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BSc (Honours) Environmental Science

Our environment is under threat from climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and resource depletion. This course combines aspects of biology, ecology, geography, chemistry, technology and social science to help you understand the whole picture. You’ll develop the scientific knowledge and techniques needed to understand environmental patterns and processes, investigate ecosystems, and to address local and global environmental issues. You’ll also investigate how environmental science relates to society. 

Key features of the course

  • Investigates the complexities of the natural environment and our relationship with it 
  • Explores the problems we face in understanding our natural environment and in living sustainably 
  • Develops your scientific, interpretive and creative thinking skills
  • Includes compulsory fieldwork, which you’ll undertake during two separate UK-based residential schools.
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Degree

Course code
Q52
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
360
How long it takes
Part time – 6 years
Full time – 3 years
Time limit – 16 years
Study method
Distance learning
Course cost
See Fees & funding
Entry requirements
None

Are you ready for study?
Find out here

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Start dates

Credit transfer: apply by 13/08/2015
Credit transfer: apply by 03/12/2015

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Course details

This degree has three stages, each comprising 120 credits (equivalent to one year's full-time university study). Stage 1 provides the underpinning knowledge and skills needed for more advanced study at Stages 2 and 3.

If you have little or no knowledge or experience of studying, you may prefer to start your studies with an Access module as an additional preparatory stage.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

Stage 1 is designed to help you understand important scientific concepts, develop scientific skills and appreciate global environmental issues. You’ll study a broad-based science module and investigate contemporary environmental topics, drawing on perspectives from the social sciences, science and technology to explore challenges affecting the Arctic, the Nile, the Amazon, China and some of the world’s great cities.


Compulsory modules (120 credits)

  • Exploring science (S104)

    Develop key scientific skills and explore a range of fascinating concepts and topics, including genetics, drugs, global warming, atoms, and the origin of the Universe.

  • Environment: journeys through a changing world (U116)

    Introduces studying the environment and explores the issues arising from environmental change around the globe and the ways in which these challenges are being addressed.

Stages 2 and 3 (240 credits)

You’ll investigate the atmosphere, rivers, oceans, landforms, soils, organisms, habitats, human influences, patterns and processes – gaining practical experience at two compulsory, separate UK-based field schools and also in virtual field trips. You’ll then choose additional science modules according to your interests and career aspirations, before taking a closer look at the interactions between organisms and their ecosystems. You’ll complete your degree with further optional modules and a practical environmental science project of your own design.



The modules quoted in this description are currently available for study. However, as we review the curriculum on a regular basis, the exact selection may change over time.


Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills

The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; e-learning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.

Read the detailed learning outcomes here

Credit transfer

If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – reducing the number of modules you need to study. It’s not just study completed at a university that can be considered, you can transfer study from a wide range of professional qualifications as well. A full list of the qualifications and institutions we can consider for credit transfer can be found on our credit transfer website.

You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. We will need to know what you studied, where and when and you will need to provide original evidence of your previous study. We will compare this against the learning outcomes for your chosen qualification and inform you of any award.

For more details of when you will need to apply by and to download an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.


Classification of your degree

On successfully completing this undergraduate course, you'll be awarded the BSc (Honours) Environmental Science degree. You'll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.

The class of degree (first, second or third class honours) depends on your grades at Stages 2 and 3.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the following regulations:

These regulations are also available on our Essential Documents website.


Compare this course

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements to study this qualification.

Study skills for this qualification

The BSc (Honours) Environmental Science (Q52) begins with the module Exploring science (S104) which builds a solid foundation for further study. Although it’s an introductory module, to get the best from it you’ll need some knowledge of science concepts and mathematical skills, and the ability to read and write to a good standard of English. You can use our online diagnostic tool Are you ready for science study?  to help you decide if you’re ready, or if you could do with some extra preparation.

General study skills

Anyone can study with The Open University, but if it's a while since you did any academic work it's worth checking that your time management, computing and English skills are up to speed. Visit Can I do it? to find out more.

Help! I'm not sure I'm ready!

Study for free

If your study skills are a bit rusty or you want to try out Open University study before committing yourself, don't worry! You can get started with an Access module – fascinating courses designed to introduce subject areas, build your confidence and prepare you for further study.

