also available in 2018
A Level Requirements
see all requirements
see all requirements
Full time 4 Year(s)
Discover the global challenges facing our environment 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. Covering both natural and man-made environments, we 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.
You will spend the second year of your degree studying at another world-class university in North America, Australasia or Europe. There, you will undertake a similar set of modules that you would at Lancaster, whilst broadening your horizons and engaging with a different culture and society.
Your first year will address many of the fundamental themes of environmental science, from understanding hydrology and flood risk to learning about the atmosphere, weather and climate. You will be taught by internationally-renowned academics, and will have access to our state-of-the-art laboratories, which offer excellent facilities for practical work.
Second year modules, taken abroad, will build on themes introduced in Year 1, whilst offering you a range of specialist modules to choose from. 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.
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 Lake Ecology, and Flood Forecasting and Flood Risk Management.
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 Environmental Science
As an alternative to our Study Abroad degree, you may wish to consider the MSci Hons 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 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 or 6, English Language grade C or 4
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.
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 email@example.com
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.
Students will be introduced to key biogeochemical processes that have a major impact on the lithosphere, hydrosphere and atmosphere during this module. They will learn how biogeochemistry has shaped the Earth's environment.
The importance of biogeochemical processes will be demonstrated through a consideration of their relevance to the environmental discipline of Earth System Science. The processes will be illustrated using examples of biogeochemical cycles of various elements, on various spatial scales, including carbon. How anthropogenic perturbations have dramatically influenced the biogeochemical cycles of different elements will also be discussed.
The concept of breaking the environment down into different reservoirs or compartments with simple box-modelling concepts will be introduced to students. In addition, the interesting concepts of chemistry shaping biology and biology shaping chemistry allowing Earth's evolution will be explored along with the Gaia Hypothesis concept. On a practical note, students will develop their report writing and various numerical and quantitative laboratory skills.
Students will also undertake a number of basic procedures in a chemical laboratory, including preparing solutions, measuring pH and using bench-top instruments. Further to this, they will write scientific reports, based on laboratory experiments to simulate environmental weathering processes, involving numerical manipulation of the resulting data; and will learn to interpret chemical equations.
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.
Students typically study eight modules at one of our partner universities in North America or Australasia. These will include modules that are similar to our core Y2 modules at Lancaster (i.e. Environmental Field Course, Experimental Design and Analysis, Environmental Data Visualisation and Analysis, Catchment Hydrology, Aquatic Biogeochemistry, and Atmospheric Science).
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 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.
Students will learn both the principles on which remote sensing systems operate, and how useful environmental information can be derived from remotely sensed data. From this, students will be able to compare the information provided by remote sensing sensors from several areas of research such as ecology, biology, geography, geology, marine and atmosphere science.
They will also develop image processing skills and learn how remote sensing data can be used to extend our understanding of ecosystems and global environmental changes.
The aims of this module are fulfilled by initially examining the physical basis of remote sensing in terms of the characteristics of electromagnetic radiation and its interactions with the Earth's atmosphere and biosphere. This physical basis is also examined in terms of how the sensors and satellites operate in a modern earth system observatory. The techniques used to analyse and interpret images will then be used to understand local, regional and global environmental changes.
This is followed by an investigation of the environmental applications of remote sensing. Here, satellite images from NASA, ESA and several international space agencies are used to illustrate the increasing importance of remotely-sensed data for environmental and climate applications.
Laboratory practicals allow students to study the physical principles of remote sensing, and computer practicals are used to demonstrate image analysis techniques using ENVI Imagine: a state-of-the-art software package.
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.
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.
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.
In this module, students will learn the mechanisms by which radiation damages the body and the systems by which we measure and control exposure to radiation. The sources of naturally occurring radioactivity and radioactive contaminants and their behaviour in the environment will be studied in order to better understand how people can become exposed. Students will become better equipped to understand and evaluate the risk to human populations of nuclear accidents.
