Do you want to understand and develop the skills to deal with current environmental issues? If yes, then environmental science is for you!

This programme is studied on campus.

An Environmental Science degree at Aberdeen will allow you to understand more about the environment from the local to global scale. It will allow you to appreciate the impact humans are having on the environment and how it can be managed. During the Environmental Science degree you will study an interdisciplinary programme which includes Environmental Biology, Geography and Geology, Soil Science, and Chemistry. This degree will enable you to explore the science of all these topics, taught by experts who are actively involved in environmental science research.

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Key Programme Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
48 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month

What You'll Study

Each year you take a selection of compulsory courses and optional courses that can be chosen from those on offer across the institution. The first two years lay a foundation for the more specialised third and fourth years.

Year 1

Year 1

All students take eight courses in year 1. This is a combination of core compulsory courses and an optional course chosen from across the university disciplines.

Compulsory Courses

Professional Skills Part 1 (PD1001)

This course, which is prescribed for level 1 students and optional for level 2 students, is studied entirely online and covers topics relating to careers and employability, equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing. During the course you will learn about the Aberdeen Graduate Attributes, how they are relevant to you and the opportunities available to develop your skills and attributes alongside your University studies. You will also gain an understanding of equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing issues. Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’ (non-completion will be recorded as ‘Not Achieved’). The course takes approximately 3 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks and it will be available to you throughout the academic year.

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Frontiers in Biological Sciences (BI1009) - 15 Credit Points
  • Eleven themes are explored in engaging lectures, exploring organismal biology and introducing you to the science that underpins current understanding of biology.
  • Structured practical sessions and class activities help you to develop your study and laboratory skills, and provide you with a strong foundation for a successful transition into university study.
  • Regular assignments, a mix of online tests, practical reports and reading assignments, structure your activities and help you progress through the course material.
  • Weekly guest lectures about current research helps you to see how basic biological concepts are being applied to real world problems.

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Diversity of Life 1 (BI1012) - 15 Credit Points

A walk through the evolutionary tree of life, examining the amazing diversity of major groups of organisms from plants through fungi to invertebrates.Learn about how each group of organisms arose, their characteristics, and how they achieved success.

Practical activities provide hands on experience of materials demonstrating the diversity of plants and invertebrates.

You will be assessed by a combination of laboratory reports, on which you will get detailed feedback to help you develop your skills, and an exam.

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The Earth Through Geological Time (GL1005) - 15 Credit Points

For 4,500 million years the Earth has been, and still is, a continually evolving Dynamic Planet. The record is held in the rocks and fossils of the present continental landmasses and ocean basins. To deduce the history of the planet geologists must apply a large range of scientific principles and disciplines. These disciplines encompass the biological, chemical and physical sciences. The course provides a basic understanding of how the structure and evolution of the planet are deduced and how this information can be used to discover and extract natural resources such as fossil fuels and ores.

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Ecology and Environmental Science (BI1511) - 15 Credit Points

This course will take you on a journey through the physical workings of the Earth, the interactions between species and their environments and then on to the effects humans are having on the planet and thoughts on the future.

Teaching by staff with different subject specialisms who give both variety and immediacy to course material.

Exposure to the problems we are facing both now and in the future which means that students can make informed choices in their everyday lives.

A range of ‘wet’ and computer-based practicals enhance the classroom teaching and develop generic scientific skills.

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Diversity of Life 2 (BI1512) - 15 Credit Points
  • A walk through the evolutionary tree of life, examining the amazing diversity of advanced invertebrates and vertebrates.
  • Learn about how each group of organisms arose, their characteristics, and how they achieved success.
  • Practical activities provide hands on experience of materials demonstrating the features of amphibians, fish, birds and mammals.
  • You will be assessed by a combination of laboratory reports, on which you will get detailed feedback to help you develop your skills, and an exam.

