Environmental Science

BSc single honours on in combination with another subject Environmental Science with Foundation Year 2017/18

Year of entry

*Subject to validation

A number of our degrees are also offered with an additional foundation year (Year 0). Whether you are a school-leaver or someone considering returning to study but don’t have the entry requirements for your chosen subject, a foundation year course may be just what you’re looking for.

A foundation year is the first year of a four year programme which:

  • provides an introduction not only to study at University but also to your chosen subject
  • offers you a highly supportive environment where you can develop the self-confidence, knowledge, skills and understanding for further study.

Following the Foundation Year you will go on to explore areas including:

  • science of the environment
  • impact of human activity
  • function of ecosystems.

94% of School of Human and Life Sciences graduates were in employment or further study six months after completing their studies.

DLHE 2013-14

From the ice wastes of the Antarctic, to the sultry heat of the tropical rain forest, to the incredible biodiversity of a chalk downland in Kent, there is an immense diversity of organisms and geography. Life on the planet (the biosphere) has survived for three thousand million years because of an intricate set of relationships which link water, land and atmosphere. These relationships are now being analysed and modelled by environmental scientists. As we understand more about these relationships, we can respond confidently to new threats such as climate change and loss of biodiversity.

Canterbury Christ Church University, based at the heart of Kent (‘the garden of England’) is the perfect place for you to make a career out of your interest in the environment.

Top reason to choose this course

We are a close-knit community of academics, researchers and students dedicated to the study of Life Sciences. As well as offering a range of excellent undergraduate science courses, we are also actively involved in research, consultancy and knowledge exchange addressing current issues in environmental science. 

This course will not only further your interest in the natural environment but also give you the opportunity to be involved in academic research. We are keen to involve our undergraduate students in all forms of research, where they work alongside full-time researchers. The ‘Ecology Field Club’ offers opportunities for participating in research of the Ecology Research Group at Christ Church. Usually, there are also other opportunities for gaining relevant practical experience, for example via summer internships. Research and work experience can take several forms, and gives you invaluable laboratory experience and technical skills, which will benefit you in your future career.

Emphasis is placed on transferable skills in oral and written communication, information technology and use of statistics, as well as specialist subject knowledge. All aspects of environmental science are covered, but this programme concentrates on a study of the interaction

between life and the planetary environment. The ethos of the course is to integrate the sciences together, rather than treating them as separate subjects. There is also an emphasis on experimental science, so you will learn a wide range of practical techniques relevant to an environmental science career. Core modules consolidate the knowledge and principles relating to environmental science, as well as the laboratory, computational and communications skills needed for employability.

You can study French, German, Italian, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish as part of, or alongside, your course.

more info


Work experience

The final year dissertation project (‘Individual Study’ module) offers an excellent avenue for conducting practical research in your area of interest that can be carried out in collaboration with local or international partners and organisations. For example, a recent dissertation project investigated the effect land management at a farm in Kent had on insects and other organisms that could sustain grey partridge chicks on the farm. Other students have investigated wildflower strips as management tools for biodiversity or have compared bird and butterfly populations in rural and urban environments.

Other information

The Ecology Research Group hosts an annual conference at which students are welcome to present their research or attend as guests to listen to speakers from conservation organisations, research institutions and environmental agencies as well as network with potential employers.  

Follow us on Twitter ( @CCCU_LifeSci ) and in our blog.

Dr Joseph Burman’s primary interest is insect ecology, and how insect science can be used to solve problems in agriculture and biodiversity conservation. He has recently been working towards the world’s first implementation of insect pheromones to monitor rare and endangered insects.

Foundation level

Biological concepts

This module aims to aims to introduce students to the central principles of biology, namely the basic structure, function and variety of living organisms and how they reproduce. It also aims to give students the basic transferable skills needed to understand scientific reasoning and to undertake scientific investigations.

