International Environmental Science MSci


Fact file - 2018 entry

MSci Hons International Environmental Science
UCAS code
4 years full-time
A level offer
Required subjects
at least two science-based subjects (can include geography and/or maths; but economics and psychology not accepted)
IB score
Course location
University Park Campus
Course places
10 across BSc and MSci International Environmental Sciences


This course offers an exciting opportunity to spend part of your degree studying environmental science in Australia. 
Read full overview

We are still currently taking applications for 2018 entry

Years one, three and four will follow the same programme as the MSci 
Environmental Science.
Your second year will be spent studying at the University of Sydney, Australia, and will also include a two week course at The University of Nottingham’s Malaysia Campus, where you will study global food security.

The environment is one of the most important and exciting areas for scientific enquiry today. To understand the relationship between humans and the environment, identify and solve problems arising from damage to ecosystems and deliver a sustainable future, we need scientists with the right skills. 

Our environmental science courses offer a flexible applied science degree to enable you to understand the mechanisms and processes underlying our interactions with the natural environment. By studying a wide range of subjects encompassing the environmental aspects of geography, biology, maths and geology, you will develop your scientific understanding of the ways in which living organisms interact with their environment, and how air, soil and water pollution can be monitored, modelled and remediated.

The Masters course offers an additional year covering a theoretical and practical understanding of advanced research methods, and is particularly designed for those students wishing to pursue a research career. Particular strengths at Nottingham include soil science, environmental modelling, remediation of contaminated land, ecology and geochemistry.

Some optional modules on this degree are taught at Sutton Bonington Campus.

University of Sydney

The University of Sydney, Australia’s first university, was founded in 1850 and is regarded as one of its most prestigious. In 2016/17, it was ranked 46th and one of the top three universities in Australia in the QS World University Rankings.  The university comprises 60,000 students 29% of which are international students representing 145 countries. The campus is spread across the inner-city suburbs of Camperdown and Darlington.

Year one

In year one you will develop your understanding of key scientific principles within traditional scientific disciplines and how these are integrated and interrelated.

Year two (University of Sydney)

Your second year will be spent studying at The University of Sydney, Australia, and will also include a two-week course at The University of Nottingham’s Malaysia Campus, where you will study global food security.

You will study modules similar to those taken at Nottingham, but within the context of Australia's environment. There is a wide choice of optional modules.

Year three

Your research project is the only core module in year three. Working closely with a member of academic staff you will design and deliver your project, which can be lab, field or literature based. Recent students have given talks on their project work at undergraduate research conferences and as poster presentations to MPs in the Houses of Parliament. Recent projects include studies on:

  • carbon capture and storage
  • sustainable management of high-level nuclear waste
  • climate change in the Arctic

You can also select from a wide range of available modules.

Year four

This is an advanced research year that enables you to understand and gain a detailed and advanced knowledge of environmental science,
developing a confident, scientific approach to answering questions through theoretical analysis, the formulation of hypotheses, practical
experimentation, data analysis and communication of results. 


Entry requirements

A levels: AAB-ABB including at least two science-based subjects (can include geography and/or maths; but economics and psychology not accepted). Citizenship studies, critical thinking, general studies and leisure studies not accepted.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.0 (no less than 5.5 in any element)

If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking IELTS or equivalent.

Alternative qualifications

For details please see the alternative qualifications page 

Foundation year - a foundation year is available for this course.

Science Foundation Certificate

International students only

International students (non-EU) who do not have the required qualifications or grades to go directly onto an undergraduate degree course, may be interested in the Science Foundation Certificate delivered through The University of Nottingham International College. You are guaranteed a place on selected undergraduate courses if all progression requirements are met. 

Science with Foundation Year

Home, EU and international students

If you have achieved high grades in your A levels (or equivalent qualifications) but do not meet the current subject entry requirements for direct entry to your chosen undergraduate course, you may be interested in our one year science foundation programme. Applicants must also demonstrate good grades in previous relevant science subjects to apply. You are guaranteed a place on selected undergraduate courses if all progression requirements are met.  

