also available in 2017
A Level Requirements
see all requirements
see all requirements
Full time 3 Year(s)
Gain hands-on experience in a range of exciting modules and field trips. Discover geological mapping, atmospheric processes and study volcanology at Mount Etna in Sicily.
This flexible programme draws from a wide range of scientific disciplines to build a degree that matches your interests and career aspirations.
Covering both natural and man-made environments, core modules will explore the main factors and processes that control today’s environment; how the environment has evolved to its current state; and how environmental conditions may change in the future.
In addition, the degree draws upon the expertise of a number of our staff who specialise in Earth science such as volcanologists, geophysicists and hydrogeologists, who will deliver an exciting range of specialist topics to choose from. You will also gain access to our state-of-the-art laboratories, which offer excellent facilities for practical work.
Your first year will address many of the fundamental themes of the Earth and environmental sciences, from understanding geology to learning about the atmosphere, weather and climate.
Second and third year modules build on themes introduced in Year 1. As part of this degree, you will have an opportunity to take our popular Volcanic Processes field module at Mount Etna in Sicily. There, you will study volcanic processes and learn how the local population can manage the impacts of volcanic phenomena.
You will also apply your knowledge in a residential fieldwork module at Carrock Fells in the scenic Lake District. This week-long module allows you to engage with the environment first-hand in an informal and practical setting. Perhaps you’d like to examine glaciers and landscapes in Iceland; undertake geomorphology work in northern Spain; or study water and environmental management in Croatia. We also provide geology field modules in the UK’s Yorkshire Dales and the Isle of Mull.
Specialisation begins in the second year with the aim to introduce Earth science-focused topics and prepare you for your third year dissertation. In your second year you will be given flexibility to shape your own path and focus on a specific topic area, be it geological hazards, soil science, environmental radioactivity or glacial systems.
The third year dissertation gives you an opportunity to work on a subject that really interests you. Many students choose projects with a substantial fieldwork component, benefitting from our strong links with external organisations in the UK and abroad. Alternatively, you can conduct your research in our own state-of-the-art laboratories, or gain access to resources from other departments to enable computer-based modelling, for example. Your Earth science modules will continue to run alongside your environmental science studies.
In addition to your subject knowledge, you will gain communication and information technology skills and will become familiar with data handling and environmental sampling and analysis. Throughout your degree, considerable weight is placed upon these transferable skills by potential employers.
MSci Hons Earth and Environmental Science
During your degree, you may be able to move to our MSci Earth and Environmental Science programme which includes all the content available on this degree as well as a fourth year offering a variety of Masters level modules and enabling you to undertake an extended research project.
Earth and Environmental Science Study Abroad degrees
Broaden your horizons with our Earth and Environmental Science Study Abroad programme, available as a three-year BSc Hons or four-year MSci Hons degree. You will spend the second year of your degree studying at one of our partnering universities in North America, Australasia or Europe, allowing you the opportunity to gain experience of a different culture and society whilst studying a similar set of modules to those we offer at Lancaster. For example, some of our students benefit from studying at the University of Iceland in Reykjavik, which offers a fantastic opportunity for anyone interested in volcanic or glacial processes.
The assessment process varies across modules, but includes laboratory reports, essays, independent project reports, group presentations, multiple-choice tests and exams. Assessment is an on-going process, rather than being left solely until the end of the module. This means we are able to offer feedback to you throughout your degree and, equally as importantly, it relieves pressure on you when modules are examined at the end of each year.
We offer support in a variety of ways to ensure that you achieve your full academic potential. You’ll be assigned a student mentor to help you settle in, and you can receive help with any aspect of your degree from your academic tutor, Director of Studies, teaching coordinators and student learning advisor. We strive to inspire and encourage our future Earth and environmental scientists.
A Level ABB
Required Subjects A level grade B in one science from the following; Biology, Chemistry, Computing, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, Human Biology, Mathematics, Physics or Psychology.
GCSE Mathematics grade B, English Language grade C
IELTS 6.5 overall with at least 5.5 in each component. For other English language qualifications we accept, please see our English language requirements webpages.
International Baccalaureate 32 points overall with 16 points from the best 3 Higher Level subjects including one science subject at HL grade 6
BTEC Distinction, Distinction, Merit to include sufficient science. We require Distinctions in majority of relevant science units. Please contact the Admissions Team for further advice.
Access to HE Diploma 24 Level 3 credits at Distinction and 21 Level 3 credits at Merit in a science related subject. We require majority of Distinctions in science subjects. Please contact the Admissions Team for further advice.
We welcome applications from students with a range of alternative UK and international qualifications, including combinations of qualification. Further guidance on admission to the University, including other qualifications that we accept, frequently asked questions and information on applying, can be found on our general admissions webpages.
Contact Admissions Team + 44 (0) 1524 592028 or via firstname.lastname@example.org
Many of Lancaster's degree programmes are flexible, offering students the opportunity to cover a wide selection of subject areas to complement their main specialism. You will be able to study a range of modules, some examples of which are listed below.
This module provides an introduction to atmospheric science, giving you an understanding of the physical behaviour of the atmosphere through both meteorological theory and observation. We investigate the structure and characteristics of the atmosphere and explore the physical principles which govern its behaviour and which lead to the everyday experience of weather. We also look at the wider role of the atmosphere as an important component of the Earth's climate system.
Practical sessions give you an opportunity to take your own measurements of a wide variety of meteorological variables, to interpret weather charts and satellite images, and to investigate the scientific principles which underpin the way our atmosphere and climate system work.
This module examines the transfer and transformation of the key elements that are vital to life on planet Earth. Taking carbon as an example, we examine the budget and cycling of this element in the major surface compartments of air, water and soil, and how this links with the deeper, older compartment of the lithosphere. The impact of human activities that effectively ‘short-circuit’ the natural geochemical cycles is explored, along with the role of biota in shaping Earth systems.
