A group of students on a field trip on a beach.


Environmental Science (with Foundation Year)

Please note the tariff points stated for this course are indicative. The tariff points for 2018 will be published by August 2017.

About this course

Entry year:
Course code:
Tariff points:
Applied Sciences
Five years full-time; six years sandwich
Full-time; sandwich
Programme leader:
Dr Pete Maxfield
Key fact:
MSci Environmental Science at UWE Bristol gives you the knowledge and practical work-based skills to tackle today's most important environmental challenges and prepares you for a range of exciting careers.

Page last updated 12 June 2017


Why study MSci 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 (looking at the Earth as a system) and Chemistry (to recognise the building blocks of the environment and environmental pollution). Through a combination of 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?

MSci Environmental Science at UWE Bristol has a practical focus and you will have many opportunities to gain experience and put 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 practical solutions that are environmentally sound and scientifically robust.

The department is very welcoming and our students appreciate the fantastic collegiate atmosphere and strong relationship between themselves and the staff. You will be based in Bristol, the 2015 European Green Capital, a 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, both at home and abroad. With the sandwich course option, your third year will be spent 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 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 become film-makers, while others have taken part in conservation projects in a range of locations, from the Seychelles to Panama.

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

Watch: The learning and teaching experience



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 undertake your 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

You will study the following compulsory modules:

  • Life on Earth
  • The Earth
  • Environment and Society
  • Field Skills.

Year two

You will study the following compulsory modules:

  • Environmental and Field Techniques
  • Ecology and Ecosystem Protection.

In addition, 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 required to achieve an average grade of 2:1 or above by the end of your second year in order to progress to the third year of the course. Students that do not achieve this will transfer to the third year of BSc(Hons) qualification.

Year three

You will study the following compulsory modules:

  • Research Project OR Dissertation Project
  • Resource Security and Sustainability.

In addition, you will study four of the following optional modules:

  • Scientific Frontiers and Enterprise
  • Energy Technologies
  • Marine Ecosystems
  • Tropical Expedition
  • Environmental Forensics
  • Global Forest Systems
  • Remote Sensing and GIS
  • Science Communication
  • Professional Practice in Applied Sciences*
  • Sustainable Food Production
  • Environmental Microbiology.

Final year

  • Research with Impact
  • Sustainable Futures
  • Research in Practice.

*compulsory module if you choose to undertake a placement.

Learning and Teaching

Course teaching 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 field, 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 fourth year of study, you will undertake a research project working closely with an academic supervisor in your chosen area of interest.

In your final year, you will gain advanced research skills through being part of an existing research team at the university. You will undertake a major research project in your chosen area of specialisation at the cutting edge of environmental science research.

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 developed during this course. These include unseen, open-book and practical exams, essays, practical reports, individual and group projects, oral or visual presentations, case-study analysis and problem-solving exercises. All modules are assessed through a combination of coursework and exams. The foundation year and first year assessments do not contribute towards the final degree mark, which is calculated on the basis of Year two, Year three and Final year results.

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


Professional accreditation

We are currently seeking accreditation from the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES).


Throughout the course, you will be able to apply your expertise and build professional skills in work-based settings with placements, internships and volunteering roles. We encourage all students to choose the sandwich course option, where you will spend a year involving at least 40 weeks of invaluable practical training and employment with an employer in the UK or overseas, before entering your third 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 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 Years one and two are included within your course fees).

Watch Richard, Emiko and Chris in our short film about their field trip to study the ecosystems of a tropical island near Cuba and find out about our Marine Ecology students' recent field trip to Cornwall.

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. Throughout your studies, we will 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

Students on this course are eligible to apply for a paid summer vacation internship.


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 undertake research.

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

UWE Bristol - careers in environmental management

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

Full Time with Placement Year

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

Indicative Additional Costs

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

Supplementary fee information

The additional costs listed are those that 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 or above, or Grade 4 under newly reformed GCSE grading, 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 the 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

This course 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 be awarded a higher tariff score, you may also be interested in our MSci Environmental Science course.

You will be required to achieve an average grade of 2:1 or above by the end of your second year in order to progress to the third year of the course. Students that do not achieve this will transfer to the third year of BSc(Hons) qualification.

How to apply

Please see the general information about applications.

For further information


UWE Main Campus

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