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

Our modular courses are flexible and offer the opportunity to combine your main studies with modules in other subject areas (please note that all modules are subject to change). 



The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.

Typical year one modules


Global Environmental Processes
Through a two hour weekly lecture, you’ll be given a general understanding of the physical, chemical and biological development of the Earth since the start of the Universe, as well as of the cyclical movement of the major materials such as carbon and nitrogen between biological and non-biological forms.
Environmental Science and Society
This module introduces you to the role and limitations of environmental science within the context practical environmental decision making. The three themes of the module which will be illustrated through a series of environmental case studies are: 1. General scientific methods. 2. The limits and assumptions of science 3. The social context of science based decision making. You’ll have a two hour lecture each week to study for this module.
Dissertation in Environmental Science
This module will enable you to use the library and other sources to retrieve information; read, understand and synthesise primary literature; produce a 5000 word literature review within a specified word limit; develop your written presentation skills within the constraints of an editorial system and manage and organise your time.
Ecology of Natural and Managed Ecosystems

Pollinator species are hugely important for natural systems and for managed systems like agriculture, but there is concern that numbers are declining. What physical, chemical or biotic factors are limiting these species’ distribution? What other species are they in competition with? How diverse or stable is the ecological community overall? This module introduces you to the principles of ecology and looks at how organisms have evolved to interact with their environment. You’ll also cover population (such as competition and predation) and community ecology (such as the diversity and stability of communities, patterns of species richness). You’ll explore the various definitions of biodiversity and look at the loss of species and habitats, particularly in semi-natural and managed habitats such as woodland, hedgerows, meadows, and agricultural land. You’ll have lectures from current researchers in the field and the opportunity to apply your learning in the laboratory and through field visits.

Environmental Geoscience

Through lectures and practicals, the aim of this module is to provide you with basic geological skills and the capacity to understand and interpret geological information. It also aims to provide knowledge of geology in the context of environmental science. Topics covered include bulk properties of the earth, minerals, igneous rocks, sedimentary rocks, metamorphic rocks, geological time, tectonics, geological structures, map interpretation, geological hazards and resource geology.



Grassland Management

There’s more to grass than meets the eye. Grasslands are used for forage in agricultural systems but are also important as habitat for wild animals, birds and beneficial insects. In this module you’ll learn about the latest developments in grassland management, both UK and globally, and the policy issues associated with these developments. You’ll examine the morphology and physiology of forage grass species to understand the mechanisms of grass growth, production and utilisation and how these are influenced by management practices. In addition to lectures, you’ll have farm visits and computer-based tutorials so you can develop your understanding of grassland management, identify grass plants and use the latest subject-specific software to calculate a pasture budget.

The Anthropology of Human Ecology
Following an introduction to the most basic principles of social/cultural anthropology and biological ecology, the module examines the ways in which traditional societies around the world relate to their environments. You’ll spend two hours per week in lectures to cover material for this module.
Managing Tourism & the Environment: Conflict or Consensus?
In this module you’ll examine and explore: the interactions between and the management of tourism and the environment from the perspective of key stakeholders; debates surrounding the environmental and economic impacts of tourism and the role played by pressure groups in influencing tourism development. You’ll have a 90 minute lecture and spend two hours in seminars each week to study for this module.
Contemporary Agricultural Systems
Modern agriculture is a dynamic, fast-paced and high-tech industry. In this module, you’ll explore practical agricultural systems used by commercial UK farms. Designed for students with a farm or non-farming background, you’ll get to understand the fundamental concepts of agricultural systems within the context of contemporary markets, policy and research. Exact topics covered in the module will vary according to the issues affecting the agricultural industry in any one year, but examples include: dairy production, arable production, soils, agri-environmental interactions, labour and machinery management and farm business systems. You’ll have lectures from academics currently researching these fields and will visit the University Farm and external farms to see what you’ve learnt in practice.
Plant Science
In this module you’ll be introduced to plant evolution and the cellular structure of plants, in particular seeds, leaves, flowers and roots, and how these multicellular tissues are constructed. You’ll become familiar with the techniques used to study plant science, including genetics and the use of mutants. Using model plants, such as Arabidopsis, you’ll look at the development of modern plant biology and genetics and then explore the applications of biotechnology in plant science. You’ll also examine the importance of plant nutrition and how the interaction with pathogens is crucial to plant growth and production. You’ll have a mix of lectures and practical laboratory sessions to apply your learning.

