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Environmental Geography (BSc)

  • UCAS code: K32K
  • Next intake: September 2020
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Mode: Full time

Entry Year

Why study this course

Environmental geographers use their scientific understanding of the natural and physical environment to find solutions to crucial environmental issues.

Our scientific understanding of the natural and physical environment is key to addressing issues like climate change, pollution, and land degradation.

On our Environmental Geography course, you will study how the Earth functions and the science behind human impact on the planet over time. You will look at environments across the world, from the extreme poles to tropical coral reefs, exploring both the pressures they face today and in the future. You will use the latest technologies and develop skills in geographical mapping, research, analysis and problem-solving. 

We make the most of our location and take regular day trips to Gower, the Glamorgan Heritage Coast and the Brecon Beacons in South Wales, as well as overseas trips to locations such as the Netherlands and Switzerland.    

Students on this course are usually concerned about the health of the planet and want to make a positive difference. They graduate with the skills needed to solve a range of complex environmental problems and with experience of hands-on fieldwork and cutting-edge research.

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High student satisfaction

This course received a 93% Overall Satisfaction score from this year's graduates in the National Student Survey 2020.

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Fieldwork opportunities

We take regular field trips in the UK and overseas to help you develop strong fieldwork skills. The cost of compulsory field trips is included in the course fees.

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High-quality facilities

You will have access to the latest in surveying and mapping equipment, labs, computing facilities, and our coastal research vessel.

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Flexible course

In most cases, you may request a transfer to the MSci degree programme or switch to another course in the same School at the end of the first year.

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Professional placement year

You will get the opportunity to spend a year working in industry on a professional placement during your third year.

Where you'll study

School of Earth and Ocean Sciences

We’re making sense of our changing world and solving some of the most critical challenges facing our society, economy and environment.

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  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2087 4830
  • MarkerPark Place, Cardiff, CF10 3AT

Entry requirements

Grades ABB - BBB, including one science or grades BBB-BBC with two science subjects. Science subjects include Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Geology, Biology, Geography, Computer Science, Environmental Science. Please note, General Studies will not be accepted.

Extended Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard A level offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.

The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

DDM - DMM in one of the following subjects: Applied Science, Sports and Exercise Science, Health Science, Animal Science or ICT.

34-32 points or 665 in Higher Level subjects, including one science at Higher Level. Alternatively 32-30 or 655 in Higher Level subjects with two science subjects. Science subjects include Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Geology, Biology, Geography, Computer Science, Environmental Science    

Other UK qualifications may also be accepted, often in lieu of A-levels, but subject requirements must be met. If you are offering non-UK qualifications, our qualification equivalences guide should allow you to calculate what kind of offer you are likely to receive.

Please be aware that this is a general guide, and that some programmes may have more detailed or specific entry requirements which will be reflected in your offer.

Find out about our Schools' admissions criteria, offer guarantee scheme, changes to programmes and translating your documents.

GCSE

Grade C or grade 4 in GCSE English Language.

IELTS (academic)

At least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each subskill.

TOEFL iBT

At least 90 overall with minimum scores of 17 for writing, 17 for listening, 18 for reading and 20 for speaking.

PTE Academic

At least 62 overall with a minimum of 51 in all communicative skills.

Trinity ISE II/III

II: at least two Distinctions and two Merits.
III: at least a Pass in all components.

Other accepted qualifications

Please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our other accepted language qualifications.

The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

Extended Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard A level offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.

You will require GCSE Maths at grade B or grade 6 and GCSE English Langauge at grade C or grade 4 or an accepted english language equivalent www.cardiff.ac.uk/study/international/english-language-requirements/undergraduate

Typical IELTS offer: Applicants, whose first language is not English or Welsh, are required to have obtained a score of at least 6.5 in the IELTS (Academic) exam or equivalent with at least 5.5 in each component, i.e. speaking, reading, writing and listening.

 

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course. If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2020/21)

Tuition feeDeposit
£9,000None

Learn about our tuition fees

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Students from outside the EU (2020/21)

Tuition feeDeposit
£21,950None

Learn about our tuition fees

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Additional costs

The fieldwork costs for your core modules are included but you will need to contribute towards food if it is provided during the trip. You will need to pay for any optional fieldwork modules. The cost of these trips will be capped at an amount determined by the school. Students facing financial hardship may be eligible to apply to the Cardiff Financial Assistance Programme for help with these costs.

