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Environmental Sustainability Science (BSc)

Entry year

Why study this course

A distinctively-focused course based on the Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. You will explore three key areas: clean water, land degradation, and climate action.


Employment prospects

This course focuses on tackling complex global problems and will help you gain sought-after transferrable skills such as critical analysis and problem solving.


Flexible course content

Tailor your degree to suit your interests through a range of optional modules and research projects in every year of this course.


Problem-based learning

Our teaching integrates fieldwork, skills and theory, and allows you to investigate and explore your own topics guided by research experts.


Hands-on fieldwork

There are plenty of opportunities to develop your fieldwork skills with regular day trips and residential trips in the UK and overseas.


Next-generation geographers

Become a next-generation geographer with hybrid knowledge and skills in human and physical geography.

Environmental sustainability is one of the biggest challenges and most important targets of the present. We need to take urgent action for our planet and develop strategies to work towards a more sustainable future.

On our Environmental Sustainability Science course, you will explore three key areas: clean water, land degradation and climate action. We integrate fieldwork, skills and theory using problem-based learning based on real-world scenarios to help you develop sought-after transferable skills. Working across multiple disciplines, you will learn to critically analyse, discuss and debate environmental sustainability issues and offer practical solutions to complex global problems.

We make the most of our location and take regular UK and overseas fieldtrips, the cost is included in the price of the course. You will have the opportunity to conduct your own research project, which will provide valuable skills and knowledge in an area that is interesting and important to you. To support the next steps in your career, you will produce a portfolio demonstrating your progress and achievements.

This distinctively focused course explores topical environmental areas based around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. This ensures our graduates develop highly sought-after skills and knowledge in major attention areas for researchers, governments and non-government organisations.

Subject area: Earth and environmental sciences

Entry requirements

We accept a combination of A-levels and other qualifications, as well as equivalent international qualifications subject to entry requirements. Typical offers are as follows:

These grades apply to applications received before 30 June 2024. Grades required for Clearing applicants can vary and may be higher or lower. Get in touch to discuss your options.

A level

ABB-BBB (with 1 science subject) or BBB-BBC (with 2 science subjects). Acceptable science subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, Maths, Physics.

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

Our grade range covers our standard offer and contextual offer. We carefully consider the circumstances in which you've been studying (your contextual data) upon application.

  • Eligible students will be given an offer at the lower end of the advertised grade range.
  • Where there is no grade range advertised and/or where there are selection processes in place (like an interview) you may receive additional points in the selection process or be guaranteed interview/consideration.

Learn about eligible courses and how contextual data is applied.

International Baccalaureate

32-31 overall or 665 in 3 HL subjects (with 1 HL science subject) or 31-30 overall or 665-655 in 3 HL subjects (with 2 HL science subjects). Acceptable science subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, Maths, Physics.

Baccalaureate Wales

From September 2023, there will be a new qualification called the Advanced Skills Baccalaureate Wales (level 3). This qualification will replace the Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate (Welsh Baccalaureate). The qualification will continue to be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

You must have or be working towards:
- English language or Welsh language at GCSE grade C/4 or an equivalent (such as A-levels). If you require a Student visa, you must ensure your language qualification complies with UKVI requirements.
- GCSE Maths grade C/4 or equivalent qualification (subject and grade). If you are taking A-level Maths (or equivalent), GCSE Maths is not required. Core Maths may also be accepted in place of GCSE Maths.

We do not accept Critical Thinking, General Studies, Citizenship Studies, or other similar equivalent subjects.
We will accept a combination of BTEC subjects, A-levels, and other qualifications, subject to the course specific grade and subject requirements.


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.


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

PTE Academic

At least 69 overall with a minimum of 59 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 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.

Other qualifications from inside the UK


DDM-DMM in a BTEC Extended Diploma in Animal Science, Applied Science, Engineering, Health Science, ICT, or Sports and Exercise Science.

T level

Acceptance of T Levels for this programme will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Academic School. Consideration will be given to the T Level grade/subject and grades/subjects achieved at GCSE/Level 2.

Qualifications from outside the UK

See our qualification equivalences guide

Please see our admissions policies for more information about the application process.

Tuition fees for 2025 entry

Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.

Learn how we decide your fee status

Fees for home status

We are currently awaiting confirmation on tuition fees for the 2025/26 academic year.

