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Environmental Science MEnvSci

Department of Geography

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    You are viewing this course for 2024-25 entry. 2023-24 entry is also available.

    Key details

    Course description

    Study Geography and Environmental Science at Sheffield

    Environmental science is a broad and multidisciplinary subject exploring processes that impact the wide range of ecosystems and environments on Earth. The course at Sheffield was one of the first degree programmes of its kind to be established in the subject.

    In recent years, awareness about the complexity of the natural environment and the impacts of human activity has accelerated. This has led to the growth of environmental science as a major international discipline helping to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing our planet.

    Environmental issues represent a pressing concern for global government, businesses and societies, and there is a high demand for environmental specialists in all these areas. Sheffield remains at the forefront of the subject. This is demonstrated by our graduates who are pursuing careers in industry, research, conservation, ecology and many other sectors across the world.

    Our interdisciplinary approach enables you to be taught by experts in the field. You'll have the opportunity to tailor your degree to suit your interests and study modules that span the environmental sciences and focus on research specialisms such as global environmental change, conservation, sustainability and environmental quality and technology.

    The first three years of this integrated masters course follow the same structure as the BSc Environmental Science. In the first year you'll study modules on topics including geography, earth science and biology. These modules explore the range of physical environments and ecosystems and provide the foundation for the rest of your course.

    In the second and third years, you'll build on what you've learned with more specialised study of environmental science. In the third year, you'll carry out an extended research project in the lab or in the field.

    The fourth year of your MEnvSci provides more advanced training of which a major part is an independent and original research project.

    Our current courses are accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES) and the Committee of Heads of Environmental Sciences (CHES) until 2026. Accreditation means that our courses are of high quality and provide excellent standards of professional development. Students are eligible to become student members of the IES - the first step toward achieving Chartered Environmentalist (CEnv) status.

    Man working in a Geography laboratory


    We're revising the curriculum of this course for this year of entry and are in the process of confirming the modules. The information on this page gives you an idea of the areas we expect the course to cover. There may be changes before you start. From May of the year of entry, formal programme regulations will be available in our Programme Regulations Finder.

    Title: Environmental Science MEnvSci course structure 2024
    UCAS code: F902
    Years: 2024, 2025
    First year

    In your first year, you will cover a range of core topics including conservation, ecology, environmental sustainability, biogeochemical cycles and the general principles of physical geography. You will also begin to develop key environmental and research skills through tutorials, fieldwork, and laboratory and computer practical work.  

    Core modules:

    Ecology and Conservation

    This module is an introduction to the principles of ecology and conservation. It covers ecological concepts about the factors controlling the abundance and distribution of species, coexistence and biodiversity at multiple geographic scales. It combines this with key ideas from tropical and marine communities about conserving populations, communities and habitats. The module includes lectures, a lab practical, an introduction to mathematical modelling in conservation biology and a field trip to Potteric Carr, a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve where you'll put into practice by collecting data to test some of the ideas you've learned in class.

    20 credits
    Climate Change and Sustainability

    This course introduces the core scientific issues required to understand climate change and sustainability. Students will learn the causes of climate change, its impacts in natural and agricultural ecosystems, the influence of biogeochemical cycles in these ecosystems on climate, and strategies for sustainably managing ecosystems in future. Learning will be achieved via lectures and videos, practicals and independent study.

    20 credits
    Global Biogeochemical Cycles

    This module provides fundamentals of environmental sciences with an emphasis on biogeochemical cycling. Challenges in loss of biodiversity, access to clean water, climate change and provision of food for a quickly growing population are best approached centred in sustainability (recycling, reducing consumption) and citizen engagement. The module aims to cover the main earth system approaches that underpin our understanding of environmental challenges using a systems approach. The contents focus heavily on global environmental cycles including climate, air and water resources, pollution, biological communities, geology and energy.

    10 credits
    Earth, Wind, Ice and Fire

    This module introduces the general principles of physical geography for students with diverse backgrounds.  The module seeks to develop a holistic understanding of how the Earth functions as a system, focusing in particular on the functioning of key elements of this system - notably the operation of the geosphere, atmosphere, and cryosphere - and how these elements interact to influence the evolution of the system as a whole. Consideration of the latter aspect will include discussion of the impacts and consequences of alterations to the operation of different parts of the system, such as those caused by past and present climatic change. Finally, we consider how the form of Earth's surface reflects current and past geosphere, atmosphere and cryosphere processes at a range of spatial scales, from small-scale fluvial, aeolian and glacial landforms, to the evolution of continents and large mountain ranges.

