About this course
- Entry year: 2013/14
- Course code: FF89
- Applications: UCAS
- Level: Undergraduate
- Tariff points: 300
- Department: Geography and Environmental Management
- Campus: Frenchay
- Duration: Three years full-time; four years sandwich
- Delivery: Full-time, sandwich, part-time (not day release)
- Study Abroad: Yes
- Programme leader: Dr Chris Parker
- Key fact: This course is accredited by the Institution of Environmental Scientists and the Committee of Heads of Environmental Sciences.
Students studying our BSc(Hons) Geography and Environmental Management course examine both the physical environment and the way in which it is managed by society. As is typical of many physical geography degrees, this course develops your understanding of the biological, chemical and physical processes that operate across our planet. However, this course also encourages you to think critically about the different ways humans can manage these natural forms and processes. You will look at contemporary environmental issues from local to global scales, ultimately focusing on the strategies and agencies involved in appropriate environmental management. The applied nature of the course gives you the opportunity to analyse and resolve real problems that affect real people.
In addition to developing knowledge and skills that are necessary to become an effective manager of the natural environment, this course also specifically integrates professional skills training designed to enhance your job opportunities within the workplace. You will learn skills such as surveying, mapping, environmental assessment, geographical statistics, and computer-based spatial analysis. These are in addition to the broader academic and personal skills that you will develop, such as oral presentation, report writing, time management, independent learning, research and team working. As a result of this, in addition to employment opportunities within the environmental sector, graduates of this course have a track record in gaining employment across a range of different professions and organisations.
After a common first year, the flexible modular structure in the second and third years allows you to specialise within themes including (but not limited to) biogeography and conservation; resource management; river and coastal forms and processes and climate change. In addition, you can choose to complete a work placement between your second and third years - an option that can significantly improve your employment prospects.
See what our students can do
In 2011 some of our final year students completed a six week expedition to Iceland entitled 'From Ice-cap to Ocean: An holistic study of pro-glacial river corridors and the implications of hydropower development in Iceland'. This project was approved and supported by the RGS (Royal Geographical Society), RANNIS (Icelandic Centre for Research) and UWE (University of the West of England). Have a look at some of their photos from the expedition.
At Level 1 you take five modules which together aim to consolidate your geographical knowledge and train you in the methods and skills required to study geography at university level. The skills element is taught in modules covering geographical analysis and field study, and you will also pursue themes such as earth science, environmental challenges, and globalisation.
The modules will cover the following areas:
- Geographical Field Study - developing practical and analytical skills on a week-long residential field trip.
- Geographical Skills - practicing analytical and communication skills through the investigation of a range of numeric and written geographic information.
- Environmental Challenges - developing a critical understanding of key environmental issues, including climate change, resource management and ecosystem endangerment.
- Geographies of Globalisation - understanding how important economic, political and environmental issues are influenced by the process of globalisation.
- Earth Science - investigating a range of physical environments through a combination of theoretical and practical learning.
At Level 2 you develop higher level geographical skills and more specialist geographical knowledge. Two core modules enable you to pick up important skills by engaging in academic research and receiving training in specific skills that will improve your employability. The remainder of your second year is made up of four modules that you select from a wide range of options. This enables you to design a degree course that suits your personal interests and career ambitions. These optional modules are driven by the research specialities amongst the lecturers within the department.
The modules cover the following areas:
- Researching Physical Geography - developing higher level practical and philosophical skills through engagement with a series of small research projects, some of which will be undertaken on a week-long residential field trip.
- Professional Development for Geographers and Environmental Managers - this involves both developing a series of key skills that improve employability prospects for geography graduates and also practicing aspects of the graduate recruitment process.
Optional modules - you will choose four modules from the following topic areas:
- Climate Change: Tracing the Record
- Understanding River Dynamics
- Understanding Coastal Dynamics
- Hot Deserts: Surviving Extremes
- Managing Global Resources
Optional Placement Year
At the end of your second year we encourage and support students to take a year out of their studies in a work placement. This is a fantastic opportunity for students to develop their skills within a professional working environment. In general, students that take the placement option not only out perform their peers during their final year but also are more competitive in the graduate job market.
The content of your final year on this degree is driven by your personal geography-related interests and career ambitions. You will undertake a supervised, but student-led, final year project on a geographical topic of your choice, and select three other modules from a range of options related to geography and environmental management. The majority of these modules involve gaining an understanding of what constitutes appropriate environmental management within a range of realistic scenarios.
The modules cover the following areas:
Optional modules - you will choose three modules from the following topic areas:
- Global Warming and Environmental Hazards
- Managing Rivers and Coasts
- Biogeography and Conservation
- GIS and Remote Sensing Applications
- Advanced Geographic Expedition
- Environmental Management in the Global South
- Water and Energy Futures
Modules are regularly reviewed to ensure that they remain up to date and relevant, so some of them may change before the course starts or whilst you are on it, but the overall aims and broad content of the course will remain the same.
Teaching and learning
As demonstrated by consistently high scores on the National Student Survey, the lecturing staff provide a friendly, enabling environment for learning. They are active researchers aware of modern advances within the discipline and they combine research with teaching to provide a stimulating learning experience.
Students engage in learning on their modules through a variety of different forms, including lectures, seminars, practical workshops, fieldtrips and directed reading.
For more details see our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.
The course is normally studied full-time. If you study part-time, you can choose how many modules to study each year. Your timetable will be constrained and determined by the teaching pattern for those modules.
Modules are assessed through various combinations of examinations, coursework, 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.
IES Student Membership
You can apply for the special grade of Student Member of the IES free of charge. You may then use the post-nominal StMIEnvSc. You can download the Student Membership Pack here.