Typical year two modules 

Core include:

  • The Soil Resource
  • Land and Water Ecochemistry
  • Introductory Statistical Methods
  • Contemporary Field and Lab Soil Science
  • Global Food Security (short field course at The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus)

Optional include:

  • Economic Environment of Agriculture
  • Plant Form and Function
  • Microbes in the Environment
  • Environmental GIS
  • Introductory Hydrology
  • Ecological Sustainability
  • Fluvial and Groundwater Geomorphology
  • Soil Properties and Processes
  • Agro-ecosystems in Developing countries
  • Australian Environments and Climate
  • Advanced Hydrology and Modelling

Typical year three modules


Research Project in Environmental Science 

You will undertake detailed research on a chosen topic after discussion with a supervisor. Each project will involve collection of data by means such as experiment, questionnaire or observation, as well as the analysis and interpretation of the data in the context of previous work.

Working closely with an academic supervisor, you develop and undertake a research project in your third year. You will present your results orally to your peers and in the form of a concise scientific paper.

The project encourages critical thinking and involves a detailed literature survey, data collection, analysis and interpretation. Recent projects include:

  • phytoremediation of contaminated soil
  • the effect of phosphogypsum on soil development
  • reduction of atmospheric pollutant concentrations by hedgerows
  • hazard assessment of heavy metal uptake to plants
  • ecological impacts of veterinary drugs
  • forest carbon storage and its role in mitigating CO² emission

Read BURN the Biosciences Undergraduate Research at Nottingham web pages to find out more about undergraduate research projects. BURN is a freely accessible e-journal which showcases final-year research projects undertaken by biosciences students.



Environmental Pollution Field Course

The Environmental Pollution Field Course involves one week’s field study in the Czech Republic and takes place in September between the second and third year. The aim is to provide students with practical experience of a range of environmental pollution issues in a region which was formerly one of the most polluted areas in the world. The focus is on the mining and utilisation of brown coal and the environmental impacts of these activities, past and present. On return to Nottingham, laboratory classes provide analytical data from samples collected in the field.

Arctic Ecology Field Course
The Arctic Ecology Field Course involves one week’s field study in arctic Sweden at Abisko and takes place in July between the second and third year. Under the midnight sun, students will put ecological methodology into practice in projects that analyse landscape patterns and processes. The course will also address the impact of climate change on arctic ecosystems. Students will gain practical experience in ecological methodology, experimental design, data collection and analysis, interpretation and presentation.
Biological Photography and Imaging 2
This module extends and develops your skills of creative and critical biological photography. You’ll continue to develop the practice and experience gained in Biological Photography and Imaging 1. You are encouraged to demonstrate increasing expertise in selected subject areas and/or specialist photographic techniques such as digital imaging and manipulation (using Photoshop CS software), digital video photography and editing, ecological and environmental photography, landscapes, macro and long lens photography and specialist lighting. Field and studio work continue to be essential elements of the module. You will have around 6 hours of lectures per week studying this module.
Environmental Pollutants: Fate, Impact and Remediation
This module is concerned with the behaviour and effects of pollutants in terrestrial and aquatic environments and how their impacts can be ameliorated and managed. The focus is on both the scientific understanding of environmental pollutants and on the intervention strategies currently available. Topics covered include study of the common water and soil pollutants: heavy metal contamination of land; radionuclide behaviour in the environment; persistent organic contaminants and pesticides; nitrate pollution of groundwater; pollution of surface waters by agriculture; eutrophication of lakes; acidification of soils and freshwaters; biological monitoring of rivers; ecotoxicology and environmental epidemiology; quantitative risk assessment; land reclamation, including landfill sites. You will have lectures, tutorials, a field visit and laboratory work and demonstrations.
Plants and the Light Environment