The University reserves the right to increase tuition fees in the second and subsequent years of a course as permitted by law or Welsh Government policy. Where applicable we will notify you of any change in tuition fee by the end of June in the academic year before the one in which the fee will increase.

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

We are currently awaiting confirmation on tuition fees for the 2025/26 academic year.

Fees for island status

Learn more about the undergraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Fees for overseas status

We are currently awaiting confirmation on tuition fees for the 2025/26 academic year.

Additional costs

Fieldwork costs for core fieldwork modules are covered apart from a contribution towards food if it is provided during the trip. Cost for any optional fieldwork modules are to be paid by the student (up to capped level determined by the School).

We require you to supply your own all-over waterproofs and walking boots (with ankle supports and strong, grippy soles; not walking shoes or trainers) for field activities.


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

Living costs

We're based in one of the UK's most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.

Course structure

This is a three-year full-time degree.

The programme uses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to form three Grand (societal or global) Challenges (GCs) that are used as the focus of learning: clean water, land degradation and climate action.

Year 1: 60 credits are contained in the core Grand Challenge module on Clean Water including an independent project. There are an additional 20 credits of core modules providing Grand Challenge-related information and skills. Optional 40 credits are available from a selection of specialist modules. 

Year 2: 60 credits are contained in the core Grand Challenge module on Land Degradation and its impacts including an independent project. There is an additional core 20 credit module. Optional 40 credits are available from a selection of specialist modules. 

Year 3: 60 credits are contained in the core Grand Challenge module on Climate Action which includes your dissertation. There are an additional core 20 credits and optional 40 credits are available from a selection of specialist modules.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2025/2026 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2025.

Year one

Year two

Year three

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 investigating land degradation in Spain.

Learning and assessment

In the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, we encourage a friendly and informal approach to teaching and learning using student-staff interactions including fieldwork. You will be taught and supported by lecturers who are experts in their research field and facilitators who are experts in developing learning.

Student-centred learning opportunities are created using a variety of methods: 

  • problem-based learning (50% of this programme)
  • lectures 
  • seminars, tutorials, supervisions or other small-group formats 
  • directed self-study, reading and library use 
  • laboratory practical classes, including the use of scientific laboratories and advanced computer facilities 
  • fieldwork, both taught and self-organised 
  • a range of student-centred learning opportunities, which might include virtual learning environments, self-directed study, teamwork and work-based learning 
  • e-learning and information technology practical sessions. 

The programme emphasises your engagement with, and ownership of, your own learning programme and the development of ‘learning how to learn’ essential for a sustainable approach to lifelong learning.

We use the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to form Grand (societal or global) Challenges which are the focus of the programme. Through these Grand Challenges you will work collaboratively to address three real-world problems: clean water, land degradation and climate action.

The focus on real-world problems provides an authentic form of motivation for the work, encouraging you to build a deeper engagement with the subject with less focus on assessments. The Grand Challenges do not have any defined solution, so you will be required to define the problem and apply novel thinking to develop and contest propositions.  

The Grand Challenges break down the traditional disciplinary boundaries enabling you to actively engage with and integrate knowledge from across disciplines and perspectives. This approach provides the opportunity for you to engage in critical thinking beyond the capacity of a single discipline.

The programme uses problem-based learning (PBL) which is highly suited to collaborative and inter-disciplinary learning, likely to expand beyond subject boundaries to tackle the Grand Challenges.

PBL is all about you. You work in small tutorial groups, collaborating with your peers to engage in hands-on training and education, attending comparatively fewer lectures to a traditional lecture-based course. PBL is an active way of learning that gives you better retention of knowledge, enhances your motivation and encourages you to develop skills that are essential in a wide variety of roles.  

How will I be supported?


The Grand Challenge module in each year will provide a base for your course. You will be allocated a personal tutor who will guide you through the Grand Challenge providing academic and pastoral support. The module will also develop peer-group support networks.

As you progress through the course, academic support will be replaced with peer-group support. Pastoral staff support will continue throughout the year. The level of support that you receive will be reset each year so that you begin each new year with the same level of support as you did in the previous year.

We recognise that more support may be needed in Year 1 than in subsequent years and more support may be needed by some students. Additional staff support is available if you need it.