For this qualification, we recommend:

Science, technology and maths Access module

What you will study

This fascinating, multidisciplinary module is an ideal starting point if you have little or no previous knowledge of the sciences, technology and mathematics, and would like to develop both your subject knowledge and your study skills. The subjects included are science, engineering and design, environment, mathematics, and computing and IT.

View full details of Science, technology and maths Access module

Your next step

Call us on +44 (0)1908 659253 or book a call back. Our friendly team of advisers will discuss your study options with you, and help you decide on the best starting point for you. Or come and meet us at an event near you.

How much will it cost?

We believe cost shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your potential. That’s why we work hard to keep the cost of study as low as possible and have a wide range of flexible ways to pay to help spread, or even reduce, the cost.

  • Fees are paid on a module-by-module basis – you won't have to pay for the whole of your qualification up front.
  • A qualification comprises a series of modules, each with an individual fee. Added together, they give you the total cost.
  • If (like most OU students) you study part time at a rate of 60 credits a year, you'll take six years to complete an honours degree. Our current fee for 60 credits is £2,700*.
  • Our current fee is £5,400* – based on 120 credits of study – which is equivalent to a year's full-time study.
  • The total cost of your chosen qualification starts from £16,200* based on our current fees.
  • This qualification includes modules with a higher than typical cost. This will increase the overall cost of the qualification quoted. Please call us for further information.
  • This qualification includes modules with a higher than typical cost. If you choose to study one of these modules the overall cost of the qualification may increase. Please call us for further information.

*The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2016. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University's strategic approach to fees.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

Residential schools

This course includes two compulsory residential schools, for which there is a single additional fee (£250 in 2015/16) to cover accommodation and meals. You'll also be responsible for the cost of travel to the venues.

Ways to pay for your qualification and other support

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how you can pay. That’s why we offer a wide range of flexible payment and funding options to help make study more affordable. Options include Part-Time Tuition Fee Loans (also known as student loans), monthly payment plans and employer sponsorship. 

We’re confident we can help you find an option that’s right for you.

Just answer these simple questions to find out more about the options available to you for courses starting before 31 July 2016.




How many credits are you planning to study per year? You will need [xxx] credits to complete this qualification

Part time study

Full time study


Do you already hold a degree?

Are you employed?

British Forces

  • If you have a BFPO address, you are only eligible for UK course fees if you are a currently serving member of the British armed forces, and you're temporarily and unavoidably working abroad. Other students using BFPO addresses should contact us on +44 (0)300 303 5303 for UK fee eligibility to be assessed.
* The fee and funding information provided here is valid for courses starting before 31 July 2016. Fees normally increase in line with inflation and with the University’s strategic approach to fees.

An OU qualification will always help you stand out from the crowd, now and in the future – whether you’re just starting out, developing your career, or changing direction entirely.

Skills for career development

As a graduate of the BSc (Honours) Environmental Science (Q52), you will 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 develop research, planning and fieldwork techniques as you take part in practical and project work.

You will also gain important transferable skills which will demonstrate your all-round ability and make you more employable. These include:

  • problem solving
  • digital literacy
  • communication
  • self-motivation
  • team working.

Career relevance

The broad and specialist skills you will develop during 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
  • recycling
  • water quality 
  • resources
  • energy management
  • sustainability
  • environmental consultancy
  • ecology and nature conservation
  • environmental education.

Other careers

The logical, reasoned approach needed for science study is also relevant to a wide range of non-scientific contexts. Many graduate-level jobs are open to graduates of any discipline, particularly in business, finance, management consultancy and the public sector.  Science graduates with good communication and interpersonal skills are in particular demand. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree. 

In addition to improving your career prospects, studying with the OU is an enriching experience that broadens your horizons, develops your knowledge, builds your confidence and enhances your life skills. 

Exploring your options

Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice – including online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.

In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point (note that some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree):

  • science teacher
  • water quality inspector
  • countryside manager
  • forensic scientist
  • biomedical researcher
  • meteorologist
  • geophysicist
  • toxicologist
  • environmental engineer
  • marine biologist
  • botanist
  • science communicator
  • technical consultant
  • industrial researcher.

Want to see more jobs? Use the career explorer for job ideas from the National Careers Service, PlanIT Plus in Scotland and Prospects across all nations. You can also visit GradIreland for the Republic of Ireland.

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