Through the study of specific radiation-related case studies, students will develop an understanding of risk in a wider context, being able to contribute more thoughtfully to nuclear-related debates in society. They will practice and develop their numerical skills through the determination of radioactive decay, learning to manipulate and solve basic radioactive decay law equation in the process.
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. For example, students will practise dose assessments, and linking those back to the processes that control the fate and distribution of radionuclides in the environment, hence developing skills in synthesis and evaluation.
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.
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.
This module will build on the third year project to enhance student independence and provide greater experience of the research environment.The aim is for students to conduct an extensive research project in one focused area of science aligned with the research interests of the Lancaster Environment Centre.
Students may choose one of these topics in consultation with the module convenor and potential supervisor, or suggest their own topic to potential supervisors for consideration.
As part of the dissertation process, students will formulate a relevant hypothesis; design suitable experimental or other appropriate means of testing that hypothesis; and evaluate the data arising from such tests. Then they will critically review the investigative technique they have adopted and the results it obtained,and justify the conclusions arising from their investigation in a concise and constrained style.
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 give students a grounding in the scientific process behind chemical risk analysis. The effect of chemicals in the environment will be observed and explained. Concepts such as dose-response relationships and observed-effect levels, as well as modes of entry and routes of exposure to humans, biota and the ecosystem as a whole, will be examined.
A large part of the module will be dedicated to understanding quantitative exposure assessment, which will include the introduction of fate modelling and the prediction of chemical concentrations in different environmental compartments. Students will also be familiarised with current assessment procedures for chemical registration and will partake in group practicals/workshops to understand the steps in chemical risk analysis. They will perform their own chemical risk assessment procedures, learn to use simulation models to predict outcomes, and will understand the role of risk assessment in decision making.
This module focuses on key challenges facing the conservation of biodiversity today. We examine trade-offs between conservation goals and human desires, and wellbeing. The module highlights emerging understanding of the complex relationships between biodiversity, ecosystem services and human life.
Students will be engaged with specific examples of how conservation science is changing to address social-economic-ecological conflicts. They are encouraged to critically analyse literature on topical issues confronting biodiversity conservation. By doing so, they will gain an understanding of the factors that constrain conservation aims, and of the need for interdisciplinary approaches to conserve biodiversity in the real world.
Those who take this module will develop an understanding of how conservation has changed, and be able to define criteria to identify species and ecosystems of high conservation importance. They will also learn how conflicts between social, economic and ecological objectives can be understood and addressed in partnerships.
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; and the applicability and effectiveness of remediation techniques as a function of contaminant and site conditions.
The legislation pertaining to and the processes used to assess the risk associated with contaminated land will be appraised, as will risk-based approaches to contaminated land assessment in general. The fate and behaviour of contaminants in the environment will also be examined. Students will gain knowledge in these matters via the risk assessment and remediation case studies.
An awareness of the scale of contaminated land in the UK will be acquired, and students will gain the ability to scientifically discuss the processes which control the behaviour of chemicals in soil.
This module consists of a full course in statistics and data analysis from a non-mathematical viewpoint. It covers both parametric and non-parametric methods, up to and including generalised linear models. Other topics include data types, graphs, statistics, estimation and testing, categorical and continuous responses, and sampling strategies and designs of experiments.
After taking this module, students will be able to design a sensible experiment or sampling scheme and perform exploratory analysis. They will be able to decide on sensible statistical analysis, including a choice between parametric and non-parametric testing, if relevant, and perform that analysis in SPSS followed by interpretation of the results. They should also be able to realise when the analysis that they need to perform is beyond the materials covered in the module and that they should therefore consult a statistician.
This module focuses on data processing and visualisation to support dissertation work, and will provide students with advanced scientific numeracy skills. It includes introductory elements of MATLAB and Simulink, the industry standard for programming language, and students will learn to design, modify, run and debug simple MATLAB programs. They will be able to adapt the skills learnt to other programming languages such as Fortran and C.
