A Level Requirements
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Full time 4 Year(s)
Discover geological mapping, atmospheric processes and volcanology and broaden your horizons with an exciting international placement.
This flexible programme draws from a wide range of scientific disciplines to build a degree that matches your interests and career aspirations. You will spend a year studying at a world-class university in North America, Australasia or Europe where you will engage with native landscapes and culture.
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 year modules, taken abroad, will build on themes introduced in Year 1, whilst offering you a range of specialist Earth science modules to choose from. Many 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 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.
This programme includes a fourth year of study which enables you to undertake an extended research project. You will also be given an opportunity to choose from a range of Masters level modules, such as Physical Volcanology and Environmental Aspects of Renewable Energy.
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
As an alternative to our Study Abroad degree, you may wish to consider the MSci Hons Earth and Environmental Science variant. You will spend your second year at Lancaster instead of at one of our partnering universities.
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 AAB
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 35 points overall with 16 points from the best 3 Higher Level subjects including one science subject at HL grade 6
BTEC Distinction, Distinction, Distinction 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 30 Level 3 credits at Distinction and 15 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.
Information for this module is currently unavailable.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
The 60-credit dissertation project allows you to conduct an extensive research project in one focused area of science or social science aligned with the research interests of the Lancaster Environment Centre. It builds on the standard third year project by enhancing independent skills and providing greater experience of the research environment.
This module aims to provide you with knowledge of volcanoes and volcanic systems. Its foundations are an understanding of the properties and behaviour of volcanic materials gained through laboratory, theoretical and field study. The module emphasizes the widely-applicable physical and chemical processes that occur during volcanic activity, including variations in solubility, rheology, phase, density and permeability. The interaction of volcanic processes with the biosphere, atmosphere and hydrosphere are discussed. The products of volcanism, together with the hazard and benefits to life on Earth are studied.
This module focuses on the fate and behaviour of contaminants in the environment, considering fundamental principles and processes which control their fate in environment systems. You will gain and understanding of the fundamental principles relating to the fate and behaviour of contaminants in environmental media for scientists with relevant degrees.
Catchments are increasingly perceived as complex and highly interconnected systems. This presents significant difficulties for those who manage catchments, but also a range of novel and timely research opportunities. In this context, the module aims to provide you with understanding and practical experience of key research and management challenges facing the future management of catchments. The module will take the Eden catchment as a case study, and draw on the latest land and water management framework, derived from the Water Framework Directive, as a basis for discussion. After analysing this framework and identifying significant challenges, you will use a combination of field, laboratory and data analysis techniques to investigate research questions related to biophysical processes within catchments. These investigations will lead to an appreciation of the limits to current knowledge and the opportunities for future research.
This module will help you to develop a grounding in the scientific process behind chemical risk analysis. The effect of chemicals in the environment will be introduced with concepts such as dose-response relationships and observed-effect levels, as well as examining modes of entry and route of exposure to humans, biota and the ecosystem as a whole. A large part of the module will be dedicated to understanding quantitative exposure assessment, with the introduction of fate modelling and the predication of concentrations in different environmental compartments. You will be introduced to current assessment procedures for pesticide/ chemical registration and will take part in group practical and workshops to understand the steps in chemical risk analysis.
Conservation of biodiversity is a major goal of humanity, yet justifications for conservation are multifaceted and their relative importance varies among people and societies. Conservation objectives may also come into conflict with economic activity and development. While providing a grounding in the science of biological conservation, this module will help you to address some of the key current challenges in conservation biology, where conservation objectives may trade-off against other human objectives. The module looks at the emerging understanding of the complex relationships between biodiversity conservation, the health of ecosystems and human well being.
This module will provide you with a broad view of issues related to contaminated land, in particular: typical contamination problems; methodologies for assessing the extent and seriousness of contamination; applicability and effectiveness of r0emediation techniques as a function of contaminant and site conditions.
A full first course in statistics and data analysis from a non-mathematical viewpoint. Covering both parametric and non-parametric methods, up to and including generalised linear models.
The module provides you with advanced scientific numeracy skills. The module focuses on data processing and visualisation for use with dissertation work. It includes introductory elements of Matlab and Simulink, currently a de facto visualisation and numerical processing industry standard. Some comparison to other programming languages, in particular Fortran and C, is 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). The course introduces selected principles of dynamic systems analysis such as transfer functions applied to environmental systems in the form of examples and case studies.
Current approaches to cutting-edge research in the environmental sciences are highly dependent on digital data, and a wide variety of different data types can now be accessed relatively easily. You only need to consider the data required to understand climate change to appreciate the diversity of information that is currently available, and which is needed to address the biggest global issues.
In this module you will learn the fundamentals of retrieving, annotating, analysing and interpreting digital data from a variety of sources, applying integrated, scientific methodologies. You will develop data manipulation skills and an awareness of the tools available to maximise the value of heterogeneous digital data. We demonstrate everyday problems in data collection, both avoidable and unavoidable, and explore techniques that minimise their impact. We discuss the strengths and weaknesses of current software for data mining and visualisation, and you will get hands-on experience of data integration using spreadsheet, database and GIS technologies.
This module covers the possible positive and negative effects that various forms of renewable energy have on the environment. You will develop a critical understanding of the key concepts of renewable energy, and the tools and techniques for assessing the environmental impact of renewable energy schemes. In particular, you will be able to assess the challenges facing the development and deployment of large renewable energy schemes and the uncertainties related to their environmental impact.
This module provides you with a basic understanding of the principles, methods and practices of environmental auditing. The function of an environmental audit will be reviewed, along with the different types and methods for gathering audit evidence. Key environmental legislation affecting organisations in the UK will be reviewed, along with the use and design of Environmental Managment Systems (EMS) and also ISO standards for auditing and EMS.
This module will help you to develop a critical understanding of key concepts, principles, tools and techniques for the management of natural resources and the environment. Particular attention is given to the challenges of dealing with complexity, change, uncertainty and conflict in the environment and to the different management approaches which can be deployed in 'turbulent' conditions.
The module introduces you to aspects of xenobiotic chemicals in the environment, investigating exposure to and effects on biota and humans. You will also look at modes of chemical action accompanied by examples of chemical toxicity in the environment, including tests and procedures used for regulatory purposes to assess the impact of chemical substances on different types of biota.
flood risk assessment, flood frequency analysis, flood forecasting and warning, and catchment flood management plans. You will apply this understanding to develop a report on a chosen aspect of flood risk management.
Food security is achieved when all people have access to an adequate supply of safe and nutritious food. Currently there are around one billion people who are inadequately fed and this number is likely to double in the next 30 years. In this module you will look at the food system and the range of issues that ultimately determine who eats what. It addresses issues contributing to variation in food availability, the access that people have to food and the different ways in which food is utilised, and you will examine ways in which crops accumulate biomass and undergo reproductive development. You will consider why crop plants are so sensitive to biotic and abiotic stress and why there is so much concern about the effects of climate change on food availability and food prices. The impact of the food production system on the environment is considered along with the tensions arising from our quest for both food security and energy security. Factors impacting food safety and quality are discussed. The approach to the study of these issues is interdisciplinary in nature. The course takes an international perspective on GFS (Global Food Security)
This module will introduce you to the fundamental principles of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing and shows how these complimentary technologies may be used to capture/derive, manipulate, analyse and display different forms of spatially-referenced environmental data.
This module will introduce you to the fundamentals of geological hazards and the processes responsible. The module puts geological hazards in their context and includes issues of probabilistic and deterministic prediction, with linkage to response and preparedness issues, and issues of hazard monitoring techniques. The module addresses the fundamental processes and mechanism by which prediction geological of hazards can be understood. Specific hazards examined are seismic-based hazards, landslides, volcanic hazards and extreme geological events. These are considered at a variety of scales from big to small. Case studies will be explored and expanded in your own readings.
