MEnvSci Environmental Science / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course description

In the lab
In the lab

Our MEnvSci Environmental Science course is a 4 year degree programme that will give you significant research experience that will make you more attractive to future employers in both academia and industry and will be invaluable if you wish to go on and study for a PhD.

We are a department 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 Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences.

Our course will equip you with an armoury 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 develop field, laboratory, numeracy and communication skills.

The reputation of Environmental Science at The University of Manchester's Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences 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 Department, 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 field courses. 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 pathways after the first year, providing an ideal gateway to your career.

The option to transfer to a related degree during your second year to incorporate industrial experience or international study.

Undertake a research project of your choice 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:

  • exams
  • essays and written assignments
  • projects
  • 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. Eligibility for continuation onto the fourth year of this MEnvSci programme is based on your marks at the second and/or third years. If you are not eligible you will be transferred to the BSc programme.

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 course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Understanding the Earth EART11100 40 Mandatory
The Natural Scientist's Toolkit EART11200 40 Mandatory
Practical and Professional Skills Development EART11300 40 Mandatory

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.

For an indicative list of the course units for each pathway, please click on the links below:

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.

Course content for year 3

In your final year, you can choose from a wide range of course units made up of core units from within your own pathway specialization  units from other pathways offered within the Environmental Sciences degree, as well as units from our other degree in Earth and Planetary Science. A range of units are offered which have an applied focus to help you prepare for your future career.

Alternatively, you may choose to study a course from the University's College for Interdisciplinary Learning , including our innovative Leadership in Action course, which combines study with volunteering and personal development.

You'll undertake a research project that is tailored to your degree pathway specialisation. You will collect data in the field and laboratory to answer a scientific question of your choice.

Course content for year 4

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 department 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 department, 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: