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Environmental Earth Sciences BSc (Honours) 2022 entry

Environmental Earth sciences will equip you to understand the processes and mechanisms of the global Earth system. Combining aspects of geology, oceanography, biology and geography, this degree considers how the oceans, atmosphere, biosphere, and geosphere interact to drive environmental change from early Earth history to the modern era. The course also addresses the main challenges facing society today from climate change to environmental degradation.

The degree provides hands-on training in field and laboratory techniques central to environmental and geobiological sciences. 

Students interested in this course may also be interested in the Geology BSc or the Earth Sciences MGeol Integrated Masters course, which allows you to graduate with a Master in Geology. 


The BSc in Environmental Earth Sciences from St Andrews is accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences.

How to apply Register your interest

Key information

UCAS code


Course type

Bachelor of Science (single Honours degree)

Course duration

Four years full time

  • Start date: 5 September 2022
  • End date: 30 June 2026

Entry requirements

These grades are the overall standards required to consider you for entry. Find out more about Standard, Minimum and Gateway entry requirements using academic entry explained and see which entry requirements you need to look at using the entry requirements indicator.

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes. Please see our entry requirements for more information.

Direct entry to second year

Well-qualified school leavers may be able to apply for admission directly into the second year of this course.

International applicants

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide an English language test score to evidence your English language ability. Find out more about English language requirements.

How to apply

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

Most students who enrol on this course have not studied Earth sciences at school, and choose Earth sciences based on a love of the environment, the outdoors, and science. If you are interested in the processes that shape the planet and its environment, a degree in Earth sciences is likely the right choice. Preference will be given to candidates with strong science qualifications.

General entry requirements

All applicants must have attained the following qualifications, or equivalent, in addition to the specific entry requirements for individual programmes.

  • SQA National 5 (B) in English and one SQA National 5 (B) from the following:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing science
    • Geography
    • Lifeskills Mathematics (A grade)
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology.
  • GCSE (5) in English language or English literature, and one GCSE (5) from the following:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing Science
    • Geography
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology.

Other qualifications

More information on how to apply via other entry routes or accreditation of prior learning and experience can be found on the University’s entry requirements web page.

Course information

The BSc (Hons) in Environmental Earth Sciences is a four-year course run by the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences. During your degree, you will be able to take advantage of hands-on field and laboratory-based research projects that investigate topics as varied as what isotopic signals preserved in recent sediments tell us about conditions at the time of their formation, how ocean acidification affects the formation of coral reefs and the impact of volcanoes on climate.

In first year, you will be introduced to the main concepts of Earth system science, including Earth structure and Earth history, the evolution of life and the Earth’s biosphere, as well as contemporary processes that shape the planet’s surface and impact the living envelope.

Alongside environmental Earth sciences, in the first year of your studies you will be required to study an additional two subjects. In the second year, you will usually carry on at least one of these subjects. Find out more about how academic years are organised.

In second year, modules provide additional and deeper study into climatology, mineralogy, sedimentary systems, earth surface processes, palaeontology, geophysics and geochemistry.

At Honours level, there is a shift from broad-themed modules to more specialised ones that introduce students to a wide variety of exciting new research trends and findings. Modules involve the opportunity to get first-hand experience of new research discoveries and advances in Earth Science by staff in an integrated lecture-lab-field forum.

The School is home to state-of-the-art analytical facilities supported by full-time technicians. These allow for the detailed characterisation of natural and synthetic materials, culturing of micro and macro organisms in extreme environments, and geological and geophysical field deployment. These facilities will enable you to address questions from fundamental field geology and to assess anthropological versus natural processes in driving environmental change. Find out more about research facilities.

The University of St Andrews operates on a flexible modular degree system by which degrees are obtained through the accumulation of credits. More information on the structure of the modules system can be found on the flexible degree structure web page.

Well-qualified school leavers may be able to apply for admission directly into the second year of this course.

It is possible for students to take a five-year Integrated Masters course in Earth Sciences, allowing you to graduate with a Master of Geology.

Students interested in this course may also be interested in taking the Geology BSc instead.


