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Undergraduate Course

Environmental Geography BSc (Hons)

Explore the natural world, evaluate our relationships with it. Discover how we can improve our planet's future.

Students using equipment on fieldtrip

Studying the effect humans are having on the planet is more relevant and urgent now than it has ever been. Environmental Geography focuses on the natural world and our relationship with it. If you are passionate about facing major environmental issues and communicating their importance to others, this is the degree for you.

95% of Geography students thought that the course provided them with opportunities to explore concepts and ideas in depth. (National Student Survey 2022)

90% of Geography students felt that staff value students’ views and opinions about the course. (National Student Survey 2022)

  • This course is accredited by the Royal Geographical Society

York campus

  • UCAS Code – FF81
  • Duration – 3 years full time, 6 years part time
  • Start date – September 2023, September 2024
  • School – School of Humanities

Minimum Entry Requirements

    104 UCAS Tariff points

    3 GCSEs at grade C/4 (or equivalent) including English Language and Maths.

Tuition Fees

    UK 2023 entry £9,250 per year full time

    International 2023 entry £13,000 per year full time

Discover Geography at York St John University

Course overview

Approach environmental issues from both human and physical geographical perspectives, considering the natural world and the populations who interact with it. Topics you will explore include:

  • Ecosystems
  • Biogeography
  • Environmental hazards
  • Nature conservation
  • Sustainability
  • Global environmental challenges

We will challenge you to think about your own environmental values and your relationship with the natural world. As our effects on the planet become ever more visible, having skills to confront the challenges humanity faces will be invaluable.

Tackling environmental issues is never purely theoretical. Practical experience is an essential part of your learning, and you will get out into the field and study the natural world up close. We make the most of our location, in a Yorkshire landscape of moors, National Parks and coastland. Guest speakers from local environmental organisations also strengthen your connection to the region.

As you progress through this degree you will study an increasing range of natural environments, including through residential field trips. Recent destinations have included Edinburgh, Malta, Slovenia and the Isle of Skye. This experience of planning and carrying out your own research develops valuable, employable skills. It is an essential part of the course, so participation on these trips is included in your course fees.

Course structure

Year 1

Our academic year is split into 2 semesters. How many modules you take each semester will depend on whether you are st­udying full time or part time.

In your first year, if you are a full time student, you will study:

  • 3 compulsory modules in semester 1
  • 3 compulsory modules in semester 2

If you are a part time student, the modules above will be split over 2 years.

You can find out which modules are available in each semester on the Course Specifications.

Modules

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

This is a module that is designed to help you transition into higher education. We focus on one or more topical and controversial issues, examining a range of evidence and arguments.  We will introduce you to some of the conventions of academic study, focusing on the use of appropriate sources and the correct procedures for referencing them. You will also build skills in critical reasoning and the application of geography in the field. You will reflect on geographical knowledge, its generation and its use. The skills you develop in this module will help you to succeed throughout your degree.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

This module will introduce you to key concepts, terminology and debates in biogeography and ecology. You will examine the relationship between plants and animals and their living and physical environment (ecology) as well as their geographical distribution (biogeography) from local to global scales. You will also develop basic field skills in observation and recording.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module you will focus on the physical landscape and landforms, and the processes that shape them through space and time. The module addresses geomorphology on a global scale before focusing on regional and local scales, including through fieldwork. You will develop skills in map interpretation, field observation and surveying.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

This module will develop your cartographic skills, as you design maps using both professional geographical information systems (GIS) software. As well as learning the principles of map design, you will consider the role and power of maps in society. The module also introduces you to the idea of ‘integrated geography’ by studying both physical and human geographical changes in York and the Yorkshire region. 

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

The relationship between humans and their environment is constantly changing and contested. On this module you will examine the development and history of nature conservation and the environmental movement. You will then learn about nature conservation policy and practice in the UK, focusing particularly on the role and limitations of protected area designations.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

Fieldwork is essential to your geographical education and for geographical research. This module will contextualise fieldwork within your study. You will also develop your knowledge of field-based research methods in human and physical geography. This will provide a solid foundation for the fieldwork you will complete throughout your degree.

Year 2

In your second year, if you are a full time student, you will study:

  • 1 compulsory module and 2 optional modules in semester 1
  • 2 compulsory modules and 1 optional module in semester 2

If you are a part time student, the modules above will be split over 2 years.

You can find out which modules are available in each semester on the Course Specifications.

Modules

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

The development of sophisticated Geographical Information System (GIS) and online mapping tools in recent years has revolutionised the use of geospatial data. This module will develop your theoretical and practical understanding of these technologies and their applications. A central theme is the use of geospatial technologies to address problems and concerns associated with environmental geography. You will gain first hand experience in using the GIS flow line, collecting data, manipulating and analysing it, and then presenting it.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

Geography is an extraordinarily diverse discipline. In this module you will learn about the variety of methodological approaches that geographers use in their research, across human, physical and environmental geography. This includes paying attention to the very latest developments, as well as the ethical and political dimensions of producing geographical knowledge. The module prepares you for undertaking your own research later in your degree.

Credits: 20

Optional module

This module focuses on identifying and understanding environmental change, its causes and consequences. There is an emphasis on understanding the timescales of environmental change, the relation of available data to these timescales, and the uncertainties involved in identifying environmental change. You will develop skills in quantitative data analysis, particularly in identifying relationships and trends. We will consider a range of contexts, such as:

  • Global climate change
  • Hydrological change
  • Biodiversity change
  • Palaeoenvironmental change

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

On this module we will examine some of the key environmental challenges of the 21st century, from local to global scales. Develop your understanding of environmental sustainability and its relation to social and economic sustainability. We will pay particular attention to the barriers to addressing global environmental challenges such as climate change, food, water, waste and pollution. Key themes are action and agency, from global governance through to individual decision making.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

This module will involve working in small groups to develop research plans and then undertaking the research on a residential field trip. Our current destination for this trip is Malta. The module provides practical experience in conducting your own research, helping prepare you for your independent dissertation next year. During the module you will also produce a research proposal for your dissertation.

Credits: 20

Compulsory module

This is an opportunity to experience professional practice related to your degree. This might be a short internship, a period of shadowing a relevant professional, voluntary work in an appropriate setting or a study of a profession, workplace or employer relevant to geography. This will develop new skills and experience that will help you become more employable after you graduate. It will also help you identify areas of personal and professional development you would like to build on to prepare for your career.

Credits: 20

Optional module

Why do species live where they do, and how and why is biodiversity changing? What role does conservation have to play? What are the most effective conservation approaches in different places? These are the types of questions this module’s lectures, seminars, and workshops focuses on. You will explore the theory of ecosystems and practice of conserving the habitats and species within them.

Credits: 20

Optional module

Building on your understanding of physical systems developed in your first year, you will focus on the key concepts of geomorphology. Examine the processing driving change in a variety of physical environments such as river, desert, coastal and hillslope systems and learning about the landforms they produce. You will have opportunity to take part in practical laboratory classes to learn about scientific methodology and observe physical processes in controlled environments.

Year 3

In your third year, if you are a full time student, you will study:

  • A Dissertation module across semesters 1 and 2
  • 2 optional modules in semester 1
  • 2 optional modules in semester 2

If you are a part time student, the modules above will be split over 2 years.

You can find out which modules are available in each semester on the Course Specifications.

Modules

Credits: 40

Compulsory module

This year long module will involve working independently to research a topic of your choice. It is the culmination of your degree studies, and your chance to explore a topic you are passionate about. You will build on the research skills you developed earlier in the course, demonstrating your capacity for independent working, autonomy, self reliance and project management. Once your dissertation proposal has been approved and has passed ethical scrutiny you will work under the guidance of a tutor. A dissertation conference gives you the opportunity to present your ongoing research and allows for supportive peer discussion.

Credits: 20

Optional module

This module builds on earlier modules to develop your understanding of ecosystems and biodiversity through a consultancy style project. We will consider approaches to habitat management in protected areas and in the wider countryside. You will examine different techniques for maintaining, enhancing, restoring and recreating a range of habitats. You will undertake your own assessment of a selected locality and develop a habitat management plan.

Credits: 20

Optional module

On this module you will examine and expand the idea of nature and its relationship with humans. You will also look at this in relation to a variety of themes, such as:

  • Medicine and health
  • Food production and consumption
  • Animals
  • Wilderness and conservation
  • Climate and the Anthropocene

You will gain a better understanding of the contemporary environmental issues that are arising and the responses to these. Overall, you will gain an understanding of various sustainability issues and the importance of the protection of the environment.

Credits: 20

Optional module

Scientists use an array of different tools to measure and monitor the environment, from detecting land cover change from satellite images, through using lasers on aircraft to map landforms, to monitoring volcanic activity using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (drones). This module explores how these ‘remotely sensed’ technologies have transformed the ways we understand, measure and model the Earth’s environment. You will further develop your own data analysis and spatial problem-solving skills through a variety of practical exercises, using leading commercial and/or open-source software.

Credits: 20

Optional module

The focus of the module is a period of residential fieldwork. Through this module, you will be required to develop your understanding of an environment that is remote from the centre of population and is in some respect different from other environments you have previously studied. This will usually be in an overseas country, but may also take place closer to home. You will consider the following:

  • The natural environment around
  • Human relations with the non-human world
  • Communicating your understanding of the environment to a diverse audience

Organisation, responsibility and self reliance are all key elements and skills you will demonstrate on this module.

Credits: 20

Optional module

Rivers are a vital resource for life on Earth, providing important services and habitats, and yet also hazards. On this module you will develop your understanding of water quantity, water quality and sediment transport processes throughout the river system, upland to lowland. You will use this understanding to explore the consequences of human-induced environmental change for rivers, and to investigate river management strategies.

Credits: 20

Optional module

The focus of the module is a period of residential fieldwork. Through this module, you will be required to develop your understanding of an environment that is remote from the centre of population and is in some respect different from other environments you have previously studied. This will usually be in an overseas country, but may also take place closer to home. You will consider the following:

  • The natural environment around
  • Human relations with the non-human world
  • Communicating your understanding of the environment to a diverse audience

Organisation, responsibility and self reliance are all key elements and skills you will demonstrate on this module.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching and learning

For all of our Geography degrees, our aim is to get you practising geography for yourself from the outset. This means collecting and analysing data, applying theories for yourself and developing your skills.

We use a range of teaching styles and settings to support you in this. This includes:

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Fieldwork
  • IT practical sessions
  • Collaborative learning

Teaching sessions include discussions, problem-solving exercises, group work, debates and data analysis exercises. We encourage you to take an active part in teaching sessions, rather than just being a passive receiver of information. Sometimes you will even take the lead in sessions.

Our teaching draws on both our research and professional experience. This means your learning is informed by the most current thinking in the subject area. You can find out more about our research and backgrounds by visiting our staff pages.

Assessment

There are no exams on this course. The assessment methods we use reflect the kinds of work geographers are likely to undertake after graduation. Your assessments could include:

  • Reports (including fieldwork reports)
  • Verbal presentations
  • Portfolios
  • Essays

You will receive feedback on your work throughout each module. This will help you to improve your work for your graded assessments.

Placements

You may have the opportunity to work on placements with a range of organisations. This includes:

  • Charities and conservation organisations, such as St Nicks Environment and Sustainability Centre or the Howardian Hills Area of Outstanding National Beauty
  • Public sector organisations such as the Environment Agency or district councils
  • Schools
  • Commercial companies

Career outcomes

Your future with a degree in Environmental Geography

This degree will give you specialist geographical skills such as cartography, the use of Geographical Information Systems, research, fieldwork and data analysis. It also allows you to build more broadly transferable skills in critical thinking, forming arguments, decision making, self management and team working.

This degree could be the first step toward your career in:

  • Environmental management
  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS) management
  • Local government and planning
  • Surveying
  • Sustainability
  • Nature conservation

Discover more career options on Prospects careers advice pages.

You could also progress onto a postgraduate degree and take your learning even further.

PGCE at York St John University

Further your education and work towards a rewarding career in teaching by studying for a Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) after you graduate. For over 180 years, we have worked with enthusiastic individuals who want to shape the future of young people across both primary and secondary school settings. You'll spend a lot of time in schools, developing your practice by teaching. You will graduate with Qualified Teacher Status and become part of the well respected alumni of York St John educators.