How does light cause variation in crop yields? In this module, you’ll study the influence of the light environment on the physiology of native and crop species, extending from the cellular to community level. You’ll learn how to differentiate between different light signalling pathways in plants and demonstrate how these pathways function in plants. You’ll be able to explain how light is absorbed by plants to initiate energy transfer systems and to stimulate developmental pathways of photomorphogenesis. You’ll then be able to apply your knowledge in understanding the causes of variations in crop yields and how these may be used to assist in the search for improved varieties and increased productivity in agricultural systems. You’ll have a mix of lectures, demonstrations and field trips to see what you’ve learnt in practice.

Applied Bioethics 1: Animals, Biotechnology and Society
Animal-human interactions raise some prominent ethical issues. In this module, you’ll examine the ethical dimensions concerning animal agriculture, modern biotechnologies and research in the biosciences, in relation to both humans and non-human species. You’ll learn about the ethical frameworks used to analyse specific dilemmas raised by the human use of animals. Using specific animal and biotechnology case studies, you’ll interpret the main ethical theories and principles and apply them to the case studies to inform professional decision-making. You’ll have a mix of lectures and seminars to explore these concepts.
Applied Bioethics 2: Sustainable Food Production, Biotechnology and the Environment
You’ll investigate widely accepted ethical principles and apply your insights to contemporary ethical issues in agricultural, food and environmental sciences. You’ll explore the ethical dimensions of prominent issues raised by the agricultural practices (including the use of biotechnology and GM crops) designed to meet the nutritional needs of the global population. You’ll also learn about how ethical theory can inform professional choices and public policies related to food production and environmental management. You’ll have a mix of lectures, tutorials and team-based exercises to develop a sound understanding of ethical principles.
Geobiology explores the relationship between life and the Earth's physical and chemical environment over geological/ evolutionary time. The module will focus on the geological consequences of evolution and how life has influenced physical and chemical environment. Topics covered will include: origins and evolution of life; evolution of the atmosphere and biosphere; geobiology of critical intervals and palaeobiology and evolutionary ecology.
Environmental Biotechnology
In a series of lectures, this module provides training in environmental biotechnology, with particular emphasis on the interaction between microorganisms and the environment. The main topics covered will be wastewater treatment, bioremediation of organic and inorganic pollutants, microbes as indicators of risk factors in the environment, microbes in agriculture (biocontrol and biofertilisers) and the role of microorganisms in bioenergy production.
Plants and the Soil Environment
What happens below the ground that affects the water and nutrient uptake by plants? In this module, you’ll examine the acquisition of water and nutrients by plants in both agricultural and natural systems, and how plants interact with the soil environment. You’ll learn about the evolution of root adaptations which enable plants to thrive in environments with limited or excess water and nutrients. In an agricultural setting, you’ll explore how water and nutrient uptake by plants can be used to improve crop productivity and resource management, and use the practical study component to investigate new methods and technologies for below-ground phenotyping of roots. You’ll have a mix of lectures and computer-based practicals to gain a fundamental understanding of how water and nutrients are acquired by plants from the soil environment, and their influence on plant growth and development.
Computer Modelling in Science: Applications 

The use of computer-based models has become widespread in the biological and environmental sciences. This module aims to show the range of techniques for these models using appropriate examples including pollutant transfer and fate, population dynamics, protein synthesis, molecular switches and epidemics of humans and animals. Practical work is undertaken using modelling software to illustrate key aspects of the module. The module is designed for students with relatively little mathematical or computing experience and is an ideal opportunity to develop a knowledge of applying mathematical skills in an environmental science context.


