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Environmental Geoscience (BSc)

Entry year


Environmental Geoscience looks at how geology interacts with the natural environment, with a particular focus on geoecology, pollution and geohazards.

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Mount Teide Tenerife

Course overview

Environmental Geoscience is a degree programme that sits between the subjects of Geology and Physical Geography, having components of each. The programme focusses on the themes of Earth surface processes and materials, geochemistry, pollution and geohazards, evolution and geoecology. It will appeal to anyone interested in the way geology interacts with the natural environment.

Fieldwork is an integral part of Earth science degrees at Cardiff University, 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.

This is a degree with a strongly applied perspective that will challenge you to think holistically about subjects ranging from water quality to geological hazards, from the evolution of the biosphere to climate change and from contaminated land to sustainability.

Distinctive features

Experience all aspects of Earth Sciences and Geography in the first term before deciding which degree you wish to pursue.

Two overseas fieldtrips with travel and accommodation paid for by the School, as well as plenty of fieldwork in South Wales and the UK.

Spend approximately 65 days on fieldwork during this programme.

Choose from independent fieldwork or an industrial placement for your Year 2 summer project.

Accreditations

UCAS codeF642
Next intakeSeptember 2020
Duration3 years
ModeFull time
Typical places availableThe School typically has approx 150 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives approx 740 applications.

Enhance your employability by choosing from independent fieldwork or an industrial placement for your Year 2 summer project.

Entry requirements

ABB - BBB including one of the following STEM subjects: Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Geology, Biology, Geography, Computer Science, Environmental Science OR BBB - BBC including two of the following STEM subjects: Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Geology, Biology, Geography, Computer Science, Environmental Science. Please note that General Studies are not accepted for entry.  

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 BTEC Applied Science, Sports and Exercise Science, Health Science, Animal Science or ICT.

34-32 points or 665 in Higher Level subjects to include one STEM Science subject (Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Geology, Biology, Geography, Computer Science, Environmental Science) OR 32-30 points or 655 in Higher Level subjects to include two STEM Science subjects (Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Geology, Biology, Geography, Computer Science, Environmental Science).

Alternative qualifications may be accepted. For further information on entry requirements, see the School of Earth & Ocean Sciences admissions criteria pages.

IELTS (academic)

At least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each sub-score.

TOEFL iBT

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

PTE Academic

62 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.

You will require GCSE Maths Grade B/5 and GCSE English Language Grade C/4. 

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2020/21)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Students from outside the EU (2020/21)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Additional costs

Course specific equipment

On our fieldtrips we go out in all weathers and sometimes access rough terrain. You will need to bring warm clothing, all-over waterproofs and proper walking boots (with ankle supports and strong, grippy soles). We will provide you with specialist equipment for working in the field, such as high-visibility jackets, hard hats and compasses.

Accommodation

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

Course structure

We are currently working with our students to update and improve the content of this course. The information shown below reflects the current curriculum and is likely to change. The review of the course is expected to be completed by August 2020 and this page will be updated by end of October 2020 to reflect the changes.

This is a three-year full-time degree. Years one and two contain compulsory modules and there are some options in year three.

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

All of our 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 more specialist environmental geoscience knowledge. In total you will earn 120 credits for the year, through a mixture of 10-credit and 20-credit modules.

At the end of your first semester you will decide whether to continue with your original degree choice or choose another of our Earth science degrees.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Planet EarthEA120110 credits
Earth Surface ProcessesEA120220 credits
Dangerous EarthEA120310 credits
Geographical Information SystemsEA120410 credits
Earth Science Field SkillsEA120520 credits
Earth MaterialsEA120920 credits
Geological Maps and StructuresEA121010 credits
History of LifeEA121110 credits
Chemistry of the EnvironmentEA121210 credits

Year two

The modules in year two will provide you with a wide knowledge base and transferable skills to make you as employable as possible in a competitive job market. In total you will earn 120 credits for the year, through a portfolio of 10-credit and 20-credit modules.

The modules studied in year two range from highly 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 wider geo-environmental issues. You will be able to study topics like environmental pollution and sea level rise, or specialise in biological interaction with past and present environments.

In year two, you will begin planning your major degree project. You can choose from a range of projects or devise your own topic that relates to geoenvironmental issues. Local authorities or environmental agencies often provide our students with help or advice on their project topics.

Module titleModule codeCredits
GeophysicsEA220610 credits
Structural GeologyEA220710 credits
Sedimentology and StratigraphyEA220820 credits
Geoscience Data AnalysisEA220910 credits
PalaeoecologyEA221010 credits
Environmental Field SkillsEA221120 credits
Pedology and GeoecologyEA221210 credits
Process GeomorphologyEA221310 credits
BiogeochemistryEA221410 credits
Environmental PollutionEA221510 credits

Year three

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

The third year is made up of compulsory and optional modules, allowing you to target your own geoenvironmental interests and aspirations. The aim of this year is to bring all of your knowledge and skills together, tying together the separate strands to give a more complete and holistic understanding of the subject.

Optional third-year modules may vary from year to year and there are sometimes restrictions in availability, for example due to lack of demand or timetabling clashes.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Environmental Geoscience ProjectEA320330 credits
Environmental Geoscience FieldcourseEA320820 credits
Engineering GeologyEA322010 credits
GeohazardsEA322110 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Applied Structural GeologyEA321810 credits
Advanced Sedimentology and StratigraphyEA321910 credits
Environmental LawEA322210 credits
PalaeobiologyEA322410 credits
Evolutionary Geoecology EA322510 credits
Global GeomorphologyEA322610 credits
Marine MicrofossilsEA322710 credits
GlaciologyEA322810 credits
PalaeoclimateEA322910 credits
Environmental Management Science and PolicyEA323010 credits
Integrated Coastal ManagementEA323110 credits
Environmental Case Studies EA323210 credits
Principles of HydrogeologyEA324110 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.
Environmental Geoscience student by waterfall
Environmental Geoscience students are able to gather lots of data in the field, before using in-house software to create reports.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

The School of Earth and Ocean Sciences has an excellent tradition of 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 and classroom teaching.

