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MEnvSci Environmental Science with a Year Abroad / Course details

Year of entry: 2019

Course description

In the lab
In the lab

Competition in the graduate job market has risen dramatically over the last ten years, and students are increasingly looking for ways to differentiate themselves. An excellent way to do this is by choosing to incorporate a year studying abroad into your course.

Our MEnvSci Environmental Science course with a Year Abroad is a 4 year degree that will allow you to study at one of our worldwide partner universities whilst completing the third year of your degree. This experience can boost your prospects in the job market and give you a new perspective on your subject area.

The third year is spent studying at one of our world-wide partner universities. These currently include universities in Europe, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. The placement year is fully assessed by the host university and will involve coursework, laboratory classes and examinations. The study abroad academic tutor will be in contact with you during your stay and will provide help and support when necessary.

Students benefit from significantly reduced fees in the third year of the programme. Details are available at amounts/non-standard-fees/

An MEnvSci honours degree in Environmental Science at The University of Manchester is focused on a holistic understanding of Earth systems in order to learn from the past, understand the present and influence the future. Environmental Science is the study of how physical, chemical and biological processes maintain and interact with life, and includes the study of how humans affect nature. As Environmental Science is at the cross-roads of the natural sciences, it provides an enriching alternative to a single-subject honours degree, and can open the door to an exciting range of career options.

We are a School of environmental scientists, geologists, chemists, mathematicians, biologists, physicists and computer scientists, who work together to study the Earth's environment. Our degree covers the full breadth of environmental science, reflecting the main research themes that are fundamental to the work we do in the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Our course will equip you with an armory of skills to take into the world of work, including the ability to analyze problems, to work collaboratively as part of a team, and to develop field, laboratory, numeracy and communication skills.

The reputation of Environmental Science at The University of Manchester's School of Earth and Environmental Science rests on our world-leading inter- disciplinary research into processes operating on, within and beyond the Earth. This research incorporates biological, chemical, physical and environmental aspects of the world and solar system we live in. The close alignment between our teaching and research ensures that units are delivered by scholars who are at the forefront of their disciplines.

Our state-of-the-art teaching facilities include a dedicated undergraduate community space within the School, computing facilities with industry-standard software and undergraduate research laboratories. You'll experience a strong and cohesive student network with a vibrant student society and student chapters of professional organizations.

Special features

We take good care of our students and you will have a dedicated academic advisor to guide you through your degree.

Fees include all compulsory, taught field courses run by Manchester. UK and overseas field courses run in every year of study.

Integrated natural science first year, tailored to the Earth, planets and their environments, allowing you to discover where your interests lie.

Flexible course allowing you to specialise and customise your studies to your interests, following one of three areas of specialisation after the first year, providing an ideal gateway to your career.

A year studying abroad is available on all Environmental Science degree pathways: Pollution and Environmental Processes; Atmospheric Science; and Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology.

Undertake a research project of your choice in the fourth year working alongside world- leading scientists using state-of-the-art research facilities.

Develop your transferrable skills through team work, problem solving and field work.

Teaching and learning

You will benefit from a wide range of teaching and learning methods that suit the content and aims of each course unit. You'll learn through formal lectures, laboratory classes, field classes, and small-group tutorials.

Two-thirds of the contact time is focused on the development of practical skills. Teamwork, problem-solving and fieldwork play a key role in integrating all the elements of the subject, and will also develop transferable skills for geological and non-geological careers.

You'll also undertake an independent project in years 3 and 4 (depending on your degree) that is tailored to you chosen pathway.

Coursework and assessment

This course is assessed by a variety of methods, including:


essays and written assignments


oral and written presentations

field assessment

We place a strong emphasis on practical skills and project work. Around one-third of your assessment in year 3 and half in year 4 will be based on independent research projects.

Course unit details

Our Environmental Science course covers all major aspects of the earth system. The course has a common first year, allowing you to choose your degree pathway based on your experience during year 1.

In years 2 and 3 you'll follow your choice of pathway. Each pathway is defined to ensure you develop core knowledge alongside a choice of optional units.

Course content for year 1

Our first year will introduce you to the modern way we study the Earth. The emphasis in the first year is on building foundational knowledge in the natural sciences, tailored to the Earth, planets and their environments, and on developing practical and transferrable skills.

During this year you will study the principles that underlie all our pathways and will receive one-on-one advice to help you choose your preferred pathway at the end of the first year.  Every first year student will be supported by our peer mentoring schemes and small group work with an academic tutor

The first year units will develop your theoretical knowledge, your numerical, field and laboratory skills, and aid your professional development.

Course units for year 1

The first year is composed of three units which run across the academic year.  Two thirds of your time will be spent in practical and field-based activities.  Each unit is worth 40 out of a total of 120 credits.