The aim of this module is to introduce the concept of the Earth system and how the different components (atmosphere, ocean, ice and ecosystems) all interact with each other to shape the Earth's climate and control how the climate might change. The module will cover issues related to recent climate change, including natural and human drivers of the change. It will introduce the computer models and global observation networks that scientists use to understand the Earth system. It will also discuss the role of atmospheric chemistry and climate in the Earth system, including issues related to air quality, greenhouse gases and aerosols.
Overall, this module aims to provide an introduction to the physical processes which influence global climate change, leading to a better understanding of Earth system science.
In this module you will be introduced to the principles of groundwater flow and transport and describe the various approaches for investigating groundwater systems. Challenges facing management of groundwater quantity and quality are outlined. Use is made of computer models to solve practical problems relevant to the water industry.
In this module you will learn how habitats can be managed for nature conservation through manipulation of species, communities and ecosystems. This includes guidance in the construction of conservation management plans, in which conservation aims are specified, threats identified, and management actions defined, taking into account the dynamic nature of ecosystems and conflicts of interest in land use.
This module introduces you to the principles of lake ecology, an area with an acknowledged national lack of expertise. The module presents a holistic approach to the drivers and internal interactions that control water quality in lakes. You will learn basic ecological principles, elucidated using lake ecology, introduce application of state-of-the-art techniques and provide essential background information for anyone dealing with EU Directives such as the Water Framework Directive in the future.
This module provides an introduction to basic principles and approaches to computer-aided modelling of environmental processes with applications to real environmental problems such as catchment modelling, pollutant dispersal in rivers and estuaries and population dynamics. Emphasis is placed on the use of computer-based methods and practical examples and you will be introduced to general aspects of environmental systems modelling.
This module introduces you to the interactions between microorganisms and naturally occurring organic matter and how this relates to the degradation and persistence of environmental pollutants. The mechanisms of organic matter decomposition and pollutant degradation will be discussed in detail, with particular emphasis being placed on environmental systems, particularly that of soil. You will also look at the application of these processes in biological treatment of chemically contaminated ecosystems, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the processes, using case studies.
The aim of this module is to introduce you to key issues surrounding the ability of the soil to produce crops, and the agricultural / economic consequences of failing to manage this resource properly. Most agricultural production is dependent on the soil not only to anchor plants, but to supply their hydraulic and nutritional needs. Furthermore, the rhizosphere (soil adjacent to the root surface) is a biological hotspot comprising micro-organisms that can directly or indirectly assist crop nutrient acquisition (rhizobia, mycorrhizae and plant growth promoting rhizobacteria) or cause disease. Increasingly, the soil is being recognised as a global resource to aid carbon sequestration (even in agricultural systems) and/or act as repository for waste derived from other industries.
This module will allow you to improve your practical and theoretical knowledge of volcanic processes through a residential field course held on an active basaltic volcano. We start off with classroom sessions to introduce the field site and provide insight into some of the magmatic and tectonic processes involved. Then, in the field, you will visit key localities and unravel the complex links between magma properties and eruptive style. We will examine effusive (lavas) and explosive (tephra) products, and will discuss and observe the roles of dykes, fissures and conduits at first hand. The module is usually held on Mount Etna, Sicily, although the location may change in future years.
This module provides you with knowledge of population processes within wildlife ecology, taking a step-by-step approach to understanding wildlife population ecology, from the basics up to more complex interactions between species. The practical element of the module includes field, laboratory and modelling assignments. After taking this module, you will appreciate the factors that contribute to population change, be able to construct life tables from birth and death data, and be able to apply quantitative models of population ecology to applied situations. Knowledge of these processes is vital for people working in the fields of conservation or management of natural resources, such as harvesting of fish stocks, infectious disease control, and pest management, examples of which are scattered throughout the module. The module will demonstrate how population processes influence the behaviour of individual animals, populations of individuals, and communities of populations, so showing the importance of wildlife population ecology at all levels.
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, but that you also graduate with 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:
For full details of the University's financial support packages including eligibility criteria, please visit our fees and funding page
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.
Average time in lectures, seminars and similar
Average assessment by coursework