Environmental Sciences


Key details 


Start Year
Full Time
Degree of Master of Sciences
UCAS course code
Entry Requirements
Duration (years)

Assessment for Year 1

Each year you will be assessed on the basis of coursework and, for some modules, project and examination results. The balance of assessment by coursework and exam depends on the modules you choose. 

For each module you’ll have the chance to test your skills with one or two pieces of practice or ‘formative’ assignments. That assignment might be a coursework essay, project or exam. 

You’ll get feedback on your practice assignments from your tutors, helping you to improve your work before your final ‘summative’ assessment. We encourage you to discuss your feedback with your teachers to help you put it into practice.

September 2023 opportunities. Discover more   
Register interest   
Open Days   

Assessment for Year 2

Each year you will be assessed on the basis of coursework and, for some modules, project and examination results. The balance of assessment by coursework and exam depends on the modules you choose. 

For each module you’ll have the chance to test your skills with one or two pieces of practice or ‘formative’ assignments. That assignment might be a coursework essay, project or exam. 

You’ll get feedback on your practice assignments from your tutors, helping you to improve your work before your final ‘summative’ assessment. We encourage you to discuss your feedback with your teachers to help you put it into practice. 

Beginners' Language Modules

You can select from a wide range of language modules. For more information, and for a full list of available module options, please visit our Language Options page

September 2023 opportunities. Discover more   
Register interest   
Open Days   
September 2023 opportunities. Discover more   
Register interest   
Open Days   

Assessment for Year 4

Each year you will be assessed on the basis of coursework and, for some modules, project and examination results. The balance of assessment by coursework and exam depends on the modules you choose. 

For each module you’ll have the chance to test your skills with one or two pieces of practice or ‘formative’ assignments. That assignment might be a coursework essay, project or exam. 

You’ll get feedback on your practice assignments from your tutors, helping you to improve your work before your final ‘summative’ assessment. We encourage you to discuss your feedback with your teachers to help you put it into practice.

September 2023 opportunities. Discover more   
Register interest   
Open Days   

Year 1

Compulsory Modules (100 Credits)

Code: ENV-4004Y Credits: 20

You will gain a range of transferable skills, tools and resources that are widely used in research across the Environmental Sciences and Geography. It aims to provide a broad understanding of the research process through activities that involve formulating research questions, collecting data using appropriate sources and techniques, collating and evaluating information and presenting results. A week-long residential field course, held at Easter and based at Slapton Ley, Devon, applies field, lab and other skills to a variety of environmental science and geography topics. Depending on the size of the cohort, students on selected degree programmes may be offered the option of an alternative field course arrangement.

Code: ENV-4005A Credits: 20

Understanding of natural systems is underpinned by physical laws and processes. You will explore the energy, mechanics, and physical properties of Earth materials and their relevance to environmental science using examples from across the Earth's differing systems. The formation, subsequent evolution and current state of our planet are considered through its structure and behaviour - from the planetary interior to the dynamic surface and into the atmosphere. You will study Plate Tectonics to explain Earth's physiographic features - such as mountain belts and volcanoes - and how the processes of erosion and deposition modify them. The distribution of land masses is tied to global patterns of rock, ice and soil distribution and to atmospheric and ocean circulation. You will also explore geological time - the 4.6 billion year record of changing conditions on the planet - and how geological maps can be used to understand Earth history. This course provides you with an introduction to geological materials - rocks, minerals and sediments - and to geological resources and natural hazards.

Code: ENV-4006B Credits: 20

Striking a balance between societal development, economic growth and environmental conservation has proven challenging and contentious at many scales and over time. The concept of `sustainable development’ was coined to denote processes aiming to achieve this balance. This module introduces sustainable development, and examines the challenges and opportunities to achieving this, drawing together social and ecological dimensions. Drawing upon the social sciences, this module examines the theory and practice of sustainable development. From an ecological perspective, the module covers a range of concepts relevant to the structure and functioning of the biosphere, and topics ranging from landscape and population ecology to biodiversity conservation. This module is assessed by coursework and an examination.

Code: ENV-4001A Credits: 20

What are the most pressing environmental challenges facing the world today? How do we understand these problems through cutting-edge environmental science research? What are the possibilities for building sustainable solutions to address them in policy and society? In this module, you will tackle these questions by taking an interdisciplinary approach to consider challenges relating to climate change, biodiversity, water resources, natural hazards, and technological risks. In doing so you will gain an insight into environmental science research ‘in action’ and develop essential academic study skills needed to explore these issues.

Code: ENV-4007B Credits: 20

The habitability of planet Earth depends on physical and chemical systems that control everything from the weather and climate to the growth of all living organisms. This module introduces you to some of these key cycles and the ways in which physical and chemical scientists investigate and interpret them. It leads naturally to second and third year study of these systems in more detail, but even if you choose to study other aspects of environmental sciences, a basic knowledge of these systems is central to understanding our planet and how it responds to human pressures. The module is made up of two distinct components. One focuses on the physical study of the environment (Physical Processes: e.g. weather, climate, ocean circulation, etc.) The other focuses on the chemical study (Chemical Processes: weathering, atmospheric pollution, ocean productivity, etc.). Interrelationships between these components are explored throughout. Teaching of this module is through a mix of lectures, laboratory practical classes, workshops and a half-day field trip. This module provides a Basic Chemistry introduction for those students who have little or no background in chemistry prior to joining UEA.

Option Range A (20 credits)

Code: ENV-4013Y Credits: 20

We will explore how quantitative skills can solve a range of environmental and geographical problems. We will think critically about numbers in the media and learn how scientists use numbers. Our workshops will focus on the practical use of maths through physical equations and mathematical models. Designed primarily for students who have no AS/ A2 qualification (or equivalent), most of the maths content will be a revision of topics you already know, but may have forgotten. You will also receive statistical training, learning about summarising data using both numerical summaries and graphs, testing hypotheses and carrying out these analyses on computers.

