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BSc (Hons) - Environmental Science with Integrated Foundation Year

We only have one planet. Our number one challenge is to work out how we can live within the boundaries this presents while ensuring the health and wellbeing of the 8.7 million species that cohabit with us.

Our Environmental Science foundation degree is designed to equip you with the basic scientific knowledge and skills needed to develop as an environmental practitioner. You will explore Biology, Chemistry, Human Ecology to Toxicology, Public Health, and more.


Course Overview

Our programme is purpose built for the modern environmental scientist and centred around the learner as the 'environmental practitioner'. During your integrated foundation year, you will develop your knowledge and understanding of the key scientific and social science principles of Biology, Chemistry, Human Ecology to Toxicology, Public Health, Epidemiology and Parasitology.

The foundation year has a strong practical focus with laboratory and field work throughout including a residential field trip and a multi-year practical monitoring exercise. As such, you will gain a solid foundation in laboratory and field skills in four subject-specific modules, Essential Biology, Essential Chemistry, Environmental Sciences and Scientific Investigation.

This route offers a unique opportunity for developing the academic and study skills needed to progress onto the main degree.

On this course you will...

  • Be equipped you with the knowledge and skills needed to understand the environment around you, contemporary environmental problems, and technological, socio-economic solutions, and wider scientific concepts.
  • Develop as an ‘environmental practitioner’, gaining the employment skills needed to pursue an exciting environmental career or further academic study.
  • Benefit from field and laboratory work embedded throughout, blending theory with practice to develop the applied knowledge and understanding needed as an environmental practitioner.
  • Enjoy easy access to environments local to Carlisle and Cumbria providing a unique blend of urban, rural, protected, and designated sites to explore. Experience the diversity of environmental challenges first-hand.
  • Take part in a large-scale, problem-based practical project where you will work with a team to develop your project management and leadership skills, as well as synthesising knowledge, in a practical and data driven setting.
  • Take part in residential field studies, an intensive period of emersion in environmental study which provides the opportunity for you to explore different cultural and contextual perspectives and environmental challenges.

Course Structure

What you will learn

Our programme is purpose built for the modern environmental scientist and centred around the learner as the 'environmental practitioner'. You will develop an understanding of the science of the environment, contemporary environmental issues, and sustainable solutions to current and future environmental challenges.

Theory will be put into practice with field and laboratory practical sessions as well as external visits allowing practical skills to be developed. Environmental practitioner modules will combine theory and practical skills acquired throughout other modules and will focus on the skills needed for employment as an environmental scientist, such as use of appropriate software and knowledge of relevant theories.

Year one

During the first year, you will build a solid foundation in scientific, intellectual, and investigative skills and knowledge to support your later studies and practice. In this time period, you will work with students studying other scientific disciplines to explore fundamental concepts and develop a theoretical understanding of your area.

  • Essential University Skills 1
    Develop the academic and professional skills required for effective learning and successful progression through your chosen discipline.
  • Essential Biology
    Develop knowledge and understanding of the fundamental principles of biology.
  • Scientific Investigation
    Explore the protocols associated with scientific investigation.
  • Essential University Skills 2
    Expand your learning in different areas of research, writing structure and reflective learning. Learn to present research to an audience and reflect on your development throughout the year.
  • Essential Chemistry
    Develop knowledge and understanding of the fundamental principles of chemistry.
  • Environmental Sciences
    Introduction to field-based skills akin to the natural sciences with interdisciplinary content which relates Human Ecology to Toxicology, Public Health, Epidemiology and Parasitology.
Year two

The theme for your second year will be to develop your understanding of the Science of the Environment, from the origins of the earth to studying the systems operating within the earth’s environment.

You will develop the underpinning scientific knowledge and skills needed to understand environmental concepts and the collection and analysis of environmental data.

  • Earth Origins
    Develop an understanding of the formation of the Earth and its present-day composition, using a holistic approach to understand past and present dynamics of the Earth system.
  • Terrestrial Systems
    Develop an understanding of the composition, structure, and properties of the rocks and soil that make up our land, and how rocks and soil are involved in biogeochemical cycles.
  • Aquatic Systems
    Explore the properties of water and ice, and the processes within natural water and ice reserves and how these play a part in biogeochemical cycles.
  • Atmospheric Systems
    Learn about the structure of the Earth’s atmosphere, processes occurring within the atmosphere, and how these play a part in biogeochemical cycles.
  • Ecology and the Environment
    Examine the interacting components of ecosystems and their temporal and spatial dynamics. You will explore the processes by which populations evolve, how communities develop and maintained, the modern challenges our ecosystems face, and how we can use the scientific method to test hypotheses.
  • Environmental Practice
    Develop the fundamental skills of an environmental practitioner.
Year three

In the third year, you will develop an understanding around environmental issues and environmental assessment. You will continue to build your skills with increasingly complex and diverse challenges while you develop the knowledge to identify and assess contemporary environmental challenges.

Learning at this level is again supported with practical and fieldwork activities, including a weeklong residential fieldtrip.

  • Exploring Contemporary Environmental Challenges
    A residential fieldtrip-based module which will enable first-hand experience dealing with a range of environmental challenges. Explore the complexity and interconnectedness of environmental issues while developing an ability for environmental research design.
  • Pollution and Monitoring
    Gain an understanding of how pollutants are released, interact with environment, and effect environmental receptors.
  • Natural Resource Use
    Explore how human needs lead to natural resource use and the impacts of this on the environment.
  • Environmental Legislation and Regulation
    Develop your understanding of how legislation and regulation play a part in protecting the environment and the role of individuals and organisations.
  • Exploring Research
    Learn the skills required to conceive, design, conduct, and interpret scientific research.
  • Environmental Assessment
    Explore environmental and ecological assessments and assessment techniques, and gain experience with sampling design, analysis, and interpretation.
Year four

In your final year, you will investigate, discuss and debate sustainable solutions to environmental issues, helping you to develop skills in environmental problem solving and undertake a scientific research project.

When you complete the year you will be equipped with the skills and knowledge needed to act as a career-ready, independent environmental practitioner able to evaluate complex environmental scenarios and offer sustainable solutions.

  • Managing Waste and Pollution
    Explore the technological and socio-economic solutions available to deal with a range of environmental challenges and risks. Draw upon your understanding of the nature and impact of pollutants gained in earlier modules to develop appropriate solutions.
  • Energy and Water Resource Sustainability
    Develop your understanding of current strategies for sustainable harnessing, use, and management of energy and water. You will learn to evaluate technologies and management strategies in terms of environment impact and wider commercial and social implications.
  • Land Use and Biodiversity Conservation
    Evaluate issues and solutions related to land use and the conservation of biodiversity at landscape scales (local, regional, national and global contexts).
  • Environmental Management and Solutions
    Build the skills and knowledge that allow the determination of suitable management, strategies and solutions in environmental contexts.
  • Dissertation
    Undertake an independent piece of in-depth research into a topic of your choice. Develop your research skills and gain valuable experience in project management.

Attend an Open Day at Cumbria

An Open Day is your opportunity to explore one of 5 campuses, meet your lecturers, and find out how the University of Cumbria could become your new home.

Take the next step towards achieving your dreams.
A student stands in front of a wall splattered with paint.