Environmental Science BSc (Hons)
BSc (Hons) Environmental Science
BSc Hons Environmental Science
Environmental scientists deal with the big questions facing humanity.
If you want to tackle climate change and preserve Earth's natural resources, this BSc (Hons) Environmental Science degree, accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES), will prepare you for the challenges ahead.
- Work in our labs using the same technology as the world's leading environmental researchers – including plasma spectrometry and electron microscopy – and use teaching and research facilities at our internationally renowned Institute of Marine Sciences
- Take advantage of our waterside location, with boats available for marine excursions and the option to learn power boating with the RYA or PADI-certified scientific and technical diving
- Have the chance to go on field trips to destinations such as Malta, Portugal, Belize and Malaysia
- Build experience on a one-year work placement in industry, or study abroad at one of our partner universities in Canada, Australia, Germany, Poland, Spain, Malta, Slovakia, Hungary or France
This course is accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES).
BSc (Hons) Environmental Science degree entry requirements
- A levels – ABB–BBC
- UCAS points – 112–128 points, with 32 points from an A level in a Science subject (Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science/Studies, Geography, Geology, Mathematics or Physics), or equivalent (calculate your UCAS points)
- BTECs (Extended Diplomas) – DDM–DMM
English language requirements
- English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.
We also accept other standard English tests and qualifications, as long as they meet the minimum requirements of your course.
If you don't meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
Facilities and specialist equipment
Environmental chemistry analysis lab
Use the equipment in this lab to identify and analyse chemicals and biochemicals in air, soil and water, so you can develop strategies to minimise and remove their harmful environmental effects.
GIS and remote sensing lab
Discover more about the planet's physical structures and scientific processes, such as glaciers and coastal flooding, using drone data, aerial and satellite remote sensing and geographic information systems.
Study the properties of the Earth’s surface materials in this lab, using techniques including plasma mass spectrometry, flow cytometry, fluorimetry, ecotoxicology and water quality testing.
Mass spectrometry and laser ablation labInvestigate the geological and planetary processes that influence environment change and natural resource formation in this lab, using our industry standard spectrometers and laser ablation system.
Learn more about the lab
Dr Sarah Reynolds, the course leader for both the Environmental Science BSc and the Marine Environmental Science BSc, discusses the courses at the University of Portsmouth.
Dr Sarah Reynolds: This course is unique in that it provides you with not only the real strong grounding in the science that makes you confident in what you know, but it's really hands on.
Lots of practicals, lots of lab work and the position that we're in, the coast is literally on our doorstep. We have these fantastic environments in the terrestrial system too to explore, means that you get such a well rounded programme.
Having such a range of analytical capability within our laboratories is a unique opportunity for students to get that really good hands on experience. We can measure nutrients in both freshwater and the marine environment. We have a range of ICPs which are responsible for measuring things like heavy metals. We have a flow cytometer which can look at bacteria and small phytoplankton, and we also have a flow cam which takes images, it's an image analysis, to look at phytoplankton and zooplankton. It's really great for students to use that data in their projects.
One of the best things about the course here at the University of Portsmouth is our amazing opportunities with field work. We start right in the first year with a residential trip over in Somerset, where you start to really get some of those basic field skills. In the second year we also have a really amazing field trip to Malta. A week out there learning all different aspects about the environmental science of Malta. In the final year we have some optional field trips, and these include a trip to Portugal or a trip to Malaysia.
We offer a pathway within the degree programme to take a year out and go and work in industry, so we have a placement year. We've had a number of students have some really successful placements and we've had students offered jobs before they've even finished their degree programme. The students that we have on the degree are, they're fantastic. They're passionate students. They come in with that passion already and to watch them grow and develop and head off into some really fantastic jobs, it is, it's the best thing about the job. I'm so proud of them. Their passion gives me hope.
Careers and opportunities
Environmental science is at the forefront of our efforts to preserve and protect the natural world. As our understanding of environmental cause and effect continues to develop, environmental scientists are in high demand, including within the many sectors and industries tasked with reducing their environmental footprint.
In the UK, the number of environmental jobs has increased by 91% compared to 2016, and those entering the environmental field can expect to earn at least 12% above the national average annual wage.
Tackling the environmental challenges our world faces
On this BSc Environmental Science, you’ll explore how the environment is changing and discover new ways to minimise our impact on the planet. You'll examine the physical and social aspects of environmental issues and develop practical skills to carry out your own environmental research, including analysing pollutants, soil structure and water quality.