Code: ENV-4014Y Credits: 20

Mathematical and statistical skills are key to all brands of environmental sciences and geography. This module will strengthen your mathematical and statistical skills. It will consolidate your mathematics knowledge from GCSE level and will introduce you to differentiation and integration. You’ll learn to recognise the purpose of simple statistical methods, to choose the appropriate methods to test hypotheses and to summarise data using tables and graphs. You’ll use a computer package for statistical operations. You’ll apply these quantitative skills to contemporary environmental and geographical problems, inspired by research in the School of Environmental Sciences. You’ll be assessed through an online course test and an exam. This module will widen the range of science modules that you can take during your studies in geography and environmental sciences. Upon successful completion of the module, you’ll have acquired skill in applying a range of mathematical and statistical methods to problems in environmental sciences and geography. Recommended if you have: A-level Maths (D or E), AS Maths, A2 Physics (C or better), IB SL Maths (2, 3), IB SL Maths Studies, GCSE Maths (A, A*,7), CHE-0006

Code: ENV-4015Y Credits: 20

You will cover differentiation, integration, vectors, partial differentiation, ordinary differential equations, further integrals, power series expansions, complex numbers and statistical methods as part of this module. In addition to the theoretical background there is an emphasis on applied examples. Previous knowledge of calculus is assumed. This module is the first in a series of three maths modules for those across the Faculty of Science that provide a solid undergraduate mathematical training. The follow-on modules are Mathematics for Scientists B and C. Recommended if you have grade A*-C at A-level Mathematics, or equivalent.

Year 2

Compulsory Modules (60 credits)

Code: ENV-5018A Credits: 20

Processes in the Earth’s interior exert a profound influence on all aspects of the Earth’s system, and have done so throughout geological time. This module is designed to explore all aspects of those processes from the creation and destruction of tectonic plates to the structure of the Earth’s interior and the distribution and dissipation of energy within it. This will include: the theory and mechanisms of plate tectonics, the generation of magma and volcanism; the mechanisms behind earthquakes. The geological record of this activity, its evolution and impacts on the Earth will also be discussed.

Code: ENV-5042A Credits: 20

This module draws upon on a range of scientific disciplines including geomorphology, sedimentology, soil science and eco-geomorphology. The module overviews a variety of Earth’s surface environments and the processes that lead to expression in landforms, soil evolution, sediment accumulation and ultimately, the formation of sedimentary rocks. The environments covered include deep and marginal marine, intertidal, aeolian, glacial and fluvial. The approach will be both descriptive and quantitative, based on understanding of erosion, transport, deposition, accumulation and burial and the evolution of soils. East Anglian case studies will be used to illustrate and explain eco-geomorphology and coastal processes, dovetailed with soil evolution. Geomorphological expression will be linked to sedimentary processes and sedimentary rock. There will be an introduction to the methods and different types of evidence used by geologists, physical geographers and other earth scientists.

Code: ENV-5035B Credits: 20

Sediments and sedimentary rocks cover much of the Earth's surface, but how do they get there and what can they tell us? If you are a geologist, geophysicist or environmental scientist with particular interest in physical geography, then this is a key issue that you need to think about. Sediments record the Earth's history of environmental change, a record that started 3.8 billion years ago. Sediments contain the fossil record and host many of the world’s natural resources including water, hydrocarbons, and minerals. In this module, you will discover how sedimentologists decode the wealth of information sediments contain, taught by two practicing sedimentologists who have international research reputations in their respective fields. This module includes the study of modern sediments in a range of environments including rivers, the continental shelf and deep ocean basins. We put particular emphasis on the physical and chemical processes that result in the deposition of different sediment types. We then use this basis to interpret the origin and processes that formed ancient sedimentary rocks. The module emphasises development of practical skills in the laboratory.

Option Range A (20 credits)

Code: ENV-5029B Credits: 20

Good observational and descriptive skills lie at the heart of many areas of environmental science and you will develop those skills during this module. It is particularly suitable if you are interested in geology and geophysical sciences as you will cover generic geology skills. The module will include: observing, describing and recording the characteristics of geological materials (hand specimen and under microscope); measuring and representing 3d data, and reading geological maps.

Code: ENV-5030B Credits: 20

This module is designed to develop good observational, descriptive and analytical skills and is particularly suitable for students with interest in Geology, Earth and Geophysical Sciences. It will cover generic geological skills, together with some geophysical and physical geography skills that will be of use when carrying out independent projects. The module will include: (i) observing, describing and recording of characteristics of geological materials (minerals, soils, sediments, rocks and fossils) in the field, in hand specimen and under the microscope; (ii) measuring and recording of spatial and 3D structural data on maps, stereographic and rose diagram projections, reading geological maps and basic geological mapping, and (iii) an introduction to applied geophysical techniques. The module includes a week-long residential fieldwork component in the Easter vacation which has an added cost implication in the region of £300. There will be an alternative arrangement for students who for whatever reason are unable to undertake the residential fieldwork. There is a co-requisite or pre-requisite of 20 or more credits from the modules: Earth Surface Processes, Global Tectonics or Exploring the Earth’s Subsurface. Students who have previously taken ENV-5030B Geology Skills, or ENV-5029B Geology Lab Skills cannot take this module. They will, however, have an opportunity to take part in the residential field course.

Option Range B (20 credits)

Code: ENV-5003A Credits: 20

You will develop your skills and understanding in the integrated analysis of global climate change, using perspectives from both the natural sciences and the social sciences. You will gain a grounding in the basics of climate change science, impacts, adaptation, mitigation and their influence on and by policy decisions. This module also offers you a historical perspective on how climate policy has developed, culminating in the December 2015 Paris Agreement. Finally, it considers what will be required to meet the goal of the Paris Agreement to limit global warming to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels.

