This course provides a solid grounding in geography before you choose a selection of areas to specialise in. These specialisms include biogeography and conservation; resource management; river and coastal management and climate change. Alongside, you will also develop the key analytical, communication and business skills required in the workplace.
During your first year, you will develop fundamental geographical knowledge and skills within the following modules:
Environmental Challenges - 30 credits
On this module you will study the 21st century's environmental challenges and approaches towards their mitigation. You will develop practical skills enabling you to assess environmental change. Concepts are applied through case studies on biodiversity, climate change and genetic modification. Assessment: Examination and Portfolio of GIS work.
Earth Science - 30 credits
On this module, you will learn how the earth is formed and shaped by a range of environmental influences. This involves examining the effects of tectonics, weather, water and glaciers on the earth"s geology, topography and landscapes. Assessment: Examination and Practical Coursework.
Geographies of Globalisation - 30 credits
The world is increasingly connected economically, culturally and politically, making environmental issues a global concern. On this module, you will study the evolution, impact and challenges of globalisation and assess different policy responses using global case studies. Assessment: Examination and Group Presentation.
Geographical Field Study - 15 credits
On this module, you will develop a strong grounding in geographical methods including data collection and manipulation; cartography; field skills; and the quantitative analysis of place-specific information. These skills will help you effectively collect, interpret and present spatial data. Assessment: Presentation and Fieldwork.
Geographical Skills - 15 credits
On this module, you will develop and practice a wide range of skills to support your degree studies in geography or environmental management. Assessment: Examination and Individual Report.
As you progress, you can start to tailor your course to your career interests. You will take two core modules:
Researching Physical Geography - 30 credits
On this module, you will learn how to develop and test your own theories using established research techniques in physical geography. These include critically reviewing academic literature, formulating questions, and developing a suitable methodology to answer them. You will apply these approaches during an overseas residential field trip. Assessment: Research Projects and Presentations.
Professional Development for Geographers and Environmental Managers - 30 credits
On this module, you will identify and develop skills and strategies to improve your personal and professional competences. As you develop in confidence and self-awareness, you will learn how to effectively market yourself to prospective employers, helping improve your employability on graduation. Assessment: Oral Examination and Individual Portfolio.
In addition, you can select four optional modules, typically from:
Climate Change: Tracing the Record - 15 credits
On this module you will study the changing climates of the last 2 million years. Through sediments, pollen and diatoms you will see the impacts of climate change on the environment and you will be able to critically evaluate predictions for environmental change. Assessment: Written and Practical Examination.
Understanding River Dynamics - 15 credits
On this module, you will examine how river channel forms are shaped by and influence processes operating on them. River sediment controls and their resulting effects on rivers are examined through practical exercises and a field visit. Assessment: Examination and Coursework.
GeoEcology - 15 credits
On this module, you will learn how physical and biological elements interact to create landscapes. You will study the geological and geomorphological framework of landscapes and how these are affected by ecology, soil and water patterns and land use practices. Assessment: Examination.
Understanding Coastal Dynamics - 15 credits
On this module, you will study the influence and impact of waves, tides and estuary processes on the coastline. Erosional and depositional coastlines including cliffs, beaches, saltmarshes and sand dunes are examined through practical exercises and a field visit. Assessment: Group Presentations.
Hot Deserts: Surviving Extremes - 15 credits
On this module, you will study the geographic characteristics causing aridity. You will learn about the geomorphological significance and dangers of major processes and landforms in the world's hot deserts. You will also study how these environments can be sustainably managed. Assessment: Examination.
Managing Global Resources - 15 credits
On this module, you will explore the key global factors influencing sustainable water and energy use. Areas covered include resource allocation and conflict; agriculture, water and development in developing countries; globalization, deforestation; and the resulting policy debates. Assessment: Examination.
Optional placement year
All students are encouraged to spend their third year in a work placement. Undertaking a placement is a fantastic opportunity to get yourself a foothold on the employment ladder. The curriculum in the second year provides support in securing this.
During the final year, placement students complete an Individual Project relating to their placement. This might focus on improvement or change in a business or management-related activity in their placement organisation.
Non-placement students complete an independent Final Year Project on a topic related to their academic programme under the supervision of a member of the teaching team.
You will also choose a further three modules, typically from:
Global Warming and Environmental Hazards - 30 credits
On this module, you will examine predicted environmental changes resulting from the enhanced greenhouse effect. Through analysing theory and case studies you will understand complex feedbacks between the Earth's elements; current research into impact mitigation; and response strategies to key hazards such as wild fires and heat waves. Assessment: Examination and Coursework.
