Environmental Geoscience BSc


Fact file - 2017 entry

UCAS code:F630
Qualification:BSc Hons
Type and duration:3 year UG
Qualification name:Environmental Geoscience
UCAS code
UCAS code
Environmental Geoscience | BSc Hons
3 years full-time
A level offer
Required subjects
Two science subjects (biology, chemistry, environmental science, environmental studies, geography, geology, maths, physics, or closely related subjects); plus GCSE maths, C or above. Applicants taking science A levels with a practical element of assessment are required to pass this.
IB score
32, including 5 in both science subjects at Higher Level
Course location
University Park Campus
Course places


Focusing on environmental and geological issues of societal concern, this course is unique in that it is provided in conjunction with the British Geological Survey (BGS).
Read full overview

Concerned with how we use natural resources, manage environmental change and ensure resilience to environmental hazards, geoscientists are experts on how we interact with the environment beneath our feet. They work to understand the Earth's processes and provide essential information for solving some of the 21st century's most pressing societal challenges, including managing resources, protecting the environment, and the health, safety and welfare of the public.

Run collaboratively with the world-leading British Geological Survey (BGS), which advises the UK government on all aspects of geoscience, this course is designed to help grow the next generation of environmental geoscience experts.

You'll get the opportunity to spend time at the BGS in nearby Keyworth, gaining practical experience and working with specialists who are currently conducting vital research on climate change, earth hazards and energy. You will go into the field with geoscientists from the BGS and the University.


"As a society, we need experts that are equipped to understand and deal with issues such as our energy and water resource needs.

This course combines the BGS and University's knowledge and resources in order to equip students with the skills they need to meet the environmental geoscience challenges we face today."

Professor Mike Stephenson, Director of Science and Technology, BGS

Benefiting from a vibrant learning environment with state-of-the-art facilities, including specialist laboratories dedicated to the physical and chemical analysis of sediments and water, you'll also have opportunities to travel to inspirational destinations in the UK and overseas.

Year one

Designed to ensure you have the key foundation-level knowledge required for more in-depth study in years two and three, the first year of this course includes introductions to geological, atmospheric, oceanic and ecological systems. You'll develop your practical research skills with a four-day intensive residential field course in the Lake District - a national park which covers more than 2,000km squared and contains 16 lakes (even though only one is actually called a lake, and including England's longest and deepest).

Years two and three

You'll undertake core modules in geology and research techniques in your second and third years, as well as prepare a 10,000-word dissertation based on a research topic of your choice. You will undertake fieldwork in Cyprus (one of the world's best preserved ophiolites). You'll be able to choose from a range of geoscience modules and can apply to spend the autumn semester of your second year studying abroad.

Why study at Nottingham?

As a student on this course, you will:

  • be taught by geoscientists from the University who currently working on challenges such as climate change mitigation, environmental risk assessment, contaminated land and brownfield management and geohazard evaluation
  • benefit from the expertise of staff from the British Geological Survey with opportunities to work with researchers at their nearby base in Keyworth (our Environmental Geoscience BSc programme is the only course to be run in conjunction with the world's longest established geological survey)
  • get the opportunity to take part in field trips in the UK, Cyprus, and options elsewhere including the United States
  • work closely with academic staff who are leading researchers in their specialist fields, with 75% of their research activity being rated as 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent' in the latest Research Excellence Framework
  • be part of one of the UK's top geography departments, having placed in the top 20 in the latest university guides published by The Complete University Guide, The Guardian, and The Times and Sunday Times
  • have the opportunity to undertake research at our overseas campuses in China and Malaysia
  • enjoy being based on University Park Campus which is widely regarded as one of the most attractive campuses in the country, having received the Green Flag Award - the national benchmark for parks and green spaces in England and Wales - for 13 consecutive years

Entry requirements

A levels: ABB including two science subjects from biology, chemistry, environmental science, environmental studies, geography, geology, maths, physics or closely related subjects. Applicants taking science A levels with a practical element of assessment are required to pass this.

GCSEs: Grade C or above in GCSE maths is required for all geography courses

English language requirements

IELTS: 7.0 with at least 6.0 in reading, writing, speaking and listening

Students who require extra support to meet the English language requirements for their academic course can attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education (CELE) to prepare for their future studies.

Students who pass at the required level can progress directly to their academic programme without needing to retake IELTS.

Please visit the CELE webpages for more information.

Alternative qualifications 

View the alternative qualifications page for details.

Flexible admissions policy

In recognition of our applicants’ varied experience and educational pathways, The University of Nottingham employs a flexible admissions policy. We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances. Please see the University’s admissions policies and procedures for more information.