Code: ENV-5014A Credits: 20

We live in a human dominated era recently designated “the Anthropocene”. Humans harvest more than half of the primary productivity of the planet, many resources are over-exploited or depleted (e.g. fisheries) never before has it been so important to correctly manage natural resources for an exponentially growing human population. It is, thus, fundamental to predict where other species occur and the sizes of their populations (abundance). Population Ecology is an area dedicated to the dynamics of population development. In this module we will look closely at how populations are regulated, from within through density dependent factors and from external density independent factors. We start the module with a global environmental change perspective to the management of populations and the factors that affect the population size. We then extend these ideas to help us understand population properties and processes both intra-specifically and inter-specifically. Finally we examine several management applications where we show that a good understanding of the population modelling is essential to correctly manage natural resources on the planet. Practicals include learning to survey butterflies and birds using citizen science monitoring projects and will be focused on delivering statistical analyses of “Big data” using the open access programme R-studio. The projects will provide a strong training in both subject specific and transferable skills.

Code: ENV-5015A Credits: 20

Atmospheric chemistry and global change are in the news. Stratospheric ozone depletion, acid rain, greenhouse gases, and global scale air pollution are among the most significant environmental problems of our age. Chemical composition and transformations underlie these issues, and drive many important atmospheric processes. This module covers the fundamental chemical principles and processes in the atmosphere, from the Earth's surface to the stratosphere, and considers current issues of atmospheric chemical change through a series of lectures, problem-solving classes, seminars, experimental and computing labs, as well as a field trip to UEA’s own atmospheric observatory in Weybourne/North Norfolk.

Code: ENV-5016A Credits: 20

This module gives you an understanding of the physical processes occurring in the basin-scale ocean environment. We will introduce and discuss large scale global ocean circulation, including gyres, boundary currents and the overturning circulation. Major themes include the interaction between ocean and atmosphere, and the forces which drive ocean circulation. You should be familiar with partial differentiation, integration, handling equations and using calculators. Shelf Sea Dynamics is a natural follow-on module and builds on some of the concepts introduced here. We strongly recommend that you also gain oceanographic fieldwork experience by taking the 20-credit biennial Marine Sciences field course.

Code:  ENV-5021A Credits: 20

Hydrology and hydrogeology are Earth Science subjects concerned with the assessment of the natural distribution of water in time and space and the evaluation of human impacts on the water. This module provides an introduction to geological controls on groundwater occurrence, aquifer characteristics, basic principles of groundwater flow, basic hydrochemistry, an introduction to catchment hydrology, hydrological data collection and analysis, runoff generation processes and the principles of rainfall-runoff modelling. Practical classes develop analytical skills in solving problems as well as field skills in pumping test analysis and stream gauging. A field excursion in Norfolk is also offered in this module.

Code: ENV-5040A Credits: 20

Human geography and the environmental social sciences employ a range of approaches and methods with which to explore their diverse research questions. This module will introduce you to the practice of social science research, including methods that use quantitative (numerical) and qualitative (non-numerical) data. Through a combination of lectures, workshops, and practical activities, you will learn how to design and carry out your own research. By the end of the module you will know how to formulate an interesting research question; how to choose an appropriate method to investigate it; how to ensure that you collect good quality data; how to analyse and interpret your data; and how to present the results of your research. The module is recommended if you intend to use social research methods in your independent dissertation project. In addition to gaining practical research skills, you will develop your ability to critically evaluate research studies that use social science methods. As well as benefiting your academic studies, these analytical and practical research skills are highly valued in many occupational sectors.

Code: ENV-5043A Credits: 20

The weather affects everyone and influences decisions that are made continuously around the world. From designing and siting a wind farm to assessing flood risk and public safety, weather plays a vital role. Have you ever wondered what actually causes the weather we experience, for example why large storms are so frequent across north western Europe, especially in Winter? In this module you will learn the fundamentals of the science of meteorology. We will concentrate on the physical processes that underpin the radiation balance, thermodynamics, wind-flow, atmospheric stability, weather systems and the water cycle. We will link these to renewable energy and the weather we experience throughout the Semester. Assessment will be based entirely on a set of practical reports that you will submit, helping you to spread your work evenly through the semester. You will learn how Weather is a rich fusion of descriptive and numerical elements and you will be able to draw effectively on your own skill strengths while practising and developing others, guided by Weatherquest’s Meteorologists.

Code: MTHB5010A Credits: 20

Matrix algebra: Introduction to matrices. Systems of linear equations. Solving systems of linear equations using elementary operations. Matrices and systems of linear equations. Gaussian elimination, row echelon form and back-substitution. Reduced row echelon form; use of rank to distinguish cases of no solution, unique solution, infinitely many solutions. Matrix inversion. Determinants. Linear independence, calculation of eigenvalues and eigenvectors. Numerical methods: Numerical methods for solving matrix systems. Iterative methods including Jacobi iteration and Gauss-Seidel iteration. Convergence criteria. Interpolation. Numerical differentiation and integration. Numerical integration of ODEs. Elements of programming in Python (or Matlab): Defining and manipulating variables. Arrays. Data input and graphics output. Functions. If/Then statements and For loops. Programs implementing numerical methods for systems of linear equations, nonlinear equations and integration of ODEs. Fourier series and Fourier transforms: Introduction to time series. Frequency domain. Definition and properties. Examples of transforms. Techniques for inverse transforms. Application to integral equations. Application to linear ODEs and PDEs Second-order partial differential equations: Basic concepts and definitions, wave equation, heat conduction equation, Laplace's equation. The method of separation of variables. Application of this method for solving initial/boundary value problems associated with the aforementioned P.D.E.'s. D'Alembert's solution for the wave equation. Application for solving initial value problems for the wave equation on infinite and semi-infinite domains.

Option Range C (20 Credits)

NOTE: Students must submit a request to the School for a place on fieldcourses. Students must ensure that a module chosen from this range does not have a timetable clash with modules selected in another options range.

Code: PPLB4 Credits: 20

There are a broad range of Beginners Language Modules for you to choose from. To explore all our available modules, please follow the link at the top of this page to see a full list of Level 4 Options.

Code: PPLB5 Credits: 20

There are a broad range of Beginners Language Modules for you to choose from. To explore all our available modules, please follow the link at the top of this page to see a full list of Level 5 Options.

Code: ENV-5039B Credits: 20

The Earth’s terrestrial and marine water bodies support life and play a major role in regulating the planet’s climate. This module will train you to make accurate measurements of the chemical composition of the aquatic environment. In lectures and in the lab you will explore important chemical interactions between life, fresh and marine waters and climate, looking at nutrient cycles, dissolved oxygen, trace metals, carbonate chemistry and chemical exchange with the atmosphere. Students taking this module are expected to be familiar with basic chemical concepts and molar concentration units. This module makes a good combination with Aquatic Ecology.

Code: BIO-5014B Credits: 20

This module introduces you to major concepts and definitions in community ecology, macro-ecology and biogeography. You will use these to explore how communities are structured in relation to local-scale to regional-scale processes, how they function and respond to perturbations at different scales, and result in emergent macro- to global-scale patterns of biodiversity distribution. Throughout the module, there is an emphasis on the relevance of theory and fundamental science to understanding the current environmental and biodiversity crisis. Anthropogenic impacts on natural communities through land-use, species exploitation, non-native species, and climate change, are a recurrent theme underpinning the examples you will draw upon.

Code: ENV-5038A Credits: 20

How can human geography help us understand and address pressing environmental and social problems? This is the central question of the module which affirms the distinctive value and relevance of work in contemporary human geography. Throughout you will explore a wide range of approaches to environmental and social problems in contemporary human geography. You’ll gain a firm grounding in social constructivism which is underlying philosophy of these approaches - at its core social constructivism is about challenging our assumptions, digging deeper to ask why certain problems have emerged, and coming up with new ways of dealing with them. You’ll also learn how to communicate insights from human geography to policy-makers and practitioners, and how to critically evaluate examples of human geographers’ engagements with policy. You’ll begin with the basics of social constructivism, learn why this approach is used by human geographers, and consider the value of this perspective. You’ll then delve deeper, exploring the social construction of a different object or problem each week. Topics covered will include: nature, hazards, alternative economies, and social difference. You’ll practice applying what you’ve learnt to tackling current problems, and learn about how human geographers are making a difference to these issues. You’ll learn through a mixture of lectures, workshops and self-directed study and you’ll be assessed through a written policy brief and reflective report (100%).

Code: ENV-5044B Credits: 20

This module examines the complexities of the transition to low carbon energy systems. It draws on a range of disciplines, theories and perspectives to critically examine many of the key challenges. It begins by exploring how we can understand energy systems and how they differ across space and time. The module draws on historical analyses to understand how energy systems have evolved in the past, as well as examining the different ways in which we can imagine the future of energy. Students will gain an in-depth understanding of the complexities of changing energy systems, enabling them to critically engage with debates around future “energy transitions”, the role that innovation and emergent technologies might play, and the various challenges of shifting towards renewable based energy systems.

Code: ENV-5002B Credits: 20

The most significant obstacles to problem solving are often political, not scientific or technological. This module examines the emergence and processes of environmental politics. It analyses these from different theoretical perspectives, particularly theories of power and public policy making. The module is focused on contemporary examples of politics and policy making at UK, EU and international levels. The module supports student-led learning by enabling students to select (and develop their own theoretical interpretations of) ‘real world’ examples of politics. Assessment is via seminar slides and a case study essay. The module assumes no prior knowledge of politics.

Code: ENV-5004B Credits: 20

In this module you will learn about the processes that shape the Earth's shallow subsurface, and how to detect and map subsurface structures and resources. Physical properties of solid materials and subsurface fluids will be explored, including how fluid movement affects these properties. Methods to image the subsurface will be introduced using real datasets, collected by the class where possible. We will apply the theory to real-life problems including risk mitigation, engineering and resource exploration. This module will include fieldwork on campus where possible, specialist computer software, and some light mathematical analysis (trigonometry, rearranging linear equations, logarithms).

Code: ENV-5005K Credits: 20

What lies beneath our feet? This module addresses this question by exploring how wavefields and potential fields are used in geophysics to image the subsurface on scales of metres to kilometres. You’ll study the basic theory, data acquisition and interpretation methods of seismic, electrical, gravity and magnetic surveys. A wide range of applications are covered, including archaeological geophysics, energy resources and geohazards. Highly valued by employers, this module features guest lecturers from industry who explain the latest 'state-of-the-art' applications and give you unique insight into real world situations. Students doing this module are normally expected to have a good mathematical ability, notably in calculus and algebra. This module also includes a one-week field course, currently held in the Lake District during Easter break. The cost of attending the field course is subsidised by the School but students enrolling must commit to paying a sum to cover their attendance.

Code: ENV-5028B Credits: 20

This module builds upon the introduction to GIS provided in the first year Research and Field Skills module, focusing on how you obtain your data, integrate it and then undertake analysis and presentation tasks. ESRI ArcGIS will be the main software used, but the module also offers information on online GIS (ArcGIS Online) as well as scripting tools (Python) and open source software (QGIS) that you may wish to progress in your own time. Teaching will consist of a one-hour lecture and a three-hour practical class each week.