Discover more about PGCE

Whatever your ambitions, we can help you get there.

Our careers service, LaunchPad provides career support tailored to your ambitions. Through this service you can access:

  • Employer events
  • LinkedIn, CV and cover letter sessions
  • Workshops on application writing and interview skills
  • Work experience and volunteering opportunities
  • Personalised career advice

This support doesn't end when you graduate. You can access our expert career advice for the rest of your life. We will help you gain experience and confidence to succeed. It's your career, your way.

Entry requirements

Qualifications

Minimum Entry Requirements

    104 UCAS Tariff points

    3 GCSEs at grade C/4 (or equivalent) including English Language and Maths.

Calculate your UCAS Tariff points

International Students

If you are an international student you will need to show that your qualifications match our entry requirements.

Information about international qualifications and entry requirements can be found on our International pages.

If English is not your first language you will need to show that you have English Language competence at IELTS level 6.0 (with no skill below 5.5) or equivalent.

International entry requirements

Additional Requirements

  • You do not need an A level in Geography to apply for this course.
  • You will need to demonstrate an interest and enthusiasm for Geography in your personal statement.

This course is available with a foundation year

If you do not yet meet the minimum requirements for entry straight onto this degree course, or feel you are not quite ready for the transition to Higher Education, this is a great option for you. Passing a foundation year guarantees you a place on this degree course the following academic year.

Liberal Arts foundation year

Mature Learners Entry Scheme

If you have been out of education for 3 years or more and have a grade C GCSE in English Language or equivalent, you are eligible for our entry scheme for mature learners. It's a scheme that recognises non-traditional entry qualifications and experience for entry onto this course. Information on how to apply can be found on our dedicated page.

Mature entry offer scheme

Terms and conditions

Our terms and conditions, policies and procedures contain important information about studying at York St John University. You can read them on our Admissions page.

Fees and Funding

To study for an undergraduate degree with us, you will need to pay tuition fees for your course. How much you pay depends on whether you live inside the UK, or internationally (outside the UK). Tuition fees may be subject to inflation in future years.

UK 2023 entry

The tuition fee for 2023 entry onto this course is:

  • £9,250 per year for full time study
  • £6,935 per year for the first 4 years if you study part time

These prices apply to all UK, Jersey, Guernsey and Isle of Man students

You can find out more about funding your degree by visiting our funding opportunities page:

Funding Opportunities

Placement year funding

If you choose to take a placement year, and your course offers it, you can apply for the Tuition Fee and Maintenance Loan for your placement year. How much you are awarded is based on the type of placement being undertaken and whether it is a paid or unpaid placement. The tuition fee for your placement year will be reduced.

Tuition Fees

    UK 2023 entry £9,250 per year full time

    International 2023 entry £13,000 per year full time

International 2023 entry

The tuition fee for 2023 entry to this course is £13,000 per year for full time study.

This price applies to all students living outside the UK.

Due to immigration laws, if you are an international student on a Student Visa, you must study full time. For more information about visa requirements and short-term study visas, please visit the International Visa and Immigration pages.

Find out more about funding your degree:

International Fees and Funding

Additional costs and financial support

There may also be some additional costs to take into account throughout your studies, including the cost of accommodation.

Course-related costs

If your application is successful, you will be invited to a portfolio day. On the day, you will show your work to our tutors and discuss your work and the ideas behind it.  You should prepare your portfolio with a range of work that may include finished projects, sketch books, digital work, paintings, photographs, drawings, 3D work, storyboards, short films or animations.

Study Abroad

For more information on tuition fee reductions and additional costs for studying abroad, please visit our study abroad pages.

Accommodation and living costs

For detailed information on accommodation and living costs, visit our Accommodation pages.

Financial help and support

Our Funding Advice team are here to help you with your finances throughout your degree. They offer a personal service that can help you with funding your studies and budgeting for living expenses. 

For advice on everything from applying for scholarships to finding additional financial support email fundingadvice@yorksj.ac.uk.

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