Typical year four modules 


Statistics and Experimental Design for Bioscientists
This module should give you an overall grasp of the major analytical techniques available, and how they relate to each other, as well as develop your abilities in experimental design, data analysis using appropriate software and presentation of results. You’ll have a three hour lecture each week to study for this module.
MSci Research Project in Environmental Science
This module will train you in the planning, execution and reporting of an independent advanced level research project. The module will help develop the skills associated with: planning, recording and executing an individual research project; presenting research both orally and visually to an audience of peers; writing scientific papers; effective time management and assimilating new research skills associated with a specific project.
Writing and Reviewing Research Proposals
This module aims to develop your skills in analysis and writing of research proposals. Specific areas covered include: communicating with awarding bodies (how to develop a research idea and write a grant application) and peer review of research proposals. You’ll spend around four hours per week in lectures studying for this module.
Scientific Research Methods
You will research the theory of scientific method using a range of resources including library, web-based and published literature. Lectures on project planning and management theory and lay writing style will be given.
Syndicate Exercise
This module covers the preparation of a group presentation and individual report on an environmental subject. You’ll have a one hour lecture and three hour practical each week to study for this module.

Optional - there are no optional modules studied this year.


Industry Placement year 

The optional year in industry takes place between years two and three or between years three and four of your degree, extending your degree to a five year programme. Students apply for a placement during year two or year three of the degree programme. A growing number of students across the School of Biosciences are choosing to undertake the year in industry. The majority of placements are paid positions.

A year in industry gives you the opportunity to put your learning into practice, giving you a better understanding of your studies and the chance to solidify your knowledge in an industry setting. Past students have found the experience transformative, as they were able to use science and innovation to solve problems which are current and relevant.

A year in industry gives you the opportunity to develop a wide range of skills in a real-world environment, which will significantly improve your employment prospects. A year of work experience will help you stand out from the crowd as a graduate: many students secure a graduate job as a direct result of their placement year. It’s a unique opportunity for you to learn about what you enjoy doing, and your strengths and weaknesses, putting you in a strong position when considering your future career. 

The school has excellent links with a wide range of businesses and research institutes. The dedicated School Placement Team work with you in partnership to help you search for, apply for and secure a placement, as well as supporting you prior to, during and after the placement. 

The School Placement Team will support students through the process and will advise on key issues to be aware of when undertaking a year in industry as part of a five year programme.

It’s possible to do a year in industry as part of a four year international degree programme. If you wished to do your year in industry during the third year of your degree programme, you would need to apply for your year in industry whilst studying at the University of Sydney during your second year. Depending on the company, it can be possible for the recruitment process to take place remotely, without requiring a return to the UK. The School Placement Team will support students through the process and will advise on key issues to be aware of when undertaking a year in industry as part of a five year international programme.

More information and profiles of student experiences



You will have developed understanding of the environment through taught modules, private study, laboratory classes and a range of field courses both in the UK and abroad. You will also have an awareness of the challenges to be overcome in ensuring a sustainable future, and knowledge of possible solutions to environmental problems. 

In addition to providing a solid academic and practical grounding, our emphasis is on teaching realistic and transferable skills. For example, you gain experience in writing research papers, reports, and public speaking.

Our graduates are widely regarded as being well-trained and of high quality, and are in an excellent position to obtain rewarding and well paid jobs. They are ideally suited for employment in environmental consultancies, local authorities, government agencies and industry. Careers pursued by recent graduates include:

  • Environmental consultancies
  • Agricultural and rural loss adjusters
  • Engineering consultants
  • Alternative energy companies
  • Hydrology
  • Waste recycling
  • Research degrees

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2015, 94.7% of first-degree graduates in the School of Biosciences who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £20,367.*

* Known destinations of full-time home first-degree graduates, 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.

See our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.


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

Our International Baccalaureate Diploma Excellence Scholarship is available for select students paying overseas fees who achieve 38 points or above in the International Baccalaureate Diploma. We also offer a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected countries, schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees. Find out more about scholarships, fees and finance for international students.


Key Information Sets (KIS)

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


This course includes one or more pieces of formative assessment.

How to use the data

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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