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BSc (Honours) Environmental Science

This degree explores the multiple disciplines needed to understand, manage and protect the world we live in. Learn to assess environmental problems, propose solutions, and gain a comprehensive understanding of the natural environment. You’ll study topics, including conservation, ecology, ecosystems, environmental management and renewable energy. Develop your scientific and technical knowledge and skills, and learn how to apply them to environmental challenges like climate change, biodiversity loss, and sustainability. As a valued environmental science graduate, you’ll be able to pursue a career in a diverse range of fields.

Key features of the course

  • Develop your scientific, interpretive and creative thinking skills.
  • Investigate the complexities of the natural environment and our relationship with it.
  • Explore the problems we face with sustainable living.
  • Acquire fieldwork skills, normally at two residential schools.
  • Have the option to follow an environmental management route.

Course Summary

+Shortlist Course

Degree

Degree

  • Also known as an undergraduate or bachelors degree.
  • Internationally respected, universally understood.
  • An essential requirement for many high-level jobs.
  • Gain a thorough understanding of your subject – and the tools to investigate, think critically, form reasoned arguments, solve problems and communicate effectively in new contexts.
  • Progress to higher level study, such as a postgraduate diploma or masters 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 details

This degree has three stages, each comprising 120 credits.

  • You’ll start Stage 1 with two 60-credit introductory modules – one with a focus on environment and one with a focus on science.
  • In Stages 2 and 3, the modules you’ll study or choose from will be determined by the route you choose. You’ll conclude your degree with a 30-credit project module.

Prepare for OU study with an Access module

We offer two starting points depending on how confident you are or how long it’s been since you last studied. Choose to dive straight in at Stage 1, or if you’d prefer some extra preparation, you can get started with an optional Access module. See Entry requirements for more details.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

You’ll start with an exploration of environmental challenges in the Arctic, Africa, the Amazon and China – developing the key skills and concepts needed to understand our changing world. Next, you’ll study a science module, focusing on some of the key ideas in science.

Stages 2 and 3 (240 credits)

Next, you’ll choose a route through Stages 2 and 3:

  • Environmental science route
  • Environmental science (environmental management) route

In both routes, Stage 2 includes an environmental science module – where you’ll gain practical experience at two compulsory UK-based field schools – and Stage 3 takes a closer look at the interactions between organisms and their ecosystems. You’ll complete your degree with a practical environmental science project of your own design.

Environmental science route

ModulesCredits
Stage 2 (120 credits)
You'll study the following:
Environmental science (SXF206)60
You'll choose 60 credits from:
Earth science (S209)60
Environment: sharing a dynamic planet (DST206)60
Energy and sustainability (T213)30
Environmental management: systems and sustainability (T220) – planned for October 202230
The biology of survival (S295)30
Stage 3 (120 credits)
You'll choose 60 credits from:
Environment: responding to change (SDT306)60
Evaluating contemporary science (S350)30
Renewable energy (T313)30
You'll study both of the following:
Terrestrial ecosystems (S397)30
Science project course: environmental science practical project (SXE390)30

Environmental science (environmental management) route

ModulesCredits
Stage 2 (120 credits)
You'll study all three of the following:
Energy and sustainability (T213)30
Environmental management: systems and sustainability (T220) – planned for October 202230
Environmental science (SXF206)60
Stage 3 (120 credits)
You'll study all four of the following:
Environmental management 2 (T319)30
Renewable energy (T313)30
Terrestrial ecosystems (S397)30
Science project course: environmental science practical project (SXE390)30

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 10 September 2021.


Accessibility

We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. The BSc (Honours) Environmental Science 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
  • using mathematical and scientific expressions, notations and associated techniques
  • using and/or producing diagrams and/or screenshots
  • undertaking practical work (including two compulsory UK residential schools) and using an online laboratory
  • working with specialist reading material such as scientific journals
  • using specialist software
  • working in a group with other students
  • finding external/third party material 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 attend a residential school.

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; elearning 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 – 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 course, we’ll award you our BSc (Honours) Environmental Science.

If you choose a specialist route, your degree title will show that:

  • BSc (Honours) Environmental Science (Environmental Management)

The class of honours (first, upper-second, lower-second or third) will depend on your grades at Stages 2 and 3.

You’ll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.

International recognition

If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Find out more about international recognition of Open University qualifications.

Regulations

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. 


Compare this course

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for this qualification.

At The Open University we believe education should be open to all, so we provide a high-quality university education to anyone who wishes to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.

Even though there are no entry requirements, there are some skills that you’ll need to succeed. If you’re not quite ready for OU study we can guide you to resources that prepare you, many of which are free.

Answer a few quick questions to check whether you’re ready for study success

How much time do I need?

  • Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
  • This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.

Find out if you have enough time to study with our time planner

Preparing for study with an Access module

Students who start their study with an Access module are more likely to be successful when they advance to Stage 1 of their qualification. They’re specially designed to give you a gentle introduction to OU study, boost confidence in your study skills, and help you gain a broad overview of your chosen subject area.

You’ll also benefit from:

  • feedback from your tutor through regular one-to-one phone tutorials
  • support from a dedicated team throughout your study
  • detailed written feedback on your work.
The Access module we’d recommend studying in preparation for this qualification is our:

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. It'll help develop your study skills in advance of your OU qualification, and you get to explore a number of STEM subjects including science, engineering and design, environment, mathematics, and computing and IT.

View full details of Science, technology and maths Access module

How much will it cost in England?

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.
  • Most OU students study part time at a rate of 60 credits a year.
  • Our current fee for 60 credits is £3,168*.
  • Our current fee for 120 credits, which is equivalent to a year's full-time study, is £6,336*.
  • At current prices, the total cost of your qualification would be £19,008*.
  • .

*The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2022. 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 set books, a computer and internet access.

If your income is not more than £25,000 or you are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you start studying.

Field schools/lab schools

This qualification has:

  • field schools/lab schools you must attend, and for which you may have to pay an additional charge1
  • modules with optional field schools/lab schools, for which you must pay an additional charge1.

1See module descriptions for further information. You must also pay for your travel to and from the venue.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, we may replace face-to-face events with online alternatives.


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.

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
  • environmental engineer
  • forensic scientist
  • meteorologist
  • botanist
  • science communicator
  • technical consultant
  • industrial researcher.

Register for this course

Start dates
Credit transfer: apply by 09/12/2021

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