Unit 1: Understanding the Earth

This unit will provide you with an understanding of evolution of the Earth within our solar system, the establishment of Earth cycles including the development of plate tectonics, the atmosphere and the oceans.  You will study the history of life on Earth from first life through to the rise of humans, how we utilise energy and resources, and how Earth systems will evolve in the future.

Unit 2: The Natural Scientists Toolkit

In this unit you will study the chemistry, physics and biology of the Earth and planets as integrated systems.  You will develop skills in numeracy and scientific problem solving, learn programming, and apply numerical models to analyse the chemistry and physics of the Earth and its environment.

Unit 3: Practical Skills

Practical classes fieldwork and professional skill development make up a large part of the course. This unit is composed of three parts.

Field Work

You will take part in regular field days throughout semester 1 covering the breadth of the course, for example, explore planetary science at Jodrell bank and geology in the Derbyshire Peak District that is on our door step. You will attend a residential field course in semester 2 that is focused on your preferred degree pathway

Laboratory Skill Development

You'll be introduced to the key observational, laboratory and field skills that you'll need as an Earth scientist.

The Professional Scientist and Society

Our course will equip you with an armory of skills to take into the world of work, including the ability to analyse problems, to work collaboratively as part of a team, and to communicate effectively to different audiences.

Course content for year 2

In year 2 you will tailor your studies to your own academic interests by focusing on a particular aspect of the Earth's environmental system.  Each pathway  consists of the series of core units and extends topics from your first year, introducing new areas in your area of specialisation.

Available Pathways are:

Pollution and Environmental Processes - On this pathway you'll study climate change, biodiversity and environmental management, pollution and control, population dynamics, ecosystems and urbanisation, tackling some of the global grand and pressing problems that will ensure human needs are met in a sustainable way.

Atmospheric Science - Understanding the atmosphere allows us to address a wide range of societal and environmental issues, including weather forecasting, urban air quality, pollutant transport and climate change. On this pathway you'll focus on the atmosphere and its relationship to the Earth system, as well as to society.

Ecology, Evolution and Conservation Biology - The Earth is the only known planet supporting life. The history of the Earth is intertwined with the history of life, and the world is both shaped by, and shapes, the organisms alive today. This pathway focuses on understanding those relationships.

Students on the study abroad programme select the University and units they would like to study during their placement year. You will be assisted in making this choice by your programme director and the study abroad placement academic tutor.

Eligibility for continuation on this MEnvSci programme is at our discretion, based on your general performance and your second year mark. If you are not eligible you will be transferred to the BSc programme.

Course content for year 3

During your year abroad, you will effectively be a student of the host institution. You will follow a course that is broadly similar to that delivered to the third-year students who stay in Manchester, but you may have study options that may not currently be available in Manchester and that are unique to the country you are visiting. The course you follow will be carefully chosen to ensure that your education development is at the correct level. Your placement year will be fully assessed by the host university and will involve coursework, laboratory classes, and examinations.  You may have the opportunity to attend field courses in that country and we encourage you to make the most of this opportunity.

The study abroad academic tutor will be in contact with you during your stay and will provide help and support when necessary.

We choose our partner universities on the basis of their academic standing and their ability to provide an overall educational experience similar to that of Manchester.  We regularly review our partner universities to ensure that your educational experience is not compromised during your year abroad. As a result, it is important to note that our list of host institutions may change as a result of this auditing exercise.

The current list of worldwide placement institutions includes:

University of Toronto

The University of Auckland

University of Sydney Utrecht University

University of Western Australia

University of Tenessee, Knoxville

University of British Columbia

University of Illinois

University of Queensland

University of Melbourne

Course content for year 4

On returning to Manchester for your fourth and final year, you'll carry out an extended individual research project working alongside world-leading scientists using state-of-the-art research facilities, study subject-related units, and attend specialist lectures.

Scholarships and bursaries

Students who achieve AAA at A-level (or equivalent) will be awarded our prestigious William Boyd Dawkins Scholarship.  To be eligible, offer holders will need to have attended a School UCAS visit day and put Manchester as their firm choice. Successful recipients will receive a one-off payment of £1000 during their first year of study.  


We teach our practical sessions in custom-designed, well-equipped laboratories with enough space for you to have your own microscope and work comfortably on your own or in a group.

All our courses are driven and inspired by the latest research in the School, so we also give you access to our most advanced and sophisticated research facilities.

Students benefit from a dedicated resource room with charge-points for laptops and plenty of desktop PCs with specialist software packages for GIS, statistical analysis and e-learning. Photocopying and printing is free.

The room also has copies of textbooks, journals and maps, our large mineral collection and sets of rock specimens for private study - and even a complete, disarticulated dinosaur skeleton for student project work. Our learning adviser is based in the resource room and can advise and help with enquiries.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: