Our environment is fascinating – but it’s under threat from climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution and resource depletion. This interdisciplinary diploma combines science studies in biology, geography and chemistry, with aspects of technology and social science to help you understand the whole picture. You’ll study the problems we face in understanding our natural environment and living sustainably, as well as developing your scientific, interpretive and creative thinking skills.


Key features of the course

·        Investigates the science of the natural environment 

·        Explores local and global environmental issues  

·        Enhances your employability by developing scientific, interpretive and creative thinking skills

·        Includes compulsory fieldwork, which you'll undertake during two separate UK-based residential school


Course details

This qualification has two stages, each comprising 120 credits. Stage 1 provides the underpinning knowledge and skills needed for more advanced study at Stage 2.

If you have little or no knowledge or experience of studying, you may prefer to start your studies with an Access module as an additional preparatory stage.


Stage 1 (120 credits)

Stage 1 is designed to help you understand important scientific concepts, develop scientific skills and appreciate global environmental issues. You’ll study a broad-based science module and investigate contemporary environmental topics, drawing on perspectives from the social sciences, science and technology to explore challenges.


Compulsory modules (120 credits)


    Exploring science (T904)

Develop key scientific skills and explore a range of fascinating concepts and topics, including genetics, drugs, global warming, atoms, and the origin of the Universe.


     Environment: journeys through a changing world (R546)

Introduces studying the environment and explores the issues arising from environmental change around the globe and the ways in which these challenges are being addressed.

Stage 2 (120 credits)

As you deepen your understanding of environmental science, you’ll begin to appreciate its holistic nature - encompassing earth, air, water and life. You’ll investigate the sustainability of our interactions with the environment, focusing on the atmosphere, rivers, oceans, landforms, soils, organisms, habitats, human influences, patterns and processes – and gain practical experience at two compulsory, separate UK-based field schools and also in virtual field trips. Finally, you’ll choose additional science modules according to your interests and career aspirations.


The modules quoted in this description are currently available for study. However, as we review the curriculum on a regular basis, the exact selection may change over time.


Learning outcomes


Educational aims

This qualification aims to establish and develop the scientific knowledge and techniques you need to study our environment and to understand local and global environmental issues. You will become familiar with a range of scientific methodologies and will gain an appreciation of the scope of environmental science knowledge and an awareness of its relevance to society. The diploma enables you to become an independent learner and prepares you for careers in both the private and public sector.


More specifically, this qualification aims to help you to develop:

·        a lifelong interest in environmental science 

·        an understanding of the contributions of different scientific disciplines to environmental science 

·        an enthusiasm for the study of science through understanding how scientific knowledge develops 

·        an appreciation of the scope of environmental scientific knowledge 

·        an awareness of the impact of environmental science on society. 


Learning outcomes


Knowledge and understanding

On completion of this diploma, you will have knowledge and understanding of:

·        terms, classification systems, conventions and units of measurement appropriate to environmental science, with a foundation in the disciplines of biology, chemistry, Earth sciences and physics 

·        the underlying concepts and principles associated with environmental science, combining depth and breadth of study across disciplines, and taking account of current thinking 

·        appropriate methods of acquiring, interpreting and analysing scientific data and information, including an appreciation of uncertainty. 

Cognitive skills

On completion of this diploma, you will be able to:

·        use and apply knowledge and understanding of essential facts, concepts, principles and theories relating to environmental science 

·        apply such scientific knowledge and understanding to address familiar and unfamiliar situations and to plan and carry out project work 

·        work with scientific data and information and comment on particular aspects of current research 

·        evaluate information from a range of sources and engage with some of the current developments in environmental science 

·        use conceptual models to understand, develop and apply scientific principles. 

Practical and/or professional skills

On completion of this diploma, you will be able to:

·        conduct practical and investigative work in a responsible, safe and ethical manner, and be aware of risk assessment and relevant health and safety regulations 

·        initiate, design, conduct and report on investigations, which may involve primary or secondary data 

·        obtain, record, collate and analyse data derived from laboratory and/or field investigations, and interpret and report their significance in the light of underlying theory, practical issues and relevant information from other sources 

·        plan and improve your own learning and performance so that you can work independently in a way appropriate for continuing personal and professional development. 


Key skills

On completion of this diploma, you will be able to:

·        locate, deal with and respond to a variety of information sources (e.g. textual, numerical, graphical and computer-based), including reviews and primary sources 

·        communicate scientific information accurately and effectively using written, visual and numerical forms in a style that suits purpose and audience, including citing and reference works in an appropriate manner 

·        prepare, process, interpret and present data using appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques, including the use of statistics 

·        appreciate issues of quantity and quality during the recording and analysis of data and design of experiments, including accuracy, precision, uncertainty, sampling, replication and repeatability 

·        use ICT for enhancing your own learning, for data analysis and for communicating scientific information with others. 


Teaching, learning and assessment methods

These are taught through print and online resources, involving various activities, audio-visual and software tools. This will be assessed through a mix of tutor-marked assignments (TMAs), examinations and end-of-module assessments (EMAs). 


Credit transfer

If you’ve already completed some study at another university, you may be able to count it towards your University qualification – reducing the number of modules you need to study.

You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. Just tell us what you studied, where and when, and we’ll compare this against the learning outcomes for your chosen course.


Entry requirements


Study method


Distance Learning

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