Why Geography at Lancaster?
From our flexible degree pathways to our incredible fieldwork opportunities, find out why our students love studying Geography at Lancaster.
8th for Geography
The Guardian University Guide (2024)
12th for Geography and Environmental Science
The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide (2024)
Top 100 for Environmental Sciences in the QS World Ranking league table
Discover the natural environment in our exciting Study Abroad programme. With a strong emphasis on fieldwork, you’ll gain a wealth of knowledge and skills from our world-renowned lecturers.
Physical geography addresses the major components that make up the earth-system, such as the atmosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere and geosphere. Our Physical Geography degree has a strong emphasis on practical work. You will shape your degree from an extensive range of modules taught within a unique natural landscape.
Lancaster proves to be an exceptional location for studying physical geography. You will be able to explore some of the UK’s most unique areas of geographic interest and you will gain a wealth of experience with field trips to places such as the Yorkshire Dales, Cumbrian coast and Lake District. Our programme also allows you to explore international locations through field trips and your year abroad.
While studying at Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC), you will have access to new teaching and research labs, computer systems and software and even our very own weather monitoring station. You will work in comfortable class sizes, giving you the opportunity to get to know your lecturers personally and benefit from their expert knowledge and helpful one-to-one advice.
First year modules equip you with a well-rounded introduction to some of the key themes of physical geography. In addition to the Physical Geography modules, you will be given the opportunity to take two other subjects to accommodate your first year studies. LEC provides a wide range of suitable subjects cognate to physical geography, or you may choose to undertake Double Part I Geography, which encompasses Human Geography, and one other subject. Subjects from outside LEC can also be taken.
In the second year, you will study at one of our partner institutions in the USA, Canada, Australia or New Zealand. There you will learn a variety of physical geography skills and concepts and will gain experience of another society and culture.
Lancaster University will make reasonable endeavours to place students at an approved overseas partner university that offers appropriate modules which contribute credit to your Lancaster degree. Occasionally places overseas may not be available for all students who want to study abroad or the place at the partner university may be withdrawn if core modules are unavailable. If you are not offered a place to study overseas, you will be able to transfer to the equivalent standard degree scheme and would complete your studies at Lancaster.
Lancaster University cannot accept responsibility for any financial aspects of the year or term abroad.
Your third year includes a dissertation project, guided by your academic supervisor, which offers a chance to perform original geographical research on a topic of your choice. While completing the dissertation, you will use the key research, analytical and academic writing skills you have learnt throughout your degree. In addition, you will have access to a wide range of optional modules, covering topics such as Glacial Systems, Water Resource Management and Coastal Processes as well as exciting fieldwork opportunities in Croatia and Switzerland.
Your fourth year of study provides an advanced qualification which will give you a competitive edge in the graduate jobs market by equipping you with the extra experience, knowledge and skills that come with studying Master's-level modules and undertaking a second dissertation. This will enable you to stand out from the crowd in the selection process for graduate roles.
We offer flexible programmes with a strong emphasis on practical learning. You will engage in a wide range of fieldwork and lab-based modules that span the breadth of geographical topics and infuse content from across the physical sciences. Your work will be regularly assessed by a combination of classroom and lab-based assignments, in addition to written examinations and project reports.
A degree in Physical Geography will help you to understand the way our natural environment works and changes, and will stand you in excellent stead for embarking on careers tackling some of the biggest contemporary issues, such as climate change and flood risk management. Graduates from our Physical Geography courses have gone on to many exciting careers, from Environmental and Land Consultants, to Data Analysts and Flood Risk Specialists. Physical Geographers are also well placed to secure roles and opportunities in sectors that might not be obvious such as marketing and sales, teaching, travel and tourism, and commercial business. This is down to your transferable skills in communication, software competencies, project management and data analysis. Graduates from our courses are also well-paid, with the median starting salary of graduates from Lancaster Environment Centre being £24,347 (HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2022).
