Environmental Earth Sciences BSc (Hons) 2019 entry

Environmental Earth Sciences focuses on understanding the processes that influence Earth’s surface environments and how those are modified by both natural and anthropogenic factors. The programme considers how the oceans, atmosphere, biosphere, and geosphere interact to drive environmental change over a range of time scales from early Earth history to the modern era and addresses the main challenges facing society from climate change to environmental degradation.

The degree utilises aspects of geology, chemistry, physics, and biology and provides hands-on training in cutting-edge techniques central to field and lab-based studies in environmental and geobiological sciences.

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

Apply now

UCAS code


Course type

Bachelor of Science (single Honours degree)

Course duration

Four years full time

  • Start date: 9 September 2019
  • End date: 30 June 2023

If you started this programme in 2018, you can find information about 2018 entry on the 2018 Environmental Earth Sciences BSc page. Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

Typical entry requirements

SQA Highers AAAB, including at least two sciences from the following:
  • Biology or Human Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Mathematics
  • Physics.
GCE A-Levels AAB, including at least one of the following subjects:
  • Biology or Human Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Mathematics
  • Physics.
IB points 36, including HL6 in at least two sciences from the following:
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computing Science or equivalent
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Psychology.

Well-qualified school leavers may be able to apply for admission directly into the second year of this course. Find out more about direct entry to second year for Environmental Earth Sciences.

International applicants

If English is not your first language you will need an overall IELTS score of 6.5, with a minimum score of 6.0 in each component (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking), or an equivalent English Language qualification

Find out more about international entry requirements.

How to apply

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

No previous knowledge of this subject is required.

Faculty entry requirements

You must also meet the Faculty of Science minimum qualifications. These vary depending on which qualifications you hold.

Other qualifications

Passes in other examinations at equivalent levels and subjects may be accepted by the Dean of the Faculty. 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 webpage.

Find out more about Faculty of Science entry requirements.


St Andrews students must meet with their Adviser of Studies at the beginning of Semester 1 in September to complete advising – a compulsory part of the matriculation process. After module choices have been decided, a timetable will be allocated indicating the dates and times of classes.

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 the isotopic signals preserved in ancient rocks to recent sediments and what they record about conditions at the time of their formation, to 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.

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

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, sometimes two. Find out more about how academic years are organised.

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.

Advanced topics available at Honours level include (but are not limited to):

  • GIS (geographic information systems) for earth science
  • the study of global biogeochemical cycles
  • global climate change
  • sedimentary systems
  • isotope geochemistry.

The School is home to an array of 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 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.

As you advance in your degree, you are given more flexibility to choose your focus of study, whether that be in geochemistry or global biogeochemical cycles. 

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 webpage.


All students have the opportunity to obtain fieldwork skills via numerous 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: six days exploring the varying sources of iron, nitrate and phosphate levels on river systems in Yorkshire and their impact on pH and invertebrate life. 
  • Third year: 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.

Well-qualified school leavers may be able to apply for admission directly into the second year of this course. Find out more about direct entry to second year for Environmental Earth Sciences.

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

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. Find out more about the Integrated Masters degree.

Find out more about studying Earth and Environmental Sciences at St Andrews or visit the Earth and Environmental Sciences School website.

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:

  • Planet Earth: provides a foundation into the study of Earth through a study of key elements of the planet and environmental sciences.
  • Earth Resources and Environment: builds on the understanding of planet Earth gained in the Planet Earth module, with an underlying theme of the Earth's resources and environment.

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

  • Dynamic Earth: The Earth System: reflects an up-to-date approach to understanding of the behaviour of the solid Earth and its interaction with the atmosphere and biosphere and beyond.
  • Dynamic Earth: Magma, Minerals and Metamorphism: focuses on the geology and geochemistry of the solid Earth and high temperature processes in the 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, glacial processes, tectonic geomorphology, geomicrobiology and oceanography.

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 hydrology, geodynamics and geophysics.

Honours modules involve key skills training and the opportunity to get first-hand experience of new research discoveries and advances in Earth Sciences.

Here is a sample of Honours modules that have been offered in previous years:

  • Petroleum Exploration and Geophysics
  • Global Biogeochemical Cycles
  • Global Climate Change
  • Geochemistry
  • Processes and Product in Sedimentary Systems
  • Water in the Environment
  • Advanced Geochemistry.

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

The sub-honours modules listed here are the compulsory modules that students must take 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 available for the current academic year can be found in the module catalogue.


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, tutorials 3 to 6
  • Second year: 40 to 50
  • Honours: 30 to 40

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

  • 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 webpage.


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 of Environmental and Earth Sciences provides feedback on every assessment with a view to improving your performance in future, and 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 visit the common reporting scale webpage.

Visit St Andrews

If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us at a visiting day to explore the town, find out about our courses and meet current students.


Upcoming visiting days:

  • Wednesday 6 March 2019
  • Wednesday 3 April 2019
  • Wednesday 10 April 2019
  • Wednesday 17 April 2019


Tuition fees for 2019 entry

Scotland and EU Tuition fees for Scotland and EU applicants have yet to be set for 2019 entry.
Rest of the UK £9,250
Overseas £22,350

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.

Funding for fieldwork

Fieldwork expenses for Environmental Earth Sciences students are covered by the School and the Irvine Bequest and contributions from alumni. There are financial awards at every level of study for students who have earned the highest marks in fieldwork. 

Find out more about undergraduate scholarships.

Your future


The School is proactive in developing career opportunities, and career activities are provided for all students from first year onwards. There is a wide variety of career options for Environmental Earth Sciences graduates in the energy, natural resources, and environmental sectors, as well as in wider science and policy areas. For some graduates, the course is a stepping stone to pursuing postgraduate education and research.

Several Honours-level modules feature lectures and laboratories run by industry professionals, providing hands-on experience with industrial problem solving. In addition, the BSc in Earth and Environmental Sciences is accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences.

Recent employers of BSc Environmental Earth Science graduates include:

  • BHP Billiton
  • BP
  • Shell
  • Fugro
  • Geotechnics Ltd
  • Scottish Environmental Protection Agency
  • Norsk Hydro
  • British Geological Survey
  • Scottish Natural Heritage.

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

The University is delighted to offer undergraduates a number of exciting opportunities to apply to spend a semester or year abroad as part of a St Andrews degree programme. St Andrews is partnered with large and small institutions, ancient and young, across the globe. What unites all of our programmes is the quality of the academic provision, ensuring that participation in a St Andrews Study abroad programme opens the door to a new and valuable academic experience at another world-class institution. Study Abroad for credit is permitted on existing University-approved programmes only.

Student life

From the outset, 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 ensures 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 Irvine Building in the historical heart of the University between St Salvator's Quadrangle and St Salvator's Hall. 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 the campus is located around town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings and areas of greenery and seaside which provide a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. If you want a change of scenery, St Andrews' position near surrounding towns and cities such as Anstruther, Dundee and Edinburgh make it ideal for getting to know more about Scotland.

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

Contact information

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

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 3940
Email: earthsci@st-andrews.ac.uk

Earth and Environmental Science website


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

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. (PDF, 72 KB).

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. (PDF, 84 KB).