Advancing biology

The aim of this module is to build on material learned in the module ‘Biological concepts’. Elements of genetics and molecular biology are extended and you will be introduced to various facets of the environmental sciences, including ecology and conservation, agricultural science, and pollution science. The module also aims to extend your practical skills within the life sciences.

Principles of chemistry

This is an introductory module that aims to develop your familiarity with fundamental chemical concepts such as atomic structure, chemical nomenclature, bonding, stoichiometry and a range of chemical reactions. The module also aims to develop your basic chemistry laboratory skills.

Advancing chemistry

This module aims to build on the knowledge acquired in Principles of Chemistry and to explore different fields within the subject of chemistry (physical chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry and environmental chemistry). The module will also further develop your laboratory skills.

Physical laws of the natural world

The aim of this module is to introduce you to the physical concepts that underpin all of science and how physics are studied in the natural sciences. You will develop an understanding of how physical laws are used to describe natural phenomena and how they may be applied to gain a deeper knowledge of particular systems and processes.

Study skills

The course aims to give you the basic transferable skills needed to understand and practice scientific reasoning, to undertake scientific investigations and to communicate effectively scientific ideas and outcomes.

Year one

Core modules

Core Science

This double module gives you the background skills in science necessary for the rest of the course. These include sufficient laboratory skills to perform experiments safely and successfully; the necessary mathematical and statistical skills for quantitative analysis of data. It also introduces the broad body of knowledge of chemical, biological and physical sciences necessary for the study of the biological and environmental sciences.

Variety of Life

Life on earth is amazingly diverse, colourful and multifaceted. The Variety of Life module introduces you to this diversity, tracing the tree of life from its roots to its branches. Beginning with simple, single-celled organisms like bacteria and Protists, you discover the various forms of complex life that have evolved and how to classify them in a taxonomic system using characteristic features of each group. The module features a large number of practical sessions in which you engage with plants, animals and other organisms.

The Organism and its Environment

You will learn about the physiological, genetic and behavioural mechanisms that organisms employ to cope with the dynamic nature of Earth’s environment. This course has a significant practical component, so in addition to the theory you will hone your lab and field skills. The first half of the course focuses on behaviour and physiology, the second half is devoted to applied population genetics.

Introduction to Environmental Systems

You will investigate animals and plants living in selected habitats and review factors which control populations and methods of determining distribution and abundance. It will also introduce you to the concept of energy in physical and biological systems. In this way the theme of energy will be seen as unifying all the various aspects of the relationships between organisms and their environments.

Likely optional modules

Microbiology and Cell Culture

This will introduce you to principal taxonomic groups of micro-organisms; examines their growth, physiology and culture, and their importance to humans and the biosphere. The module equips you with the necessary skills to carry out safe, aseptic practices with such organisms in a laboratory environment. It is an intensive module in which you spend an entire week in the laboratory. Currently the lab week takes place in the Easter vacation.

Year two

Core modules

Plant Control Systems

This module investigates the physiology of a range of plant groups, integrating biology with the underlying physics. By studying communication and homeostatic processes as unifying themes, you will develop a holistic approach to the investigation of biological control systems and the means by which they respond to the environment.

Communication and Analysis in Science

Scientists must be able to effectively analyse, present and communicate scientific data, whether it originated from their own research or whether they are engaging with literature produced by other researchers. In addition, successful research depends on the careful and considerate planning and design of experiments and studies in the laboratory and field. This module helps you to develop your critical thinking skills as scientists, introduces you to various mathematical and statistical methods for analysing and presenting scientific data and explores important concepts relating to experimental design, measurement and sampling.

Chemistry for the Environmental Sciences

Chemical processes shape the world we live in; the soil we use to produce food, the air we breathe and the water we drink. This module aims to provide you with an understanding of the fundamental concepts and practical applications of chemistry in an environmental context. You will be introduced to the chemistry of soil, water and the atmosphere and you also will learn how these three environments interact. The impact of human activity on the chemistry of the environment will be discussed in topics like the ozone layer, greenhouse gases, freshwater quality and hydraulic fracturing (fracking). This module has weekly lectures, supported by practical lab sessions, workshops and two local field trips.