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Global Worlds, Local Challenges (GG1510) - 15 Credit Points

This course considers the geographical patterns that characterise the Earth’s physical and human environments and landscapes, and the processes that operate within and lead to changes in these. It is also concerned with the ways in which people occupy the Earth’s surface, their movements and settlements, and their perceptions and use of landscapes, resources and space. Lecture material is presented in study blocks covering: glaciology and palaeoclimates; biogeography and soils; economic, social and historical geographies; and issues surrounding sustainability. Key concepts and skills are reinforced through small group teaching (PC-classes and tutorials).

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Earth's Materials (GL1505) - 15 Credit Points

Following on from GL1005 this course is an introduction to the petrogenesis of three major rock groups; igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary. Practical classes will centre around the use of polarizing microscope in the identification of the common rock-forming minerals. The relationship between plate tectonics and the petrogenesis of igneous and metamorphic rocks, including types and styles of volcanic eruptions will be addressed. The formation and fill of sedimentary basins and their importance in the accumulation of hydrocarbons is an integral part of the course.

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Optional Courses

  • Select a further 15 credit points from courses of choice
Year 2

Year 2

In year 2 you will study courses in Life Sciences, Ecology, Plant and Soil Biology and Conservation Biology. Further courses can be chosen from a wide range of subjects including Chemistry, Geology, Biology and Geography.

Compulsory Courses

Biological Enhanced Skills Training (BEST) (BI2018) - 15 Credit Points

The course will help you consolidate and develop skills in experimental design, sampling, analysis, presentation, and interpretation of data. You will be encouraged to seek to improve your academic writing and develop other transferable skills.

Each week, there is one 1-hour introductory lecture. In two 2-hour sessions when will work through a series of computer-based data tasks, using relevant and realistic biological and environmental themes.

Teaching is informal and friendly. During sessions, staff and demonstrators will chat to you about your progress and provide help.

Assessments are two online multiple-choice tests (each 25%) and an individual project (50%).

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Ecology (BI2020) - 15 Credit Points

A range of practical and workshop classes will enable you to consider information from lectures in more detail and develop ideas.

A range of types of continuous assessment allow you to consolidate learning throughout the semester.

Weekly opportunities to practice writing skills needed for the exam and regular feedback provided on writing exercises.

Detailed feedback on practical assignments will help you develop essential scientific writing skills

You will use Peerwise to write multiple choice questions, requiring thorough engagement with taught material and developing an extensive set of questions for use in revision

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Physical Environments (GG2013) - 15 Credit Points

This course provides an understanding of environmental processes and landscape change through time and space. The course places Physical Geography as an integral component of Earth System Science. The first half of the course explores physical environmental processes, whilst the second focuses on evidence of environmental change across a range of temporal and spatial scales. Three themes of glaciology, hydrology and palaeoecology will be explored to illustrate the linkages and interactions between process and form over a range of temporal and spatial scales. The course is team-taught by staff with an emphasis on using examples from recent research projects.

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Conservation Biology (BI2509) - 15 Credit Points

Lectures, workshops and practical classes provide opportunities for consideration of key conservation issues, allowing you to discuss and develop ideas.

You will visit a local nature reserve and consider some of the key management issues facing these types of site.

The main written assessment provides an opportunity to study a UK Biodiversity Action Plan priority species of your choice in depth.

You will receive detailed feedback on the essay and practical write-ups which will help you consolidate your skills in scientific writing and writing for a more general audience.

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Plants, People, and the Environment (BI25P4) - 15 Credit Points

A course in which several researchers explore both core and emerging issues in the plant sciences, focusing in particular on the inter-dependence of plants, people and environment. Students are encouraged to develop a range of important generic and applied skills, through lectures, practicals and tutorials. Five of the practicals contribute 50% of the course mark. An exam contributes 50% of the overall course grade and consists a choice of short, structured questions.

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Optional Courses

  • Select a further 45 credit points from courses of choice
Year 3

Year 3

Compulsory courses in year 3 include Soils for Food Security, Global Soil Geography, Ecosystem Processes, Environmental Analysis and Statistics. Optional courses can be selected from a range of animal or plants sciences or applied sciences.