The modular course structure enables the School to offer an exciting and relevant spectrum of vocational degree courses. These cover a wide range of modern geosciences from the traditional geology approach to the more industry-focused exploration and resource geology through to the equally applied environmental geoscience, environmental geography and water-borne marine geography.

The first semester is common to all degree programmes and you then confirm your chosen course in January of your first year. Thus, there is a chance to sample university teaching styles before committing to a particular degree or pathway.

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

  • formal lectures
  • laboratory practicals
  • IT practicals
  • fieldwork

Formal lectures and practical classes have the emphasis on students taking ownership of their own learning programme and ‘learning how to learn’.

Fieldwork is an integral part of Earth science degrees at Cardiff University, giving our students hands-on experience in real field situations. The fieldwork portfolio has been designed to give students the widest range of field experiences linked to classroom-based teaching.

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 see first-hand some of the environmental issues and meet students on your course.

Throughout year one you will undertake various local day trips as well as a residential field trip 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. Environmental Geoscience students currently 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, geoecology, water and the impact of past industrialisation.

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 field-based project or an independent placement project with a company. Every student will have supervision from a member of staff and depending where you are based you may also have a visit in the field.

In your final year the fieldwork programme is more research-led, focusing on interpretative skills, field techniques, teamwork projects and independent study. Again you may undertake field day trips to local areas and we currently take a residential trip to Tenerife to study the ‘whole island concept’ linking geomorphology, hazards, soils, vegetation climate and hydrology.

Year 1

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

38%

Guided independent study

62%

Placements

0%

Year 2

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

39%

Guided independent study

61%

Placements

0%

Year 3

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

35%

Guided independent study

65%

Placements

0%

How will I be supported?

All students are assigned a personal tutor who will hold timetabled tutorials: fortnightly in year one and monthly during other years. Your tutor will be knowledgeable about your degree programme and will advise you on both academic and pastoral matters.

You will have a nominated supervisor for your major final year project.

You will have access through the Learning Central website to relevant multimedia material, presentations, lecture handouts, bibliographies, further links, electronic exercises and discussion circles. Opportunities for you to reflect on your abilities and performance are available through the Learning Central ‘Personal Development Planning’ module.

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

How will I be assessed?

Modules will be assessed to test knowledge and understanding through:

  • practical assignments
  • essay assignments
  • oral presentations
  • formal examinations
  • You will receive written feedback for written coursework assignments, oral feedback for assessed presentations.

NOTE: The University welcomes applications from students with disabilities and we may be able to offer alternative assessment methods.

Assessment methods (2017/18 data)

Year 1

Written exams

59%

Practical exams

28%

Coursework

13%

Year 2

Written exams

43%

Practical exams

14%

Coursework

43%

Year 3

Written exams

39%

Practical exams

11%

Coursework

50%

What skills will I practise and develop?

Knowledge & Understanding:

Knowledge & Understanding:

On successful completion of the Programme you 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

Intellectual Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • show knowledge and understanding, subject to student module choice, on all aspects of Earth system science
  • use knowledge and scientific, evidence-based methods in data analysis, interpretation and presentation

Professional Practical Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • show practical and applied field skills covering a range of environments and circumstances and be able to place these in a spatial and temporal context
  • show practical skills in information technology and geographical information system applications, fieldwork, data collection techniques and project management

Transferable/Key Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • collect, evaluate, synthesise and interpret qualitative and quantitative data in a variety of problem-solving situations
  • communication ideas, principles and theories effectively by oral and written means
  • the ability to work effectively in a team and as an individual
  • effective time management and organisational skills
Students sampling water for testing
Students analysing water quality in the Corrwg Valley.

Careers and placements

Career prospects

92% of our graduates were in employment or further study within six months of graduation according to the latest data, with others taking time out to travel (DLHE 2016/17).

Career destinations for our environmental geoscience students include the water industry, local authority waste management, providing environmental advice in the construction industry, analysing software for surveyors, environmental consulting and pollution monitoring.

Employers included local government plus companies and organisations such as the Environment Agency, BAM Construct UK, Airbus and Wales and West Utilities.

Jobs

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

Placements

No

Fieldwork

South Wales is one of the best locations in the UK to study environmental geoscience, having a wealth of local natural and manmade geoenvironmental case studies on our doorstep. These natural locations range from the beautiful Welsh coastline up to the scenic mountains of the Brecon Beacons, including eroding sea cliffs, sand dunes, wetlands, valley slopes and past glacial erosion. With a long industrial history, South Wales also offers study sites that include landfills, heavy metal contamination, acid mine drainage, derelict land and mining subsidence.

We also travel abroad for residential fieldwork. For example, we currently visit Portugal to conduct geological mapping training and investigate its geoecology. We currently also travel to Tenerife, with its imposing volcano, to tie everything you have learnt together into a “whole island concept”, which links geomorphology, hazards, soils, vegetation, water and sustainability.

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

Portugal fieldwork location
Portugal is one of the residential fieldtrip destinations we currently offer for Environmental Geoscience students.
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