Code: MTHB5011B Credits: 20

Vector calculus: Scalar fields, gradient, directional derivative, level surfaces. Vector fields, divergence, Laplacian, curl, divergence theorem, Stokes's theorem, solenoidal vector fields, irrotational vector fields. Velocity potential, horizontal divergence. Uniform stream. Mass source Fluid dynamics: Basic concepts. Introduction. Continuum hypothesis. Pressure. Hydrostatic pressure. Buoyancy and Archimedes' principle. Material derivative. Streamlines. Stream tubes. One-dimensional flows. Conservation of mass. Bernoulli's equation. Flow over an obstacle. Hydraulic jump. Two and three-dimensional flows. Conservation of mass. Streamlines. Forces. Euler's equations of motion. Bernoulli's equation in generality. Rotation and vorticity. Rotation. Vorticity, velocity and streamfunction. Line vortex. Irrotational, incompressible flow and the velocity potential. Velocity potential. Horizontal divergence. Uniform stream. Line source. Real flows with both rotation and divergence. Vortices and time-mean wind field. Water waves. Modelling and boundary conditions. Linear theory of surface gravity waves. Phase speed and group speed. Deep water & shallow water approximations. Particle orbits. Solid mechanics: Theory of stress and strain for linear elasticity. Traction on a surface, resultant force and torque, normal and shear stresses. Principle stresses and strains. Equations of equilibrium, and constitutive law for isotropic linearly elastic solids. Examples of simple deformations and elastic waves.

Code: ENV-5009B Credits: 20

This module will build upon material covered in Meteorology I, by covering topics such as synoptic meteorology, weather hazards, micro-meteorology, further thermodynamics and weather forecasting. The module includes a major summative coursework assignment based on data collected on a UEA meteorology fieldcourse in a previous year.

Year 3 (Year Abroad)

Compulsory Modules (120 credits)

Code: ENV-6032Y Credits: 120

This module corresponds to the equivalent UEA credits obtained by those on a full academic year of approved study at a specified university in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand or in Europe. You are required to enrol on a full load of credits. What is considered a full load depends on the exchange partner university. The following list gives an overview: - USA: 6-8 modules at 3-4 credits each; 24 credits per year - Canada: 8 modules at 0.5/1.5/3 credits each; 4/12/24 credits per year - Australia: usually 8 modules per year; varying number of credits - New Zealand: usually 6 modules per year; varying number of credits - Europe: 2-8 modules at 7.5 to 30 ECTS credits; 60 ECTS credits per year The choice of modules abroad must be agreed by you and your module organiser prior to departure and must be of the appropriate nature and level (e.g. upper division at US universities) to the degree programme that you are enrolled in at UEA. Marks awarded at the host institution will be converted to UEA marks following an algorithm into a single overall average mark for the year abroad. Reassessment of this module is not possible.

Year 4

Compulsory Modules (60 Credits)

Code: ENV-7026Y Credits: 60

This year long module involves you carrying out individual research in the environmental sciences, with the topic suggested by and closely directed by a supervisor. The work will develop your research skills through learning by doing. You will presented your results as a seminar and in the form of a research paper. The project differs from Year 3 project in requiring greater time and higher expected standards of research design and application of data. This module is restricted to UG students on the MSci programme only.

Option Range A (40 - 60 Credits)

Students will select 40-60 credits from the following modules and must also submit a request to the School for a place on the fieldcourse if that is chosen:

Code: ENV-7018A Credits: 20

You will engage in Earth science topics at an advanced level and develop advanced study skills. The module will be strongly research lead and based around your learning. It will involve engagement with appropriate research seminars in the School of Environmental Sciences and directed research on key topics with discussions and seminars. The topics included vary from year to year but they are likely to include topics in sedimentology, palaeoclimate, geological hazards, Earth history, the Earth system. The module will develop your research and communication skills in addition to imparting specialist knowledge. To take this module, you will need a background in physical geography or environmental sciences.

Code: ENV-7028K Credits: 20

PLEASE NOTE: This module does not run in 2022/23, but does run in the 2023/24 academic year; invitations to register for this fieldcourse will be circulated to relevant students in November 2022. This module alternates with the Geosciences field course to Spain which runs next in 2022/23. During this field course you will develop a deeper understanding and integration of geoscience subjects: the fieldwork will develop your applied skills such as aspects of structural geology, regional tectonics, sedimentology, palaeoclimate and palaeoenvironments, and volcanology. There are two field bases in the Greece, a) the Gulf of Corinth active rift (6 days plus a day off), and b) Santorini volcano (4 days) plus 3 travel days.

Code: ENV-7042B Credits: 20

Geophysical hazards such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and landslides have significant environmental and societal impacts. This module focuses on the physical basis and analysis of each hazard, their global range of occurrence, probability of occurrence and their local and global impact. You will address matters such as hazard monitoring, modelling and assessment, and consider approaches towards risk mitigation and the reduction of vulnerability (individual and societal), with an emphasis on their practical implementation. Scenarios and probabilities of mega-disasters are also investigated. All the teaching faculty involved have practical experience of supplying professional advice on these hazards (and related risks) in addition to their own research involvement. A basic knowledge of physical science and of mathematics is assumed e.g. use of logs, exponentials, powers, cosines, rearrangement of equations.

Option Range B (0 - 20 Credits)

Code: ENG-7012A Credits: 20

The aim of this module is to expose you to the technical and commercial realities of the oil and gas industry. An overview of the subject leads to a number of specific case studies provided by practising engineers. A number of assessment techniques are used, from individual presentations to analysis of reserves or research for a briefing document addressing issues of health and safety risk management. Each year the case studies will reflect the expertise of the visiting practising engineers. Although there are no pre-requisites this module is a good follow on to the Fossil Fuels module.

Code: ENV-7003A Credits: 20

Our aim is to show how environmental problems may be solved from the initial problem, to mathematical formulation and numerical solution. Problems will be described conceptually, then defined mathematically, then solved numerically via computer programming. The module consists of lectures on numerical methods and computing practical's; the practical's being designed to illustrate the solution of problems using the methods covered in lectures. We will guide students through the solution of a model of an environmental process of their own choosing. The skills developed in this module are highly valued by prospective employers.