    20 credits

    Optional modules:

    Living with Environmental Change

    This module will introduce students to a wide range of critical environmental issues facing the world today from physical science and social science perspectives. Using a range of environmental problems evident in the Global North and Global South (such as climate change, habitat loss, water resources, land-use change, agriculture), the physical and social processes implicated will be examined. Drawing on a range of examples, students will critically explore the causes, consequences, management and solutions to environmental issues and learn how to question assumptions about environmental processes.

    20 credits
    Why Geography Matters

    Geography helps us plan for the future by investigating social and physical processes as they interconnect from the past through to the present. Geographers actively contribute to contemporary debates across the sciences, social sciences, and humanities.  We address some of the most pressing issues facing the modern world linking to social justice and environmental change.  Serving as a bridge between the general introductory modules, and the more specialist modules taught at levels 2 and 3, this module provides an opportunity for students to engage with topical issues in contemporary human and physical geography led by academics actively engaged in cutting edge research who are informing real world policy and practice.  The module provides a challenging but accessible insight into the origins of the discipline and how these translate into the cutting edge of contemporary geographical research, and how this helps us understand and contribute to our changing world.  The module will also begin to highlight for students how knowledge is always produced and reflective of those who produce it in ways that reinforce the positionality of some and silence others.

    The following particular skills will be achieved in this module: exchanging knowledge; networking; emotional intelligence; inclusivity; positive mindset; innovation; commercial awareness.

    20 credits
    Exploring Human Geographies

    The module provides an introduction to key principles, relations and processes that contribute to a diverse array of social, cultural, economic and environmental aspects of human geography.  It looks at spatial patterns of power, inequality and interdependence produced by economic and cultural globalisation, how we experience these at the local scale and and how they have changed over time.  It outlines key concepts and current debates shaping how human geographers approach these issues by drawing on examples from around the world and at a variety of geographical scales.  It highlights the value of a geographical perspective on the world we live in.

    20 credits

    The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

    Learning and assessment


    Our environmental science programmes provide you with the knowledge and skills needed to understand and solve critical environmental issues. You will study with academic staff whose research expertise is internationally recognised and your learning will take place on field classes and in state-of-the-art laboratories, lecture theatres and libraries.

    We invest to create the right environment for you. That means outstanding facilities, study spaces and support, including 24/7 online access to our online library service.

    Study spaces and computers are available to offer you choice and flexibility for your study. Our five library sites give you access to over 1.3 million books and periodicals. You can access your library account and our rich digital collections from anywhere on or off campus. Other library services include study skills training to improve your grades, and tailored advice from experts in your subject.

    Learning support facilities and library opening hours


    You will be assessed through a combination of exams, coursework and practical assessment. The proportions of these will vary depending on the modules you choose.

    Programme specification

    This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.

    Find programme specification for this course

    Entry requirements

    With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible.

    Standard offer

    The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
    including a science subject

    A Levels + additional qualifications ABB, including a science subject + B in the EPQ; ABB, including a science subject + B in Core Maths

    International Baccalaureate 34, with 5 in a Higher Level science subject

    BTEC Extended Diploma DDD in a relevant subject

    BTEC Diploma DD + A in an A Level science subject

    Scottish Highers + 1 Advanced Higher AAABB + B in a science subject

    Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels B + AA, including a science subject

    Access to HE Diploma Award of Access to HE Diploma in a relevant subject, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 36 at Distinction (to include units in science) and 9 at Merit

    Other requirements
    • Science subjects include Geography, Biology/Human Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Further Maths, Geology, Maths, Physics, or Statistics

    • GCSE Maths grade 4/C

    Access Sheffield offer

    The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
    including a science subject

    A Levels + additional qualifications ABB, including a science subject + B in the EPQ; ABB, including a science subject + B in Core Maths

    International Baccalaureate 33, with 5 in a Higher Level science subject

    BTEC Extended Diploma DDD in a relevant subject

    BTEC Diploma DD + B in an A Level science subject

    Scottish Highers + 1 Advanced Higher AABBB + B in a science subject

    Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels B + AB, including a science subject