Compulsory Courses

Statistical Analysis of Biological Data (BI3010) - 15 Credit Points

In a series of cases studies, you will learn how to analyse and interpret biological data to a level which will allow you to design, at least, the first stages of your level 4 honours project.

You will also choose from4-6 topics in advanced data handling techniques also pertinent to level 4 honours projects.

The course is intensive but allows you to work largely at your own pace with considerable assistance from 3-4 staff and 5-6 demonstrators.

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Global Soil Geography (EV3001) - 15 Credit Points

Field based course that takes you across northeast Scotland exploring an ancient tropical rainforest, hill farming in action, survey techniques and soil formation.

A long tradition of soil science teaching at the University of Aberdeen assembled into lectures and field trips delivered by senior academics.

Your assessments are geared towards developing practical skills. This includes a field log book to teach survey techniques, a presentation on a particular soil that requires research akin to detective work and a quiz on soil classification. An exam will also assessed.

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Ecosystem Processes (PL3304) - 15 Credit Points

Terrestrial ecosystems play a pivotal role in modulating the fluxes of energy and matter at the Earth’s surface, including the cycling of carbon, nutrients and greenhouse gases. Understanding the structure and function of terrestrial ecosystems is critical for understanding environmental challenges such as global warming, biodiversity loss, sustainable development and pollution. This course develops principles of systems ecology and biogeochemistry, focusing on the fundamental role played by living things in regulating key ecosystem processes such as carbon cycling, nutrient dynamics, trophic transfers, and land-atmosphere exchange of greenhouse gases.


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Soils for Food Security (PL3309) - 15 Credit Points

This advanced soil science course provides additional teaching of physical, chemical and biological properties of soils in the context of food security. You will learn a variety of processes that affect soil productivity, accompanied by practical sessions that will teach relevant analytical methods. The wide range of soil processes taught will be brought together at the end of the course to provide a working knowledge of agronomy, including the interactions between crops and specific chemical or physical properties of soils.

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Environmental Analysis (EV3802) - 15 Credit Points

· The mixture of applied science and theoretical work places you in an valuable position for understanding the procedures and applications in modern environmental science

· A number of laboratory classes allows you to familiarise yourself with the current analytical instrumentation in environmental science

· The course uses examples of environmental issues allowing you to understand the problem, how the analysis was conducted and the implications of the results

The main assessment in this course is a practical write up that is written in the style of a scientific paper giving you an opportunity to perfect this style of writing

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Optional Courses

  • Select at least 15 further credit points from courses delivered by the School of Biological Sciences
  • Select further credit points from courses of choice to a total of 120
Year 4

Year 4

In year 4, the Honours year, you will carry out a research project as well as writing an extended essay and completing advanced courses of your choosing.

Compulsory Courses

SBS Honours Project (Semester 1) (BI4016) - 45 Credit Points

This independent research project develops your skills in scientific inquiry and critical analysis, as well as important generic skills, including presentation and time management.

Projects are field-, lab- and/or desk-based, developed on a topic of your interest under the direction of a supervisor.

Training in skills needed to perform your project is provided by world-leading researchers and their teams.

Workshops and drop-in sessions provide training in data analysis and thesis production.

This skill set will be appropriate for advanced study in the field of biological science or other careers where the generic skills that you will develop are highly valued.

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Environmental Pollution (BI4301) - 15 Credit Points

This course provides a foundation in understanding and managing environmental pollution.

Divided into contaminated land, waste, air, freshwater and marine pollution, each week the subject, legislative and regulatory context, site investigation and appraisal, and management are introduced.

Guest speakers from industry join the course each week (from Remedios, SEPA, ACC) giving you access to the reality of the role and important contact with practitioners.

Each theme also has an associated practical element to provide hands on experience in techniques in environmental pollution, providing you with a grounding in the assessment and management of environmental pollutants.

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SBS Honours Essay (Semester 2) (BI4517) - 15 Credit Points

You research a topic and write an extended essay, developing specialist knowledge and refining your synthesis and evaluation skills.

You choose your topic from a list that includes fundamental and cutting-edge issues, providing you with flexibility and an opportunity to pursue your interests.