 

Course specific equipment

You will need suitable clothing including warm weather, wind and storm-proof jackets and walking boots. The school will provide all health and safety equipment as well as specialised field equipment.

Accommodation

We have a range of residences to suit your needs and budget. Find out more on our accommodation pages.

Course structure

This is a three-year full-time degree. In your first year you will study core modules and get a strong foundation in environmental geography. In year two and three there are core and optional modules so you have some flexibility to choose to the areas that you’re interested in.  

 

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2020/21 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2020.

Year one

In your first year, you will study core modules designed to give you a strong foundation in Earth sciences and geography. Topics include oceans, climate, earth processes and global environments.  You will develop essential geographical skills like map and chart work, GIS and basic geographical data analysis.

We will go on a residential field course to a coastal national park within Wales (either Pembrokeshire or Snowdonia) where you will learn key field skills including mapping and surveying techniques.

All of the degrees in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences study the same first semester. After semester one you can decide whether you want to continue with your original choice or switch to one of the other degrees (e.g. Marine or Physical Geography).

You earn 120 credits for the year with each core module worth 20 credits.

Year two

In your second year, you will build on the knowledge from year one and start exploring more advanced concepts like biogeochemistry, marine ecology and the ocean-atmosphere system. You will gain skills and experience in sampling, data collection and analysis ready for your research dissertation in year three.

We will go on an overseas residential field course to a coastal location in Europe where you will develop your skills in environmental monitoring and surveying. In the past we’ve been to the Netherlands and Switzerland.

In the summer between year two and three, you will do five weeks of independent research to prepare for your dissertation in year three. In the past students have looked at issues relating to soil and water quality and trends in climate.

You earn 120 credits for the year. This is made up of 40 and 20 credit core modules and a choice of 20 credit optional modules.

Year three

In your final year, you will have more freedom to shape your degree and choose modules that fit with your career ambitions. You will also develop essential professional skills and knowledge that all employers are looking for.  

You earn 120 credits for the year. The core modules include your dissertation and investigating extreme environments from a biochemical perspective. For your optional modules you can choose to do a further residential field course and study a range of specialist subjects like Marine Environmental Systems or Global Climate Change.

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.

Students tecting water quality of a river
Environmental Geography students testing a lake in Wales for its water quality..

Learning and assessment

We are a friendly and informal school and you will be taught by world-leading experts involved in cutting-edge international research.

Our teaching approach is a mix of theory and practical and includes: lectures, laboratory work, fieldwork, tutorials, workshops and seminars. You will also be encouraged to learn independently and within groups throughout the course, developing a wide range of skills which will be essential for your future employment including project management and organisational skills as well as developing your competence in applying information technology and using state-of-the-art field techniques and equipment.

 

How will I be supported?

Supervision

At the start of the course you will be allocated a personal tutor who you will meet with regularly for tutorials. Tutorials are fortnightly in the first year and then monthly in year two and three. Your personal tutor will be a specialist in your chosen degree course and can offer advice on academic and personal matters. In year three you will also be allocated a supervisor for your dissertation project.

Facilities

We have a Learning Central website where you can access videos, images, presentations, lecture handouts, bibliographies, links to further reading, electronic exercises and discussion circles. Where possible, lectures will be recorded so you can watch and study in your own time.

The Learning Central website also has a ‘Personal Development Planning’ module that supports you in regularly assessing your progress and meeting your development needs.

Support services

The University offers a range of services including the Careers Service, the Counselling Service, the Disability and Dyslexia Service, the Student Support Service, alongside excellent libraries and resource centres.

Diversity

We aim to create an inclusive, supportive and welcoming environment that respects the dignity of staff and students of all ages, ethnicities, disabilities, family structures, genders, nationalities, sexual orientations, races, religious or other beliefs, and socio-economic backgrounds. Read about our commitment to the Athena SWAN principles and our Bronze status (https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/earth-ocean-sciences/about-us/equality-diversity-and-inclusivity).

    

What skills will I practise and develop?