Managing Rivers and Coasts - 30 credits
On this module, you will develop a solid understanding of river and coastal management. Coastal management examines issues such as rising sea levels and potential solutions. River management addresses challenges including flooding, ecological health and morphological stability. Assessment: Environmental Management Reports.
Biogeography and Conservation - 30 credits
On this module, you will develop your understanding of ecosystem structure, functioning and dynamics. Studying global examples, you will examine factors shaping communities; human impacts on ecosystems; and conservation management techniques. This is applied through creating a conservation management plan. Assessment: Examination and Practical Assessment.
Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing Applications - 30 credits
On this module, you will learn how to evaluate Geographic Information Systems across areas including health, public participation, crime and environmental management. You will apply this through the design, implementation and critique of a project using geographic analysis software. Assessment: Examination, Coursework and Group Presentation.
Advanced Geographic Expedition - 30 credits
On this module, you can experience geographic phenomena and develop expedition-planning skills on a 2-3 week international field trip. Previous trips have visited Iceland, China and Kenya providing an opportunity to learn from local specialists. Assessment: Coursework and Group Presentation.
Environmental Management in the Global South - 30 credits
On this module, you will study influences, issues and strategies for addressing the Global South's environmental challenges. As well as examining political, economic and ecological factors, and physical systems like tropical soils, you will consider fundamental assumptions around sustainable development. Assessment: Examination and Group Presentation.
Water and Energy Futures - 30 credits
On this module, you will study sustainability challenges affecting water and energy services in the 21st century. You will explore drinking water and drainage system management in developed and developing countries. Also, effective energy management from a technological and political perspective. Assessment: Examination and Coursework.
Modules are regularly reviewed to ensure that they remain up-to-date and relevant. Some of them may change before the course starts or while you are on it, but the overall aims and broad content of the course will remain the same.
Please note: this structure is for the full-time course delivery only. For part-time delivery, the same modules will be studied over a longer period and the structure will differ.
See how a year one student's timetable might look.
Learning and Teaching
Our lecturing staff achieve consistently high scores on the National Student Survey and provide a friendly, enabling environment for learning. They are active researchers or industrial consultants and aware of modern advances in the discipline.
The course is taught through a blend of learning activities, which include lectures, seminars, small group work, laboratory classes, fieldwork and workshops.
Through our Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme, first year students receive mentoring and support from second year students. Find out how we use PAL to enhance the learning experience across our courses.
Find out more about our Department's approach to teaching and learning here.
For more details see our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed my three years on this course and it has enabled me to learn some of the skills needed to pursue a career in the environmental field." 3rd-year BSc Geography Student
"I participated in a field trip to Brittany to pursue a series of research activities and conduct assessed presentations based on our findings. The presenting aspect was one that scared me, however, I surprised myself by how quickly I became comfortable and more confident."2nd-year BSc Geography Student
"In the 'Research in Physical Geography' module, through lectures and the field trip, I learnt a lot about how research for a dissertation is carried out. This has helped me feel much more confident about my dissertation." 2nd-year BSc Geography Student
Lectures, seminars, tutorials, and practicals account for at least 12 hours of contact time per week. However, as a full-time student, you will be expected to spend at least as much time again in essential independent study and preparation for assessments.
Modules are assessed through various combinations of examinations, essays, projects, presentations and field exercises. Most coursework is undertaken individually but there are some group assignments. Examinations take place at the end of the first, second and final years.
For more details see our full glossary of assessment terms.
This course is accredited by the Institution of Environmental Scientists (IES) and the Committee of Heads of Environmental Sciences. The IES is a leading professional body for professionals and academics in environmental science.
Professional accreditation is often favoured by employers and indicates that that the course"s teaching, learning and research are aligned to high-quality professional development.
IES Student Membership
As a student on this degree you can apply to become a Student Member of the IES free of charge. You may then use the post-nominal StMIEnvSc. You can download the Student Membership Pack online.
We strongly recommend that you do a work placement after your second year. Your placement will help you gain valuable work experience and apply knowledge and skills in a practical situation. It will also give you a firmer idea of your career goals and will help guide your final year options and dissertation.
We offer support and guidance to help you find a placement. You will be assigned a tutor who may visit your workplace and will be available if you have any problems.
See some examples of student placements.
"I want to go into environmental consultancy after graduation. I realised this after spending last summer volunteering at a renewable energy network (WREN), the planning department at Cornwall County Council and at a sound consultancy firm. Each of these provided me with real life insight and I was able to see what I enjoyed." 3rd-year BSc Geography student
Field trips are an important part of this physical geography degree and you will be able to take advantage of three residential and numerous day trips during the programme.