Code: ENV-7014A Credits: 20

Climate change and variability have played major roles in shaping human history, and the prospect of human-caused global warming is a pressing challenge for society. But how and why has climate changed, how do we predict future climate and how do our choices affect future climate? Throughout this module, you will learn how climate science can answer these questions. Discover the approaches, methods and techniques for understanding the history of climate change and for developing climate projections for the next 100 years. You'll also explore the scientific evidence about climate change and where the uncertainties lie. Starting with an introduction to the changing climate and the main themes in current climate research, your study will be structured around three topics. (1) Fundamentals of the changing climate including the Earth’s energy balance, causes of climate change and the greenhouse effect. (2) Research methods, consisting of empirical approaches to climate reconstruction (such as tree-ring research), analysis of observational data (focusing on the global temperature record and causes of recent climate change), and an introduction to energy balance models and general circulation models. (3) Climate change and causal mechanisms, concentrating on the period from 1000 CE to the present and climate projections out to 2100 CE. Studying the physical science basis of climate change will enable you to understand what controls our climate, to explain the causes of the changes we have observed, and to interpret projections of future climate change.

Code: ENV-7020A Credits: 20

Environmental assessment is a term used to describe procedures for evaluating the potential environmental consequences of policies, programmes, plans and projects. It is a well established tool for environmental policy integration, being routinely employed in more than 100 nations and by many international aid and funding agencies. This multidisciplinary module focuses on the theory and methods of environmental assessment and the decision-making contexts in which they are employed. It explains the procedural stages of, and selected methodologies for, environmental assessment and provides practical experience in applying them.

Code: ENV-7021K Credits: 20

Environmental Assessment is considered to be more effective when conducted at strategic levels of decision making, and is usually perceived to have a goal of achieving sustainable development. This module provides experience of conducting a particular form of strategic assessment, Sustainability Appraisal (SA), which incorporates environmental, social and economic considerations into plan making. Through practice of SA, a field course involving hands-on application of environmental assessment techniques, and consideration of effectiveness theory, this module will examine what makes assessment effective. Please note that there will be a charge for attending this field course (in the range of £250-300) to cover attendance.

Code: ENV-7025A Credits: 20

If everyone on Earth lived like a typical UK citizen we’d need three planets-worth of resources. But we only have one. Why do we consume the way we do? What drives our behaviour and how might we persuade people to live more sustainably? What do we mean by a sustainable lifestyle, anyway? These are questions academics, businesspeople, campaigners and policymakers struggle with every day and there are no easy answers. In this module you’ll get to grips with competing visions about what sustainable consumption is. You’ll gain an understanding of a range of theoretical approaches to understanding consumption behaviour and you’ll learn how to apply these theories to develop strategies for achieving sustainable consumption. You’ll begin by examining the impacts of western-style consumerism on the Earth’s social, economic and environmental systems. Using concepts such as ecological footprinting, needs and wellbeing, you’ll take a closer look at how economic and environmental systems interact. You'll contrast a ‘green growth’ approach to sustainable consumption with a more radical ‘de-growth’ model. Drawing on interdisciplinary social science theories from economics, psychology, sociology and ethnography, you’ll go on to investigate a range of strategies for achieving change, by government, business, civil society, and individual consumers. You’ll get hands-on experience testing and applying these ideas yourselves, in participative workshops, alongside award-winning innovative teaching methods. In lectures, you’ll learn about topics such as Ethical Consumption, Limits to Growth, Collaborative Consumption, Community-based initiatives, Life Cycle Analysis and Behaviour-change campaigns. Understanding the theoretical debates behind everyday actions for sustainability will make you better able to design and implement sustainability strategies in the workplace – whether in the public or private sector, or civil society. You’ll be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses in sustainable consumption campaigns and policies, and offer theoretically-informed solutions.

Code: ENV-7029B Credits: 20

The majority of greenhouse gas emissions are the result of how we supply and use energy. In this module you will explore climate change from an energy perspective. You will learn about key relationships between energy, the economy, and society. The module draws on historical analyses to understand how energy systems have evolved in the past, as well as examining the role that scenarios play in understanding energy futures. You will gain an in-depth understanding of the complexities of changing energy systems, enabling you to engage critically with debates around future “energy transitions”, the role that innovation and emergent technologies might play, and the various challenges of shifting towards renewable based energy systems.

Code: ENV-7031A Credits: 20

This module studies a set of different proposed techniques, called geoengineering, that seek to modify the Earth’s climate by reducing the degree of anthropogenic radiative forcing, either by reflecting more sunlight back to space or by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This is a complex, controversial and highly uncertain area of science that requires a strongly interdisciplinary approach. The potential role of geoengineering techniques as a complement to mitigation and adaptation in tackling future climate change raises a number of important questions, not least for international policy making.

Code: ENV-7033B Credits: 20

How do you test a hypothesis? How do you compare biological traits between wild populations? And how do you best test and visualise differences between samples? Scientists use a wide array of methods for statistical analysis and plotting data, and increasingly, these tasks are carried out using R. R is a free programming language for statistical computing and graphics, including general and generalised linear models, time-series analysis, and community analysis, and also specialised analyses in many scientific subfields. Learning R will equip you with a flexible statistical, modelling, and graphics tool. Learning the basics of running R in the RStudio programming environment, you’ll spend most of your time on general and generalised linear models, which unify the range of statistical tests that are classically taught separately: t-test, ANOVA, regression, logistic regression, and chi-square, plus residuals analysis. Additionally, you’ll learn how to use R to write simple programs and carry out community analyses such as principal components analysis. Finally, throughout the class, you’ll learn R methods for data formatting, graphics, and documentation. On successful completion of this module you’ll be able to use R to carry out and present results from the most widely used statistical tests in current scientific practice, giving you sufficient knowledge to continue learning statistical analysis on your own. A pre-requisite of first and/or second year statistical modules is required.