Benefits of student membership (taken from the IES website):
- The experience of being part of a long established and highly reputable environmental science professional body
- The use of the post-nominal which signals your professional commitment to future employers or customers
- Firsts steps on an environmental career path which could take you to Chartered Status.
- Access to the members area on the IES website, including news about jobs and events.
- Electronic copies of the latest edition of the journal Environmental Scientist with opportunities to publish articles in it.
- Monthly newsletter
- Preferential opportunities for internships at the Institution's offices in London.
- Free or reduced entry to IES events
- No cost to you
After your second year, you can choose to take a year out gaining experience in an area of geography or environmental management, and to qualify for a 'sandwich' degree. A placement connects university with work, allowing you to apply the principles and techniques of academic study to a professional environment. A placement develops your appreciation of the practical relevance of the material taught during the first years of your course and provides you with experience to enrich your final year options and dissertation.
Some students undertake conservation work abroad (often in Australia or the Far East) whilst others remain in the UK. Some organisations will pay or offer some financial support to students, whilst other students work for voluntary conservation organisations, financed with a period of paid employment before they start. We offer support and guidance to help you find a placement, and you may be visited by a tutor who will also be available if you have any problems.
Gary Kelsey spent eight months on placement in Australia working with a practical conservation group called 'Conservation Volunteers Australia'.
The placement has given him a range of practical conservation skills which will support his degree studies. Gary's conservation tasks included weeding and planting, fauna and flora surveys, track construction and maintenance, beach clean-ups and maintenance of children's trails. Each week, Gary worked with a different group of 10 volunteers from around the world under the supervision of a local team leader. The group worked from 10:00 - 16:00 each weekday, but weekends were free time. The experience had a real family feel because volunteers shopped, cooked, cleaned and lived together as a community. In total, Gary worked with over 150 different volunteers giving him a wide cultural and social experience.
Living costs were reasonable. For £70-80 a week, volunteers had food and accommodation, plus a taxi to various transport hubs. At weekends Gary hired a car and, during his time in Australia, he managed to travel to every state and every environment on the continent, from the desert in the 'red centre' to alpine mountains.
For Gary, one of the highlights of the placement was the Australian wildlife. 'I was lucky enough to see a platypus and a Tasmanian devil, both in the wild and very rarely seen,' he says. Gary would recommend an overseas placement. 'You will gain some lifelong friends and great memories. All in all, it was a great life changing experience; it is great to travel.'
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.
The breadth of Geography graduates' skills and positive personal qualities make them very attractive to employers. Our graduates have found employment in areas such as environmental consultancy and conservation, government, armed forces, industry, finance, education and research.
Recent graduates include an environment officer, teacher, management trainee, environmental business co-ordinator, a landscaper, and development officer. Employers include Action Rural Sussex, Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water, Bonhams Auctioneers, Royal Marines, Royal Navy.
Interview with a current student
'I find the course content is extremely interesting and challenging: it has the ability to make you view issues in a much wider perspective. The workload is manageable as long as you remain organised and on top of the coursework. Facilities such as computer rooms, the project room, library resources and the social element are well organised and available to all. Equipment such as used in laboratory work is also well organised and always prepared in advance, and the support that comes with working with this equipment is also very good.'
'I have had extremely excellent support from the course tutors; they are always on hand to give advice and support throughout every element of the modules. Both tutors and Department staff are approachable and helpful.'
'UWE Bristol is a fantastic place to learn as the quality of teaching is exceptional.'
Michelle Moses, third year student
Interview with a graduate student
'I was attracted to geography at UWE by the wide range of modules, the young staff and the lively geography society. During my time at UWE I joined the water polo team and the University Air Squadron, which enabled me to sustain a lively social life, travel around the south of England and learn to fly. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at UWE and I feel that the course gave me an opportunity to study a diverse range of a theoretical and practical topics. It also provided a good foundation upon which I could base further study.'
'After graduation, I took an MSc in environmental monitoring, modelling and reconstruction at Manchester University. This refined my detailed knowledge of environmental issues and further developed the skills that had been established through the teaching I received at an undergraduate level. During my postgraduate studies I was involved in a number of group studies, which culminated in a solo scientific research project for which I received a distinction. The scientific knowledge and key skills that I have gained by combining these two degree qualifications has given me a good grounding upon which to build a professional career.'
'After graduating from Manchester University I started work at Fugro Robertson (an international oil and gas consultancy) as a trainee project co-ordinator. More recently, I have moved within the company to become a training co-ordinator in the training department. This role has enabled me to develop my geological knowledge further and assist in the delivery of training courses. I am involved in writing proposals for clients, marketing our diverse range of courses, ensuring the courses run smoothly (whether UK-based or abroad), managing internal accounts and dealing with the daily running of the department. Proposed marketing trips to the USA and the Far East will develop my client liaison skills and enable me to visit new areas of the world.'
'My current position is an ideal vocation for me to gain junior management skills and take on responsibility for the running of a successful department. I feel that my current job is an ideal stepping-stone in which to gain experience and achieve my ultimate goal of working as an environmental consultant.'
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 strong emphasis on employability and skills development at every level. Through work placements, volunteering, study abroad and UWE initiatives which nurture talent and encourage innovation, students gain valuable real world experience and graduate with diverse career opportunities and a competitive place in the job market.
See great graduate prospects for further information.
UWE - careers in geosciences
UWE - careers in environmental management
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: Maths and English Language at grade C or above.
- Specific subjects: None specified
- Relevant subjects: Geography, Environmental Studies, Land and Environment
- Access: Achievement of the Access to HE Diploma; achievement of Level 2 credits in Maths and English Language.
In addition to the 'typical offer' given here, 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.
Tuition fees for new Home/EU students studying this course full-time in 2013/14 will be £9000 per year.
For information on part-time and international fees as well as funding and scholarship opportunities see our fees and funding pages.
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