Underpinning all of the biosciences, evolution is central to understanding the diversity of life and the behaviour of biological systems. By studying the processes and drivers that result in evolutionary change, you will consider the nature of evolution, developing an understanding of both macro- and micro-scale evolutionary change.

The Earth as a Planetary System

This module looks at environmental systems from two different but complementary ways, from the small and from the large. You will be introduced to the fundamental concepts of systems feedback control at an ecosystem and develops the skills relevant to the investigation of physicochemical factors relevant to the environmental sciences. Biological systems control in relation to inter-specific and intra-specific competition will be discussed. On a global scale, you will study the flow of energy, the structure of the atmosphere and the oceans. Finally, all of the mechanisms will be set in the context of a hypothesis of a non-sentient Gaia.

Likely optional modules

Biogeography and Landscape Ecology

This module examines the distribution of organisms and soils in space and time, and the environmental factors, including anthropogenic, that determine or limit these distributions. It introduces landscape ecology and its importance in conservation management. The module also introduces the world’s major biomes and more detailed study of habitats and micro habitats by drawing on a range of areas within the geographic and life sciences such as geology, climatology, palaeontology, plant and animal systematics, evolution and ecology. Biogeographical and landscape ecological processes are also important to other fields of geography; for example food production systems, sustainable livelihoods, etc., and the module examines human impacts on biogeographic systems the means by which these systems can be managed in a sustainable manner.

Environment and Development

Understanding the environmental problems facing the countries of the developing world and encouraging critical evaluation of various approaches to solving these problems is essential for managing environmental resources on a sustainable basis. This module examines these issues within the context of the historical legacy of colonialism and its environmental impacts, and the contemporary world economic and (geo)political system. It introduces and evaluates theories of development and how these affect the understanding of the exploitation of environmental resources of developing areas. It examines the evolution of varying forms of ‘environmentalism’ relating to developing areas. Environmentalist philosophies, as these underpin action, can be broadly divided into ‘technocentric’ and ‘ecocentric’ – a broad division which is utilised in the module to evaluate the nature and success of specific approaches to dealing with environmental problems. The module also explores a range of management approaches and techniques to evaluate their appropriateness for sustainable development.


Understanding the well-established principles of process geomorphology is a prerequisite for any environmental management. This module examines the processes that operate within a selection of geomorphological systems and shows the relationship between process and landform at a range of scales within a modern conceptual framework. This module includes a field exercise that provides data that are used for critical analysis, problem solving and interpretation an environment and to produce a reasoned scientific argument structured as a research paper.

Introduction to Mapping and GIS

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) have been utilised for over quarter of a century, however, there is still a rapid growth in the applications of GIS to a wide range of business, public and academic fields. This module provides the practical and theoretical aspects of GIS and the fundamentals of cartographic design required to produce meaningful GIS results. To appreciate the potential and scope of GIS, an exploration of the core aspects (principles) of the subject is made, concluding with a variety of relevant case studies. Given the desirability of acquiring a large degree of practical software skills, in a number of complex and varied programmes, a substantial aim of the module is to provide ‘hands-on’ use of GIS, using industry-standard hardware and software.

Understanding Past Climate Change

Climate change is a critical concern these days, but many argue that to understand today’s climate change fully we have to understand how climates have changed in the past. This module examines the methods used by scientists to reconstruct past climates and environments and examines the theories proposed to explain the changes identified. It provides a geological context for understanding present day environmental problems and develops an awareness of the interaction between oceanic, atmospheric and cryospheric systems in explaining change.

