are unique and cutting-edge. For example, BIFoR (Birmingham Institute of Forest Research) is the only such facility in the Northern Hemisphere that comes with an entire forest dedicated to investigating the effects of climate change. The new Collaborative Teaching Lab (CTL) will provide a state-of-the-art learning experience with dedicated wet, dry and e-labs, as well as allowing you to work with students from other disciplines. We also have first-class research facilities in environmental pollution monitoring, water science and nanomaterials

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.

Contact Hours

In Years 1 and 2 of your Environmental Science degree you can expect between 12-17 contact hours per week with additional tutorials and fieldtrips. In your final year, more of your time will be spent on independent study and research; therefore, you can expect between 7-10 hours of contact time, depending on your choice of modules.

Assessment Methods

The Environmental Science degree has a modular structure, and in each year learning is spread over two teaching semesters of eleven weeks, with a third summer term of eight weeks for revision and examinations. Assessment methods used are dependent on the modules you choose, but may involve individual or group project work, examinations, oral presentations, and library or web-based research, in addition to fieldwork assessments.

At the beginning of each module, you'll be given information on how and when you'll be assessed for that particular programme of study. You'll receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done for future modules.

Studying at degree-level is likely to be very different from your previous experience of learning and teaching at school or college. You will be expected to think, discuss and engage critically with your subject and find things out for yourself. We will support you in making this transition to a new style of learning, and the way that you are assessed during your studies will help you develop the essential skills you need to make a success of your time here.

During your first year you will also undergo a formal transition review to see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support. This is in addition to the personal tutor who is based in your school or department and can help with any academic issues you encounter.

By developing your understanding of the interactions between physical, chemical and biological processes in the environment, we will give you the knowledge and skills you need to help resolve the world's most pressing problems in a sustainable way.

You will be well placed to develop a career within the growing environmental science field, either in the public or private sector. In both areas, the demand for qualified graduates is growing as society strives to promote sustainable development, meet the requirements of more stringent environmental controls, and address the problems caused by issues such as climate change, air and water pollution, and contaminated land. 

Where could a degree in Environmental Science take you?

Recent Earth and Environmental Sciences graduates have found employment in a wide range of fields. Our most recent student survey showed that a high proportion of our alumni were working or in further study six months after graduation. Many students were engaged in work or study directly related to their first degree, with the remainder choosing career paths in areas outside of the subject where the transferable skills gained on the programme prove invaluable. 

Graduates have found employment within the scientific civil service (e.g. Environment Agency), local government, environmental consultancies, conservation organisations and environmental education, as well as in the media, education, finance, sales, IT and law. Other graduates go into teaching at all levels, from primary schools right through to higher education.

Around a quarter of Earth and Environmental Sciences graduates go on to further study at Masters and PhD level, to develop further research identified in different aspects of our programme, including Environmental Management Systems, Water Resources Technology and Air Pollution Management. 

See examples of what our graduates go on to do

Careers Network

Careers Network, our unique careers guidance service is tailored to your academic subject area. Our team source exclusive work experience opportunities to help you stand out amongst the competition, with mentoring, global internships and placements available to you.  Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CVs and job applications will help give you the edge. In addition, our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.