Students will be taught the main programming elements, such as data input, processing, output in numerical and graphical forms, programming tools and structures (loops, conditional statements and other flow control).The module also introduces selected principles of dynamic systems analysis such as transfer functions applied to environmental systems in the form of examples and case studies.
Coursework will include writing brief MATLAB scripts based on the scripts used during workshops, as well as an essay on selected problems of environmental systems modelling linked with these scripts. Tests will be taken which will involve writing code snippets related to simple numerical and graphical problems.
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.
Environmental auditing is a widespread management activity in both the public and private sectors of economies across the entire world. The module is designed to introduce students to the principles of environmental auditing and to give them practical experience in the use of key methods and techniques.
As part of the module, students will review and evaluate company environmental policies and undertake an environmental audit for a client organisation. This module has been designed to meet the professional standards and requirements for new entrants to the environmental auditing field.
Once this module is completed, each student will have advanced their understanding of the origins and history of environmental auditing. They will also be aware of the main drivers behind the emergence of this field, and will have gained the ability to apply key auditing tools and techniques. Students will have gained sufficient knowledge and experience to go on to design and conduct their own on-site assessments and prepare audit reports for clients in a professional manner.
Students will gain 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.
Contemporary environmental problems will be examined and interpreted from both an academic and policy perspective. In order to do this effectively, students will learn to evaluate and critique arguments and evidence related to environmental problems, and will demonstrate advanced understanding of alternative management concepts through constructive debate.
An understanding of chemical toxicity and the methods of assessing toxic responses, including dose-response, biomonitoring and bioassays, will be developed during this module. Students will learn the routes by which chemicals enter biota and the biochemistry detailing biotic transformation and metabolism.
They will also develop presentation skills through the preparation and delivery of a case study on selected toxins present in the environment. In addition to this, the module will examine such topics as drinking water quality and health. An understanding of how toxicology plays a central role in the development of regulatory environmental quality standards for various pollutants in air, water and foodstuffs will also be provided. The effects of pesticides on non-target organisms and the accumulation of organic contaminants in food chains are examined in computer modelling and laboratory-based practicals, and are accompanied by demonstrations from scientists in the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology.
Students will also learn about endocrine disrupting chemicals, chemical/toxicant synergy, the effects of chemical mixtures and the role of epidemiology in examining population level effects.
The focus is to understand the component parts and the interdisciplinary basis of the global food system. To this end, students will examine challenges facing global agricultural production as a result of climate change. They will also gain an understanding of the shortage of key resources for food production and the subsequent issues that affect people’s access to food.
In addition to this, the module will demonstrate how basic plant physiology can inform both plant breeding and agronomy to increase the sustainability of agriculture. The factors impacting food safety and food quality (especially nutritive value) will also be explored.
Ultimately, students will develop a familiarity with several current/impending crises in 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.
Taking a broad look at geological hazards, this module will cover everything from contemporary events to those that have shaped the Earth over geological time. The module explores in depth the fundamental processes involved in these events and how and to what extent such events can be predicted. Case histories of national and international disasters will be used to illustrate these hazards, and the inherent risks and potential mitigation measures will be discussed.
A demonstration and elaboration of the geological processes responsible for the occurrence, recurrence and magnitude of hazards will be given. Students will also learn to apply and report on the methods of prediction and mitigation strategies of geological hazards, and will apply simple prediction scenarios of geological hazard occurrence using geological datasets.To this end, students will develop skills in integrating sparse quantitative measurements and qualitative observations in order to derive interpretations from relevant datasets.
The module underscores far-reaching concepts such as using the past to inform the future and environmental risk. It will ultimately develop 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.
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.
Students will cultivate an appreciation of the scale and variety of groundwater resources within the UK and overseas. The vulnerability of these resources and the various procedures and challenges for the implementation of policies for their protection will also be a major focus during this module.