Year three

Core modules

Aspects of Pollution

With the growth in technology, in population and in rates of consumption of natural resources, pollution has had increasingly severe impacts on the environment in what appears to be a positive feedback process. The module aims to introduce you to the range of mechanisms which cause air, land and water pollution and to discuss and evaluate the ways in which these can be controlled. It aims to encourage you to adopt a critical approach to pollution prevention issues, and increase your awareness of the need to integrate scientific knowledge, economic interests and policy in order to achieve a more sustainable society.

Ecology and Conservation

In order to conserve we must first identify underlying ecological issues that make conservation necessary. In the first two thirds of this course you will explore the underpinning ecological concepts that help us to effectively plan and carry out conservation work. In the final third of the course, which is partly student led, you will apply these concepts to modern conservation themed issues.

Individual Study

This module provides you with autonomy in your learning as you pursue in depth the study of a topic of your own choice. In doing so, you will gain practice at organising your thinking in a scientific context and will increase your confidence in dealing with scientific problems and issues. With a broad scope, this module allows you to work with external businesses and partners and to potentially produce work that can be either published as a peer-reviewed article or that may be of real world value to a partner organisation.

Likely optional modules

Plant Responses to the Environment

In this module we study how plants (despite being immobile) encounter various environmental threats (drought, high temperature, disease) and employ sophisticated genetic and biochemical mechanisms to thrive under stressful conditions. We need to grow 70% more food in the next forty years from an ever shrinking amount of land and with less fresh water. Understanding plant survival mechanisms, especially for crop plants, is therefore vital for our food security in the coming decades. This module covers topics explaining plants/crop interaction with their environment to maximise productivity and is complemented with latest developments published in high impact peer reviewed journals.

Practical Ecology

You will spend 8 days in the mountains and coastlines of Snowdonia, North Wales. During this intensive course you will go from being a novice at quantifying habitats and asking ecological questions of the environment to an expert at turning the natural world into a form that can be quantified and objectively measured. Due to its intense nature, this module is one of the most mentally challenging of all the science modules you will take at Christ Church, but according to our student feedback, also one of the most enjoyable, both from an academic and general life skills point of view. There is a limit on the number of students who can take this module. This module is currently taken during the summer vacation.


Through the study of the fundamental science of radiobiology, you will bring together many aspects of physics, chemistry and biology, especially in the context of the damage done by ionising radiations to biological information processing systems. You will also be introduced to some of the medical and industrial applications of radioactivity.

Biological Imaging and Photography

This module will enable you to use a range modern photographic and other image capture and processing techniques as tools for studying of biological organisms. With a focus on using these techniques to extract biological information, and on developing an awareness of the limitations of the different approaches, you will learn to critically evaluate imaging approaches in a contextual setting

Soil Science and Land Management

The module will start with the description of the fundamental concepts of soil, water and atmospheric chemistry and the chemical interactions of the three environments. There will be a special emphasis on the composition of rocks and soils and nutrient cycles and the role of biota in this context will also be examined. It will then focus on the available techniques for monitoring the chemical components of the environment. You will acquire practical skills in methods and instruments such as flame photometry. During this course, you will be encouraged to attempt critical evaluation of environmental evaluation procedures and data derived from these analyses.

Applied Biological Chemistry
(This may not be open to some combined honours students.)

The focus of this module is on analytical chemistry techniques applied to biological systems. You will gain practical experience in protein purification techniques such as ion-exchange, gel filtration and affinity chromatography using modern fast protein liquid chromatography equipment. Combined with a solid theoretical foundation you will become familiar with many analytical spectroscopic methods including infrared (IR), UV-VIS, nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and crystallography, together with separation techniques like gas chromatography (GC), fast protein liquid chromatography (FPLC) and high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC). By the end of this module, in addition to the practical skills, you are expected to be able to interpret and analyse experimental data independently. There is a limit on the number of students who can take this module.