Here are just some of the roles that our BSc and MSci Physical Geography students have progressed into upon graduating:
Lancaster University is dedicated to ensuring you not only gain a highly reputable degree, you also graduate with the relevant life and work based skills. We are unique in that every student is eligible to participate in The Lancaster Award which offers you the opportunity to complete key activities such as work experience, employability/career development, campus community and social development. Visit our Employability section for full details.
A Level AAB
Required Subjects A level Geography is recommended, or alternatively one of the following subjects: Biology, Chemistry, Geology, Environmental Studies, Mathematics, Physics.
GCSE Mathematics grade C or 4, 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 Geography or alternative cognate subject at HL grade 6
BTEC Distinction, Distinction, Distinction in a related subject but may additionally require a supporting A level in Geography or alternative cognate subject at grade B. 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
Delivered in partnership with INTO Lancaster University, our one-year tailored foundation pathways are designed to improve your subject knowledge and English language skills to the level required by a range of Lancaster University degrees. Visit the INTO Lancaster University website for more details and a list of eligible degrees you can progress onto.
Lancaster University offers a range of programmes, some of which follow a structured study programme, and some which offer the chance for you to devise a more flexible programme to complement your main specialism.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, and the University will make every reasonable effort to offer modules as advertised. In some cases changes may be necessary and may result in some combinations being unavailable, for example as a result of student feedback, timetabling, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes and new research. Not all optional modules are available every year.
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 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 provides an introduction to the structure and function of aquatic food webs in freshwater, estuarine and marine environments. Emphasis is placed on the role of nutrients (bottom-up control) and predation (top-down control) on participating organisms in their freshwater, estuarine, and marine environments. Students will understand the importance of algae, whether planktonic or attached, in the primary productivity of aquatic ecosystems and how this is affected by nutrient concentration and composition. The way in which anthropogenic influences can alter the balance of aquatic food webs, and the subsequent problems which may arise, is discussed.
There will be practical sessions on areas such as algae, zooplankton and macroinvertebrates. Workshops will cover the analysis of data using excel, and the characteristics of lake trophic status in The Lake District.
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.
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.
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.
Introducing students to the development of evolutionary theory and the evidence for the evolutionary processes of natural and sexual selection, this module examines the evolutionary relationships of the major groups of organisms, and deals with speciation and human evolution.
Using specific examples of animal behaviour, we demonstrate how an understanding of natural and sexual selection can explain the diverse evolution of body structures, reproductive behaviours and life-history strategies.
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 way the Earth works and who is curious to know more.
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.
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 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.
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.
Introducing you to contemporary human geography, this module focuses on the interactions between society and space, and between people and places at a variety of spatial scales and in different parts of the globe. We introduce the key processes driving geographical change affecting society, economies, the environment, and culture. We critically analyse relevant issues using theoretical models, with examples from across the world. The module encourages you to think critically, argue coherently, appraise published material, and relate real world issues to relevant theoretical frameworks.
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.
This module will provide you with an understanding of how and why organisms are classified and named, and an appreciation of how identification keys are constructed and used. You will learn to construct simple classificatory and evolutionary trees, and to indicate their significance.
Evolutionary relationships will be evaluated using anatomical and other characteristics, and the distinctive features of major groups of animals will be outlined so that you are able to indicate the functional, evolutionary, and, in some cases, ecological and economic significance of them.
Practical sessions will enable you to take part in the identification of both invertebrate and vertebrate groups.
Being a Geographer in the contemporary world means engaging critically with questions about how geographical knowledge is produced and applied, and developing skills that can transfer beyond academic settings during and after life at University. This module, which involves a programme of tutorials, lectures and online learning activities, focuses on these aspects of your development as a Geographer. It considers, first, a series of issues that provide a way of looking critically at what Geography is now, as well as understanding how it has developed over time and the intense debates that have periodically erupted about its practice, politics and ethics. This includes engaging with racism and calls for decolonising the geography curriculum; gender equality and inclusion of marginalised forms of knowledge; and ethical responsibilities in relation to injustice and harm to both humans and non-humans. These broad issues are then connected through applying ethical principles and practical skills to being a geographer, and specifically in designing research and producing new geographical knowledge. By the end of this course, you will be able to critically engage with contemporary ethical issues for the discipline of geography, and display an understanding of the history of the development of geographical knowledge and practice, and its relevance to contemporary debates.