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.


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.


How will I be assessed?

Modules will be assessed  through:

  • practical assignments 
  • essay assignments 
  • fieldwork 
  • oral presentations 
  • dissertation 
  • formal examinations. 

Formative assessment is used widely across the School to provide feedback for you to develop learning and understanding. Formative assessment is typically used prior to summative assessment. Summative assessment is used for quality assurance and audit to demonstrate achievement at appropriate levels.

Peer assessment is also used on some assessments to help self-assessment as a vehicle for reflection. By judging the work of others, you will gain insight into your own performance.

You will receive written feedback for written coursework assignments and oral feedback for oral presentations.

What skills will I practise and develop?

Knowledge & Understanding:

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

  • A systematic understanding of the United Nations environment-related Sustainable Development Goals and specifically the underpinning targets on Clean Water, Life on Land and Climate Action.  Also, the supporting understanding of spatial and temporal environmental processes and their inter-relationships between environmental, chemical and physical systems across scales;
  • A broad understanding and knowledge of environmental resource management and specifically the global challenges of Clean Water, Life on Land and Climate Action, including approaches to their governance;
  • A systematic knowledge of the multi-disciplinary nature of environmental sustainability science, methods of scientific investigation and philosophical approaches, and a practical understanding of the need for integration of knowledge from cognate sciences, including those related to Earth System, ocean, atmospheric, physical and Geography;
  • Ability to work across environmental sustainability science to link knowledge and experience from allied sciences to understand a range of environments including their relationship with society.

Intellectual Skills:

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

  • The ability to debate, interpret and explain the causes, scales and impacts of environmental sustainability science issues and specifically the Grand Challenges of Clean Water, Life on Land and Climate Action whilst critically applying relevant ideas, concepts and methods;
  • The ability to collect, collate, synthesise and evaluate critically environmental sustainability science data and information, drawing from relevant approaches in cognate areas of Geography.

Professional Practical Skills:

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

  • Critical analysis and interpretation of different types of environmental data as part of research to investigate topical issues and theoretical concepts including Grand Challenges of Clean Water, Life on Land and Climate Action.
  • Planning, designing and executing research related to environmental sustainability science, critically using a range of qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analysis. This may be based on fieldwork, offshore or laboratory investigations or desk-based studies
  • The use and evaluation of methods to acquire geospatial data and represent such data in appropriate cartographic and graphic formats. The use of appropriate platforms, including GIS
  • The ability to conduct environmental sustainability research involving the integration and analysis of diverse and often incomplete and uncertain data using appropriate qualitative and quantitative methodologies and approaches
  • The use and evaluation of practical skills in information technology, geographical information systems, cartographic, statistical and other data analytical techniques
  • That you can conduct environmental sustainability science research safely by planning the organisation and logistics of data gathering and evaluating the risks, limitations and ethical issues of data gathering in various environments.

Transferable/Key Skills:

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

  • Effective communication of knowledge, ideas and arguments in a variety of formats using oral, written, and visual media to both specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • Working with others to achieve common tasks, taking responsibility for group and individual roles, managing resources and assess behaviours.
  • Problem definition, solution and tackling of complex often intractable Grand Challenges within a range of environmental sustainability research and specifically Clean Water, Life on Land and Climate Action
  • That you can undertake effective project management and organisational skills through independent working and teamwork
  • The ability to conduct independent study and personal scholarship, fostered through enhanced personal responsibility, initiative and self-learning experiences
  • The ability to set goals for academic work and the development of skills and competencies needed to secure employment and / or support ongoing professional development
  • Responsibility for own learning and development using reflection and feedback to analyse your own capabilities, appraise alternatives and plans and implement actions. Set criteria for and be effective in professional and interpersonal communication in a wide range of situations.



Career prospects

Typical jobs for graduates include environmental and sustainability consultancy and regulation, conservation, science writing, national government policy, environmental charities, teaching, transport planning, environmental education and environmental health. This course also provides excellent training for postgraduate study and research.

Potential employers could include local government and companies and organisations such as the Environment Agency, BAM Construct UK, Airbus and Wales and West Utilities.

Based on responses from the latest Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey 90% of our School's graduates were in employment or engaged in further study within six months of graduation, with others taking time out to travel.

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How to apply

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HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.