This degree has three stages, each comprising two compulsory 60-credit modules.
- At Stage 1 you’ll be introduced to the study of contemporary environmental and social issues.
- At Stage 2 you’ll explore the nature of the relationship between environmental and social issues in more depth.
- At Stage 3 you’ll put your knowledge and skills to work investigating responses to environmental change and the political and policy debates that surround them.
Optional Access module – visit Entry requirements to find out about starting this course with a preparatory Access module.
To start Stage 1 you’ll be introduced to the interdisciplinary study of environmental issues, before covering the core ideas and key skills of the social sciences. As you do so, you’ll explore some of the environmental issues affecting the Arctic, the Nile, the Amazon, China, the oceans, and key world cities as well as themes such as inequality, rights and justice.
We recommend that you study Stage 1 over two years as it provides the underpinning knowledge and skills needed for more advanced study at Stages 2 and 3.
At Stage 2 you’ll use the insights of the natural and the social sciences to explore why environmental issues such as biodiversity loss, water security, climate change, and food production pose such significant challenges and understand how matters of environment and society are so thoroughly entangled.
At Stage 3 you’ll explore the many debates and dilemmas involved in developing environmental policy as well as gaining the interdisciplinary tools for understanding, researching, and communicating contemporary environmental issues.
We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 20 March 2019.
We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The BA (Honours) Environmental Studies uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:
- studying a mixture of printed and online material – online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
- face-to-face tutorials/day schools and/or online tutorials
- using mathematical and scientific expressions, notations and associated techniques
- working in a group with other students
- using and/or producing diagrams and/or screenshots
- finding external/third party material online
- using technology for research purposes involving access to catalogues and databases online
- continuous and end-of-module assessment in the form of essays, short answer questions, and in some cases an examination
- using feedback: continuous assessment involves receiving detailed feedback on your work from your tutor and using this feedback to improve your performance
- engagement with learning and assessment within a pre-determined schedule or timetable – time management will be needed during your studies and the University will help you to develop these skills throughout your degree
- some modules may require you to use specialist software
For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support to find more about what we offer.
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
If you have already studied at university level, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – which could save you time and money by reducing the number of modules you need to study. At the OU we call this credit transfer.
It’s not just university study that can be considered, you can also transfer study from a wide range of professional or vocational qualifications such as HNCs and HNDs.
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 evidence of your previous study.
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 BA (Honours) Environmental Studies degree. The class of degree (first, upper second, lower second or third-class honours) depends on your grades at Stages 2 and 3.
You'll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.
As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website.
There are no formal entry requirements to study this qualification.
This qualification begins with the module Environment: journeys through a changing world (U116) which offers a great deal of help with study skills, such as taking notes, writing essays and basic scientific expressions to build a solid foundation for further study.
How much time do I need?
Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner
- Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
- This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.
Preparing for study with an Access module
If your study skills are a bit rusty or you want to try out Open University study before committing yourself, don’t worry! The OU offers Access modules designed to introduce the subject area, build your confidence and prepare you for further study, and you may be eligible to study an Access module for free! You'll get:
- a personal tutor providing regular feedback with one to one telephone tutorials
- support from a dedicated team throughout your study
- detailed written feedback.
For this qualification we recommend:
People, work and society Access module
Science, technology and maths Access module
What you will study
This 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
Skills for career development
Employers value the diverse skills of social science graduates very highly. In addition, this interdisciplinary degree will provide you with the ability to work across the natural and social sciences and develop a particularly strong set of transferable skills.
You’ll develop the ability to:
- interpret, analyse, and critically evaluate quantitative and qualitative evidence
- apply learning to real world situations
- communicate effectively to a variety of audiences using different media
- employ a wide range of digital practices to find, use, and create data
- learn autonomously and plan, conduct, and present independent work
- work effectively with others to achieve joint outcomes.
A degree in environmental studies can lead to employment across the public, private and voluntary sectors. Businesses, public sector organisations and other employers increasingly have to deal with environment-related issues, making this course relevant to a wide range of professions, including:
- civil or diplomatic service
- environmental consultancy
- environmental education
- environmental health
- environmental management
- environmental planning
- environmental policy
- information systems
- local, national and international governmental agencies
- nature conservation
- overseas development
Many graduate-level jobs are open to graduates of any discipline, particularly in business, finance, management consultancy and the public sector. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree.
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. This includes 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. Some careers will require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree:
- community education manager
- energy manager
- environmental coordinator
- environmental consultant
- environmental education officer
- environmental journalist
- environmental manager
- environmental policy adviser
- environmental researcher
- geography teacher
- nature conservation officer
- parks manager
- recycling officer
- restoration ecologist
- sustainability manager.