This module provides an introduction to environmental processes and their impacts in a variety of different environments. We discuss the physical processes governing the Earth's global climate system and their influence on recent and future patterns of climate and environmental change. We investigate the Earth’s surface materials and the laws that govern the behaviour of fluids, and how these affect environmental flow and fluid transport processes. We also explore the processes which influence the development of soils and associated ecosystems at the land surface, including deposition and erosion processes.
This module investigates the geological processes and materials that shape our natural world. Assuming no prior knowledge of geology, you will gain valuable experience of volcanic, sedimentary and deformation processes – both theoretical and practical. You will learn to identify common rocks and minerals and describe the geological processes that formed them. Five topics are studied: minerals as building blocks of rocks; volcanism and plutonism; metamorphism; sedimentation, and deformation. This will enable you to interrogate the rock record to understand how our planet evolved in the past and how it may continue to do so in the future. This module is an ideal starting point if you are aiming for a career in the oil industry, hazard management, town planning, cartography, environmental consultancy, etc, but is aimed at anyone with a broad interest in the the way the Earth works and who is curious to know more.
The global environment and human society are now threatened by unprecedented changes resulting from human activities such as intensive agriculture and fossil fuel combustion, as well as facing natural hazards like volcanic eruptions and climatic extremes. This module introduces you to the major contemporary environmental issues and the complexities associated with researching, explaining and managing the Earth's environment. It provides a broad foundation in the skills required to contribute to future understanding and management of global environmental challenges. You will gain a clearer understanding of the connections between social, environmental and biotic processes and explore possible solutions for key environmental issues.
Floods and water pollution are common side effects of our economic development. In this module we explore how to study rainfall, groundwater, evaporation and rivers and how to use this information to solve problems in the water environment. To introduce you to the subject of hydrology we use two case studies. The first is the impact of rainforest logging on the water environment in northern Borneo. In the second case study we look at how hydrology can provide insight into the water pollution risks from a proposed radionuclide repository at Sellafield.
A fieldtrip to gauge stream-flow in White Scar Cave and a number of laboratory practical sessions will help you to relate the hydrological theory to the solution of real-world environmental problems.
This module provides an introduction to the chemistry of environmental systems for students without A-level chemistry. It focuses on the fundamental chemical behaviour of elements and compounds especially as they relate to the environment. Students will learn the basic chemical characteristics of substances and understand what is meant by a chemical reaction and why they occur.
Workshops are an important feature of the course where students will learn about atomic structure, molecular properties and instrumental chemical analysis.
Depending upon the degree programme, students who hold an A-level in chemistry do not have to take this module and as such will have a further optional module to choose from.
This module explores Earth's natural hazards, including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes and floods, using case studies from around the world. We investigate the causes and effects of such hazards, and the dangers they pose to people and infrastructure. We look at methods of monitoring, predicting and mitigating them, and consider approaches to minimizing the harm they cause.
This module is designed to give students a foundation in the numerical skills required for studying environmental science. It focuses on developing explicit links between mathematical analysis and the physical processes that govern environmental systems. Workshop sessions with members of teaching staff provide an informal atmosphere for you to refresh your mathematical knowledge, to learn how numerical skills can enrich your understanding of the environment, and to develop a scientific approach to solving a range of environmental problems. We employ environmental case studies throughout the module and analyse a number of environmental data sets.
Depending upon degree programme, students who hold an AS-level in maths do not have to take this module and as such will have a further optional module to choose from.
Following the earlier module ‘Numerical Skills I’, students will gain a more complete understanding of the numerical skills required for studying the environment. Environmental case studies will be used in a mixture of lectures and workshops where students will learn to manipulate trigonometric equations, describe the basic principles of calculus and solve simple equations. These concepts will be applied to environmental examples including radioactive decay, atmospheric pressure scale height and chemical kinetics.
This module takes you on a journey to the centre of our planet, investigating evidence for the composition and behaviour of the Earth's crust, mantle, outer core and inner core. You will gain an overview of the Earth’s 4.5 billion year history, and understand current theories which explain how plate tectonics and volcanic eruptions have shaped the Earth’s surface and influenced the atmosphere, climate and evolution of life.
Introducing the nature of biological diversity and the patterns of distribution of organisms on global, regional and ecosystem scales, students discover the underlying causes of the observed biodiversity patterns and the main current threat to biodiversity. The reasons why species become extinct is explored and then the reasons why species should be preserved. Students will be able to outline the criteria that can be used to identify species and areas of high conservation importance.
Fieldtrips take place on campus, where students will look at sampling techniques and biodiversity, and to sites of special conservation interest in the Arnside and Silverdale AONB. There will also be an excursion to Blackpool Zoo.
This module provides an introduction to the skills used by geographers to analyse problems in both human and physical geography. The module begins by reviewing the principles of cartography and recent developments in the electronic delivery of map-based information through mobile devices and web-based services. This is followed by an introduction to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) which provide facilities for the capture, storage, analysis and display of spatially-referenced information. Later in the module we introduce remote sensing and explain its relationship to GIS. We also consider quantitative and qualitative techniques of analysis (which are taught within the context of contemporary conceptual approaches), with emphasis placed on the study of both environmental and societal processes.
This module examines how the biosphere reacts to environmental change. It concentrates on the responses to changes such as increasing drought, global warming, ozone depletion, and air pollution. Emphasis is placed on understanding plants as the driving force for the effects of environment change on other organisms within terrestrial ecosystems. This will range from consideration of changes in complex natural ecosystems through to effects on humans, through changes in global food production. The module will also consider the direct effects of environmental change on human populations.
You will learn to describe the effects of global warming and pollution on plants and terrestrial ecosystems as well as the links between basic plant physiology and the consequences of environmental change. We also explore the direct and indirect effects of environmental change on human populations. You will take part in workshops that look at the effects of the environment on carbon fixation and water use, and human health and environment change.
Through lectures and workshops, students will encounter a number of different topics in the module, including the nature of aquatic systems and the properties and characterisation of substances present in natural waters, chemical weathering and clay minerals, and sorption phenomena and colloids. Students will also engage in an acid rain case study as part of the module.