Once you graduate, you'll be ready to go after jobs in academia, business or government in a wide range of environmental specialties, including conservation, pollution control, waste management, sustainability, climate change and energy resources.
You'll be able to apply for Associate Membership of the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES) and with more experience, you could work to become a Chartered Scientist (CSci) or Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv). Chartered Membership of the IES is required in many environmental careers.
We have a second year field trip to Malta and a third year field trip to Malaysia. There are also second year optional units of diving or boating, both are really fun.
What jobs can you do with an environmental science degree?
Roles our graduates have taken on include:
- environmental chemist
- environmental technician
- environment and sustainability coordinator
- geographic information scientist
- climate change modeller
- chemical risk advisor
- marine scientist
- conservation officer
- environmental policy officer
- waste management manager
Organisations our graduates have gone on to work for include:
- Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS)
- Alcatel Submarine Networks
- Rentokil Initial
- Network Rail
- Portsmouth Water
Ongoing careers support
After you graduate, you can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years from our Careers and Employability Service as you advance in your career.
I liked that the course is very multi-disciplinary. The lecturers are very helpful and most are still active in their own areas of expertise, providing up-to-date information and support.
After your second year, you can do an optional work placement year to get valuable longer-term work experience in the industry. Placements give you the opportunity to apply what you've learnt so far in a real workplace, boosting your employability and making you attractive to employers after graduation.
You can work for a company or organisation here in the UK or overseas, or you could go independent by setting up and running your own business with other students.
Students have completed work placements at top organisations, including:
- Leap Environmental
- Mott MacDonald
Whichever route you choose, you'll receive support and guidance. Our specialist team of Science and Health Careers advisors can help you with finding a work placement and improving your employability skills. They'll provide you with a database of placement vacancies, support with your job search – including help with applications and interviews – and support throughout your placement year.
You’ll also have the chance to study abroad at one of our partner universities, including Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain), Universite du Havre, (Le Havre, France) and Adam Mickiewicz University (Poznan, Poland). Studying overseas is a fantastic opportunity to explore a new destination and experience the world as an international student.
Many of our students describe their time spent studying abroad as truly life-changing, as well as an excellent way to stand out to future employers.
What you'll study on this BSc (Hons) Environmental Science degree
Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits.
In each year, you need to study modules worth a total of 120 credits. For example, four modules worth 20 credits and one module worth 40 credits.
All modules in this list are worth 20 credits each.
- Ecology, Plants and Human Impact
- Global Environmental Challenges
- Introduction to Marine Ecology and Oceanography
- Planet Earth
- Quantitative Methods
- Science for Earth Systems
There are no optional modules in this year.
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- Research, Fieldwork and Professional Skills (40 credits)
- Environmental Chemistry and Monitoring (20 credits)
- GIS and Remote Sensing (20 credits)
All modules in this list are worth 20 credits each.
- Energy Resources
- Environmental Change
- Hydrology and Geoenvironmental Risk
- Introduction to Teaching
- Practical Boating Skills
- River Processes
- Scientific and Technical Diving Techniques A
- Scientific and Technical Diving Techniques B
We’ll help you secure a work placement that fits your situation and ambitions. You’ll get mentoring and support throughout the year.
- Environmental Science Dissertation (40 credits)
- Environmental Audit and Assessment (20 credits)
- Environmental Pollution and Waste Management (20 credits)
- European Study Tour (20 credits)
- Tropical Study Tour (20 credits)
- Conservation Biogeography (20 credits)
- Climate Change (20 credits)
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 modules may not run every year. If a module doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.
How you're assessed
You’ll be assessed through:
- field work or lab notebook recordings
- site surveys
- computer-based exercises
- oral presentation and essays
- Year 1 students: 52% by written exams, 8% by practical exams and 40% by coursework
- Year 2 students: 40% by written exams, 12% by practical exams and 48% by coursework
- Year 3 students: 33% by written exams, 4% by practical exams and 63% by coursework
Teaching methods on this course include:
- laboratory work
- field work
Environmental Science lecturer, Professor Jim Smith, on developing vodka from crops grown in Chernobyl
Vodka distilled from grain and water sourced in a nuclear disaster zone? Professor Jim Smith explains how his safe, good-tasting and high-quality vodka is the first consumer product to come out of Chernobyl since the 1986 disaster.