An introductory workshop reminds you of good practice in writing an extended essay and a meeting with your essay supervisor provides you with feedback on your essay plan. You also have the opportunity to submit a draft essay for comments from your essay supervisor.

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Environmental Impact Assessment (EV4802) - 15 Credit Points

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a process for providing information about likely effects of certain human activities on ‘the environment’, and for identifying ways of minimising adverse effects and enhancing positive effects.

Structured class sessions provide background information about the origins and development of EIA, and how EIAs are typically implemented in the UK and elsewhere.

Practical ‘workshop’ sessions focus on case studies to provide insight into methods used at different stages of the EIA process, and provide you with an opportunity to develop transferable skills relevant to a range of employers, such as team-working, time-management, presentation and critical appraisal.

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Optional Courses

  • Select a further 30 credit points from courses of choice

Course Availability

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

Combine practice and theory

Typically, one third of your class time is practical and many courses include full-day practical classes and field visits. Most students take at least one residential field trip during their degree; these trips bring the subjects to life and provide the opportunity to make great friendships and get to know staff members.

Research experience

You are actively involved in scientific research throughout your degree. In Year 4, you conduct independent research which can be pivotal to your career choice whether it be in dolphins, water voles, rare plants, tropical forest ecology, climate change in the Arctic, or any one of a diverse range of other exciting topics!

Engaging and inspiring teaching

Our teaching methods are diverse, innovative and based on research on how students learn. For example, we use problem-based learning approaches, creative presentations, peer and self-assessment, presenting posters in public meetings, writing and editing wikis, writing grant proposals, science writing for publication, and the creation of portfolios using multi-media.

Opportunities for Study Abroad and work-related learning

You can take advantage of an optional year-out on a work placement in any of our degree programmes. Study Abroad is encouraged for students in their second year; we have established partnerships with institutions in the USA, Canada, Australia, China and numerous countries in Europe.

Learning Methods

  • Field Work
  • Group Projects
  • Lab Work
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:

  • coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course;
  • practical assessments of the skills and competencies they learn on the course; and
  • written examinations at the end of each course.

The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, years of study and individual courses.

Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.

Why Study Environmental Science?

  • Our degree in Environmental Science aims to train you to recognise and understand the threats and conflicts in the environment today and appreciate the steps required to develop solutions.
  • You will develop quantitative skills that will allow you to address current environmental issues.
  • You will benefit from the opportunity to work outdoors and apply your classroom and field work knowledge to real life situations.
  • There is a focus in research-led teaching for this degree. The School of Biological Sciences has an international reputation for excellence in inter-disciplinary research in terrestrial, aquatic and marine environments.
  • During the programme you will have opportunities to interact with stake holders and end-users, such as Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA), Oil and Gas companies and remediation companies.
  • Our research for terrestrially related environmental sciences is ranked in first place in the UK (REF 2014). 92% of the research considered in the School is considered to be world-leading or internationally excellent (REF 2014).
  • You will have the opportunity to get involved in our research through summer research assistantships, project work and a compulsory final year research project.
  • At our regular careers events you will have the opportunity to listen to and meet prospective employers from outside the university, giving you excellent opportunities to get a fulfilling and challenging job in a biological field.

What Our Students Say

  • Alexander Louden
    Alexander Louden

    Alexander Louden

    The School of Biological Sciences really allows you to take your studies in a direction you want with its flexibility, and explore your own interests. The independent research project in fourth year gives you very valuable experience researching.

Entry Requirements


SQA Highers - AABB*
A Levels - BBB*
IB - 32 points, 5 at HL*
ILC - 5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3 OR AAABB, obtained in a single sitting. (B must be at B2 or above)*
*including good performance in at least two Mathematics/Science subjects.

Advanced Entry - Advanced Highers ABB or A Levels ABB or IB 34 points (6 at HL), including Biology and Chemistry, one of which must be at A-grade.

Further detailed entry requirements for Sciences degrees.

