Environmental Geoscience (BSc)

It is an applied degree that will challenge you to think holistically about subjects ranging from water quality to landscape evolution, from the evolution of the biosphere to climate change and from contaminated land to sustainability.

Environmental Geoscience study in South Wales

What determines the nature of the surface of the Earth, both physically and biologically, temporally and spatially, and how has mankind impacted upon it? This is the sort of question that our Environmental Geoscientists are trained to answer.

Set in an outstanding natural landscape but with a long and heavily polluting industrial history, South Wales offers study sites that include not only upland geomorphology and coastal environments but also landfills, heavy metal contamination, acid mine drainage, derelict land and mining subsidence making Cardiff an excellent place to study Environmental Geoscience. It is an applied degree that will challenge you to think holistically about subjects ranging from water quality to landscape evolution, from the evolution of the biosphere to climate change and from contaminated land to sustainability.

Fieldwork is an integral part of degrees at Cardiff's School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, giving our students hands on experience in real field situations. The fieldwork programme has been designed to give students the widest range of field experiences linked to classroom-based teaching. Specialist equipment for working in the field and at sea will be provided by the School and students will be issued with specialist equipment appropriate for their degree after enrolment.

As well as fieldwork in South Wales, this scheme also has residential trips to Portugal for geological mapping training and geoecology and to the volcano of Tenerife to study 'the whole island concept' linking geomorphology, hazards, soils, vegetation, water and sustainability.

Key facts

UCAS CodeF642
Entry pointSeptember 2016
Duration3 years
AccreditationsGeological Society
Typical places availableThe School typically has approx 150 places available
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives approx 740 applications
Typical A level offerABB. At least one A-level should be a Science, Geography, Geology or Maths.
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerWBQ Core will be accepted in lieu of one A-level, excluding the required science/Geology/Geography A-level(s). At least one A-level should be a Science, Geography, Geology or Maths.
Typical International Baccalaureate offer30-32 points, including at least one Science at Higher Level
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome.

Detailed alternative entry requirements are available for this course.
QAA subject benchmark

Earth sciences, environmental sciences and environmental studies 

Admissions tutor(s)

Dr Jennifer Pike, Admissions Tutor

Mr Simon Feeley, Course Administrator

Important Legal Information: The programme information currently being published in Course Finder is under review and may be subject to change. The final programme information is due to be published by May 2016 and will be the definitive programme outline which the University intends to offer. Applicants are advised to check the definitive programme information after the update, to ensure that the programme meets their needs.

The evolution of our present environment and its future development is a key subject for present global enquiry. It includes the problems of climate change and the effect of human activities on the environment. The BSc in Environmental Geoscience provides a basis for investigation of these key areas of current international interest. By its nature Environmental Geoscience neatly divides into two streams: an applied and a global stream. The applied stream tends to focus on pollution and contamination and provides suites of modules geared to providing you with the skills needed to identify and resolve these environmental problems. The second area focuses on global problems such as climatic change and anthropogenic effects on the planetary environment. This suite of modules provides you with the knowledge and understanding which enables you to investigate these problems.

I found the course in Cardiff great fun and learned absolutely loads. It was brilliant value for money when you think about how much teaching and lab work we did. Perhaps most importantly the field trips were unbelievable!

Paddy Staunton, Mesci Environmental Geoscience 2011

Year one

The course structure is very flexible. All Cardiff's School of Earth and Ocean Science degree programmes share a common first semester. This is designed to give you a sound foundation in Earth Sciences upon which to build. At the end of your first semester you will decide whether to continue with your original degree choice or choose another of Cardiff's Earth science degrees.

Year two

In year two you will study a wide variety of modules. The modules studied in the second year range from: more 'applied' modules that will facilitate your understanding of site-specific geo-environmental issues, such as contaminated land, rock engineering and geo-technics: to modules that address more 'global' geo-environmental issues, providing a base for studies on subjects like climate change and sea level rise: to those specialising in biological interaction with past and present environments.

The School provides a wide range of different potential projects from which you can choose a subject that interests you. Students often choose or devise projects that relate to geoenvironmental issues close to their homes or that have impacted on their lives in the past. Often the projects are undertaken with help and advice provided by bodies such as the Local Authorities or Environmental Agency.

Dedicated environmental training takes place around Easter, and this addresses issues that have not been covered in previous modules. This is also an opportunity for you to start acquiring more specific skills that will be required for your own project work. For example, if you undertake a project that requires you to do geo-chemical analyses, you will be taught the protocols required to work in a modern state-of-the-art geo-chemical facility.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Field Skills in Environmental GeoscienceEA210420 credits
Data Acquisition and AnalysisEA210110 credits
Applied GISEA213010 credits
Structural GeologyEA210810 credits
GeoecologyEA211310 credits
PalaeoecologyEA210610 credits
Catchment GeomorphologyEA214010 credits
Geophysical ExplorationEA210710 credits
Sedimentary Processes, Petrology and StratigraphyEA213520 credits
Environmental PollutionEA211610 credits

Year three

In the third year you will complete your project work, presenting it in the form of a professional report.

