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Environmental Geoscience (BSc)

  • F642

3 years (full-time) / n/a (part-time) / n/a (distance / e-Learning)

What determines the nature of the surface of the Earth, both physically and biologically, temporally and spatially, and how has mankind impacted upon it? This is the sort of question that our Environmental Geoscientists are trained to answer.

Environmental Geoscience

Set in an outstanding natural landscape but with a long and heavily polluting industrial history, South Wales offers study sites that include not only upland geomorphology and coastal environments but also landfills, heavy metal contamination, acid mine drainage, derelict land and mining subsidence making Cardiff an excellent place to study Environmental Geoscience. It is an applied degree that will challenge you to think holistically about subjects ranging from water quality to landscape evolution, from the evolution of the biosphere to climate change and from contaminated land to sustainability.

As well as fieldwork in South Wales, this scheme also has residential trips to Portugal for geological mapping training and geoecology and to the volcano of Tenerife to study “the whole island concept” linking geomorphology, hazards, soils, vegetation, water and sustainability.

Key Facts

UCAS Code F642
Duration 3 years
How to apply
Accreditation Geological Society of London
Typical places available The School admits 150 students each year to its undergraduate degree programmes, usually between 35-40 on its Environmental Geoscience programmes
Typical applications received 850
Scholarships & Bursaries
Typical A-level offer ABB
Admissions Tutors Dr Jennifer Pike
Tel Number 029 2087 4830
Email address
School website

The evolution of our present environment and its future development is a key subject for present global enquiry. It includes the problems of climate change and the effect of human activities on the environment. The BSc in Environmental Geoscience provides a basis for investigation of these key areas of current international interest. By its nature Environmental Geoscience neatly divides into two streams: an applied and a global stream. The applied stream tends to focus on pollution and contamination and provides suites of modules geared to providing you with the skills needed to identify and resolve these environmental problems. The second area focuses on global problems such as climatic change and anthropogenic effects on the planetary environment. This suite of modules provides you with the knowledge and understanding which enables you to investigate these problems.

Environmental Geoscience

Year 1

The course structure is very flexible. All Cardiff's School of 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. At the end of your first Semester you will decide whether to continue with your original degree choice or choose another of Cardiff's Earth Science degrees.

You will study the following modules:

  • The Sedimentary System
  • Life Through Time
  • Earth and Planetary System Science
  • Fieldwork
  • Earth Science Skills
  • Natural Resources and Energy
  • Formation of the British Isles
  • Dangerous Earth
  • Geological Maps, Sections and Structures
  • Environmental Chemistry and Biology

Year 2

In you will study a wide variety of modules. The modules studied in the second year range from: more ‘applied’ modules that will facilitate your understanding of site-specific geoenvironmental issues, such as contaminated land, rock engineering and geotechnics: to modules that address more ‘global’ geoenvironmental issues, providing a base for studies on subjects like climate change and sea level rise: to those specialise in biological interaction with past and present environments.

You will study the following modules:

  • Fieldwork
  • Data Acquisition and Analysis
  • Applied GIS
  • Biogeochemistry
  • Earth Surface Processes
  • Palaeoecology
  • Environmental Pollution
  • Structural Geology
  • Catchment Hydrology and Geomorphology
  • The Atmosphere System
  • Geoecology

In all these modules you will be taught the skills required for planning, executing and reporting on project work.

  • Dedicated environmental training takes place around Easter, and this addresses issues that have not been covered in previous modules. This is also an opportunity for you to start acquiring more specific skills that will be required for your own project work. For example, if you undertake a project that requires you to do geochemical analyses, you will be taught the protocols required to work in a modern state-of-the-art geochemical facility.
  • The School provides a wide range of different potential projects from which you can choose a subject that interests you. Students often choose or devise projects that relate to geoenvironmental issues close to their homes or that have impacted on their lives in the past. Often the projects are undertaken with help and advice provided by bodies such as the Local Authorities or Environmental Agency.

Year 3

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

There are a few ‘core’ modules, but the majority are optional, allowing you to target your own geoenvironmental interests and aspirations. As with the previous years, the third year consists of a mixture of taught knowledge and skills. However, in this final part of your degree, the emphasis is much more on synthesis, tying together the separate strands to give a more complete and holistic understanding of the subject.

The evolution of our present environment into the future is a key subject for global enquiry and includes the problems of climate change and the effect of human activities on the environment.

Core Modules
  • Environmental Geoscience Project
  • Environmental Geoscience Field Course
  • Global Geomprphology
  • Environmental Case Studies
Optional Modules
  • Engineering Geology
  • Palaeobiology
  • Environmental Law
  • Global Climate Change
  • Marine Microfossils
  • Integrated Coastal Management
  • Water Resources
  • Environmental Management and Policy
  • Geomicrobiology
  • Biogeography

Visit the Cardiff School of Earth and Ocean Sciences website for more information about modules and credits.