Notes for applicants

We are looking for students who have the ability and motivation to benefit from our courses, and who will make a valued contribution to the department and the University. Candidates for full-time admission are considered on the basis of their Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) form.

All applications are considered equally on merit; students are usually selected on the basis of academic excellence and personal qualities. We do not rely on predicted grades alone but take into account the broader context of each applicant's achievements, primarily as reflected by their engagement with geography beyond studying it as an academic subject - as evidenced in their personal statement and reference.

Applicants are not routinely interviewed. If you are offered a place you will be invited to a UCAS visit day. The aim of the visit is for you to ensure that Nottingham meets your perceived needs and aspirations. In addition to a formal presentation, which provides details of the courses we offer, you will also be able to meet members of the teaching staff and, very importantly, some current undergraduates.



Typical year one modules


Careers Skills for Geographers

This module covers the following:

  • Self-marketing and CVs
  • Preparing for interviews and assessment
  • Careers for geographers
  • Subject-focused vocational talk
  • Postgraduate study (masters and PhD) 
  • Guest lectures (eg from Royal Geographical Society - Institute of British Geographers) 
  • Career planning 

Topics will be delivered by the school's Career Advisor from the Careers and Employability Service and academics from the School of Geography.

Importantly, you will be expected to make regular use of the Careers and Employability Service to assist with progress during the year and attend a range of employer presentations and other events (eg employer fairs).

Earth and Environmental Dynamics

This module integrates knowledge taken from the hydrosphere, oceans and continents to inform an understanding of global physical systems as they affect people and the environment. The module considers:

  • Hydrological cycles
  • Principles of Earth and geomorphological systems
  • Fluvial geomorphology and biogeomorphology
Foundation Mathematics

This year-long module is designed to enable students who have not taken A-level Maths to extend their knowledge to A-level standard. You will acquire knowledge and competence of core mathematical topics and gain experience of relevant quantitative aspects.

Topics include:

  • Algebra and algebraic manipulation
  • Linear algebra
  • Functions and trigonometry
  • Differential calculus
  • Integral calculus
  • Simple modelling
  • Elementary probability and statistics. 
You'll have around three hours of workshops per week to work with tutors and other students to aide your understanding of the material covered.
Geographical Field Course

A four day, intensive period of residential field study. Teaching will concentrate on the rationale and techniques of field study in both human and physical aspects of geography. Particular emphasis is placed on the design, practice and analysis of small research projects based on geographical issues.

Geographic Information Systems

The module provides you with the theoretical background and practical training to undertake basic spatial analysis within a contemporary Geographic Information System (GIS). 

It is built upon a structured set of paired theory lectures and practical sessions, supported by detailed theory topics delivered via Moodle, which contain linkages to associated textbook resources. It aims to ensure competency in the use of a contemporary GIS software package whilst developing transferable ICT skills. It also encourages you to develop the analytical skills necessary for the creation of workflows that utilise the built-in analytical functionality of a GIS to solve a spatial problem.

Specific topics covered are:

  • What is GIS?
  • Cartographic principles behind GIS
  • Spatial data models and database management systems
  • Fundamental spatial analysis
  • Presenting the results of GIS analysis
On Earth and Life

On Earth and Life explores the deep historical co-evolution of Earth and Life and emphasises uniqueness of place and historical contingency. The module leads on from and complements Physical Landscapes of Britain in exploring geological, plate tectonic and palaeoenvironmental ideas and research, but at the global scale.

It emphasises the role of life in creating past and present planetary environments, and conversely the role of environment and environmental change in the evolution and geography of life. The module also serves to prepare the ground for and contextualise several second and third year geography modules, especially Environmental Change and Patterns of Life.

Physical Landscapes of Britain

This module provides an understanding of the history and origins of the Earth and its life and landforms through consideration of the following topics:

  • Development of life over geological time
  • Environmental changes over geological time
  • Field trip to the Peak District (full costs will be suppliednearer the time of the trip)

Small group tutorials in both the autumn and spring semesters in which emphasis will be placed on discussion, essay writing and seminar presentations which will be based on topics in the qualifying year geography modules and from broader intellectual, cultural and political fields.