This module contains a series of four interactive workshops that cover all stages of career planning from exploring options to succeeding at recruitment and selection. It provides knowledge of the graduate labour market and techniques for developing personalised career plans to successfully and confidently transition into work or further study.
Students will also come to develop an understanding of the benefits of professional networking, and how to access opportunities for connecting with others in a professional manner. To this end, an effort to create a 'personal brand', which includes an awareness of both strengths and areas for development, is encouraged and can be extremely beneficial after graduation.
The module will be delivered during the summer term (weeks 5 to 8) through a number of timetabled sessions which will help to accommodate a variety of other commitments such as dissertations and summer exams.
This module will address data collection and analysis through a series of practical classes on Physical Geography research methods. This course will cover data collection techniques using observations, measurements and experimental approaches in both the field and the laboratory. Sessions on data handling skills will allow students to analyse and interpret the data obtained, whilst a session on writing techniques will allow students to understand how data findings can be communicated effectively through writing. Data and learning obtained throughout the course will then be used to produce a short research paper as a coursework assignment. After completing this course, you will have a working knowledge of how to utilise a variety of methodological approaches to physical geographical enquiry, be confident in using a range of statistical techniques for data processing and analysis, and understand the strengths and limitations of each of the techniques studied.
More data has been generated in the last 2 years than over whole history of humanity prior to this. Of this data, 80% has spatial content. This module is about understanding properties of spatial data, whether derived from the map, an archive or the field or from space. The module will explore how these data are represented in computer systems and how, through spatial integration, new forms of information may be derived. There will be a focus on major sources of spatial data (topographic, environmental, and socio-economic) and their properties, major forms of analyses based on spatial relationships, and on effective communication of spatial data through adherence to principles of map design.
Students will develop an understanding of what makes spatial data special; this will be taught through exposure to data from a variety of primary, secondary, contemporary and historic data across the breadth of the geographic discipline. The module will introduce common forms of spatial analysis and will provide an understanding of which to use under given the situations. Students will learn the principles of map design and effective cartographic communication, as well as gaining practical experience of critiquing digital outputs. Finally, the module will offer students significant 'hands-on' experience of using state-of-the-art GIS software to capture, integrate, analyse and present geographic information.
This module provides a deeper understanding of atmospheric physics and chemistry, and begins by laying the foundations with the physical properties of the atmosphere and how they affect the movement of air. A major objective is to bring familiarity with meteorological analyses and forecasts. The module covers topics varying from small scale flow in the atmospheric boundary layer affecting pollutant transport to global scale circulation of the atmosphere including important phenomena such as monsoons and El Niño.
Practical sessions and a field trip to the Hazelrigg meteorological station will enable students to gain familiarity with mid-latitude synoptic systems, cyclones and fronts. This is built on by giving students sufficient knowledge about the chemical composition of the Earth's atmosphere, of the fluxes of C, S and N to and from the atmosphere and of the main chemical processes that occur in the atmosphere to allow them to understand how the Earth's atmosphere 'works' chemically within the framework of physical process already covered.
Successful completion of this module will show evidence of students’ ability to describe the structure and behaviour of the atmosphere with reference to meteorological observations and pathways of atmospheric transport from analysis of meteorological charts, in addition to the range of skills required to draw schematic diagrams of the general tropospheric circulation, whilst identifying the major processes (and underlying forces) that drive this circulation. Students will gain knowledge of the methods necessary to calculate atmospheric quantities, such as potential temperature, and use the results of these calculations to describe the state of the atmosphere. Students will also be equipped with the level of understanding needed to list the components of the unpolluted troposphere, including the trace gases of chemical significance, and draw annotated schematic diagrams of the atmospheric cycles of carbon, nitrogen, and sulphur.