    Access to HE Diploma Award of Access to HE Diploma in a relevant subject, with 45 credits at Level 3, including 30 at Distinction (to include units in science) and 15 at Merit

    Other requirements
    • Science subjects include Geography, Biology/Human Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Further Maths, Geology, Maths, Physics, or Statistics

    • GCSE Maths grade 4/C

    English language requirements

    You must demonstrate that your English is good enough for you to successfully complete your course. For this course we require: GCSE English Language at grade 4/C; IELTS grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in each component; or an alternative acceptable English language qualification

    Pathway programme for international students

    If you're an international student who does not meet the entry requirements for this course, you have the opportunity to apply for an International Foundation Year in Science and Engineering at the University of Sheffield International College. This course is designed to develop your English language and academic skills. Upon successful completion, you can progress to degree level study at the University of Sheffield.

    If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

    Department of Geography

    Our department building on the edge of Western Park

    The Department of Geography at the University of Sheffield is a world leader in teaching and research. We're ranked within the top 50 universities in the world for geography according to the QS Rankings 2022, top 10 in the world for geography by the ShanghaiRanking Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2022 and top 10 in the  UK for geography by the Guardian University Guide 2023.

    We are experts in the fields of social justice and environmental change. We explore our dynamic, diverse world to address humanity’s greatest problems, from food waste to melting ice sheets. Our innovative research and practice-based learning will equip you with distinct, relevant professional skills.

    We have over 30 full-time academic staff in the department. Our high staff-to-student ratio ensures that you receive excellent quality teaching and a high level of pastoral support throughout your studies.

    The Department of Geography is housed in an award-winning, purpose-built building on the edge of the beautiful Weston Park, close to the Students' Union and central libraries and lecture theatres.


    We have a well-equipped computer teaching laboratory, postgraduate and undergraduate physical geography laboratories, and image processing facilities which provide an important component for teaching and research in remote sensing and geographical information systems (GIS).

    Our facilities

    Department of Geography

    Why choose Sheffield?

    The University of Sheffield

      Number one in the Russell Group
    National Student Survey 2023 (based on aggregate responses)

      92 per cent of our research is rated as world-leading or internationally excellent
    Research Excellence Framework 2021

      Top 50 in the most international universities rankings
    Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2022

      Number one Students' Union in the UK
    Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2022, 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017

      Number one for teaching quality, Students' Union and clubs/societies
    StudentCrowd 2023 University Awards

      A top 20 university targeted by employers
    The Graduate Market in 2023, High Fliers report

    Department of Geography

    Top 10 in the UK for geography

    The Guardian University Guide 2023

    Top 10 in the world for geography

    ShanghaiRanking Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2022

    Top 50 in the world for geography

    QS World University Rankings by subject 2022

    Graduate careers

    Graduates from our BSc Environmental Science and MEnvSci Environmental Science degrees are valued by employers for their specialist environmental science skills and in-depth knowledge of environmental issues and the natural environment.

    Recent graduates have gone on to careers in environmental consultancy and policy, sustainable energy, and land remediation and conservation. Our environmental science degrees are also a strong foundation for careers in other sectors including tech and coding, consultancy and business, financial services, policy and government.

    In addition to further study, our graduates go on to work for leading scientific organisations like Cancer Research, GSK, RB and Mondelez; organisations linked to ecology and conservation such as the RSPB, Wildlife Trusts, Kew Gardens, the Natural History Museum and the Environment Agency; and prestigious graduate schemes like Google, PwC, the BBC, Deloitte, United Kingdom Civil Service, Aldi and the NHS Graduate Management Training Scheme.

    You'll develop your ability to analyse environmental problems from a range of perspectives and at different scales.

    As you learn you’ll have the opportunity to develop the Sheffield Graduate Attributes and Geography Graduate Attributes. These are the academic skills, personal skills and approaches to wellbeing which will help you on your course, aid your personal development and enhance your future employability.

    We have specialist staff who will support you to undertake an additional placement year to enhance learning, share knowledge, and develop confidence and skills for graduate level employment.

    Placements, field trips and study abroad


    You may have the opportunity to add an optional placement year as part of your course, converting the four year course to a five-year Degree with Placement Year.