Advanced GIS and Remote Sensing

This module further develops your critical understanding of the practical and theoretical aspects of GIS. It builds on the understanding and skills developed in the introductory GIS module taken in year two (a prerequisite for this module). It aims to develop an understanding of a range of theoretical perspectives including point, area and network spatial analyses, plus associated areas such as map generalisation, data error problems, data standards, digital terrain analysis, remote sensing and image generation and manipulation that will allow you to apply GIS to real geographical issues.

Former students have found our emphasis on transferable skills to be particularly valuable in their  first appointments. The multidisciplinary nature of the course is well suited to anyone seeking opportunities in environmental consultancy, government agencies and science-based industry in technical, managerial or public relations roles. The scientific literacy developed is also valuable in non-scientific areas of industry, commerce and the media. Graduates may progress to study for higher degrees either by research or a taught programme. Some graduates choose careers in teaching, and the programme makes an excellent preparation for teaching Science as a core subject in the National Curriculum.

One of our Environmental Science graduates, Philip Rogers, stayed with us to complete a PhD in Ecology with the Ecology Research Group at Christ Church. He then worked for AMEC International (Growth Regions), an international engineering and project management company which designs, delivers and maintains strategic and complex assets for its customers across the global energy and related sectors. He is currently working with Jacobs Consultancy, a specialised management, technical and consulting division of Jacobs Engineering, one of the world’s largest and most diverse providers of technical, professional and construction services.

Each taught module has a standard 60 hours of student contact. This will typically be composed of lectures, seminars, practical work, labs, workshops, field based activity, tutorials, feedback on assignments. You will also be expected to engage in 140 hours of self-directed study per taught module.

Academic input

All of the modules you will study are led by experienced academic staff and all lectures are delivered by staff with PhDs and who have, or are studying for, a higher education teaching qualification or membership of the Higher Education Academy. Within this framework, modules may feature guest lectures by subject specialists undertaking research on a specific topic, or from those working in that particular field. The lecturing staff includes those specialists in many areas of biology, and also chemistry and physics.

Assessment of the modules is varied. Some modules are assessed entirely by coursework and some by a combination of coursework and examination. Coursework will include one or more of essay, calculation and problem solving exercises, practical write ups, portfolios, log books, group and or individual work, group projects, oral presentations, assessed practical, laboratory work, graph drawing exercises, (group) poster presentation, computer based assessment, group presentation, data handling exercises, multiple choice questionnaire, seminar presentation, paper presentation, seminar papers, case study (involving the analysis of biological data) audio or video presentation.

You will often be able to use modern, research-grade equipment.

1st October 2015 saw the launch of the Life Sciences Industry Liaison Laboratory at Discovery Park. Discovery Park, the enterprise zone based at Sandwich, is a fabulous site with well over 100 companies now based there. The potential of the Liaison Laboratory lies in the work we and our students will do with the businesses based at Discovery Park. The Liaison lab will allow all of our students to have the chance to experience an industry environment and will, for those seeking to work in the field, allow them to do research or to study in that environment for a substantial period.

We have established numerous links with local and regional wildlife parks and organizations (e.g. Wildwood, Howletts (Aspinall Foundation), The Powell-Cotton Museum, Natural England, Kent Wildlife Trust) that either collaborate with our researchers or provide opportunities for research projects for our students. 

Especially applicable to our Environmental Science students is the Ecology Research Group (ERG), part of the section of Life Sciences. The ERG aims to deliver user-defined solutions through research and consultancy. In the ERG we believe that our activity must be relevant to, and should directly involve, the non-academic community. We also believe that we should prioritise stewardship of the environment and that our research should facilitate social, cultural and economic prosperity. A wide range of non-academic user groups benefit from the work of the ERG. In recent years these have included government agencies such as Canterbury City Council, the Environment Agency and Natural England. We have also worked with charities including the Aspinall Foundation, Kent Wildlife Trust and The Donkey Sanctuary, and commercial companies such as Algaecytes and Quex Park.