Code: ENV-7034A Credits: 20

This module will provide essential GIS tools and principles that will be applied to modelling ecological and environmental change. This module includes two parts, the first part delivers core GIS skills. The second part examines recent ecological and environmental changes with particular emphasis to climate change. Students will learn to identify, extract and analyse data from national and global databases. GIS analyses will include the manipulation of such files. Particular attention will be paid to using the data to understand and model the consequences of environmental change. These skills are important in many areas of ecological and environmental research. This module is suitable for students with no or little previous knowledge of GIS and will be relevant to students from across the sciences.

Code: ENV-7038B Credits: 20

How can science and society work better together to solve sustainability challenges? How can society be properly engaged and accounted for in addressing pressing issues like climate change, energy transitions and natural hazards? These questions, that lie at the core of this module, have become major concerns for scientists, governments, businesses, NGOs and citizens the world over. Throughout the module you will gain a rich appreciation of key theories, approaches and practical methods for understanding and improving relations between science, technology and society in sustainability settings. You’ll explore the nature of science and how it relates to society. You’ll discover a wealth of approaches for public engagement with science, and consider how sustainability can be more effectively governed. You’ll also learn how to critically evaluate and communicate these ideas through written, oral and self-reflective means. You’ll begin the module by considering how relations between science and society have evolved over time and are viewed differently by different disciplines. The fascinating interdisciplinary field called science and technology studies (STS) will provide a key resource that you will become an expert in as you progress. The module’s three main parts will take you on a journey to develop your own critical insights. In part 1 you will consider the nature of science and its relation to society, through examining science controversies like ‘climategate’ and GM crops. In part 2 you will explore new forms of public engagement with science and technology, such as science communication, deliberative democracy, citizen science, and smart technologies in the home. In part 3 you will study pioneering new ways of governing science and sustainability in fairer and more socially responsible ways, through responsible innovation of climate geoengineering for example. You’ll learn through a mixture of lectures, practical classes, in-class debates, and self-directed study. Your new knowledge and skills will be put into practice by creating a blog to communicate your ideas, as well as through written work and presentations. You’ll also benefit from the module being taught by staff in the Science, Society and Sustainability (3S) Research Group, which houses some of the world’s leading experts on societal engagement with sustainability.

Code: ENV-7041A Credits: 20

This interdisciplinary module focuses on the critical evaluation of scientific evidence as a basis for effective biodiversity conservation policy, strategy and interventions, in a world challenged by climate change, population growth and the need for socio-economic development and environmental justice. You will attend an initial block of lectures examining socio-economic drivers of biodiversity loss and motivations for conservation, challenging common assumptions and outlining conceptual frameworks for conservation interventions. A series of seminars by global conservation practitioners provide insights to implementation and employability. Coursework assessments designed to develop skills of evaluating, synthesising and communicating scientific evidence, are supported by feed-forward formative exercises.

Code: ENV-7043B Credits: 20

Based around the theme of Integrated Catchment Management (ICM), in this module you will address the fundamental requirement for an interdisciplinary catchment-based approach to protecting water and soil resources that includes an understanding of land use policy and management. Exploring land and water processes, you will cover aspects of hydrology, water pollution, aquatic ecology, soil science, flood modelling, agronomy and agri-environmental policy. This module is ideally suited for those seeking a career in catchment management working for organisations including water companies, Rivers Trusts, Natural England and the Environment Agency. Whilst there are no prerequisites for this module, numerous practical classes require you to solve mathematical, hydrological and chemical problems and thus a basic understanding of maths, water chemistry and coding (R Studio) would be advantageous.

Code: ENV-7045B Credits: 20

This module examines the geological evidence for climatic change through the Quaternary Period (the last 2.6 million years) and the longer-term evolution of climate through the Cenozoic Era (the last 65 million years). You will explore the interpretation of the geological evidence and consider the causal mechanisms behind the major regional and global environmental events. This will require the use and understanding of a diverse range of indicators of past climate, e.g. isotope geochemistry, sedimentology, palaeoecology and organic geochemistry. We will largely focus on the various types of geochemical, biological and sedimentological information that can be obtained from marine sediments, ice cores, and terrestrial environments. Our primary objective is to use these palaeo-records to reconstruct the timing, the extent and the magnitude of selected climatic events in the geological record.

Code: ENV-7116B Credits: 20

Environmental economics provides a set of tools and principles which can be useful in understanding natural resource management issues. This module introduces you to key principles and tools of environmental economics for students who have not studied the subject previously. It then explores how these principles can be applied to address a number of complex economy-environment problems including climate change, over-fishing and water resources management. In this module you will have the opportunity to practically apply cost-benefit analysis as a framework for decision-making and will gain knowledge on the key non-market valuation techniques that are used to monetarily value environmental goods and services. At the end of the module you will have gained insights into how environmental economics is used in developing natural resource management policy as well as some of the challenges in using environmental economics in policy-making.

Important Information:
Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring and review of modules. Where this activity leads to significant change to a programme and modules, the University will endeavour to consult with affected students. The University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff. Availability of optional modules may be restricted owing to timetabling, lack of demand, or limited places. Where this is the case, you will be asked to make alternative module choices and you will be supported during this process. 

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Entry Requirements

A Levels

AAB, or ABB with an A in the Extended Project, including one from Geography, Geology, Maths, Economics, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science or Physics. Science A-levels must include a pass in the practical element.

T Levels

Obtain an overall Pass including an A in the core of the T Level and a Distinction in the Occupational Specialism. Acceptable pathways: Design, Surveying and Planning for Construction.