Typical year two modules


Dissertation Preparation

This module is taught by formal lectures, scheduled preliminary fieldwork, and supervision meetings with your dissertation tutor. It covers the following:

  • Introduction to the dissertation process and procedures 
  • What is a dissertation? 
  • Ethics, risk and safety implications when conducting geographical research 
  • Preparing a dissertation proposal 
  • Writing and presenting a dissertation
  • Evaluation of past dissertations
Mineralogy and Petrology

The aim of this module is to introduce students to the major different rock types and the principal rock-forming minerals from which they are made. The module will consider:

  • economic mineral deposits
  • hydrocarbon resources
  • environmental mineralogy, eg radioactive waste management, shale gas
  • volcanology and volcanic hazards

Specifically the module will include discussion of: major rock types and rock-forming; bulk materials; types of ore deposit, how they form, and the important ore minerals and critical metals; types of oil and gas reservoirs, traps, seals, burial diagenesis and hydrocarbon migration; environmental mineralogy and geochemistry, covering carbon capture and storage technology and radioactive waste management. The module will cover these issues theoretically and practically.

Research Tutorial

This module will cover the breadth of world-leading research being carried out in the School of Geography and is reflected in the school's research themes: Cultural and Historical Geography, Economic Worlds, Environment and Society and Geosciences. For students in Geography with Business, and Environmental Sciences content of tutorials will be restricted to meet the aims of these courses.

Sedimentology and Palaeontology

The aim of this module is to introduce you to sedimentology/sedimentary geology (the study of sediments such as sand, silt and clay and the processes that result in their deposition) and palaeontology (the study of fossils, both animal and plant, and both macroscopic and microscopic).

You will be given a comprehensive course on these subjects and how they are used scientifically and industrially together with their impact on human society and the natural environment.

Techniques in Physical Geography

This module presents the opportunity for hands-on experience of laboratory, field and surveying techniques in physical geography appropriate to the domain of interest of the participants. To achieve these aims all students participate in field projects on a residential field course, some of which are completed in the laboratory back in Nottingham, leading to an individual project.

In addition, you choose further laboratory techniques to investigate in the second semester. The ethical, safety and fieldwork limitations of geographical work are also considered.



Desert Geomorphology

This module describes the research issues and problems currently being addressed in the field of geomorphology within desert environments. The module focuses on the characteristic features of desert surfaces from around the world.

Key topics include the nature of the desert environment; sediment production by weathering processes and impact on desert landforms; the role of climate and vegetation on desert processes;contested theories of the formation of different desert surfaces; hydrology and water movement; impacts of rock weathering and aeolian processes on desert landforms. Throughout the module emphasis is placed on past and present research including experimental design.

Digital Explorers

This module provides a consideration of the following:

  • Introduction to GI science/systems/studies/services 
  • Spatial data types and sources 
  • Vector processing algorithms 
  • Raster processing algorithms
  • Spatial analysis and decision making 
  • Professional training in ArcGIS 
Environmental Change

This module considers the mechanisms for, and evidence of, global environmental change during the timescale of the Quaternary period. The nature, causes and impacts of change are evaluated in the context of the available evidence within a range of natural and human environments. 

Patterns of Life

The module focuses on patterns in the distribution of organisms in space and time, and theories proposed to explain those patterns. The main themes are:

  • biodiversity patterns 
  • island biogeography and nature conservation theory
  • ecological succession
  • biological invasions
  • extinction and mass extinctions
  • quaternary refugia and the palaeoecological record
River Processes and Dynamics

Uses lectures, and a practical experiment to deliver problem-based and student-centred learning on the links between channel processes and channel evolution in rivers. Topics covered include:

  • Spaces and timescales of river change
  • River Planforms: braided, meandering and straight
  • Morphological adjustments in unstable rivers
  • Complex responses in the fluvial system

Typical year three modules


Dissertation BSc

This is a 10,000 word individual project based on a geographical topic involving fieldwork and/or secondary data, and agreed by the candidate with their tutor and a specialist supervisor.

Environmental Geophysics and Geological Mapping (Cyprus Field Course)

Content to be confirmed.

Geological Resources and Hazards

Content to be confirmed. 



Environmental Informatics and Modelling

This module will expose you to current practices, technologies and ideas existing at the forefront of environmental modelling. The module offers an opportunity for you to experience the theory and practice associated with key developments that are occurring in major modelling domains and the most recent advances from the research community. Hands-on experience of using machine-learning software and developing data-driven models will be an integral part of the learning experience.

The module will comprise four parts. Part one is composed entirely of 1-hour lectures, with parts two-four incorporating an alternating programme of lecture and practical classes.

  1. Introduction 
  2. Modelling the Impacts of Climate Change 
  3. Modelling Biogeography 
  4. Hydroinformatics
Geospatial Technologies: Mobile, Augmented and Virtual

This module focuses on the uptake of digital geographic information across a wide range of applications in society and the research agenda that is underpinning these developments. We will explore the use of location-aware mobile devices and techniques for geo-visualisation that are visually immersive and interactive. Content is organised as follows:

Part I: Digital Geographic Information in the public domain

Here we consider how a convergence of technologies (positioning, communication and processing) has allowed digital geographic information to make an impact 'beyond the desktop' at both a global scale through the web, and at a personal scale via the mobile device. This includes virtual globes, 'open' and 'linked' geographic information, Volunteered Geographic Information (VGI), location-based services, and mobile geospatial apps.