In Year 1 you will spend a week studying river ecology, coastal management, woodland ecology and landscape evolution in Dartmoor.
During Year 2 you will develop your ability to perform rigorous research and deliver effective presentations during a week spent around the Brittany coastline.
In Year 3 there is the opportunity to spend two weeks on an advanced geographic expedition to an exotic location (recent destinations include Iceland, China and Kenya).
Find out more about our field trips.
You may have the opportunity to spend your second year in a study exchange at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) in the US. Places on the exchange are competitive and are usually allocated on the grounds of academic achievement during Year 1 and an interview.
Laboratory classes and fieldwork are important elements of all years of study. Geography students have access to physical geography laboratories, which are equipped for soil and water analysis, palaeo-environmental work, geological analysis and surveying. Additionally, a range of specialist facilities is provided by the Department. A suite of computer rooms support software for word processing, data analysis and presentation and spatial enquiry.
Find out more about the facilities and resources UWE has to offer.
See where your degree could take you.
In 2011, a group of final year students went on "From Ice-cap to Ocean". The aim of the six-week Iceland research expedition was to study the impact of hydropower on glacial windows.
Supported by funding from the Royal Geographical Society, RANNIS (Icelandic Centre for Research) and UWE, the team studied river corridors and hydropower development.
Have a look at some of their photos from the expedition.
You could go into employment in a wide range of sectors, including environmental consultancy, conservation, logistics, business management, education, finance and research. The job roles our graduates take up are varied and include local authority development officer, teacher, environmental consultant, business manager, environmental business co-ordinator, marketing manager, planning analyst, local authority environment officer, energy consultant, armed forces officer and GIS analyst.
Find out what our graduates are doing six months after graduating - includes examples of careers, employers and further study. Download a PDF from graduate destinations.
Creating employable students
UWE places emphasis on employability and skills development at every level. Students gain valuable real world experience and graduate with diverse career opportunities and a competitive place in the job market thanks to work placements, volunteering, opportunities to study abroad and UWE initiatives that nurture talent and encourage innovation.
In the first year of this course, you will study a variety of employability-related activities to enhance your job prospects. These include presentation skills, report writing, time management and team working. As you progress, you can customise your employability and professional skills to suit your needs.
See great graduate prospects for further information.
Read Louise Hann's story of becoming a Permitting Officer within the Environment Agency within six months of graduating from her degree.
"I have immensely enjoyed my final year of this degree and think the modules I chose have been an influencing factor."
"Overall I think that this final year has seen my academic skills progress whilst allowing me to have an enjoyable, relaxed university experience." 3rd year BSc Geography student.
Guardian - what to do with a degree in environmental science/physical geography
The UWE careers service provides guidance and support throughout your studies in addition to useful resources, CV checks, career coaching and details of current job vacancies.
- Tariff points: 300
- GCSE: Grade C or above in English Language and Mathematics
- A-level subjects: No specific subjects required. Points from General Studies and AS-Level subjects (not taken onto full A-Level) can be included towards overall tariff. You must have a minimum of two A-Levels.
- Relevant subjects: Geography, Environmental Studies, Land and Environment
- EDEXCEL (BTEC) Diploma: A minimum of DDM from the BTEC Diploma
- Access: Achievement of the HE Diploma; to include 30 Level 3 credits at Merit; Level 2 credits giving GCSE equivalency (where appropriate) in English Language and Mathematics.
- Baccalaureate IB: 26 points
Please read the general information about entry requirements.
Students who successfully complete the Built and Natural Environments Foundation course may be permitted to transfer onto the first year of this degree course.
How to apply
Please see the general information about applications.
We welcome applications from students without the conventional entrance requirements but who do have substantial relevant work or other experience and whose motivation and skills would enable them to succeed on the course.
Students with disabilities
We welcome applications from people with disabilities. We are committed to supporting students with disabilities, and wherever possible we will make reasonable adjustments to these activities to enable students with disabilities to successfully complete the course. We encourage applicants to disclose any disabilities or support needs in their application forms, so that we can offer information, advice and support. There is a Disability Service at UWE Bristol and a Disability Support Co-ordinator in the Department. The course normally requires students to be able to:
- Use a computer
- Read and produce drawings, plans and maps
- Participate in field courses or activities away from the University
- Team working and negotiation
- Laboratory work involving observations and physical manipulation
- Take part in discussions and presentations
For further information