BSc (Hons) Environmental Science - University of Portsmouth
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BSc (Hons)

Environmental Science

UCAS codeF900

Full Time3yrs

Part Time6yr

Understanding how the planet functions

Course Overview

Why take this course?

The Government is putting sustainability at the heart of all its policies. With the continuing depletion of natural resources and other major problems posing a threat to our planet – environmental science is our solution.

You’ll examine the physical and social aspects of environmental issues, as well as develop the practical skills to carry out your own environmental research.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Use our state-of-the-art environmental labs for practical work, including our harbourside marine teaching and research facility
  • Get the chance to visit the tropical forests of Belize to study terrestrial, watershed and marine ecology
  • Carry out a field project in Malta to learn about the country’s coastal ecology

What opportunities might it lead to?

This course is accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES) giving all students on these 2 courses automatic Student Membership status of this professional body during their undergraduate studies, allowing progression to Associate Membership upon graduation. Full Membership can usually be achieved within a year of working in a relevant environmental career, leading to Chartership normally within a further 4-5 years in industry. It’s the first step towards professional certification which is increasingly required for chartered career progression and for environmental scientists to work in the UK and throughout the EU.

Job opportunities are on the rise in areas such as recycling, waste management and contaminated land specialisms.

Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:

  • environmental consultancies
  • sustainability specialists
  • underwater exploration
  • conservation



Anita Carey, BSc (Hons) Environmental Science student 2013

I liked that the course is very multi-disicplinary. The lecturers are very helpful and most are still active in their own areas of expertise, providing up-to-date information and support.

Anita Carey, BSc (Hons) Environmental Science student 2013


Work Placements

As part of her course, Zoe is putting her knowledge into practice and learning new skills with a work placement year. Take a look at Zoe’s working environment and find out why she thinks it’s so important to get real-life work experience as part of your degree.

Browse all courses in Earth and Environmental Sciences

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Structure & Teaching

Year one

In the first year of your studies, you will be introduced to a wide range of environmental topics and issues. You’ll also have the option to transfer to the BSc (Hons) Marine Environmental Science after your first year.

Core units in this year include:

  • Science for Earth Systems
  • Environmental Systems
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Planet Earth
  • Introduction to Oceanography
  • Marine and Terrestrial Ecology

Year two

The second year allows you to focus upon particular areas of interest as topics become more specialised.

Core units in this year include:

  • Environmental Fieldwork and Analysis
  • Environmental Geochemistry and Analytical Techniques

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Oceanography
  • Coastal Environments
  • Energy Resources
  • Hydrology and Freshwater Ecosystems
  • Flood Hazards
  • Environmental Forensics
  • Climate Change
  • Scientific and Technical Diving Techniques (PADI-accredited course)

Year three

Your third year will give you another selection of specialised units, as well as enabling you to develop environmental assessment techniques. This is also the year of your final project and there are plenty of opportunities for you to gain valuable research experience.

Core units in this year include:

  • Environmental Auditing Assessment
  • Environmental Science Project

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Waste Management and Environmental Pollution
  • Climate Change
  • Contaminated Land and Groundwater Management
  • Groundwater Protection
  • Applied Coastal Geomorphology
  • Environmental Science Study Tour

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.


The course provides a balanced structure of lectures, tutorials and laboratory work. You will generally be taught in small classes, providing an informal, friendly and supportive atmosphere for your studies.

