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.