5 universities facing up to the world’s sustainability issues

The unexpected onslaught of snow that recently struck Britain has left many people questioning the realities of global warming. To answer growing concerns, The Guardian chose to dig deeper and unravel the mystery of the ‘Beast from the East’. As stated by their in-house environmental expert, “Due to England’s recent snowfall, the biggest concern is that it might indicate a weakening or collapse of the polar vortex. As the polar vortex is one of the world’s climate regulators. Any weakening would accelerate ice melt and add to instability and uncertainty.”

Accentuating fears of global warming, many global scientists have unleashed their informed perspective. In the same article, a leading climatologist explains that “as we rapidly warm the Arctic, we can expect that future years will bring us even more examples of unprecedented weather.” So this could just be one of many chaotic future weather events to impact the UK.

For aspiring environmental practitioners, it’s becoming increasingly evident that the time to act is now. The uprising of detrimental snowstorms and icecap melts means natural science and climate leadership courses are in popular demand. That’s why UK universities are nurturing the connection between education and the environment. By providing students with the tools and techniques needed to take on environmental conservation and preservation, there’s a higher chance that we can help reduce the destruction of our world.

Recent years have seen a rise in eco-friendly initiatives; for instance, the speculation over banning plastic straws currently sweeping the UK.  As Huffington Post reports, “We’ve got a huge plastic straw problem and its wreaking havoc on our planet. It is estimated that the UK uses 8.5 billion straws a year and they are also one of the top 10 items found in beach clean-ups.” In line with this revelation, recyclable paper and bamboo straws could replace plastic.

The paper straw plan is just one of the thousands of recycling schemes that have come to light, and yet, this project demonstrates that ideas are being formulated while plans are transformed into lasting action. After all, without qualified environmental graduates and confident climatologists producing revolutionary ideas, how will humanity sustain itself for the years to come?

Here are 5 UK universities that are facing up to the world’s sustainability issues…


Known for its outstanding eco-initiatives and global research efforts, Leeds has now been ranked as 43rd in the world for Environmental Sciences and 20th in the world for Geography. Following in the institution’s footsteps, the Faculty of Environment has also achieved excellent student satisfaction rates thanks to its research-led undergraduate and postgraduate degrees.

To meet the demand for the zero-carbon city trend that’s taken the nation by storm, the Faculty has launched its MSc Sustainable Cities programme. Through an innovative and steady syllabus, the course provides the next generation of environmental entrepreneurs with key knowledge of urban ecosystems and effective mobility methods.

For students to enhance their expertise, there’s the option to pursue a free field trip to the Centre for Alternative Technologies in Wales and engage with the Sustainability Research Institute (SRI). Additionally, students can acquire knowledge from the faculty’s unique industry connections, which include names like the C40 global network and the Oasis School of Human Relations. With so many exclusive resources at your disposal, you’ll help build a sustainable future at the University of Leeds.


By taking charge and driving its research centres towards the goal of global change, the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Manchester has earned great respect for its dedication to preserving the planet.

With separate research groups for different environmental issues, this school leaves no stone unturned. Its Planetary and Earth Sciences sector identifies the main mechanisms operating in the Earth’s subsurface and helps students work out the most efficient and sustainable means of extracting vital resources. The Molecular Environmental Science sector, on the other hand, persuades students to understand the importance of mineral-water-organic matter reactions in surface and subsurface environments.

To support research activities, the school supplies learners with a healthy selection of Master’s degrees. The MSc Petroleum Geosciences scheme, in particular, is of great interest to applicants. As graduate, Ruairidh Salmon, explains, “This MSc provided me with a technical understanding of petroleum systems, geophysics and sedimentology along with experience of working within an international team!”


For any Earth Science student, Scotland is a stunning study environment. Combining serene surroundings with professional degrees and lecturers who’ve previously received University Teaching Excellence awards, you’d be hard-pushed to find a better option anywhere else in the world.

Glasgow’s Research and Impact department has split its focus between two crucial fields: Earth Systems research, where solar systems and carbon cycles are explored; and Human Geography research, where academic staff and postgraduates dive into contemporary geographies and international development theories. It’s clear to see just how far this institution engages with a vast range of concepts.

To complement such a huge collection of research topics, the school also hosts first-rate analytical facilities. With Biomarkers for environmental and climate science projects, plus a Marine Mesocosm facility that explores the impact of CO2-associated global change on marine biotic systems, Glasgow students gain access to cutting-edge equipment.


The University of Bristol’s distinguished School of Earth Sciences has designed a range of contemporary research projects for learners to engage with. Its environmental students currently play a crucial role in the Core-Mantle Interface: Thermodynamics and Chemistry (CoMITAC) project. By striving to make a fundamental improvement in the composition of the core-mantle interface, the school helps students obtain practical experience from the world of revolutionary research.

On top of making a positive environmental impact, this Bristol-based school is significantly growing its Earth Science student network. The Wills Memorial Library also has a section dedicated to factual textbooks and useful research documents.

And if you’re seeking a change from the books, the university is home to an extraordinary Earth Science rock, mineral and fossil collection. Such an impressive assortment would surely benefit your MSc Volcanology degree!


Located in England’s south coast region, the port city of Southampton is the ideal institution for marine biology, oceanography, geology and geophysics study. Taught at the wonderful Waterfront Campus, the School of Earth and Ocean Science accommodates a stimulating array of undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

From beginning to end, Southampton’s multidisciplinary MSc Oceanography degree steers you through marine geology and the impact of Biogeochemical Cycles on the systems of the Earth. Plus, a supportive alumni network means there’s always a chance to gain advice from friendly graduates and sustainability leaders.

As alumni member, James Adcock, states: “Southampton’s courses are extremely flexible and they allow you to pick and choose modules from a number of different departments. Currently, I am a senior geophysicist for a company specialising in shallow and archaeological geophysics and I get to use all of the techniques that I learnt at Southampton!”

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

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