All students have the opportunity to obtain fieldwork skills via day and multi-week-long field trips associated with individual modules, as well as up to four weeks of fieldwork associated with their independent research projects.

Examples of field trips that are part of the BSc Environmental Earth Sciences degree include:

  • First year: the five-day “Highland Fling” to renowned geological sites in the Scottish Highlands.
  • Second year: multiple days providing key field skills for environmental science; six days of geological mapping in Central Spain examining multiple phases of continental collision and mountain building. 
  • Third year: four days of woodland survey to quantify carbon sequestration rates; six days in Rio Tinto investigating the geochemistry and geobiology of acid mine drainage in southern Spain.
  • Fourth year: a five-day West Coast cruise exploring oceanography, marine biology, and sedimentology on a research vessel on Scotland’s beautiful West Coast.

Accreditation logo from CHES (Committee of Heads of Environmental Sciences)

The BSc in Environmental Earth Sciences is accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences.


In the first two years of your degree (known as sub-honours) you will take the required modules in environmental Earth sciences alongside modules in at least one other subject.

In first year, you must complete two compulsory modules, and in second year, you must complete three compulsory modules. At Honours level, you will take seven to eight compulsory modules. Find out more about the modular Scottish degree system.

Students are required to take the following compulsory modules in their first year:

  • Understanding Planet Earth: provides a foundation into the study of Earth through a study of key elements of the planet and environmental sciences.
  • Earth's Resource Challenges: builds on the knowledge from Semester 1, including addressing issues related to natural resources and creating a low carbon economy.

Students are required to take the following compulsory modules in their second year: 

  • Dynamic Earth: The Earth System: focuses on the understanding of Earth's history and the behaviour of the solid Earth and its interaction with the atmosphere, biosphere and beyond.
  • Dynamic Earth: Magma, Minerals and Metamorphism: focuses on the geology and geochemistry of the solid Earth and processes in Earth's interior.
  • Dynamic Earth: Earth Surface Processes: focuses on the low temperature processes that occur in the outer envelopes of the Earth including land-atmosphere interactions, oceanography, biogeochemical cycles and geomicrobiology.

If you decide to take Earth and environmental sciences in your third and fourth years, you choose from a wide variety of advanced options, including modules in climate research, hydrology, geochemistry and geophysics.

Honours modules involve key skills training and first-hand experience linked to new research discoveries and advances in Earth sciences, and courses that have been offered in the past included the following topics:

  • Advanced Geochemistry
  • Data Analysis in Earth Sciences 
  • Environmental Drivers of Marine Habitats
  • Geochemistry
  • GIS and Spatial Analysis for Earth Scientists
  • Global Biogeochemical Cycles
  • Global Climate Change
  • Processes and Productis in Sedimentary Systems
  • The Compositions of Natural Waters and Sedimentary Rocks.

In your final year, you will undertake an independent research dissertation involving field and laboratory analyses and research presentations.

The compulsory modules listed here must be taken in order to graduate in this subject. However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in. For Honours level, students choose from a range of Honours modules, some of which are listed above. A full list of all modules appropriate to the programme for the current academic year can be found in the programme requirements.



Teaching format

The School’s teaching philosophy is to provide a thorough understanding of Earth sciences through experiential learning via field and lab-based study, first-hand experience in collecting data, testing hypotheses and undertaking analyses, and student-led investigative research.

The BSc in Earth and Environmental Sciences is taught through a combination of:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • tutorials
  • practical classes
  • field work
  • research projects. 

Typical class sizes include:

  • First year: lectures 80 to 110 students, tutorials 3 to 6 student
  • Second year: 30 to 40 students
  • Honours: 10 to 30 students

When not attending lectures, tutorials and practical classes, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve:

  • reading relevant literature
  • working on individual and group projects
  • undertaking research in the library
  • preparing coursework assignments and presentations
  • preparing for examinations.

You will be taught by an experienced teaching team with expertise and knowledge of Earth sciences. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of laboratory classes and seminars under the supervision of the module leader.

You can find contact information for all environmental Earth sciences staff on the School of Environmental and Earth Sciences website.

In addition to your studies in the School of Environmental and Earth Sciences, optional academic support is available through practical study skills courses and workshops hosted within the University.