The School of Earth and Ocean Sciences has an excellent tradition of teaching in the Earth Sciences. This educational experience is enhanced by frontier earth scientists from a wide variety of disciplines, involved in national and international research programmes, teaching alongside its students as they learn. This team ensures students receive the highest quality 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.

The modular course structure enables the School to offer an exciting and relevant spectrum of vocational degree programmes. These cover a wide range of modern geosciences from the traditional geology approach to the more industry focussed exploration and resource geology through to the equally applied environmental geoscience and water borne marine geography. The first semester is common to all degree schemes and you then confirm your chosen programme in January of your first year. Thus there is a chance to sample university teaching styles before committing to a particular degree programme or pathway.

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

  • formal lectures
  • laboratory practicals
  • IT practicals
  • fieldwork – both on land and for the Marine Geography students on the sea in the School’s own research vessel too

Formal lectures and practical classes have the emphasis on students taking ownership of their own learning programme and “learning how to learn”. Fieldwork is a vital format for understanding the earth sciences and all students go on at least one residential field trip each academic year as well as numerous specialist day trips. All students are assigned a tutor who will hold timetabled tutorials: fortnightly in Year 1 and monthly during other years. Your tutor will be a specialist in your degree programme and will advice on both academic and pastoral matters.

As well as conventional BSc programmes, an optional one year industrial placement is available for some of the BSc degrees. These placements provide an opportunity for students to gain in-depth experience in a range of relevant industries. Students are supervised and visited by University staff while enjoying the experience and career enhancement that results from a ‘Year Out’. The four year MESci schemes focus on research training and critical analysis making students who take these programmes very employable in a range of professions.

Most modules will contain some element of course work so the ability to work independently is crucial. Formal unseen exams and presentations are a key component of the way you are assessed. You will also undertake group work and project work, with all students producing a substantial dissertation on a topic of their choosing in the final year.

Typical A-level Offer


At least one A-level should be a Science, Geography, Geology or Maths

Typical WBQ Offer WBQ Core will be accepted in lieu of one A level, excluding the required science Geology/Geography A level(s).
Typical Int Bacc Offer 30-32 points, including at least one Science at Higher Level
Other Applications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Please see detailed information about alternative entry requirements here

Please find here further information about admissions and selection criteria for this degree programme.

In 2010, 51% of the School of Earth and Ocean Science’s graduates were in employment within six months of graduation while a further 20% were engaged in further study, with others taking time out to travel. Employers included: local government plus companies and organisations such as the Environment Agency, BAM Construct UK, Airbus and Wales and West Utilities.

Career destinations included: water industry; local authority - waste management; environmental advisor – construction industry; software analyst, surveying; environmental consultant; pollution monitoring.

Careers case studies
Victoria Evans BSc Environmental Geoscience 2009 and MSc Applied Environmental Geology at Cardiff 2010
Victoria is currently studying for a PhD at Manchester University looking at microbial ecology and biogeochemistry of nuclear waste storage facilities, with field and laboratory work at Sellafield. Studying how radioactive waste interacts with the biosphere and how micro-organisms control the environmental behaviour of radionuclides.

Victoria says: “The School offered excellent teaching and fantastic field trips including Scotland, the Netherlands and Tenerife, along with a high level of academic flexibility, allowing me to adapt and focus my learning to meet my individual needs.”

Fieldwork is an integral part of degrees at Cardiff’s School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, 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. Specialist equipment for working in the field and at sea will be provided by the School and students will be issued with specialist equipment appropriate for their degree after enrolment.

Environmental Geoscience

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 1st Years but will also go as a cohort to the Garth mountain South Wales where you will see first-hand some of the environmental issues and get a chance to meet students on your course.

Throughout Year 1 you will undertake various local day trips as well as a residential fieldtrip to Pembrokeshire, learning field skills such as sedimentary logging, mapping and environmental analysis. Fieldwork is a major component of all degree schemes in Year 2, as an Environmental Geoscience student you will go on a residential trip to The Netherlands at the start of your 2nd year as well as undertaking an extensive fieldwork programme of day trips around South Wales focusing on geomorphology, ecology, water and the impact of industrialisation.

Between Year 2 and Year 3 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 project or an independent placement project with a company. Every student will get supervision from a member of staff and depending where you are based you may also get a visit in the field.

In your final year, Year 3 (or Year 4 for those of you that do a year in industry) the fieldwork programme is more research-led, focusing on interpretative skills, field techniques, teamwork projects and independent study. Again you will undertake field day trips to local areas and also a residential trip to Tenerife to study the 'whole island concept' linking geomorphology, hazards, soils, vegetation, water and sustainability.

Next intake: September each year

School Contact

Name: Dr Jenny Pike  




School Website:

More information

School of Earth and Ocean Sciences