For those keen to study a subject that touches on many of the biggest challenges for the world today, environmental science degrees are a good starting point. Environmental science incorporates the study of the physical, chemical and biological processes that take place on the Earth, as well as the social, political and cultural processes which impact the planet. As an environmental science student, you’ll strive to understand the complex relationships between mankind and the environment, drawing on a diverse range of disciplines.
What do environmental science degrees cover?
Very much an ‘interdisciplinary’ subject, environmental science degrees challenge students to combine skills and knowledge from a variety of different fields. This could mean exploring aspects of biology, chemistry, physics, geography, Earth and marine sciences, and also social sciences. The idea is to combine multiple perspectives and data sources, to build up a fuller understanding of natural and human environments.
Fieldwork is an important part of most environmental science degrees, which often include trips to a variety of different countries and world regions, giving those who study environmental science the opportunity to experience different habitats, climates, land formations and societies. You can also expect to spend a fair amount of time in the lab, learning how to carry out different types of tests and analysis. In addition, students often undertake voluntary work in an environment-related role, which provides valuable experience to prepare them for future environmental science careers.
Entry requirements for environmental science degrees
As is true of all subjects, entry requirements will vary between different institutions. However, those applying for an undergraduate (bachelor’s) degree in environmental science can expect to be asked for a diploma of secondary education, including good grades in at least one of the following related subjects: biology, chemistry, economics, geography, geology, mathematics or physics. At master’s level, you’ll need to have completed a relevant bachelor’s degree, either in environmental sciences or in one of the subjects mentioned above. Some universities may require applicants to attend a face-to-face interview, and/or to sit an entrance exam, often depending on national norms.
Course structure and assessment methods
Environmental science degrees usually last for three or four years at bachelor’s level and one or two years for a master’s qualification. The initial stage of your studies will include compulsory core modules, which aim to give you a general understanding of environmental science and introduce you to some of the main principles. The following stages will typically allow students to choose options from a selection of possible course modules, allowing for growing specialization in one or more environmental science topics. Towards the end of your program, you are likely to have the opportunity to carry out your own research on a topic of your choice. Assessment methods include essays, written discussions, exams, problem sheets, laboratory reports, field exercises, field notebooks and seminar presentations.
Discover the world's top universities for environmental science >