Students will understand the facts and principles of the nature of aquatic systems from a chemical standpoint. They will gain the ability to explain the main processes and factors governing the chemical composition of natural waters and will develop a practical understanding of how to apply these concepts to a range of case studies. Students will be able to assess aspects of various analytical methods and analytical quality control, and will know how to carry out pH measurements and atomic absorption measurements of metals and acid-base titrations.
Through the use of fieldwork, lab work, a writing skills workshop, feedback sessions, and careers workshops, the aim of this module is to explore hydrological, geological and surveying field skills and develop students’ lab skills - specifically water chemistry analysis using samples collected in the field. Data gained throughout the module is used to develop interpretation skills of local environmental processes, specifically to assess the present and future impacts on water quality of a disused tungsten mine at Carrock Fell in the English Lake District.
By the end of the module, students will have developed their outdoor field skills, understand how to record information in a field notebook and developed their lab skills, in particular, their chemistry techniques.
The aim of this module is to introduce students to understanding the scientific method, designing experiments, and collecting data in an unbiased scientific manner, analysing it using robust statistical techniques and presenting findings in a clear and concise form. Students will be provided with the skills they will need to successfully complete their dissertation projects. They are encouraged to critically appraise information, conduct a wide range of statistical analyses and to present and critically analyse data.
Students will be able to relate the notion of the scientific method to their own scientific endeavour, and will gain the level of knowledge required to measure, describe and discuss the varieties of environmental and ecological systems in the study of natural systems.
Students will learn to design and execute experiments which distinguish effectively between variation due to experimental effects and underlying uncontrolled variation, and will also understand the application of statistical tests to analyse data, taking into account the underlying assumptions of those tests, as well as the uses of computer based statistical packages, such as SPSSx) to analyse data. Critical skills developed on this module will enable students to report their findings in a style appropriate for their audience.
This module is designed for students to learn geologic mapping and to further their understanding of geologic and geomorphologic processes, and Earth science field skills in an outdoor setting. Taught mainly as a residential course, based on the Isle of Mull in Scotland, students learn how to collect field data in order to make a single solid geologic map. Students are taught to describe, sketch, photograph and map key localities. They are taught geologic mapping skills and safety in the field. As well as gaining familiarity with one particular field area students also visit some of the oldest rocks in the UK and the rocks that formed during the opening of the Atlantic Ocean on the island of Staffa. Therefore knowledge and understanding of a wide range of geologic terrains in different geographic environments is gained as well as specific field skills.
On completing this module, students will have developed the knowledge required to apply the techniques of geologic map making, and will understand the uses of geologic maths. Students will gain the practical skills required to make scaled maps, write comprehensive field notes and plot structural data on maps, and will be able to recall key aspects of the geological history of the British Isles, from the Precambrian to the present day.
A record of Earth’s geological history – its metamorphic, igneous, sedimentary and tectonic processes, and its surface paleogeography and climate – can be extracted from the analysis and interpretation of its rocks, minerals and fossils. Expanding on an earlier module in geology, this module examines such processes and products (rocks), focusing on how to interpret the geological history from the rock record. This is a strongly practical-based course, designed to provide students with key geologic skills required to interpret the rock record. Students will develop skills in the identification of minerals in thin section, identification of rocks and fossils in hand specimen, geologic map interpretation, use of topographic and geologic maps and field note books, field sketches, compass clinometers and stratigraphic logging, in addition to a range of skills in synthesising data in order to produce overall interpretations.
Students will gain the necessary skills required to describe and classify rocks in a specimen, and identify minerals in thin section. Students will develop a working understanding of how rocks are dated, and will utilise stereonets to extract sedimentological and structural data. Additionally, students will be able to interpret geologic maps, including sedimentological and structural data, and will determine past sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic environments of formation and the processes by which deformation and exhumation occur, along with developing the ability to apply Earth science field techniques in order to unravel the geologic history of an area.
This module aims to introduce and demonstrate the nature and properties of soils in an environmental context. It will provide an introduction to soil formation, soil description (including field work), chemical and physical properties, and biology, which will lead to the application of soil science to a variety of practical problems. This module gives exciting grounding in the nature and importance of soils in context with wider environmental issues. As well as detailed knowledge of fine scale soil processes, students will learn interdisciplinary thinking that helps them connect different and complex strands of knowledge from around the earth system.
Students will be able to describe the nature and roles of soils in the environment, and will gain the level of understanding required to describe the nature and role of soils in the environment. Successful students will be able to give a basic account of soil chemical and physical properties, as well as soil biology, and will develop the ability to discuss applied aspects of soils, specifically nutrient recycling and carbon storage.
This module provides a deeper understanding of atmospheric physics and chemistry, and begins by laying the foundations with the physical properties of the atmosphere and how they affect the movement of air. A major objective is to bring familiarity with meteorological analyses and forecasts. The module covers topics varying from small scale flow in the atmospheric boundary layer affecting pollutant transport to global scale circulation of the atmosphere including important phenomena such as monsoons and El Niño.
Practical sessions and a field trip to the Hazelrigg meteorological station will enable students to gain familiarity with mid-latitude synoptic systems, cyclones and fronts. This is built on by giving students sufficient knowledge about the chemical composition of the Earth's atmosphere, of the fluxes of C, S and N to and from the atmosphere and of the main chemical processes that occur in the atmosphere to allow them to understand how the Earth's atmosphere 'works' chemically within the framework of physical process already covered.
Successful completion of this module will show evidence of students’ ability to describe the structure and behaviour of the atmosphere with reference to meteorological observations and pathways of atmospheric transport from analysis of meteorological charts, in addition to the range of skills required to draw schematic diagrams of the general tropospheric circulation, whilst identifying the major processes (and underlying forces) that drive this circulation. Students will gain knowledge of the methods necessary to calculate atmospheric quantities, such as potential temperature, and use the results of these calculations to describe the state of the atmosphere. Students will also be equipped with the level of understanding needed to list the components of the unpolluted troposphere, including the trace gases of chemical significance, and draw annotated schematic diagrams of the atmospheric cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and sulphur.