How you'll spend your time
One of the main differences between school or college and university is how much control you have over your learning.
We're planning for most of your learning to be supported by timetabled face-to-face teaching with some elements of online provision. Please be aware, the balance between face-to-face teaching and online provision may change depending on Government restrictions. You'll also do lots of independent study with support from staff and our virtual learning environment, Moodle. Find out more about how our teaching has transformed to best support your learning.
A typical weekWe recommend you spend at least 35 hours a week studying for your Environmental Science degree. In your first year, you’ll be in timetabled teaching activities such as tutorials, lectures, practical classes and workshops and external visits for about 11 hours a week. The rest of the time you’ll do independent study such as research, reading, coursework and project work, alone or in a group with others from your course. You'll probably do more independent study and have less scheduled teaching in years 2 and 3, but this depends on which modules you choose.
Most timetabled teaching takes place during the day, Monday to Friday. You may occasionally need to go to University and course events in the evenings and at weekends.
The academic year runs from September to June. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter.
Supporting your learning
The amount of timetabled teaching you'll get on your degree might be less than what you're used to at school or college, but you'll also get support via video, phone and face-to-face from teaching and support staff when you need it. These include the following people and services:
Types of support
Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to independent study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your time at university.
As well as regular scheduled meetings with your personal tutor, they're also available at set times during the week if you want to chat with them about anything that can't wait until your next meeting.
You'll have help from a team of faculty learning support tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study.
They can help with:
- improving your academic writing (for example, essays, reports, dissertations)
- understanding and using assignment feedback
- managing your time and workload
- revision and exam techniques
As well as support from faculty staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK) for one-to-one support in areas such as:
- academic writing
- note taking
- time management
- critical thinking
- presentation skills
- working in groups
- revision, memory and exam techniques
If you require extra support because of a disability or additional learning need our specialist team can help you.
They'll help you to:
- discuss and agree on reasonable adjustments
- liaise with other University services and facilities, such as the library
- access specialist study skills and strategies tutors, and assistive technology tutors, on a 1-to-1 basis or in groups
- liaise with external services
Library staff are available in person or by email, phone or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from the faculty librarian for science.
The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.
Course costs and funding
Tuition fees (2022 start)
- UK/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £9,250 per year (may be subject to annual increase)
- EU students – £9,250 a year (including Transition Scholarship – may be subject to annual increase)
- International students – £18,300 per year (subject to annual increase)
Funding your studies
Applying from outside the UK? Find out about funding options for international students.
Additional course costs
These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending.
Our accommodation section shows your accommodation options and highlights how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.
You’ll study up to 6 modules a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each module.
You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.
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.
Your travel and accommodation costs for compulsory fieldwork are included in the course fee, but you’ll need to pay for meals and other subsistence costs
You’ll need to contribute travel, accommodation, and meal costs for compulsory project work, which normally takes place between years 2 and 3. These costs are between £0–£500.
You’ll need to cover the cost of any optional fieldwork that you do, including travel, accommodation, meals and other living cost. These will vary depending on location. For example, the cost of fieldwork in Malaysia is around £1,500, while the cost of fieldwork in Portugal is around £800.
If you haven’t dived before, you can take the Scientific and Technical Diving A module, which includes a PADI Open Water course, Dry Suit course and Scientific and Technical Diving course. This module costs around £860, covering tuition, transport and diving costs.
If you already hold a PADI Open Water certificate (or equivalent), you can take the Scientific and Technical Diving B module, which includes an advanced diving course (e.g. PADI Advanced Open Water), Dry Suit course and Scientific and Technical Diving course. This module costs around £800, covering tuition, transport and diving costs.
The optional Practical Power Boating Skills module will cost in the region of £710.
How to apply
To start this course in 2022, apply through UCAS. You'll need:
- the UCAS course code – F900
- our institution code – P80
If you'd prefer to apply directly, use our online application form.
You can also sign up to an Open Day to:
- Tour our campus, facilities and halls of residence
- Speak with lecturers and chat with our students
- Get information about where to live, how to fund your studies and which clubs and societies to join
If you're new to the application process, read our guide on applying for an undergraduate course.
How to apply from outside the UK
See the 'How to apply' section above for details of how to apply. You can also get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region.
To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.
If you don't meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
Admissions terms and conditions
When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.