The module aims to introduce concepts, plus measurement and analytical techniques used by professional hydrologists to solve water-related problems in catchments (notably flood forecasting and water quality remediation). Through a series of lectures and workshops, students can expect to study topics including the processes, measurement and analysis of rainfall, evapotranspiration and water quality measurement and treatment.
The module aims to develop higher level scientific skills in measuring the natural environment, quantifying dynamic processes numerically and digesting scientific literature. Students will gain the skillset required to describe catchment hydrological processes in a quantitative manner, therefore utilising a developed understanding of fundamental hydrological processes, their field measurement ('hydrometry') and basic aspects of dynamic catchment modelling. Additionally, students will gain a range of transferrable academic skills, such as the ability to use data and basic models to derive solutions, and applying subject-specific literature to help understand theory and limitations of theory, measurements and models.
This ‘hands on’ module provides an exciting opportunity for you to put your geographical skills to work in a real-life classroom setting and to gain some valuable work experience. We organise for you to spend half a day per week in a local primary or secondary school for a whole term so that you can gain first-hand experience as a classroom assistant and learn how Geography (or a related discipline) is communicated in a school setting. Not only is this module a great choice for anyone considering a career in teaching, but it also provides an excellent opportunity to escape from the lecture theatre and learn in a real-world environment. You’ll come back from your experiences as a confident communicator who is well versed in the latest debates in Geography and Education.
Evolution is the fundamental concept in biology and an understanding of its processes and effects are important for biologists in all disciplines. The module aims to show how the morphology and behaviour of animals and plants is adapted to their environment through interactions with their own and other species, including competitors, parasites, predators and prey, and relatives. Students will explore the concept of adaptation to natural and sexual selection pressures at the level of the individual and the effects on the wider population.
Students will gain the ability to describe the roles that variation, heritability and selection play in the evolutionary process, along with a developed understanding of how numerical changes in population occur, and enhanced knowledge of how to analyse such shifts in order to make predictions about future changes. This module will also reinforce students’ understanding of the application of theoretical models, the changing effects of costs and behaviours due to circumstance, and how conflicts of interest might influence the reproductive success of individuals.
Students taking this module will gain a range of transferable skills including: report writing, data analysis and presentation, team working, verbal presentation, summarising technical texts and design of scientific enquiries.
A record of Earth’s geological history – its metamorphic, igneous, sedimentary and tectonic processes, and its surface paleogeography and climate – can be extracted from the analysis and interpretation of its rocks, minerals and fossils. Expanding on an earlier module in geology, this module examines such processes and products (rocks), focusing on how to interpret the geological history from the rock record. This is a strongly practical-based course, designed to provide students with key geologic skills required to interpret the rock record. Students will develop skills in the identification of minerals in thin section, identification of rocks and fossils in hand specimen, geologic map interpretation, use of topographic and geologic maps and field note books, field sketches, compass clinometers and stratigraphic logging, in addition to a range of skills in synthesising data in order to produce overall interpretations.
Students will gain the necessary skills required to describe and classify rocks in a specimen, and identify minerals in thin section. Students will develop a working understanding of how rocks are dated, and will utilise stereonets to extract sedimentological and structural data. Additionally, students will be able to interpret geologic maps, including sedimentological and structural data, and will determine past sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic environments of formation and the processes by which deformation and exhumation occur, along with developing the ability to apply Earth science field techniques in order to unravel the geologic history of an area.
Eco-innovation, being the development of new products, processes or services that support business growth with a positive environmental impact, is one of the key enabling instruments identified by the European Union for the transition to a more resource efficient economy. It is embedded in the Europe 2020 strategy for supporting sustainable growth. This module will provide several case studies which outline the way in which businesses have applied eco-innovation in practice Students will gain knowledge of the key approaches to, and models of, eco-innovation in a range of business and policy contexts in addition to a reinforced understanding of how innovative ideas can be turned into practical solutions for complex socio-environmental problems, and how different business models and financing approaches can be used to make the solution commercially viable and potentially profitable.