The module aims to introduce concepts, plus measurement and analytical techniques used by professional hydrologists to solve water-related problems in catchments (notably flood forecasting and water quality remediation). Through a series of lectures and workshops, students can expect to study topics including the processes, measurement and analysis of rainfall, evapotranspiration and water quality measurement and treatment.
The module aims to develop higher level scientific skills in measuring the natural environment, quantifying dynamic processes numerically and digesting scientific literature. Students will gain the skillset required to describe catchment hydrological processes in a quantitative manner, therefore utilising a developed understanding of fundamental hydrological processes, their field measurement ('hydrometry') and basic aspects of dynamic catchment modelling. Additionally, students will gain a range of transferrable academic skills, such as the ability to use data and basic models to derive solutions, and applying subject-specific literature to help understand theory and limitations of theory, measurements and models.
As a result of increasing energy demand, concerns regarding security of supply and the need to de-carbonise energy supplies to mitigate climate change, sustainable energy provisioning is one of the critical challenges society faces. This course provides an overview of energy technologies and the energy system within the UK. Following an introduction on why energy is important, the forms of energy and how it is used, the course focuses on each of the key energy technologies in turn. The specifics of each energy technology including how it works, how much is produced, economics, environmental impacts and its current role in the energy mix will be outlined. Energy distribution networks, overall policy drivers and future energy mixes will also be detailed. The module comprises lecture, workshop and field trip-based learning and will be assessed by two coursework submissions and an exam.
This module provides students with scientific numeracy skills going beyond the use of spreadsheets. It focuses on data pre-processing and QA, processing and visualization, mainly for use with dissertation work which provides the focus and immediate motivation. Students will discover introductory elements of Matlab and Simulink, currently a de facto visualisation and numerical processing standard. Some comparisons to other programming languages, in particular Fortran and C, are provided. The main programming elements are introduced and used in examples: data input, processing, output in numerical and graphical forms, programming tools and structures (loops, conditional statements and other flow control). Additionally, the module introduces selected principles of dynamic systems modelling applied to environmental systems in the form of worked examples and case studies.
Among the range of skills developed when completing this module, students will gain the ability to communicate with programming professionals on a basic level. Students will develop practical understanding of how to solve basic data processing problems using MATLAB or other programming languages, and will gain the necessary skills needed to use a sophisticated, programmable data presentation and visualisation tool. Additionally, students will learn to recognise the fundamental features of computer programming languages, and will be able to devise, modify, run and debug simple MATLAB programs, with the potential to use MATLAB as a comprehensive programming language.
Eco-innovation, being the development of new products, processes or services that support business growth with a positive environmental impact, is one of the key enabling instruments identified by the European Union for the transition to a more resource efficient economy. It is embedded in the Europe 2020 strategy for supporting sustainable growth. This module will provide several case studies which outline the way in which businesses have applied eco-innovation in practice Students will gain knowledge of the key approaches to, and models of, eco-innovation in a range of business and policy contexts in addition to a reinforced understanding of how innovative ideas can be turned into practical solutions for complex socio-environmental problems, and how different business models and financing approaches can be used to make the solution commercially viable and potentially profitable.
Students will gain knowledge of eco-innovation and understand how the concept relates to business opportunities for environmental goods and services. In addition, students will gain the knowledge and skillset required to analyse how both small businesses and large global organisations apply eco-innovation into their business planning, whilst
Evaluating business opportunities related to the environment in the context of products and services to address flooding or other complex problems. Students will learn how to create proposals for eco-innovation, and prepare presentations for a panel of experts, and will develop the necessary level of understanding required to analyse technical, financial, and environmental information from a wide range of sources in order to comprehend and evaluate strategies to address complex environment-society problems and challenges.
As a field course designed to complement other second year modules, this module provides hands on experience giving students the opportunity to apply a number of concepts and test the theories being addressed in those modules. This module will take the research approaches and techniques that are dealt with in a classroom and laboratory setting and will translate them into the field context, which therefore reinforces learning in the thematic areas of environmental subjects and the development of generic research skills, and, importantly, provides a coherent link between the two.
Students will develop the ability to demonstrate detailed insights into aspects of the physical, biological and anthropogenic characteristics of Mediterranean environments, and will gain an appreciation for the range of different approaches to solving environmental research problems. Additionally, the module will provide an enhanced understanding of the value of field observations in formulating research questions and hypotheses, and students will learn to combine key theoretical concepts together with generic research skills in order to design and implement a coherent scientific investigation.
Recent emphasis on global change and biodiversity has raised awareness of the importance of species and their interactions in determining how sustainable our lifestyle is. This module explores the factors that drive population and community dynamics, with a strong focus on multi-trophic interactions and terrestrial ecosystems.
Students will be introduced to population ecology and will discover the abiotic factors that regulate populations, life history strategies of populations, competitive interactions within populations, and meta-population dynamics, in addition to an understanding of how species interact both within and across trophic levels. The module exposes students to the belowground system and will look at how the species interactions and soil communities discussed impact on community structure and dynamics. The module aims to give students a fundamental understanding of ecology - such knowledge is essential for informing conservation and sustainable land-use practices, and efforts to mitigate climate change.
In order to complete this module, students will develop the ability to outline the primary factors that drive population dynamics, whilst critically discussing examples, and will reinforce their understanding of the implications of species interactions for community dynamics. Students will also gain a critical awareness of biotic responses and their contribution to climate change.
This module aims to provide students with broad understanding of the discipline of conservation biology. The module starts by defining biodiversity, discussing its distribution in space and time, and its value to humankind, before examining the key anthropogenic threats driving recent enhanced rates of biodiversity loss. The module then focuses on the challenges for conservation of biodiversity at several levels of the biological hierarchy: genes, species, communities and ecosystems, and the techniques used by conservationists at these levels. The final part of the module looks at the practice of conservation through discussion of prioritisation, reserve design and national and international conservation policy and regulation.
