Environmental Sciences fieldwork - mountain view

Environmental sciences: fieldwork and practical skills

From lab work and UK site visits, to opportunities further afield, get the key skills that employers want.

All environmental sciences students will complete fieldwork and gain practical skills. 

This real-world experience allows you to apply your knowledge and develop the  skills which are in demand by the environmental sector.

How many hours of fieldwork will I complete?

All students complete a core fieldwork module in year two, which involves work
on our campus and local site visits.

The exact amount of time you spend on fieldwork varies between degrees and depends on your optional modules. However, whatever your course, you will complete a minimum of 30 hours of practical work in your first year.

What are the benefits?

You will gain a wide range of survey techniques and practical skills that prepare you for a career in the environmental sector.

You will also gain practical experience in laboratory sessions and fieldwork on our campus and through site visits within the UK.

You will learn how to:

  • Use GIS
  • Prepare phase 1 habitat maps
  • Identify plant species
  • Survey bat roosts
  • Identify invasive species
  • Monitor pollution levels
  • Test water quality
Environmental Sciences fieldwork - soil sample

A student doing vegetation work, with a soil sample

Opportunities abroad

As well as laboratory work and site visits in the UK, you can also choose to go further afield and attend one of our residential field courses. 

These opportunities run from July to September. They currently include:

  • Tropical Environments - based on Tioman Island of the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, you have the opportunity to study a variety of tropical ecosystems including coral reefs and mangroves.
  • Environmental Pollution - based in Barcelona, you'll get practical experience of a range of environmental pollution issues within large urban environments. You will use mobile sensors to sample particulate and gaseous air pollution and investigate contamination of soils and vegetation. 
  • Arctic Ecology - travel to Abisko in northern Sweden within the Arctic Circle and investigate the impacts of climate change on Arctic ecosystems. You will be investigating the response of vegetation to warming and measuring carbon dioxide and methane fluxes from wetlands. 
Environmental Sciences fieldwork - Sweden

Abisko field site, in Sweden, where students stay during their fieldwork

How does the assessment work?

All residential fieldwork is assessed. This may include:

  • Written coursework 
  • Habitat maps/site reports

During coursework, students will often work in groups to collect data. This is then presented as reports, maps and site assessments. 

This develops key communication, collaboration, project management and report writing skills.

What about additional costs?

We have ensured that we include practical skills and fieldwork in core and optional modules at no additional cost. In addition to this, the UK day trips/site visits are free. 

The below trips incur costs:

  • Residential courses in Europe are subsidised by the School of Biosciences. We ask students for a contribution. 
  • Malaysia field courses - cost approx £600 plus flights to Malaysia. Most students take this course as a part of our year abroad exchange with Malaysia Campus, although this isn't mandatory.
  • Environmental pollution - costs £80 plus travel to Barcelona.
  • Arctic Ecology - costs £300 plus travel to Stockholm (the train to Arbisko and accommodation costs are covered).

The legal bit

Fieldwork opportunities may change at any time for a number of reasons, including curriculum developments, changes to arrangements with hosts, travel
restrictions or other circumstances outside of the university's control. 

Every effort will be made to update this information as quickly as possible should a change occur.