There are a few 'core' modules, but the majority are optional, allowing you to target your own geoenvironmental interests and aspirations. As with the previous years, the third year consists of a mixture of taught knowledge and skills. However, in this final part of your degree, the emphasis is much more on synthesis, tying together the separate strands to give a more complete and holistic understanding of the subject.

The evolution of our present environment into the future is a key subject for global enquiry and includes the problems of climate change and the effect of human activities on the environment.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Environmental Case StudiesEA310810 credits
Environmental Geoscience FieldcourseEA310910 credits
Engineering GeologyEA312310 credits

Module titleModule codeCredits
Environmental Management, Science and PolicyEA311010 credits
Environmental Geoscience ProjectEA313030 credits
Environmental Geoscience Placement ProjectEA313330 credits
Integrated Coastal ManagementEA311410 credits
Water ResourcesEA311710 credits
PalaeobiologyEA312710 credits
Environmental LawEA313410 credits
Hazards and RiskEA313910 credits
Marine MicrofossilsEA310210 credits
Global GeomorphologyEA310310 credits
GlaciologyEA314610 credits
PaleoclimateEA314710 credits
Advanced Sedimentology and StratigraphyEA311810 credits
GeomicrobiologyEA313210 credits
The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

The School of Earth and Ocean Sciences has an excellent tradition of teaching in the Earth Sciences. This educational experience is enhanced by frontier earth scientists from a wide variety of disciplines, involved in national and international research programmes, teaching alongside its students as they learn. This team ensures students receive the highest quality teaching, delivered by lecturers at the cutting edge of international research. In addition the School is able to maintain a friendly and informal approach brought about by staff-student interactions during fieldwork.

The modular course structure enables the School to offer an exciting and relevant spectrum of vocational degree programmes. These cover a wide range of modern geosciences from the traditional geology approach to the more industry focussed exploration and resource geology through to the equally applied environmental geoscience and water borne marine geography. The first semester is common to all degree schemes and you then confirm your chosen programme in January of your first year. Thus there is a chance to sample university teaching styles before committing to a particular degree programme or pathway.

Teaching in the School is conducted by a variety of methods:

  • formal lectures
  • laboratory practicals
  • IT practicals
  • fieldwork – both on land and for the Marine Geography students on the sea in the School's own research vessel too

Formal lectures and practical classes have the emphasis on students taking ownership of their own learning programme and "learning how to learn". Fieldwork is a vital format for understanding the earth sciences and all students go on at least one residential field trip each academic year as well as numerous specialist day trips. All students are assigned a tutor who will hold timetabled tutorials: fortnightly in Year 1 and monthly during other years. Your tutor will be a specialist in your degree programme and will advise on both academic and pastoral matters.

As well as conventional BSc programmes, an optional one year industrial placement is available for some of the BSc degrees. These placements provide an opportunity for students to gain in-depth experience in a range of relevant industries. Students are supervised and visited by University staff while enjoying the experience and career enhancement that results from a 'Year Out'. The four year MESci schemes focus on research training and critical analysis making students who take these programmes very employable in a range of professions.

Most modules will contain some element of course work so the ability to work independently is crucial. Formal unseen exams and presentations are a key component of the way you are assessed. You will also undertake group work and project work, with all students producing a substantial dissertation on a topic of their choosing in the final year.

In 2012, 86% of the School of Earth and Ocean Science's graduates were in employment within six months of graduation, or were engaged in further study, with others taking time out to travel. Employers included: local government plus companies and organisations such as the Environment Agency, BAM Construct UK, Airbus and Wales and West Utilities.

Career destinations included: water industry; local authority - waste management; environmental advisor – construction industry; software analyst, surveying; environmental consultant; pollution monitoring.

Careers case studies

Victoria Evans BSc Environmental Geoscience 2009 and MSc Applied Environmental Geology at Cardiff 2010
Victoria is currently studying for a PhD at Manchester University looking at microbial ecology and biogeochemistry of nuclear waste storage facilities, with field and laboratory work at Sellafield. Studying how radioactive waste interacts with the biosphere and how micro-organisms control the environmental behaviour of radionuclides.

Victoria says: "The School offered excellent teaching and fantastic field trips including Scotland, the Netherlands and Tenerife, along with a high level of academic flexibility, allowing me to adapt and focus my learning to meet my individual needs."

Jobs

  • Environmental Adviser
  • Software Analyst
  • Surveying
  • Environmental Consultant
  • Pollution Monitoring

Fieldwork is an integral part of degrees at Cardiff's School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, giving our students hands on experience in real field situations. The fieldwork programme has been designed to give students the widest range of field experiences linked to classroom-based teaching. Specialist equipment for working in the field and at sea will be provided by the School and students will be issued with specialist equipment appropriate for their degree after enrolment.

You will be out in the field with us during the first week of teaching, taking part in a variety of induction events which will help embed you in Cardiff, meet other students on your programme in informal surroundings, meet some of your lectures away from the constrains of the classroom and see some of our local field areas. As an Environmental Geoscience student you will take part in induction activities with all our new first years but will also go as a cohort to the Garth mountain South Wales where you will see first-hand some of the environmental issues and get a chance to meet students on your course.