Students will develop a range of skills including the ability to discuss the principle threats to global biodiversity and the rationale for biodiversity conservation, in addition to application of a range of metrics to quantify biodiversity. Students will gain a critical understanding of the various approaches to conserving genetic, species and ecosystem diversity, as well as an enhanced knowledge of quantification of popularisation approaches to prioritisation of conservation goals, and how nature reserves can be designed to improve conservation potential.
The dissertation project is an individual and individually supervised extensive project ending in submission of a substantial dissertation report. Students will choose from a set of dissertation research areas or topics based on a LEC-wide list compiled by the module conveyor. There will be regular meetings with dissertation supervisor, and students will develop a specific dissertation topic, along with research questions, aims, objectives and methods. This will be followed by a period of background reading, discussion and planning, before their dissertation drafts are analysed, marked and a final draft of up to 10,000 is submitted in week 11 of the term.
Students must take active involvement in the module and make good use of interaction with the supervisor in order to deepen their subject specific knowledge and ability to work independently. Depending on the discipline, style and topic, students may focus on methods, field techniques, lab techniques, or a combination of computer and software tools.
You will have the option of taking either a Dissertation or a Dissertation with External Partner. However, please note that students taking a Study Abroad year must take the Dissertation option.
The placement dissertation provides you with experience of the workplace in a context that is relevant to your academic study. It enables you to take your academic knowledge and to experience at first hand how it can be applied in the workplace. You will also get to see how the requirements of a particular organisation influence the interpretation and implementation of academic knowledge. The placement thus provides a unique opportunity to study the ways in which the academic and commercial worlds intersect and to appreciate both the opportunities and constraints involved in applying geographical, environmental and biological knowledge in a real-world context. The experience will both enhance your academic knowledge and understanding and improve your employability in sectors relevant to your degree.
You will have the option of taking either a Dissertation or a Dissertation with External Partner. However, please note that students taking a Study Abroad year may not take this option, as the work placement element would clash with the year abroad.
This module introduces the underpinning aspects of geophysical and remote sensing techniques used to investigate the Earth's surface and near surface. The techniques covered are illustrated by case studies demonstrating their advantages and limitations, for example, for the investigation of contaminated sites and sites suitable for exploitation (e.g. for minerals or for hydrothermal energy) and for monitoring hazardous regions such as volcanoes. The module delivers a synoptic view of active and passive techniques, seismic, gravity, magnetic, radar and electrical methods for sub-surface characterisation and GPS, radar and laser techniques for surface measurements. The techniques are linked through developing an understanding of measurements in terms of both spatial and temporal coverage and resolution.
Students will develop a range of skills necessary to describe the range of applications of geophysical measurements, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different geophysical and remote sensing techniques. Students will gain the practical experience required to assess appropriate measurement strategies for specific environmental problems and identify sources of geophysical measurement error. Additionally, students will be able to relate different geophysical measurements in terms of spatial and temporal coverage and resolution.
This module builds on students’ current knowledge to develop a deeper understanding of the Earth's internal structure and dynamics, and interactions between surface and deep processes. Evidence from a variety of geophysical techniques is evaluated, including the rapidly developing field of seismic tomography, which produces fuzzy images of thermal and compositional anomalies such as mantle plumes and subducted lithospheric plates. Students will read a variety of journal articles as a basis for discussion of current theories and controversies about how the Earth works.
By completing this module, students will demonstrate a good understanding of the principles behind, and applications of, a variety of geophysical techniques in addition to an enhanced ability to compare, contrast and synthesise different types of evidence about how the Earth works. Students will also gain the necessary level of knowledge to be able to discuss and distinguish current theories and debates, such as the mantle plume controversy, and will learn to apply stereonets to determine earthquake focal mechanisms.
This module explores climate change in the context of it being a ‘wicked problem’. The aim is to provoke students to look beyond the simple narratives pushed at us about climate change and to start to think critically as wicked problems require us to do. In doing so, students are invariably forced to abandon often naive assumptions about what can and can't be done to tackle climate related risks. Despite understanding climate change from the perspective of wicked, problems often lead to a sense of powerlessness.
This module employs debate and discussion as its primary learning devices. As a result, students will be expected to actively participate in debate, holding and developing their line of argument both in small groups and in class wide discussions and debates. The module also employs a group structure and activities to engender team working skills. Practical decision making is a theme running through the module supported by approximate quantitative analysis.
By the end of this module, students will recognise the role of societal and climate dynamics in climate change management, and will gain the necessary knowledge required to comprehend the basis of sustainable development arguments in the context of climate change management to be able to perform simple, yet meaningful evaluation of a range of climate related options. Further skills which can be gained from this module include the ability to distinguish the relative positions of adaptation, mitigation and geoengineering and to be able to argue between various options within each.
This module is designed to provide students with a critical understanding of the key concepts of coastal systems and their properties. Students will develop specialist knowledge of key coastal processes and their interaction, and will gain an appreciation for the interaction of natural processes and human intervention at the coast. The module will promote an understanding of the human and natural pressures acting on these systems and challenges facing future coastal management, and students will learn to evaluate different theories and models describing coastal processes and coastal behaviour. By gaining experience in synthesising theories, models and evidence from field measurements, students will be able to explain complex coastal systems and in applying these for solution of coastal management problems.
Students will gain knowledge in waves, currents and sediment transport, and their role in shaping the coastal environment. They will develop the ability to evaluate theories and models describing coastal processes and coastal behaviour, and will learn to synthesise theories, models, and evidence in order to explain coastal systems.
In this module, students will be shown how, through manipulation of species, communities and ecosystems, habitats can be managed in a sustainable way that preserves and enhances their aesthetic, scientific, recreational, and often utilitarian, value. The creation of new habitats will be considered, as well as management of existing areas of conservation interest. The module is largely taught by external lecturers who are directly involved in the application of ecological principles to practical problems.
Students will develop the level of ability required to describe the nature of selected habitat types, as well as explaining a series of underlying ecological processes which necessitate management. Students will also be able to identify the techniques used for conservation management specific to a range of habitat types, in addition to reinforcing a range of transferrable skills, such as the ability to present scientific data clearly and concisely, in both written and oral format. Students will learn to work autonomously as well as being involved in group work.