Students will gain knowledge of eco-innovation and understand how the concept relates to business opportunities for environmental goods and services. In addition, students will gain the knowledge and skillset required to analyse how both small businesses and large global organisations apply eco-innovation into their business planning, whilst
Evaluating business opportunities related to the environment in the context of products and services to address flooding or other complex problems. Students will learn how to create proposals for eco-innovation, and prepare presentations for a panel of experts, and will develop the necessary level of understanding required to analyse technical, financial, and environmental information from a wide range of sources in order to comprehend and evaluate strategies to address complex environment-society problems and challenges.
Recent emphasis on global change and biodiversity has raised awareness of the importance of species and their interactions in determining how sustainable our lifestyle is. This module explores the factors that drive population and community dynamics, with a strong focus on multi-trophic interactions and terrestrial ecosystems.
Students will be introduced to population ecology and will discover the abiotic factors that regulate populations, life history strategies of populations, competitive interactions within populations, and meta-population dynamics, in addition to an understanding of how species interact both within and across trophic levels. The module exposes students to the belowground system and will look at how the species interactions and soil communities discussed impact on community structure and dynamics. The module aims to give students a fundamental understanding of ecology - such knowledge is essential for informing conservation and sustainable land-use practices, and efforts to mitigate climate change.
In order to complete this module, students will develop the ability to outline the primary factors that drive population dynamics, whilst critically discussing examples, and will reinforce their understanding of the implications of species interactions for community dynamics. Students will also gain a critical awareness of biotic responses and their contribution to climate change.
This module aims to provide students with broad understanding of the discipline of conservation biology. The module starts by defining biodiversity, discussing its distribution in space and time, and its value to humankind, before examining the key anthropogenic threats driving recent enhanced rates of biodiversity loss. The module then focuses on the challenges for conservation of biodiversity at several levels of the biological hierarchy: genes, species, communities and ecosystems, and the techniques used by conservationists at these levels. The final part of the module looks at the practice of conservation through discussion of prioritisation, reserve design and national and international conservation policy and regulation.
Students will develop a range of skills including the ability to discuss the principle threats to global biodiversity and the rationale for biodiversity conservation, in addition to application of a range of metrics to quantify biodiversity. Students will gain a critical understanding of the various approaches to conserving genetic, species and ecosystem diversity, as well as an enhanced knowledge of quantification of popularisation approaches to prioritisation of conservation goals, and how nature reserves can be designed to improve conservation potential.
This module aims to introduce and demonstrate the nature and properties of soils in an environmental context. It will provide an introduction to soil formation, soil description (including field work), chemical and physical properties, and biology, which will lead to the application of soil science to a variety of practical problems. This module gives exciting grounding in the nature and importance of soils in context with wider environmental issues. As well as detailed knowledge of fine scale soil processes, students will learn interdisciplinary thinking that helps them connect different and complex strands of knowledge from around the earth system.
Students will be able to describe the nature and roles of soils in the environment, and will gain the level of understanding required to describe the nature and role of soils in the environment. Successful students will be able to give a basic account of soil chemical and physical properties, as well as soil biology, and will develop the ability to discuss applied aspects of soils, specifically nutrient recycling and carbon storage.
Students will typically study eight modules at one of our partner universities in North America or Australasia. These will include courses that are similar to our core Y2 modules at Lancaster (i.e. Spatial Analysis and Geographical Information Systems, and Research Project Skills).
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.
*Please note this module will not run in 2022/23*
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 aims to explore and reconfigure the ways in which climate change is understood through a focus on the social, rather than the scientific-environmental discourses that have dominated the policy and politics of climate change. This module give you a wide-ranging and intensive introduction to the politics, cultures and theories of climate change research in the social sciences and humanities. You will be able to critically evaluate different theoretical perspectives on a range of climate change debates and present alternative arguments.