DDD in Applied Science, Applied Science (Medical Science), Environmental Sustainability or Countryside Management. Excluding BTEC Public Services, Uniformed Services and Business Administration.

Scottish highers

AAAAA including one from Geography, Geology, Maths, Economics, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science or Physics.

Scottish highers advanced

BBC including one from Geography, Geology, Maths, Economics, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science or Physics.

Irish leaving certificate

4 subjects at H2, 2 subjects at H3 including one from Geography, Geology, Maths, Economics, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science or Physics.

Access course

Pass Access to HE Diploma with Distinction in 36 credits at Level 3 and Merit in 9 credits at Level 3, including 12 credits in either Geography, Geology, Maths, Economics, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science or Physics.

European Baccalaureate

80% including grade 7 in one from Geography, Geology, Maths, Economics, Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science or Physics.

International Baccalaureate

33 points including HL5 in either Geography, Maths, Economics, Biology, Chemistry or Physics.

GCSE offer

You are required to have Mathematics and English Language at a minimum of Grade C or Grade 4 or above at GCSE. 

Additional entry requirements

A-Level General Studies and Critical Thinking are not accepted.  Science A Levels must include a pass in the practical element.

If you do not meet the academic requirements for direct entry, you may be interested in one of our Foundation Year programmes such as BSc Environmental Sciences with a Foundation Year


If you do not meet the academic and/or English requirements for direct entry our partner, INTO University of East Anglia offers guaranteed progression on to this undergraduate degree upon successful completion of a preparation programme. Depending on your interests, and your qualifications you can take a variety of routes to this degree: 

 International Foundation in Pharmacy Health and Life Science (for Year 1 entry to UEA) 

International Foundation in Mathematics and Actuarial Sciences (for Year 1 entry to UEA) 

International Foundation in Physical Sciences and Engineering (for Year 1 entry to UEA) 

Alternative Entry Requirements

UEA recognises that some students take a mixture of International Baccalaureate IB or International Baccalaureate Career-related Programme IBCP study rather than the full diploma, taking Higher levels in addition to A levels and/or BTEC qualifications. At UEA we do consider a combination of qualifications for entry, provided a minimum of three qualifications are taken at a higher Level. In addition some degree programmes require specific subjects at a higher level. 

Important note

Once enrolled onto your course at UEA, your progression and continuation (which may include your eligibility for study abroad, overseas experience, placement or year in industry opportunities) is contingent on meeting the assessment requirements which are relevant to the course on which you are enrolled.

Students for whom english is a foreign language

Applications from students whose first language is not English are welcome. We require evidence of proficiency in English (including writing, speaking, listening and reading): 

  • IELTS: 6.0 overall (minimum 5.5 in all components) for year 1 entry

  • IELTS: 6.5 overall (minimum 6.0 in all components) for year 2 entry   

We also accept a number of other English language tests. Please click here to see our full list

INTO University of East Anglia  

If you do not yet meet the English language requirements for this course, INTO UEA offer a variety of English language programmes which are designed to help you develop the English skills necessary for successful undergraduate study: 



Most applicants will not be called for an interview and a decision will be made via UCAS Track. However, for some applicants an interview will be requested. Where an interview is required the Admissions Service will contact you directly to arrange a time. 

Gap year

We welcome applications from students who have already taken or intend to take a gap year.  We believe that a year between school and university can be of substantial benefit. You are advised to indicate your reason for wishing to defer entry on your UCAS application. 


This course is open to UK and International applicants. The annual intake is in September each year.
Course Reference Number: 4479042

Fees and Funding

Tuition Fees

See our Tuition Fees page for further information. 

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to ensuring that costs do not act as a barrier to those aspiring to come to a world leading university and have developed a funding package to reward those with excellent qualifications and assist those from lower income backgrounds. 

The University of East Anglia offers a range of Scholarships; please click the link for eligibility, details of how to apply and closing dates.

Course related costs

Field courses are available in every year of your course. We fully subsidise the cost of one residential field course. The others are 50% subsidised and carry a cost to students of around £250–£400 depending on destination and duration. These costs cover accommodation, meals and transport. 

You can find out more about the field courses in the module information. 

You’re eligible for reduced fees during your year abroad. Further details are available on our Tuition Fees webpages. 

There will be extra costs related to items such as travel and accommodation during your year abroad, which will vary depending on location. 

View our information about Additional Course Fees. 


Course Reference Number: 4479042

How to Apply

Applications need to be made via the Universities Colleges and Admissions Services (UCAS), using the UCAS Apply option.  


UCAS Apply is an online application system that allows you to apply for full-time Undergraduate courses at universities and colleges in the United Kingdom. It is made up of different sections that you need to complete. Your application does not have to be completed all at once. The application allows you to leave a section partially completed so you can return to it later and add to or edit any information you have entered. Once your application is complete, it is sent to UCAS so that they can process it and send it to your chosen universities and colleges.  


The Institution code for the University of East Anglia is E14. 


Course Reference Number: 4479042
Key details
Full Time
Degree of Master of Sciences
UCAS course code
Entry Requirements
Duration (years)
Explore the relationships between the dynamic inner workings of the Earth and other exciting disciplines in Geography. You’ll study everything from earthquakes and erupting volcanoes to meteorite impacts and flash floods, and have the chance to learn both in the lab and in the field. With a broad range of research areas, such as fossil fuels, geochemistry, earthquakes, volcanoes, geomorphology and hydrogeology, it’s a fascinating and versatile degree with many different potential career pathways. You’ll complete a year of study at Master’s level, and have the chance to add an international dimension to your degree with a year abroad. Our MSci Geology with Geography with a Year Abroad is accredited by the Geological Society of London. Our MSci Geology with Geography with a Year Abroad is ranked in the top 20 for Geology by 'The Complete University Guide 2022'.
Environmental Sciences
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