Students working in woodland.


Environmental Science (with Foundation Year)

This course is open for applications.

About this course

Entry year:
Course code:
Tariff points:
Applied Sciences
Four years full-time; five years sandwich
Full-time; sandwich
Programme leader:
Dr Pete Maxfield
Key fact:
Accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES), this course will give you the knowledge and practical work-based skills to tackle today's most important environmental challenges and prepare you for a range of exciting careers.

Page last updated 31 August 2017


Why study BSc(Hons) Environmental Science?

The environment in which we live is changing rapidly. Solving and managing the problems and challenges caused by environmental change is becoming an increasingly important issue for modern society. How do we produce enough food to feed our expanding population without destroying fragile ecosystems? What new technologies can we use to improve water quality and provide clean sources of water to even the poorest communities?

To solve these and many other environmental challenges, Environmental Science draws on skills and knowledge from a variety of scientific fields, including Biology (to appreciate life and the central role it plays in shaping our environment), Geography (to understand resource distribution and landscape processes), Earth Sciences (to look at the Earth as a system) and Chemistry (to recognise the building blocks of the environment and environmental pollution). Through combining a broad range of subjects, you will learn how to build a deep understanding of the environmental challenges facing the world today and find real world solutions to help society adapt to our changing planet.

Why study our course?

BSc (Hons) Environmental Science at UWE Bristol has a practical focus and you will have many opportunities to gain experience and put in what you have learnt throughout your degree into practice. Whether you are on one of our expeditions working in the threatened forests of Madagascar, diving on the coral reefs of Cuba, carrying out an investigation in one of our labs or using latest mapping software in our dedicated computer suite, you will learn by using the skills and cutting edge technology employed at the forefront of environmental science. You will also find out how to analyse and interpret complex data and pioneer environmentally sound, scientifically robust, practical solutions.

The department is very welcoming and our students appreciate the fantastic collegiate atmosphere and strong relationship between themselves and staff. You will be based in Bristol, a modern and diverse city of growing environmental innovation and opportunity.

Real-world experience

A hands-on approach to learning runs through all our modules and you will have the option to explore your own interests. Throughout the course, you will have the chance to undertake work placements, volunteering roles, field-based work and residential trips in natural and urban environments at home and abroad. With the sandwich course option, you will spend a year on placement with a suitable public or private sector employer in this country, Europe or further afield, applying your knowledge to real-life environmental issues.

Where it can take you

Environmental Science at UWE Bristol is a broad scientific subject and an excellent choice if you want to keep a broad range of career options open. Our graduates have gone on to work for variety of employers, including internationally-renowned organisations such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), or in industry, such as Thames Water, the Environment Agency, Wessex Water, Atkins or charities such as the Woodland Trust. Some have gone on to become film-makers, while others have taken part in conservation projects around the world, from the Seychelles to Panama.

Other graduates have continued their studies, undertaking a diverse range of MSc and PhD research in both the UK and overseas.

Watch: The learning and teaching experience

Accreditations and partnerships:



Foundation year (Year zero)

You will study the following compulsory modules:

  • Biology in Practice
  • Chemistry in Practice
  • Skills for Science
  • People and Science.

You will study the Foundation year alongside students from our other Biological, Biomedical and Analytical Sciences courses, and therefore may be able to transfer to a course in one of these areas at the end of the Foundation year.

The normal expectation is that you must pass all Year zero modules before progressing to Year one.

Year one

The modules in this year cover subjects from geology to climate science, while the Field Work module includes a free field course to Dartmoor.

You will study the following compulsory modules:

  • Life on Earth
  • The Earth
  • Field Skills (including residential field trip)
  • Environment and Society.

Year two

The Field Techniques module in this year includes a free field course to Tenerife, while the Environmental Change module studies the problems and solutions linked with our changing environment.

You will study the following compulsory modules:

  • Environmental and Field Techniques (includes international field trip)
  • Ecology and Ecosystem Protection.

You will study four of the following optional modules:

  • Earth Science
  • Environmental Impacts and Mitigation
  • Atmosphere and Climate
  • Hydrology to Oceanography
  • The Microbial World.

You will be able to elect to spend a year out, working for an organisation, in an appropriate placement to gain relevant work experience. Placements are available both at home and abroad. While on this placement, you will have the option to take the Professional Practice in Applied Sciences subject. This will count towards your final credit.

Final year

Bespoke Year three optional modules use the strengths of our science department and include a Tropical Expedition to Cuba or Madagascar, as well as the Science Communication module, which offers skills that will help you stand out from other environmental graduates.

You will study the following compulsory modules:

  • Dissertation Project or Independent Research Project
  • Resource Security and Sustainability.

Plus four optional modules from the list below:

  • Scientific Frontiers and Enterprise
  • Energy Technologies
  • Tropical Expedition
  • Marine Ecosystems (including field trip)
  • Environmental Forensics
  • Remote Sensing and Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  • Science Communication
  • Global Forest Systems
  • Professional Practice in Applied Sciences
  • Sustainable Food Production
  • Environmental Microbiology.

The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved we will inform you.

Learning and Teaching

The teaching of this course is interactive. The topics introduced in lectures, seminars and tutorials are deepened and enriched through laboratory workshops, fieldwork exercises and case studies. A major feature of the degree is the opportunity to learn in a range of diverse environments through the residential field trips offered in all years.

Teaching is closely linked with world-class environmental research. You will learn from leaders in their fields, working in areas such as the conservation of bird's nest ferns in rainforests, the decontamination of water in Third World countries and the use of plants to measure radiation levels.