    A placement year will help you to:

    • gain an insight into possible careers
    • develop a range transferable skills 
    • build a professional network
    • get a feel for what you do and don’t like doing
    • add valuable work experience to your CV
    • gain experience of applying for jobs and interview practice
    • apply elements of academic learning in the workplace

    Field trips

    Field trips are central to teaching and research in the environmental sciences. They allow you to apply the ideas and skills from your lectures and lab work, and are vital for developing the analytical and practical skills required by environmental specialists.

    We are committed to make our field classes financially inclusive. For this reason, all costs for the core field classes at Levels 1 and 2 and the optional UK-based field classes at Level 3 are met by the department. This includes the costs of travel, accommodation and food during your residential stay.

    Your first year typically includes a multi-day field class in the Peak District in the first semester which allows you to gain hands-on experience of observing, recording and interpreting data  and helps you to get to know staff and your fellow students.

    Your second year typically includes a seven-day residential field class in a European destination. In recent years, students have developed and applied their research skills in Almería, Spain, a destination that offers sites for investigating diverse topics related to landforms, microclimate, aeolian processes, water and soil quality, and coastal environments.

    We also run optional field classes in your third year. These are closely aligned with the research strengths of our staff, and give you additional opportunities to develop your fieldwork skills. In recent years we have run trips to investigate glacial, geological and environmental processes that have shaped the beautiful Lake District, and coastal processes and management on the Holderness Coast.

    Additionally, many students conduct fieldwork as part of their dissertation projects and departmental scholarships are available to support ambitious independent fieldwork. Recent scholarships have supported research into the reintroduction of beavers in the Scottish Highlands and glaciology in the Swiss Alps.

    Our field classes give you practical experiences and training in diverse environments. We take an ethical and sustainable approach to planning destinations and consider the impact on local communities and the environment.

    Destinations for field classes may change from year to year in response to our course content, our world-leading research, reviews, feedback from students or wider global events. We will contact students in advance of any changes to our field classes.

    Our fieldwork philosophy

    Study abroad

    Spending time abroad during your degree is a great way to explore different cultures, gain a new perspective and experience a life-changing opportunity that you will never forget. 

    You can apply to extend this course with a year abroad, usually between the second and third year. We have over 250 University partners worldwide. Popular destinations include Europe, the USA, Canada, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. 

    Find out more on the Global Opportunities website.

    Fees and funding


    Additional costs

    The annual fee for your course includes a number of items in addition to your tuition. If an item or activity is classed as a compulsory element for your course, it will normally be included in your tuition fee. There are also other costs which you may need to consider.

    Examples of what’s included and excluded

    Funding your study

    Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a bursary, scholarship or loan to help fund your study and enhance your learning experience.

    Use our Student Funding Calculator to work out what you’re eligible for.

    Visit us

    University open days

    We host five open days each year, usually in June, July, September, October and November. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.

    Open days: book your place

    Subject tasters

    If you’re considering your post-16 options, our interactive subject tasters are for you. There are a wide range of subjects to choose from and you can attend sessions online or on campus.

    Upcoming taster sessions

    Offer holder days

    If you've received an offer to study with us, we'll invite you to one of our offer holder days, which take place between February and April. These open days have a strong department focus and give you the chance to really explore student life here, even if you've visited us before.

    Campus tours

    Our weekly guided tours show you what Sheffield has to offer - both on campus and beyond. You can extend your visit with tours of our city, accommodation or sport facilities.

    Campus tour: book your place


    Make sure you've done everything you need to do before you apply.

    How to apply When you're ready to apply, see the UCAS website:

    Not ready to apply yet? You can also register your interest in this course.

    The awarding body for this course is the University of Sheffield.

    Recognition of professional qualifications: from 1 January 2021, in order to have any UK professional qualifications recognised for work in an EU country across a number of regulated and other professions you need to apply to the host country for recognition. Read information from the UK government and the EU Regulated Professions Database.

    Any supervisors and research areas listed are indicative and may change before the start of the course.

    Our student protection plan

    Terms and Conditions upon Acceptance of an Offer


    Make sure you've done everything you need to do before you apply.

    How to apply When you're ready to apply, see the UCAS website:

    Not ready to apply yet? You can also register your interest in this course.