Part II: Virtual Geographic Environments

Here we look at the role and impact of multi-dimensional geographic visualisation to support decision making, environmental impact assessment, and the communication of spatial context. This includes animation and 3D graphics, advances in data capture, urban and rural landscape visualisation, interaction design and immersion, augmented and virtual realities.

Global Climate Change

The module covers the following:

  • A review of modern climate systems and forcings
  • Climate modelling, projections of future climate change and their uncertainty
  • Controversies around climate change, the argument between believers and sceptics and the ways in which climate change is communicated to and perceived by the public 
  • The impact of climate change on the world's physical and built environments, water and food resources, and human health
  • Mitigation and adaptation to future climate change including the role played by policy markers and NGOs
Practical River Management and Restoration (Mt St Helens Field Course)

This field-based module examines river processes and dynamics within the context of human efforts to manage and restore dynamic river systems. The module is taught during a 12-day field course to the Mt St Helens National Monument in Washington State, USA and a 4-week river change detection and visualisation project that will run through the remainder of the autumn semester.

The post-1980 eruption landscape of Mt St Helens and its wider region is one of the world's most important natural laboratories for the study of severely disrupted rivers. You will enjoy a unique opportunity to gain hands-on, practical skills in river management by working in this exciting and demanding environment. The module is structured around two core questions:

  • What are the likely impacts of the Mt St Helens eruption on the region's river systems, riparian settlements and environments over the next 50 years?
  • What are the practical, management options that should be considered for mitigating these impacts?
Quarternary Environments

Sessions consist of a range of lectures and laboratory and computer based practicals. Each semester is arranged around a mixture of background lectures and practical-based teaching. Semester one covers high latitudes and palaeoecology. Semester two covers low latitudes with a Mediterranean focus.

Scale and Diversity in the Canary Islands

The module involves the study of broad-scale patterns of diversity, endemism and evolution in the Canary Islands using secondary data made available and where necessary collected by students. Independent research by student research groups supported by lectures, training sessions, research development seminars, presentation and feedback sessions, and unlimited consultations with lecturers.



The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



As a graduate from The University of Nottingham, you will be highly sought after, and by studying a degree in the School of Geography, you will acquire a broad skill set that will lay the foundations for your chosen career.

Employability is at the heart of our teaching, and we ensure that all of our degrees will equip you with the essential skills and knowledge that employers are looking for. Our comprehensive careers programme includes one-to-one CV workshops and employer talks from school alumni, as well as career networking events and a summer internship scheme.

Our graduates go on to a wide range of careers. Some graduates enter roles that have a direct correlation to their degree, including conservation and heritage protection and land surveying. Other graduates secure positions that utilise their transferable skills such as management consultancy, PR, marketing and financial roles.

Recent graduates from the School of Geography have gone on to work for organisations such as the British Geological Survey, Capita, Grant Thornton, Historic England, Network Rail, Swiss Re, Teach First, and Tesla Motors.

You will also have the opportunity to explore post-graduation routes to professional qualifications - such as becoming a Chartered Geologist - and, beyond that, working towards being a Specialist in Land Condition or being on the Register of Ground Engineering Professionals.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2015, 95% of first-degree graduates in the School of Geography who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £21,702 with the highest being £39,500.*

* Known destinations of full-time home first degree undergraduates 2014/15. Salaries are calculated based on those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Careers support and advice

Studying for a degree at The University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Take a look at our Careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.  

The University of Nottingham is the best university in the UK for graduate employment, according to the 2017 The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide.



Fees and funding

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £2,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International/EU students

The University of Nottingham provides information and advice on financing your degree and managing your finances as an international student. The International Office offers a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees.


Key Information Sets (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS)

KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.


There is assessment associated with this programme that is not attached to a specific module. In the first year, students take a non credit bearing course on building employability. Sessions cover key skills needed to find work experience and employment and evaluating personal development, while highlighting the range of support available. 

The course is assessed by the production of a Curriculum Vitae (CV) and self reflection on employability skills acquired, as well as a plan for further skills building.  

How to use the data


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This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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The Undergraduate Admissions Secretary, School of Geography   

Student Recruitment Enquiries Centre

The University of Nottingham
King's Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

t: +44 (0) 115 951 5559
w: Frequently asked questions
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