Years one and two

Throughout year one you will undertake various local day trips as well as a residential fieldtrip to Pembrokeshire, learning field skills such as sedimentary logging, mapping and environmental analysis. Fieldwork is a major component of all degree schemes in year two, as an Environmental Geoscience student you will go on a residential trip to Portugal for geological mapping training and geoecology as well as undertaking an extensive fieldwork programme of day trips around South Wales focusing on geomorphology, ecology, water and the impact of industrialisation.

Individual project 

Between year two and year three all students undertake a five week individual project, training for which has been undertaken throughout the year. As an Environmental Geoscientist you will either do an independent project or an independent placement project with a company. Every student will get supervision from a member of staff and depending where you are based you may also get a visit in the field.

Final year 

In your final year, year three (or year four for those of you that do a year in industry) the fieldwork programme is more research-led, focusing on interpretative skills, field techniques, teamwork projects and independent study. Again you will undertake field day trips to local areas and also a residential trip to Tenerife to study the 'whole island concept' linking geomorphology, hazards, soils, vegetation, water and sustainability.

Duration

3 Year(s)

Next intake

September 2016

Places available

Typical places available

The School admits 150 students each year to its undergraduate degree programmes, usually between 25-30 on its Environmental Geoscience programmes

Applications received

Typical applications received

650

Accreditations

QAA subject benchmark

QAA subject benchmark

Earth sciences, environmental sciences and environmental studies 

Overview and aims of this course/programme

The BSc Environmental Geoscience degree aims to develop scientific, intellectual and practical skills across the spectrum of Earth Sciences. It focuses upon environmental factors (climatology, hydrology and geochemistry,) particularly in their geological context and with consideration of their human impact. Classroom and lab-based teaching are backed up by practical training and experience in fieldwork. Graduates will have a broad knowledge of a range of geoenvironmental factors and a variety of transferable skills suitable for all major sectors of employment or for further study and research.

What should I know about year five?

Students should attend lectures and are expected to attend all timetabled laboratory sessions, tutorials and fieldwork. Students are expected to engage in independent study alongside the taught module programme within module guidelines.

Students are expected to adhere to the Cardiff University policy on Dignity at Work and Study.

How is this course/programme structured?

The programme is full time for 3 years. The first two years contain compulsory modules only, there are options in Year 3.

What should I know about year four?

No specific equipment required

What should I know about year three?

Students will acquire and develop a range of discipline-specific skills and more generic ‘employability skills’.  They will develop technical laboratory and fieldwork skills, and will be presented with opportunities to extend their communication and presentation skills, both oral and written. Specific skills include the ability to collect, analyse and interpret data. They will develop independent learning and research skills through the final year in their major independent project and other modules.

What should I know about the preliminary year?

Students will attend lectures, carry out extensive practical and laboratory work, fieldwork, and participate in tutorials. Coursework assignments provide student feedback during each year. All of the taught modules within the first two years are compulsory; in the final year students take several core modules and a selection of optional modules. All students will undertake an independent field or laboratory-based project in a major final year core module.

What should I know about year one?

Assessment:

Modules will be assessed through in-course assessments that test knowledge and understanding:

  • Practical assignments
  • Essay assignments
  • Fieldwork
  • Oral presentations
  • Independent project work
  • Examinations

Feedback:

Students will get written feedback for written coursework assignments, oral feedback for assessed presentations. 

Other information

All modules within the programme make use of Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Learning Central. on which students will Interact with course components and links to related materials. All students are allocated a personal tutor through the degree course. Opportunities for students to reflect on their abilities and performance are made available through the Learning Central ‘Personal Development Planning’ module. All students select an appropriate supervisor for their final year independent projects.

Distinctive features

Graduates from this programme will be able to:

·         Demonstrate systematic understanding of the multi-disciplinary nature of Environmental Geoscience and the need for integration of knowledge from cognate sciences.

·         Demonstrate knowledge and understanding, subject to a limited degree of student choice, on all aspects of Earth system science.

·         Demonstrate practical field skills covering a range of environments and circumstances and to be able to place these in a spatial and temporal context.

·         Demonstrate practical skills in information technology and geographical information system applications, fieldwork, data collection techniques and project management.

·         Utilise knowledge and scientific, evidence-based methods in data analysis, interpretation and presentation.

·         Collect, evaluate, synthesise and interpret qualitative and quantitative data in a variety of problem-solving situations.

·         Demonstrate independent learning.

·         Demonstrate self-awareness of individual aims and achievements through academic writing skills and practical techniques.

How will I be taught?

The independent final year project offers great opportunity to students who may choose to carry out their field sampling overseas.  Alternatively, by arrangement, projects may be coordinated with a specific industrial partner offering the prospect of work experience alongside data collection.

Admissions tutors

Dr Jennifer Pike, Admissions Tutor

Mr Simon Feeley, Course Administrator


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