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BSc (Honours) Environmental Science

Environmental science is a vital and vibrant subject, exploring the complexities of the natural environment and our relationship with it. Our environment is fascinating - but it's under threat from climate change, biodiversity loss and resource depletion. This interdisciplinary degree course combines aspects of biology, geography, chemistry, technology and social science to help you understand the whole picture. The BSc (Honours) Environmental Science will also develop the scientific and technical knowledge and skills required to understand fundamental environmental patterns and processes, and to address local and global environmental issues. You'll investigate the problems we face in understanding our environment and in managing it sustainably, as well as developing your scientific, interpretive and creative thinking skills.

Study Mode

Online Education, Distance Learning & External study modes available

Key facts

Code: Q52 Made up of: 360 credits

There are no formal entry requirements to study this degree.

Fees: Our fees depend on where you are ordinarily resident. We have a range of funding options to help you with payment. When you apply to study we will tell you the fee and funding options that are available to you. Before you apply you can read What you can expect to pay.

Career relevance and employability

The broad and specialist skills you'll develop in this degree course will equip you to work in a variety of jobs. Environmental science skills are in demand from government and regulatory bodies, the private sector, consultancies and conservation organisations. Careers directly related to the degree include:

  • pollution control
  • waste management and recycling
  • water quality and resources
  • energy management
  • planning and sustainability
  • environmental management and consultancy
  • ecology and nature conservation
  • environmental education.

Your studies will also be relevant to financial, business and public sector work.

As a graduate of the BSc (Honours) Environmental Science, you'll have gained breadth and depth of understanding in scientific, technical and environmental issues. You'll be able to think creatively; tackle multifaceted issues; and collect, analyse and interpret complex quantitative and qualitative data.

You'll also gain skills in:

  • practical and project working - including research, planning and fieldwork techniques
  • digital literacy
  • communication
  • interdisciplinary team working.

In addition, skills like self-motivation, teamwork and problem solving will demonstrate your all-round ability and make you more employable.

There's more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU's Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.

Educational aims

This is a broad-based environmental science award that aims to provide you with:

  • a lifelong interest in environmental science through modules that are accessible to people of all educational backgrounds
  • an understanding of the contributions of different scientific disciplines to environmental science
  • an appreciation of the social, political and economic contexts within which environmental science operates
  • an enthusiasm for the study of science through understanding of how scientific knowledge develops, an appreciation of the limits of scientific knowledge and an awareness of its impact in society
  • support and guidance to develop as an independent learner.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this degree you will have knowledge and understanding of:

  • terms, classification systems, conventions and units of measurement appropriate to environmental science, with a foundation in the disciplines of biology, chemistry, Earth sciences and physics
  • the underlying concepts and principles associated with environmental science, combining depth and breadth of study across disciplines, and taking account of current thinking
  • appropriate methods of acquiring, interpreting and analysing scientific data and information
  • the contribution of environmental science to informed debate about environmental issues
  • an ability to recognise and evaluate different lines of evidence and appreciate the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of current scientific knowledge.

Cognitive skills

On completion of this degree you will be able to:

  • use and apply knowledge and understanding of essential facts, concepts, principles and theories relating to environmental science
  • apply such scientific knowledge and understanding to address familiar and unfamiliar situations, and to plan and carry out project work
  • work with scientific data and information and comment on particular aspects of current research
  • evaluate information from a range of sources and engage with some of the current developments in environmental science, including applications and the philosophical and ethical issues involved
  • use conceptual models to understand, develop and apply scientific principles.

Practical and/or professional skills

On completion of this degree you will be able to:

  • conduct practical and investigative work in a responsible, safe and ethical manner, and be aware of risk assessment and relevant health and safety regulations
  • initiate, design, conduct and report on investigations, which may involve primary or secondary data
  • obtain, record, collate and analyse data derived from laboratory and/or field investigations, and interpret and report their significance in the light of underlying theory, practical issues and relevant information from other sources
  • plan your own learning, and become more adept at time management and organisational skills so that you can work independently in a way appropriate for continuing personal and professional development.

Key skills

On completion of this degree you will be able to:

  • locate, deal with and respond to a variety of information sources (e.g. textual, numerical, graphical and computer-based), including reviews and primary sources
  • communicate scientific information accurately and effectively using written, visual and numerical forms in a style that suits purpose and audience
  • cite and reference works in an appropriate manner
  • prepare, process, interpret and present data using appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques, including the use of statistics
  • appreciate issues of quantity and quality during the recording and analysis of data and design of experiments, including accuracy, precision, uncertainty, sampling, replication and repeatability
  • use ICT for enhancing your own learning, data analysis and communicating scientific information with others
  • work with others to explore aspects of environmental science
  • improve your own learning and performance.

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