Our Environmental Science programmes, built around our impressive research record, incorporate the systematic scientific study of interactions between physical, chemical and biological processes in the environment and how to apply them to solve 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.
Our programmes in Environmental Science are accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES).
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.
What can you expect?
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.
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.
Video transcript here
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.
Fieldwork experience can also be gained as part of a fieldwork-based research project undertaken in the final year, which may be in your local area or overseas. In recent years students have participated in enjoyable 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.
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)
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
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
“The course is completely relevant to the working world at the moment. Everything in business is about being sustainable and cost-efficient, so that nothing is wasted.”
Josephine - BSc Environmental Science
Hear more graduate stories
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. Our Environmental Science degrees are designed with employers in mind enabling you to develop a unique blend of general, specialist and crucially, transferable skills. From data analysis and problem solving to communication and team-working, these transferable skills are highly valued by employers and will enhance your employability in the competitive job market.
Tailored careers support
Preparation for your career should be one of the first things you think about as you start university. Whether you have a clear idea of where your future aspirations lie or want to consider the broad range of opportunities available once you have a Birmingham degree, our
Careers Network can help you achieve your goal.
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
global internships and placements available to you. Once you have a career in your sights, one-to-one support with CV's 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.
Birmingham has transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.
Clubs and societies
The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.
Shape your academic experience
Choose to study here and you will have a Student Representative, who works with the University and Students' Union on issues that directly affect students. You could even become one yourself. Not only would you be making a difference to the academic student experience, but you would also be developing transferable skills for the future.
Find out more on the Guild of Students website
Coming to Birmingham might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.
The City of Birmingham
One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and culture, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work.
Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.
Societies, School and campus life
The School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences is one of the friendliest and most dynamic at the University. There’s a great atmosphere and sense of community among students and staff. Learning apart, there is a lot going on, much of it driven by the two main student societies:
The Kinvig Society
- named after the first head of the Geography Department, Robert Henry Kinvig – is one of the biggest and most active student societies on campus. Run by students, it lays on a lively and varied programme of social events throughout the year, culminating in the black-tie Kinvig Ball at one of the city’s top venues in November and the Three Peaks challenge in aid of chosen charities. As well as trips to restaurants, bars and nightclubs, there are sporting events: Kinvig sports representatives organise teams for the inter-departmental University sports leagues. Football, rugby, hockey, netball, volleyball and squash are usually available for both men and women; in some cases, for mixed teams as well. If you’re a geographer or environmental science student, Kinvig will write to you before term starts with a full programme of events to help you settle in happily during your first few weeks.
Follow Kinvig on Twitter
The Lapworth Society (LapSoc)
is the student society for Earth Sciences students. Named after Birmingham’s first Professor of Geology, Charles Lapworth, it organises social events such as pub quizzes, drinks nights and the end-of-year-ball in March. It fields intermural sports teams in the University’s netball and six-a-side football leagues, training regularly and playing matches every Wednesday afternoon against other schools across campus.
Follow LapSoc on Twitter