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.
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.
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 introduces students to the fundamental principles of GIS and remote sensing and explores how these complimentary technologies may be used to capture, manipulate, analyse and display different forms of spatially-referenced environmental data. This is a highly vocational module with lectures complimented by computer-based practicals (using state-of-the-art software such as ArcGIS Pro and ENVI) on related themes. At the end of the module students are required to complete a project in which a functioning analytical environmental information system is designed and implemented in order to solve a specific problem.
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 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.
Having a basic level of numerical skill is required in order to perform well in many LEC PGT modules. This module provides baseline numerical, statistical and mathematical skills to underpin academic modules and as an employability skill in its own right.
This module has no credits and no formal assessment. It is taught online and students work through at their own pace.
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 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.
Please note, if taking the Food Security pathway this is a core module.
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.
We set our fees on an annual basis and the 2025/26 entry fees have not yet been set.
As a guide, our fees in 2024/25 were:
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.
There may be extra costs related to your course for items such as books, stationery, printing, photocopying, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits. Following graduation, you may need to pay a subscription to a professional body for some chosen careers.
Specific additional costs for studying at Lancaster are listed below.
Lancaster is proud to be one of only a handful of UK universities to have a collegiate system. Every student belongs to a college, and all students pay a small college membership fee which supports the running of college events and activities. Students on some distance-learning courses are not liable to pay a college fee.
For students starting in 2023 and 2024, the fee is £40 for undergraduates and research students and £15 for students on one-year courses. Fees for students starting in 2025 have not yet been set.
To support your studies, you will also require access to a computer, along with reliable internet access. You will be able to access a range of software and services from a Windows, Mac, Chromebook or Linux device. For certain degree programmes, you may need a specific device, or we may provide you with a laptop and appropriate software - details of which will be available on relevant programme pages. A dedicated IT support helpdesk is available in the event of any problems.
The University provides limited financial support to assist students who do not have the required IT equipment or broadband support in place.
In addition to travel and accommodation costs, while you are studying abroad, you will need to have a passport and, depending on the country, there may be other costs such as travel documents (e.g. VISA or work permit) and any tests and vaccines that are required at the time of travel. Some countries may require proof of funds.
In addition to possible commuting costs during your placement, you may need to buy clothing that is suitable for your workplace and you may have accommodation costs. Depending on the employer and your job, you may have other costs such as copies of personal documents required by your employer for example.
The fee that you pay will depend on whether you are considered to be a home or international student. Read more about how we assign your fee status.
Fees are set by the UK Government annually, and subsequent years' fees may be subject to increases. Read more about fees in subsequent years.
We will charge tuition fees to Home undergraduate students on full-year study abroad/work placements in line with the maximum amounts permitted by the Department for Education. The current maximum levels are:
International students on full-year study abroad/work placements will be charged the same percentages as the standard International fee.
Please note that the maximum levels chargeable in future years may be subject to changes in Government policy.
Details of our scholarships and bursaries for students starting in 2025 are not yet available. You can use our scholarships for 2024-entry applicants as guidance.
The information on this site relates primarily to 2025/2026 entry to the University and every effort has been taken to ensure the information is correct at the time of publication.
The University will use all reasonable effort to deliver the courses as described, but the University reserves the right to make changes to advertised courses. In exceptional circumstances that are beyond the University’s reasonable control (Force Majeure Events), we may need to amend the programmes and provision advertised. In this event, the University will take reasonable steps to minimise the disruption to your studies. If a course is withdrawn or if there are any fundamental changes to your course, we will give you reasonable notice and you will be entitled to request that you are considered for an alternative course or withdraw your application. You are advised to revisit our website for up-to-date course information before you submit your application.
More information on limits to the University’s liability can be found in our legal information.
We believe in the importance of a strong and productive partnership between our students and staff. In order to ensure your time at Lancaster is a positive experience we have worked with the Students’ Union to articulate this relationship and the standards to which the University and its students aspire. View our Charter and other policies.
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