We take a student-centred approach to learning. You will receive one-to-one guidance and individual feedback throughout your course. In your final year, you will undertake a research project, working closely with an academic supervisor in your chosen area of interest.

For more details, see our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.


A variety of assessment methods are used to reflect the range of theoretical concepts, knowledge and practical skills which are developed in this course. These include unseen, open-book and practical exams, essays, practical reports, individual and group projects, oral or visual presentations, case-study analysis, taxonomic collections and problem-solving exercises. All modules are assessed through a combination of coursework and exams. The first year assessments do not contribute towards the final degree mark, which is calculated on the basis of Year two and Final year results.

For more details, see our full glossary of assessment terms.


Professional accreditation

This course is accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES). Graduates are awarded a certificate on completion of the degree and can apply for membership of the IES.


Throughout the course, you will be able to apply your expertise and build professional skills in work-based settings through placements, internships and volunteering roles. We encourage all students to choose the sandwich course option. This involves spending at least 40 weeks over the course of 12 months, undertaking invaluable practical training and work with an employer in the UK or overseas, before entering the final year.

Our students have previously worked in industry, government organisations, consultancies and conservation groups with placement providers such as the RSPB, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, the Environment Agency, MoD, Kew Gardens, GE Aviation and Tongariro Natural History Society in New Zealand.


Fieldwork is an essential part of studying and understanding environmental issues and a significant proportion of your time will be spent working in the field. Fieldwork ranges from short local trips in and around Bristol, with its rich variety of urban and natural environments, to UK and international residential visits to destinations including Devon, Cornwall, Tenerife, Madagascar and Cuba. (The cost of field trips in year one and two are included within your course fees.)

Find out about a field trip in Cornwall from our students studying Marine Ecology and a field trip to study the ecosystems of a tropical island near Cuba.

Study facilities

With access to a comprehensive range of well-equipped, specialist, analytical and computer laboratories, as well as a glasshouse and dedicated field centre, you will be supported and mentored by a team of environmental science specialists at the forefront of their profession. The course offers a wide-ranging curriculum taught through lectures, seminars and tutorials, complemented by laboratory investigations, case studies, workshops and a variety of work-based experiences and fieldwork. We focus on helping you identify the specific skills required for your ideal career.

Find out more about the facilities and resources UWE Bristol has to offer.

Paid summer vacation internships

You will be eligible to apply for a paid summer vacation internship.

Be inspired

Read our students' experiences whilst studying Geography, Planning and Environmental Management courses.


Careers / Further study

Environmental issues impact at local, national and international levels, and our students graduate with the knowledge, skills and practical experience to make a valuable contribution in many different areas. Students have been recruited as pollution scientists, water quality experts and environmental managers, with organisations that include The Environment Agency, Wessex Water and DEFRA. Some have found roles as environmental consultants, working on renewable energy, waste management or the consequences of climate change. Others have chosen environmental education in schools and field studies organisations or gone on to study for postgraduate qualifications.

Award-winning careers service

Our award-winning careers service will help you develop your employment potential through career coaching, a vacancy service for internships, placements, jobs, global opportunities, volunteering and community activity, plus support for entrepreneurial activity and access to employer events.

Creating employable students

UWE Bristol places strong emphasis on employability and skills development at every level. Through work placements, volunteering, study abroad and initiatives nurturing talent and innovation, you will have opportunities to gain valuable real world experience, allowing you to graduate with diverse career opportunities and a competitive place in the job market.

Visit our Employability pages to find out about careers, employers, real world experience and what our students are doing six months after graduating.

Be inspired

Find out what being a water quality scientist involves.

Useful links

Vacancy sources and occupational information

Guardian - what to do with a degree in environmental science


Full Time Course

FeesAmount (£)
International-Full Time-Annual (Per Year) Fee12750
International-Full Time-Module Fee (15 Credit)1594

Indicative Additional Costs

FeesAmount (£)
Additional Course Costs - Full Time - Home/EU - Indicative Maximum Cost Per year450

Full Time Course with Placement

FeesAmount (£)
International-Sandwich-Annual (Per Year) Fee12750
International-Sandwich-Full Annual Fee Following Placement Year12750
International-Sandwich-Module Fee (15 Credit)1594
International-Sandwich-Placement Year Fee1594
International-Sandwich-Reduced Annual Fee Following Placement Year11156

Supplementary fee information

The additional costs listed are those you could reasonably expect to incur during your studies and are for items not covered by the standard tuition fee. These could be materials, text books, travel, clothing, software or printing.

Further information about fees and funding.


Typical offers

  • Tariff points: 48
  • GCSE: For all applicants, Grade C/4 or above in English Language, Mathematics and Double Science, or equivalent. Please note the University does not accept Level 2 Key Skills, Functional Skills or Certificates in Adult Numeracy and Literacy as suitable alternatives to GCSEs.
  • A-level subjects: Science AS or A2. Points from A-Level General Studies and AS-Level subjects (not taken onto full A-Level) can be included towards overall tariff. You must have a minimum of one A-Level.
  • Specific subjects: Science at GCSE, A or AS-Level
  • Relevant subjects: Maths
  • EDEXCEL (BTEC) Diploma: To include six units in a science subject.
  • Access: Achievement of the Access to HE Diploma; to include level 3 credits in Science.
  • Baccalaureate IB: A pass in a higher level science subject.

Entry requirements

The Foundation year is designed to accept a wide range of people with different educational backgrounds. You will be considered on an individual basis.

If you expect to achieve a higher tariff score, you may also be interested in our BSc(Hons) Environmental Science course.

How to apply

Please see the general information about applications.

For further information


UWE Main Campus

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