Information for this module is currently unavailable.
By illustrating the increasing importance of remotely-sensed data and how it extends our understanding of environmental processes, this module aims to provide students with an appreciation for the principles on which remote sensing systems operate and how we can derive useful environmental information from remotely sensed data. Students are required to compare the information provided by remote sensing to that from other means of sampling.
Essentially, the module will provide an introduction to the physical basis of remote sensing, electromagnetic radiation and its interactions with the Earth’s atmosphere and surface and the sensors and systems which are used to acquire data. Students will learn to recognise the increasing importance of remotely-sensed data in extending our knowledge of environmental processes, and will gain practical knowledge in a range of image processing techniques or remotely sensed imagery.
This module focuses on the phenotypic and genetic responses of organisms to their environment, and how a fundamental understanding of the principles of evolution and ecology can help us to explain many important biological phenomena. The module will address a number of recent advances in our understanding of ecology and evolutionary biology, and will serve as an introduction to different methods for conducting cutting edge science. Students will gain the ability to synthesise information from a range of sources and to present it in a balanced and coherent way.
This module will use a combination of lectures and workshops to examine a range of topical areas in ecology and evolutionary biology. Specifically, students will develop the ability to explain the fundamental principles underpinning ecology and evolutionary biology, and will gain confidence in constructing detailed arguments supporting or contradicting key issues in evolution and biology. Students will be encouraged in developing their own ability to analyse and assess complex topics in this area, therefore demonstrating their own expertise in problem solving. The module will present a wide range of primary literature, and will expect students to synthesise information from a variety of sources, and present their findings to their peers.
The module will be taught by a range of staff within the Biodiversity Theme and beyond, including individuals with specific expertise in the key topics covered, in order to tackle a number of contemporary and important issues in ecology and evolutionary biology. Students are prompted to think about the ‘bigger picture’ and to synthesise disparate sources of information in order to provide a balanced and unbiased summary of the issues. An emphasis will be placed on understanding and applying the scientific method to contentious areas in the field.
This module takes a broad look at geological hazards, covering contemporary events, to those that have shaped the Earth over geological time. Specific hazards are addressed, including earthquakes and tsunamis, terrestrial and sub-marine landslides at a variety of differing scales, landslide triggering and principles of run-out, volcanic hazards (eruption styles, plumes and pyroclastic flows) and extreme events which civilisation has yet to witness.
The module explores in depth the fundamental processes involved, and to what extent events can be predicted. Case histories of national and international disasters will be used to illustrate these hazards, with the inherent risks and potential mitigation measures discussed. The module develops a sense of human-place in the geological world, promoting an understanding of how the geological world impacts human society, and what can be done to limit that impact.
Students will be able to describe and explain the processes responsible for the occurrence, recurrence and magnitude of geological hazards, and will gain the knowledge needed to evaluate hazard prediction methods. Additionally, students will gain a critical understanding of risk mitigation strategies, with reference to examples from around the world, and will gain the practical knowledge required to apply simple principles of analysis of slope failure using a variety of natural hazard situations. Students will also be able to demonstrate how simple probabilistic models may be applied to forecasting earthquakes, and discuss the uncertainties inherent in these techniques.
This module will give you an insight into the physical dynamics and ecological interactions within glacial systems. We begin with the concept of mass and surface energy balance, determining when and where snow and ice melt may occur. This determines how water flows through a glacier and introduces the concept of hydrological regime. We then study the implications that this has for glacial dynamics and the legacy of past glacial systems in the environment. Where ice sheets and glaciers overlie active volcanic systems there is currently very little understanding of how the two forces interact - does volcanic activity control glacier behaviour or is it the other way round? We introduce the concept of studying glaciers as ecosystems, rather than just physical systems in the landscape, and discuss recent advances in glacier hydrochemistry in the context of climatic change.
Students taking this module will reinforce a number of field skills, including field observation and recording. The module provides first-hand experience of glacial process and their impacts on and interactions with the dynamic tectonic landscape of Iceland. The module’s range of topics will include the ways in which glaciers interact with the surrounding landscape. This will involve observation, recording and understanding of geomorphological features and ice-volcanic interactions. Much of the learning will be of a practical nature, involving development of field observation and recording skills, mapping of geomorphological features in the landscape, logging of snowpack properties, observation and recording of glacial sedimentary features and properties.
The module provides a range of transferrable skills such as the ability to collect field data, and process and interpret the results. Students will effectively deploy practical, quantitative, communication and team work skills, and will learn to demonstrate an appreciation for the subject of glaciology and an enthusiasm for the study of physical geography based on first-hand experience of observing glacier landscape interactions within the field environment. Additionally, students will develop an appreciation for the fundamental principles of glaciology and understand how glaciers fit into the broader study of the physical environment, as well as gaining the ability to demonstrate an appreciation for the enquiry-based approach to learning in the field environment and understand how this can be used across disciplines and in the development of dissertation research questions.
The module will require students to make accurate recordings of field observations and data, integrate these with available published information, and present data and interpretations to their peer group and lecturers; whilst doing so, they will demonstrate independent, critical thinking, fostered through an approach of problem based learning. Among other knowledge, the module will provide an understanding of how glaciers operate and interact with the surrounding landscape, as well as the influence of volcanic activity on glacier dynamics.
The aim of this module is to introduce the concept of the Earth system and how the different components interact with each other to shape the Earth's climate and control how the climate might change. The module begins with underlying concepts that shape the Earth's, before considering natural and human drivers of climate change, including volcanoes, solar output, greenhouse gases and land use change. In addition, it will also introduce the computer models and global observation networks that scientists use to understand the Earth system as well as the IPCC process.
This module provides students with an introduction to the physical processes which influence global climate change, leading to a better understanding of Earth system science and give them a clear understanding of the Earth system and the human impacts on it, and how scientists investigate this area with Earth system model.