The module will introduce the principles of groundwater flow and transport for which both physical and mathematical aspects of groundwater systems need to be discussed. Use will be made of computer models to solve practical problems relevant to the water industry. The students will also gain hands-on experience of groundwater investigation methods in the field.
Those who take this module will learn to apply a specific groundwater model (MODFLOW) to a number of problems, after considering the different methods that are widely used for investigating groundwater systems. Students will then learn to state the limitations of such models for practical use and will numerically evaluate the model results that they gather.
This module will ultimately impart the skills needed to prepare reports for a Head of Section as if working for an organisation such as the Environment Agency.
Students will learn about the planning that goes into, and the ecological principles underlying, habitat management.
There will be a series of excursions to sites of conservation interest, led by external contributors and experts within the Department. Workshops will train students in habitat management techniques and planning, and students will write a conservation management plan for a particular site.
Students will be able to describe how the principles underlying the management of habitats for conservation can be applied in a range of habitat types, and will be able to construct a standard conservation management plan.
They will also develop skills in identifying, abstracting and synthesising information, and report writing.
Students will be given an introduction to the foundations 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.
Those who take this module will be taught basic ecological principles, which will be elucidated using lake ecology. They will also be introduced to the various applications of state-of-the-art techniques and provided with essential background information for dealing with regulation such as the Water Framework Directive.
This module also includes a field trip and practicals that will give students experience of working with the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology in a management/policy context. Modelling to predict impact of management measures is also an important aspect of the module, and an appreciation of its principles and uses when it comes to lakes and catchment will be encouraged.
Students will come to understand the state-of-the-art tools and approaches needed to study and manage lakes as used in industry, government and science.
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 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.
Students will be introduced 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 emphasis being placed on environmental systems, particularly that of soil.
The application of these processes in biological treatment of chemically contaminated ecosystems will also be considered, with the strengths and weaknesses of the processes being highlighted using case studies.
The module will encourage discussion of pollutant degradation in the environment, focusing on the interactions between pollutants and the abiotic and biotic environment and how this impacts on biodegradation.
After completion of the module, the students will be aware of the importance of microorganisms within different ecosystems, considering biotic interactions, nutrient cycling and organic matter turnover. Furthermore, they will be cognisant of the role of microorganisms in waste treatment systems, how microorganisms adapt to and metabolise man-made chemicals, and their role in the assessment and remediation of contaminated land.
Students will consider four inter-related, important factors (soil water, nutrients, physics and biology) that determines a soil’s ability 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. This module will teach students a range of management approaches that contribute to the long-term ability of the soil to sustain agricultural production. They will learn to compare and contrast soil carbon stocks in agricultural/non-agricultural land and to evaluate methods used to raise soil carbon status.
From this, students will learn to recognise effective soil and plant-based crop nutrient management. They will also be able to evaluate the impacts of plant-microbe interactions on crop disease and nutrient status, and appraise the impact of soil erosion on water body pollution.
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 explains what wildlife population ecology entails and how it can be studied. It will explore the factors influencing population growth and involves quantifying the reproduction, survival, birth and death rate of various animals and plants.
One of the ways this exploration will be done is through completing a presentation which synthesises a quantitative aspect of wildlife population ecology. Through this, students will demonstrate an ability to use disparate literature sources and to present a coherent story of applied or theoretical interest.
They will come to appreciate how individual life history decisions determine population level processes, and will learn to resolve applied ecological problems using basic biological information.
They will also demonstrate knowledge of other basic population concepts, such as density-dependence, trade-offs, competition, predation, parasitism, etc. Another aspect will involve learning the fundamentals of population models, such as the Logistic and Lotka-Voltera models, and appreciating the use of population models in applied ecology.
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 doing what they wish. 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 2019/20 entry fees have not yet been set.
As a guide, our fees in 2018 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.
Typical time in lectures, seminars and similar per week during term time
Average assessment by coursework