English Language Requirements

To study for a degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee Waiver

For international students (all non-EU students) entering in 2017/18, the 2017/18 tuition fee rate will apply to all years of study; however, most international students will be eligible for a fee waiver in their final year via the International Undergraduate Scholarship.

Most RUK students (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) on a four year honours degree will be eligible for a full-fees waiver in their final year. Scholarships and other sources of funding are also available.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU £1,820
All Students
RUK £9,250
Students Admitted in 2018/19 Academic Year
International Students £18,900
Students Admitted in 2018/19 Academic Year

Additional Fees

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.

Undergraduate Open Day

Our next Open Day will be on

Find out More


Completing a degree in Environmental Science at the University of Aberdeen will give you the essential skills required to pursue a career in the environmental science sector and the wider biology graduate job market. You will be equipped with the knowledge, understanding and practical experience to take the necessary action in resolving environmental conflicts. This includes nature conservation, in government or non-government conservation organisations and also in countryside departments of local government.

Generally opportunities are available within environmental organisations such as environmental protection agencies, or within industries such as water companies or waste management. Environmental legislation and regulations increasingly require more rigorous environmental auditing and monitoring. Such changes continue to provide further opportunities for environmental scientists in environmental consultancies, local authorities and environmental protection agencies. There are also many opportunities in environmental education and in the communications sector.

The combination of academic training, transferable skills and skills-based training that students gain during the Environmental Science programme at the University of Aberdeen means that as well as learning theory, they also have the opportunity to gain experience of applying their knowledge to real life and environmental situations.

Career Opportunities

  • Environmental Adviser
  • Environmental Consultant
  • Environmental Protection Officer
  • Nature Conservationist

Industry Links

We have strong local, national and international links to industry, government bodies, charities and other research institutions. You will benefit in several ways:

  • Exposure to policy-makers, practitioners, regulatory professionals and experts.
  • Our curriculum is informed by an employer advisory board that provides insight into changing requirements of employers.
  • You can take advantage of our collaborators' facilities and expertise for your research projects or placement.


This programme has been accredited by the Royal Society of Biology following an independent and rigorous assessment. Accredited degree programmes contain a solid academic foundation in biological knowledge and key skills, and prepare graduates to address the needs of employers.

This programme is accredited for the purpose of meeting in part the academic and experience requirement for Membership and Chartered Biologist (CBiol).

This degree holds accreditation from

What our Alumni Say

  • Christine Reid
    Christine Reid, Project Manager at Natural England

    Christine Reid

    Job Details
    Project Manager, Natural England
    My degree helped me secure a role that is both challenging and enjoyable managing projects on sustainable rural development. The wide range of transferable skills and specialist knowledge I gained in my degree have been invaluable in this role.
  • Lili Mohiddin
    Lili Mohiddin, Humanitarian Support at

    Lili Mohiddin

    Job Details
    Humanitarian Support
    On completion of my BSc I became a Food Security Officer, working in crisis areas. I now work for Oxfam as an adviser on humanitarian support. My degree has helped provide me with amazing opportunities pursue a career I love.

Our Experts

Other Experts
Professor Graeme Paton
Dr Yit Arn Teh
Programme Coordinator
Dr Gareth Norton

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

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Top in Scotland for Environmental Science

Source: National Student Survey 2016


Fantastic facilities support our teaching and research, both on and off-campus.

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Field Centres

Field Centres

We have three field centres in Scotland that support our marine, ecology and conservation work. You have the opportunity to spend time at each of these during residential field courses

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Research facilities

Research facilities

Our research facilities on campus include animal holding facilities, greenhouses, fresh and salt-water aquaria, an insectarium, molecular and analytical laboratories, and a state of the art genomics lab.

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Teaching laboratories

Teaching laboratories

Students in all degree programmes carry out practical experiments in our recently redesigned teaching laboratories.

School of Biological Sciences Showcase

Our showcase film highlights the benefits for students who choose to study here, the breadth of research carried out at the School and the superb facilities on offer.

Key Information Set (KIS)

Unistats draws together comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. The core information it contains is called the Key Information Set.

You can compare these and other data for different degree programmes in which you are interested.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
AB24 3FX