Students will gain the level of experience and knowledge necessary to demonstrate subject specific skills, such as how to calculate a global 2-compartment radiative budget, along with an understanding of the major parts of the Earth system and how they interact. Students will develop the communication skills required to describe what an Earth system model is, and will be able to explain pollutant sources and sinks.
This module will examine how biological understanding can contribute to “global change solutions” in respect to a number of key issues, including food production, biofuels and the continuing protection of the ozone layer. However, it will also place that biological understanding in its wider context, not least by considering how the same fundamental information on specific biological approaches can lead to diametrically opposed positions on the utility and desirability of actually using the biology (e.g. the debate around GM crops).
Students will examine how different interpretations of biological technology relate to the underlying biology, and will additionally benefit from a workshop that will consider the needs of “science communication” beyond the scientific community. The module will not only provide a detailed understanding of a range of “global change solutions”, it will also consider how biology is used (and abused?) in assessing climate change and the possible responses and solutions.
Successful students will be able to describe the biology of a range of examples of both responses to global change, and possible biology-based solutions to ameliorate those responses, and recognise the wider context of the underlying biology of global change effects and/or solutions, for example in policy or the practical deployment of new technologies. Students will develop their critical skills, enabling them to evaluate the biological evidence in relation to global change effects and solutions, and assess how such evidence is used to support sometimes diametrically opposed views specific issues. This module will enhance students’ ability to write effective, concise, accurate summaries of complex biological topics in styles appropriate for different audiences, e.g. the scientific community, policy makers or the general public.
Groundwater is the largest freshwater reservoir on the planet. It feeds rivers and oceans, and in many parts of the world, including regions of the UK, it is the main, or only, source of freshwater. This module discusses aquifers and studies the role of the unsaturated zone in hydrogeology. Students will be introduced to the Darcian flow mathematical models of groundwater flow, and will gain an awareness of the tools and techniques available for groundwater investigation.
Students will develop an appreciation for the critical role that soil water plays in sustaining vegetation. For example, it can influence the structural properties of the ground. The module also introduces concepts of groundwater transport, and highlights the linkage between rivers and aquifers. It will address the modelling tools required for groundwater applications, and practical examples such as a field visit are used to support the material covered in lectures.
This course is based at the Slapton Ley Field Studies Centre, South Devon in the summer and centres on a study of the hydrological processes governing nitrate eutrophication of Slapton Ley, a coastal freshwater lake of ecological significance. The course offers a unique opportunity to examine an actual environmental problem - eutrophication - through the integration of field measurements and laboratory analysis. Field measurements, in small groups, will combine qualitative observations with borehole hydraulic testing and some geophysics. Laboratory analysis will include contaminant breakthrough experiments, soil physical properties, nitrate chemistry and topography-based simulation modelling. Your understanding of the nitrate remediation measures will be reinforced through a field visit on 'Catchment Sensitive Farming' led by Natural England staff.
Join a discussion and debate where you are encouraged to critically examine primary literature and ideas on topical issues in conservation biology in the UK and globally. Gain an understanding of the key factors that constrain conservation and of the interdisciplinary nature of conservation problems in the real world.
The three cornerstones of this module are a) understanding the sources, impacts of dispersal of particulate pollution, particularly from fossil fuel burning, b) interpreting climate change proxies, over the last 0.5 million years preserved in sediments with a focus on cold climates, and dust, and c) quantifying sediment tracing and sediment transfer mechanisms in modern catchment systems, for help in land management.
The main focus is on how we use magnetic minerals in the environment to address these three core problems, but we also consider additional supporting datasets. The coursework is based around an evaluation of sediment transfer in a Lake District catchment, using data from a one-day fieldtrip to the area, together with statistical analysis of a magnetic dataset from the catchment soils and the ultimate lake-sink for the catchment sediment.
The Quaternary geological period has been a time of enormous environmental changes, on both a global and a local scale. The most obvious is the growth and decay of ice sheets in mid-latitudes, but this went hand in hand with many other changes throughout the globe. This module considers the big picture of global change in terms of six great interlinked themes of environmental change during the Quaternary: the growth and decay of ice sheets, the changing level of the sea, changes in atmospheric and oceanic circulation, terrestrial biological changes, human influences and the engine of the ice ages.
Students will learn the dramatic environmental and climatic changes which have occurred at global and regional scales over the Quaternary, and will gain the ability to summarise the possible drivers, both natural and anthropogenic, of such changes, as well as explain the techniques and resultant datasets that inform us of these changes. Additionally, they will illustrate the complex and non-linear nature of the Earth system responses to Milankovitch forcing, outlining the ramifications for our understanding and prediction of present and future climatic and environmental change. The module will also describe the paradigm shifts that have occurred over the last few decades in Quaternary science and will require students to correlate and interpret palaeoclimatic data, globally and regionally.
Radioactive contamination of our environment causes levels of concern unlike almost any other pollutant. In this module, students learn about the mechanisms by which radiation damages the body and the systems by which we measure and control exposure to radiation. They will then study the sources of naturally occurring radioactivity and radioactive contaminants to the environment and their behaviour in the environment, in order to better understand how people can become exposed. Students will develop their understanding and evaluation to the risk to human populations of accidents, such as Chernobyl and Fukushima.
Through the study of specific radiation-related case studies, students develop their understanding of risk in a wider context, thus being able to contribute more thoughtfully to nuclear-related debates in society. Students will practice and develop their numerical skills, through the determination of radioactive decay. Laboratory classes will be used to demonstrate concepts addressed in lectures, and students will be encouraged to put the data generated into the wider context.
By completing this module, students will demonstrate an ability to identify the sources of natural and artificial radionuclides in the environment, and explain the main processes by which radionuclides are distributed through the environment, illustrating them with examples. Practical experience will enable students to apply the principles of dose assessment to determine the impact of environmental exposure to radioactivity, whilst development of critical skills will allow students to evaluate the consequences of nuclear accidents.