The time you spend in teaching activities may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:

  • Year one students: 27% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 73% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year two students: 28% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 72% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year three students: 19% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 81% studying independently and 0% on work placement


Assessment is a mix of coursework and exams. However, your coursework can take a variety of forms including:

  • field work or lab notebook recordings
  • reports
  • site surveys
  • computer-based exercises
  • environmental data analysis
  • posters
  • projects
  • presentations

The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year one students: 52% by written exams, 8% by practical exams and 40% by coursework
  • Year two students: 40% by written exams, 12% by practical exams and 48% by coursework
  • Year three students: 33% by written exams, 4% by practical exams and 63% by coursework

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Facilities & Features

Specialist Software and Equipment

We offer fully equipped environmental labs for the analysis of a wide range of environmental samples. Brimming with ultra-modern equipment, you’ll have access to our facilities for project work and interpreting field data. Here’s a taste of what you have to work with:

  • atomic absorption spectrophotometry (AAS)
  • x-ray fluorescence and diffraction systems
  • electron and atomic force microscopes
  • plasma mass spectrometers (ICPMS)

The Marine Station

This is the home of the internationally-renowned Institute of Marine Sciences. You will have access to the highest-quality resources and facilities, including a new Home Office-licensed aquarium facility, quarantine and animal holding rooms, research laboratories, boats and harbour facilities for marine excursions as well as diving equipment for PADI courses.

Field Trips

Fieldwork is an important part of our courses. Our trips give you plenty of opportunities to put your sampling and surveying techniques into practice. Some of our previous trips have included:

  • Somerset
  • Isle of Wight
  • Malta
  • Cyprus
  • Belize

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.

Other costs to consider

The cost of travel or accommodation for compulsory fieldwork is included in the course fee, but you will need to pay for meals and other subsistence costs.

For compulsory project work, normally in the UK in the summer between course years 2 and 3 of study, you will be expected to contribute travel, accommodation and meals. These costs are from £0 - £500.

For optional fieldwork, costs of travel, accommodation, meals and other subsistence are in the region of £2700 (Belize) and £700 (Portugal).


For optional diving skills units: The Scientific and Technical Diving A unit is available if you have not dived before. It includes a PADI Open Water course, Dry Suit course, combined with the Scientific and Technical Diving course, and costs around £860 for tuition, transport and diving costs. The Scientific and Technical Diving B unit is available if you hold a PADI Open Water certificate. It includes an advanced diving course (e.g. PADI Advanced Open Water), Dry Suit course, combined with the Science and Technology Diving course, and costs around £800 for tuition, transport and diving costs.

The Practical Power Boating Skills unit will cost in the region of £500.

You will be expected to buy field equipment, (e.g. compass, hand lens and notebook) at the start of your first year. These costs are in the region of £50.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Career prospects
Where next?

There is a growing shortage of skilled people who can translate environmental knowledge into actions that can make a positive difference to the changing world we live in. This means that your job market is increasing annually and there is a wide variety of exciting roles within the environmental arena.

The majority of roles appear within environmental, engineering and ecological consultancies or regulatory authorities and government agencies. A significant proportion of graduates also go on to postgraduate study.

Roles our graduates have taken on include:

  • geographical information scientist
  • environmental consultant
  • spatial analyst
  • coastal process scientist

Work experience

Work experience
Employment boosting opportunities

As well as many fieldtrips embedded throughout the course, we have exchange links with a number of universities in Europe and beyond, so you can take up the opportunity to study abroad for a few months. Current links include the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain), Universite du Havre, (Le Havre, France) and Adam Mickiewicz University (Poznan, Poland).

Not only will it be a fun and challenging experience, but you will also develop skills in languages, adaptability, resilience and the ability to communicate with a range of people. These qualities will undoubtedly stand you apart to future employers.

The opportunity also exists to undertake your final-year project at a location of your choice, either in the UK or overseas. In previous years, students have been to places further afield to complete exciting projects including Brazil, Canada, USA, Romania, Ukraine, Tenerife, Singapore, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Costa Rica, Zakynthos and Iceland.

Career planning

Career planning

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

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Apply now or visit us

Apply for 2018 entry

To apply, you'll need this course's UCAS code, which is at the top of this page, and the University of Portsmouth institution code – P80.

Apply now

After you apply, we'll invite you to an Applicant Experience Day where you’ll get to speak to lecturers and meet your future classmates.

Open Days for courses starting in 2019

Come to an Open Day and explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

Book your Open Day

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

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