We aim to increase general engagement and involvement with science and the environment. As such the group contributes to a significant range of activities designed to achieve such broader impact and community involvement. For instance, we are involved with the Kent Mammal Group, Kent Bat Group, provide expertise and materials to support local BioBlitz days, and work closely with a number of local schools and Further Education colleges to support and promote Science.


The 2017/18 annual tuition fees for this course are:

Full-time £9,250*  £11,000** 
Part-time £4,625  N/A 

Tuition fees for all courses are payable on an annual basis, except where stated.

*Full-time courses which have a Foundation Year 0 will have a 2017/18 UK/EU tuition fee of £6,165 in Year 0.

**Tuition Fee Scholarship discounts of £1,500 are available to eligible overseas students. Visit the International webpages for further information.

Please read the 2017/18 Tuition Fee Statement for further information regarding 2017/18 tuition fees and year on year fee increases

Further information

Additional course costs

Although we aim to minimise any additional costs to students over and above the course tuition fee, there will be some additional costs which students are expected to meet.

Costs applicable to all students

Text books Own purchase text books
Travel to other sites Where travel to other sites is required, this will be payable by the student
Library Fees and Fines Where students fail to return loaned items within the required time they will be responsible for the cost of any Library Fees and Fines applicable
Printing & Photocopying The cost of printing and photocopying undertaken by students to support their individual learning are payable by the student
Graduation ceremonies It is free for the student to attend the ceremony itself. Guest tickets and robe hire / photography are additional costs payable by the student

Course specific costs

Learning Materials Textbook “Biology: How Life Works, by Morris et al”, ISBN-13: 978-1464138263. Currently £39.99. Includes one year’s access to Launchpad, an interactive web e-book which is integrated into some of the modules.

General principle policy

The University’s general principles policy for additional course fees are set out here

CategoryIncluded in the tuition feeAdditional cost to student
Field trips (including trips abroad and trips to museums, theatres, workshops etc) Yes, if the trip contributes to the course (whether it is part of an optional or compulsory module), but not including food and drink. Yes, if the trip is not an essential part of the course but is offered as an enhancement or enrichment activity, or for a student’s personal development.
Travel and accommodation costs for placements  No

Travel and accommodation costs for professional placements within the Education and Health & Wellbeing Faculties.

Travel and accommodation costs for other work placements. 
Text books No Own purchase text books.
DBS / Health checks No Yes
Professional Body registration No Yes
Travel to other sites (e.g. travel to swimming pool for lessons) No Yes
Clothing / Kit Yes, where the clothing / kit is essential for Health & Safety reasons. Yes, where the clothing is kept by the student and not essential for health and safety reasons.
Learning materials Essential learning materials (excluding text books) in connection with the course. Additional materials beyond the standard provision essential for the course or where the costs are determined by the student’s area of interest and the outputs are retained by the student.
Library fees and fines No Yes
Printing and photocopying No Yes
Social events No, unless the event forms an essential part of the course. Yes, unless the event forms an essential part of the course.
Graduation ceremonies It is free for the student to attend the ceremony itself. Guest tickets and robe hire/ photography are additional costs payable by the student.

BSc Hons Environmental Science with Science Foundation Year

This course can also be studied over four years with an additional foundation year (Year 0) for those without the formal entry qualifications. The foundation year is designed to provide you with the grounding you need to progress on to the degree.

Find out more.


Full-time study

Apply via UCAS

Need some help?

For advice on completing your application please contact the Admissions Enquiry Team:

Email: admissions@canterbury.ac.uk
Tel:+44 (0)1227 782900

Fact file

UCAS code

  • F855 Environmental Science with Foundation Year

Institutional code

  • C10


  • 4 years full-time


  • September 2018

Entry requirements

  • Candidates without formal qualifications are usually interviewed and they need to demonstrate an interest in Science.

    Candidates should be sufficiently motivated to benefit from study at this level and should be able to work co-operatively



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Last edited: 21/04/2017 13:44:00