Knowledge & Understanding:

On successful completion of the entire Programme students will be able to demonstrate the following:

  • A systematic understanding of spatial and temporal processes relating to a range of environments, including a broad critical comprehension of the inter-relationships between environmental, chemical and physical systems at a range of scales
  •  A broad understanding of environmental  resources and associated global challenges, including approaches to the governance of these
  • A systematic understanding of the multi-disciplinary nature of Environmental Geography, including its content, methods and philosophy, and an associated practical understanding of the need for integration of knowledge from cognate sciences, including those related to Earth System, ocean, atmospheric, physical and environmental sciences

Intellectual Skills:

  • On successful completion of the entire Programme students will be able to demonstrate the following :
  • Debate, interpret and explain the causes, scales and impacts of contemporary and future environmental issues whilst critically applying relevant ideas, concepts and methods
  • Collect, collate, synthesise and critically evaluate a wide variety of environmental data and information, drawing from relevant approaches in cognate areas of environmental science
  • Evaluate current research in selected aspects of environmental science, demonstrating an appreciation of the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of associated scientific understanding
  •  Work across disciplines to link knowledge and experience from allied sciences to understand a range of environments including their relationship with society

Professional Practical Skills:

On successful completion of the entire Programme students will be able to demonstrate the following:

  • Critically analyse and interpret a range of different types of data related to the environment as part of research processes to investigate a range of topical environmental issues and theoretical concepts
  • Plan, design and execute research related to the environment, critically using a range of qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analysis in field, offshore, laboratory and desk-based studies
  • Understand and apply methods used to acquire geospatial data and represent such data in appropriate cartographic and graphic formats using appropriate platforms, including GIS
  • Address research problems involving the integration and analysis of diverse and often incomplete and uncertain data using appropriate qualitative and quantitative methodologies and approaches
  • Demonstrate practical skills and competence in information technology, geographical information systems, cartographic, statistical and other analytical techniques
  • Undertake effective project management and organisational skills through independent working and team work
  • Understand and the practical limitations, logistics, safety and ethical aspects of data gathering in various environments, and apply this understanding, as appropriate to applied research

Transferable/Key Skills:

On successful completion of the entire Programme students will be able to demonstrate the following:

  • An ability to effectively communication of knowledge, ideas and arguments in a variety of formats using oral, written, and visual media to both specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • An ability to work competently individually or as part of a team in both problem-setting and problem-solving within a range of applied research environments where decision-making is complex and multi-disciplinary
  • An ability to undertake independent study and personal scholarship, fostered through enhanced personal responsibility, initiative and self-learning experiences
  •  An understanding of the skills and competencies needed to secure employment and support ongoing professional development, and be able to apply this to self-reflect, assess and articulate individual employability skills and needs

 

Student working on a mapping exercise
Student completing a mapping exercise on Caerphilly Mountain..

Careers and placements

Career prospects

With the planet under increasing pressure from climate change, over-exploitation and pollution, the knowledge and skills of an environmental geographer are in demand. An environmental geographer will play an important role in a greener, low carbon future, using their understanding of the Earth to find sustainable solutions to the challenges we face in the future.

You can choose to work in a variety of different industries and roles including conservation and environmental management, as an environmental consultant or a geospatial analyst. You will also have essential employable skills that sectors like insurance, finance, education and planning are looking for.

Some of our past students have gone on to work at the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales, local government, environmental consultancies and environmental charities.

Placements

Subject to availability, you will have the opportunity to spend your third year working in industry or in a professional setting, away from the university. This will extend the three-year BSc degree to four years and is subject to you achieving adequate marks in Year 1.

Unfortunately, we can’t guarantee that all students will secure a placement. If you don’t secure a place, you will progress directly into the final year of the three-year BSc degree programme.

Fieldwork

Our location in South Wales is perfect for studying environmental geography, as we have easy access to a huge range of natural environments, with mountains to the north and the Severn tidal estuary in the south. Naturally, we will spend some time studying these varied landscapes and training you in essential fieldwork skills, such as map-reading, landscape identification and the use of a compass.

We also take our students on several residential field trips. In the past we have explored the impacts of past glaciations on the environment of Snowdonia National Park, visited a modern glaciated landscape in the Alps, and investigated hydrology and river systems in the south of France.

All of the travel and accommodation on our field trips is paid for by the School. We will only ask you for a small contribution towards food and drink for each trip.

Students on fieldwork in the Swiss Alps
Environmental Geography students on residential fieldwork in the Swiss Alps..

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