The University’s Student Services team can help students with additional needs resulting from disabilities, long term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities web page


During first and second year, all modules are assessed by an equal weighting of coursework and written examinations including short questions and essays.

At Honours level, some modules are assessed through coursework (50%) and a final examination (50%), and other modules are based entirely on coursework.

The Honours dissertation is assessed through a written dissertation, project proposal and presentation.

The School aims to provide feedback on assessments and coursework within three weeks.

Undergraduates at the University of St Andrews must achieve at least 7.0 on the St Andrews 20-point grade scale to pass a module. To gain access to Honours-level modules, students must achieve the relevant requisites as specified in the policy on entry to Honours and in the relevant programme requirements. Please note that some Schools offer qualified entry to Honours, and this will be clearly specified in the programme requirements. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please see the common reporting scale

Meet us online

If you're interested in studying at St Andrews, join us on a virtual visiting day or daily information session to find out about our courses, how to apply, and to meet current students.

Virtual visiting days


Our online autumn visiting days will take place on:

  • Wednesday 6 October 2021
  • Wednesday 20 October 2021


Tuition fees for 2022 entry

Home-funded Tuition fees for Scottish applicants have yet to be set for 2022 entry.
RUK (England, Wales, Northern Ireland) and Republic of Ireland Tuition fees for applicants from the rest of the UK have yet to be set for 2022 entry.
Islands (Channel Islands, Isle of Man) Tuition fees for Islands applicants have yet to be set for 2022 entry.
EU and overseas Tuition fees for EU and overseas applicants have yet to be set for 2022 entry.

For overseas students, tuition fees will be fixed at this level for the duration of your programme.

More information on tuition fees can be found on the undergraduate fees and funding page.

Accommodation fees

Find out about accommodation fees for University accommodation.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews offers a number of scholarships and support packages to undergraduate students each year.

Your future


The School is proactive about developing career opportunities, and career activities are provided for all students from first year onwards. Assessment styles imitate real workplace scenarios and many modules in Honours years are supported by visits to and by industry partners. As a result, graduates are well prepared for industry and graduate employment prospects are consistently among the best in the UK.

There are multiple career options for Earth and environmental sciences graduates, both specifically in the energy, natural resources, and environmental sectors, as well as in wider science and policy areas. 

The degrees offered provide advanced training in a wide range of transferable skills, including scientific problem solving, written communication and oral presentation. The high quality of the field training is particularly valued by employers.

Recent employers of graduates include:

  • Accenture
  • BHP Billiton
  • BP
  • British Geological Survey
  • Fugro
  • Gemfields
  • Geotechnics Ltd.
  • Hinkley Point C nuclear power station
  • JBA Consulting
  • JP Morgan
  • Norsk Hydro
  • Scottish Environmental Protection Agency
  • Scottish Natural Heritage.

Many graduates undertake further study, both at MSc and PhD level. Recent PhD destinations include:

  • Boulder
  • CalTech
  • Cambridge
  • Durham
  • ETH Zurich
  • MIT
  • Open University
  • Oxford
  • Penn State
  • Stanford.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students in building their employability skills.

Study abroad

Earth and environmental sciences students can apply to participate in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme. You may also have the opportunity to participate in the School Abroad exchange programme. For information about study abroad options, please see the study abroad site.

Student life

The University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions, notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first-year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions, and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from, ensure a community feel amongst students from first year onwards.

Students in the School may be interested in joining the Geological Society, which organises activities such as lectures and networking events as well as social events and field trips across Britain.

The School of Earth and Environmental Sciences is housed within the Bute Building in the historical St Mary's Quadrangle. Students will attend tutorials, seminars, lectures and individual meetings with tutors in this building and in designated lecture theatres elsewhere on campus.

The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As University buildings are located throughout the town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings, parks and beaches, providing a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. Find out more about the town of St Andrews.

Find out more about student life at the University of St Andrews.


School of Earth & Environmental Sciences
University of St Andrews
The Irvine Building
St Andrews
KY16 9AL

Phone: 01334 463940

School of Earth & Environmental Sciences website


Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our admissions policy.

Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

Curriculum development

As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online.

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online.

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