BSc Global Environmental Change and Sustainability with Year Abroad

Start date
4 Years
UCAS code
Course Type
Undergraduate, Single Honours
£9,250 (Home - 2024-25)
£25,860 Fee Band 3a (International Students - 2024-25)
More detail
Discover Global Environmental Change and Sustainability at the University of Birmingham

Understanding Global Environmental Change, how we address its causes, how we live with and respond to its impacts, and how we find sustainable solutions to our use of Earth’s resources, are some of the most pressing issues facing humanity today.

This programme aims to prepare a new generation of environmentally aware students for graduate employment in a range of industries positioned to tackle these global grand challenges. In a world that is increasingly affected by environmental change, it is of paramount importance that we are able to develop sustainable management of energy and natural resources, food security, biodiversity, ecology, and natural hazards. Tackling these themes requires a broad and interdisciplinary approach, based on a sound understanding of Earth and environmental processes, and of the intersection of human pressures and ecological systems.

On this four-year programme you will spend a year abroad between your second and fourth years at a partner institution in the EU or elsewhere in the world.

By combining sociological, ethical, and economic dimensions with a sound scientific understanding of environmental change, students will graduate with a broad skills set – drawing on analytical approaches and able to communicate ideas and develop solutions. This will prepare graduates for work with a broad range of stakeholders, from NGOs to global businesses, in seeking more sustainable approaches to current problems.

Why study this course?

  • This programme is uniquely designed to give students experience and understanding of the intersecting challenges that characterise global environmental change and the development of more sustainable approaches. Building on a strong scientific foundation, you will also work with social scientists, study ethical and economic dimensions of global change, and work with external partners to seek sustainable solutions to real-world problems.
  • You will work with academics from a range of disciplines, and be part of a student cohort with diverse interests and skills. The course places a strong emphasise on working as teams to resolve problems, and this includes input from across the University and beyond.
  • The Birmingham Institute of Forest Research (BIFoR) BIFoR aims to provide fundamental science, social science and cultural research of direct relevance to global forested landscapes. Opportunities for undergraduates to get involved with BIFoR come for example from the Year 3 dissertation (research module).
  • Lapworth Museum of Geology The Lapworth Museum of Geology holds the finest and most extensive collections of fossils, minerals and rocks in the Midlands. Dating back to 1880, it is one of the oldest specialist geological museums in the UK. The collections provide a unique resource to support undergraduate learning.
  • A programme to suit you Focus on developing expertise in Sustainable Earth, Sustainable Climate, Sustainable Ecosystems or Sustainable Society, or mix and match optional modules of your choosing from across the University. The large number of optional modules available to you allows you to tailor your degree to your interests, but also means that you will be working with other students in the cohort who take a varied set of subjects, and can bring these diverse insights to group exercises within the core modules.
  • 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’.



Year 1

Compulsory modules

The Earth System

One Planet Thinking and Living

Global Environmental Issues A

Global Environmental Issues B

Environmental Research Frontiers A

Environmental Research Frontiers B

Optional modules

Earth Materials

Introduction to Evolution and Animal Biology

Ecological Concepts and Plant Sciences

Young People and Social Change

Moral and Political Philosophy


Year 2

Compulsory modules

Earth Resources, Environmental Impacts and Sustainability

Developing Solutions

Optional modules

Geological Natural Hazards


Hydrology and Geomorphology


Ecological Systems

Critical Issues for 21st Century Ecosystems

Animal Biology: Principals and Mechanisms

Plant Sciences: From Cells to the Environment

The Ethics and Politics of Climate Change

Science and Nature


Year 3 (Year Abroad)

You will take a 120 credit Year Abroad based on module assessments taken at an overseas university. The allocation to the university abroad is based on student preference and availability of places.


Year 4

Compulsory modules

Sustainability Research Project

Optional modules

Engineering Geology and Pollution Hydrogeology

Exploring the Energy Transition

Climate Change in the Earth System


Environmental Research in High Latitudes

Resource Governance

Professional Placements

Conservation: From Theory into Practice

Conservation Practice: From Genes to Ecosystems

Animal Behaviour: From Theory to Application

Responses to Global Environmental Change

Vanished: Extinction from the Dodo to Extinction Rebellion

Humans and Environments

Learning Entrepreneurial Skills

Entrepreneurial Start Up

Efficient use of Energy

Energy Economics

The Mess We’re In: Towards a History of Our Times 


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) £25,860

Learn more about fees and funding

Learn more about our scholarships and awards

Additional Course Costs

Costs for off-campus work that forms a core part of individual modules, such as site visits or field work, will be covered by the University. Additional costs may be incurred if fieldwork or data collection is planned as part of dissertation research.

How To Apply

Apply through UCAS at

Learn more about applying to the University of Birmingham by visiting our ‘Preparing for university’ web pages.

Standard offer

International Requirements

Number of A levels required:
Typical offer:

Specified subjects excluded for entry: General Studies and Critical Thinking

BTEC Extended Diploma in science related subject will be considered.

BTEC Diploma accepted in combination with an A level.

BTEC Subsidiary Diploma accepted in combination with two A levels.

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.

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.

From the outset you will be encouraged to become an independent and self-motivated learner shaping your own intellectual development with us. The research-led teaching on our flexible degree courses ensures an inspirational and enquiry-based learning environment in the classroom, lab and field.

The world-leading research we do feeds directly into our undergraduate programmes, which means you will be learning from academics who are experts in their fields.


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.
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

Assessment Methods

You'll be assessed in a variety of ways, and these may be different with each module that you take. You can expect to take examinations, make oral presentations, make videos, as well as carry out regular project work, and some practical exercises. Some modules only have an exam, others only project work. We place strong emphasis on collaboration and group work culminating in the final year dissertation.

At the beginning of each module, you'll be given information on how and when you'll be assessed. You'll receive feedback on assessments within 15 working days, so that you can learn from and build on what you have done as well as gain from opportunities for formative assessment.

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 at Birmingham.
Graduates from this programme will draw upon a solid scientific knowledge of Earth processes, augmented by an understanding of the broader perspectives needed to find sustainable solutions to some of the most important problems facing our world today. Many organisations will need the interdisciplinary skillsets and experiences of graduates of this programme. Graduates are likely to progress into employment in (renewable) energy, (sustainable) resources, environmental consultancy, as well as careers with national to local government, civil society organisations, NGOs, and in science communication and the media.  Graduates may also progress into specialist environmental and sustainability masters programmes in the UK and overseas.

Culture and collections

Schools, institutes and departments

Services and facilities