This module expects students to apply a range of skills already developed in previous modules Geology, Natural Hazards, Geoscience in Practice and Geological Hazards. It allows students to improve their theoretical and practical knowledge of volcanic processes by studying the evolution of a basaltic volcano. Students will explore a wide range of the complex physical volcanic processes that take place both on the surface and beneath volcanoes, including lava flow emplacement, intrusive and explosive events. This problem-based learning module covers two levels of problems: the higher-level problem (e.g. understanding the plumbing system of a complex volcano or the role of ‘volcano spreading’ or slope instability in the evolution of volcanoes) will occupy the entire module. Lower level problems will be solved at a number of key localities where students will be expected to unravel the processes involved.
On completion of this module, students will express the ability to systematically observe and interpret field evidence for emplacement processes of volcanic rocks, along with gaining the knowledge required to describe the intrusive, effusive and explosive processes that take place during volcanic eruptions. Students will also demonstrate the ability to recognise the role of regional tectonics, gravitational deformation of the volcano and major slope instabilities on the evolution of basaltic volcanoes. The module will also prepare students with the level of practical knowledge necessary to explain the problems of dealing with volcanic hazards on heavily populated active volcanoes.
Water is fundamental to life and is therefore a critical natural resource for human society and for all ecosystems. Employers of graduates from a wide range of environment-orientated degrees increasingly value understanding of the frameworks and technologies through which water resources can be conserved and restored, alongside the interactions between water and other natural resources such as land. This module focuses on providing this understanding, drawing on a wide range of real-world examples from the UK water sector. Students will cover the major UK and European regulatory frameworks that currently drive water resource management, the technologies available to treat wastewater, the approaches used to assess chemical and biological water quality, and the links between agricultural and urban development and water quality. This learning will be reinforced by field visits to wastewater treatment works, and by practical work dealing with datasets collected by the Environment Agency of England and Wales.
Over the duration of the module, students will be required to apply standard Environment Agency statistical procedures to assess chemical water quality, along with applying standard Environment Agency procedures to evaluate biological water quality. The module will enhance students’ ability to identify the strategies for assessing and managing water quality in the UK, and they will be able to derive simple dilution models to describe pollutant concentrations in river networks. Finally, students will gain the knowledge required to be able to explain and describe the fundamentals of water treatment processes.
Students undertaking this module will learn about the human and physical aspects of the Mediterranean environment. The module will focus on the distribution, allocation and use of water, whilst exploring the ways in which land use or land management affect the water environment.
Students will learn about the physical constraints on water availability whilst analysing the role of government institutions and private companies in developing and managing water for a range of purposes.
By participating in a four-day field course, students will have the opportunity to experience the distinctive environmental, cultural and socioeconomic nature of the Istrian peninsula. Generally, the module is designed to develop students' independent and group-based skills and enhance their knowledge related to water, particularly in the Mediterranean environment.
Lancaster University offers a range of programmes, some of which follow a structured study programme, and others which offer the chance for you to devise a more flexible programme. We divide academic study into two sections - Part 1 (Year 1) and Part 2 (Year 2, 3 and sometimes 4). For most programmes Part 1 requires you to study 120 credits spread over at least three modules which, depending upon your programme, will be drawn from one, two or three different academic subjects. A higher degree of specialisation then develops in subsequent years. For more information about our teaching methods at Lancaster visit our Teaching and Learning section.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, but changes may be necessary, for example as a result of student feedback, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes, and new research.
Our programmes maintain an excellent record for graduate prospects spanning a wide range of roles including Environmental Consultant, Weather Forecaster at the Met Office, and Specialist Environmental Advisor. Alternatively, many of our graduates continue their studies to postgraduate level. Our goal is to empower all our graduates with the skills, confidence and experience they need to achieve a successful career. You will be offered a wide range of support, helping you realise your career ambitions and providing you with the skills to reach your full potential.
We offer a variety of extra-curricular activities and volunteering opportunities that enable you to explore your interests and enhance your CV. Our weekly careers bulletin and careers blogs are written by student volunteers, and inform you of all careers events. The Students’ Union-run Green Lancaster programme offers placements with external organisations, allowing students to gain volunteering experience at weekends by working in the local community, taking part in a wide range of activities and developing their practical skills.
Lancaster University is dedicated to ensuring you not only gain a highly reputable degree, you also graduate with the relevant life and work based skills. We are unique in that every student is eligible to participate in The Lancaster Award which offers you the opportunity to complete key activities such as work experience, employability/career development, campus community and social development. Visit our Employability section for full details.
We set our fees on an annual basis and the 2018/19 entry fees have not yet been set.
As a guide, our fees in 2017 were:
Some science and medicine courses have higher fees for students from
the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. You can find more details here:
Lancaster University's priority is to support every student to make the most of their life and education and we have committed £3.7m in scholarships and bursaries. Our financial support depends on your circumstances and how well you do in your A levels (or equivalent academic qualifications) before starting study with us.
Scholarships recognising academic talent:
Continuation of the Access Scholarship is subject to satisfactory academic progression.
Students may be eligible for both the Academic and Access Scholarship if they meet the requirements for both.
Bursaries for life, living and learning:
Students from the UK eligible for a bursary package will also be awarded our Academic Scholarship and/or Access Scholarship if they meet the criteria detailed above.
Any financial support that you receive from Lancaster University will be in addition to government support that might be available to you (eg fee loans) and will not affect your entitlement to these.
For full details of the University's financial support packages including eligibility criteria, please visit our fees and funding page
Please note that this information relates to the funding arrangements for 2017, which may change for 2018.
Students will be required to pay for travel to field sites and will have to purchase wet weather clothing, boots and waterproof notebooks for fieldtrips for which the estimated cost is approximately £110. The course offers optional field trips and students will have to pay for any travel and accommodation costs. If students undertake placements then they may incur additional travel costs. Students on certain modules may wish to purchase a hand lens and compass clinometer but these may be borrowed from the Department.
Students also need to consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, photocopying, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits. Following graduation it may be necessary to take out subscriptions to professional bodies and to buy business attire for job interviews.