The world’s population is expected to increase to 9.7 billion by 2050. Human activity and the chase for economic growth are straining the planet’s resources, threatening the health of our environment and ability to thrive. Managing those pressures will require the best understanding of the Earth’s ecological and environmental systems, and an ongoing effort to bring that knowledge to bear on public and private policymaking.
At the University of Plymouth’s School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, you’ll study and address global sustainability challenges on land and at sea. Led by an interdisciplinary team of world-class academics and set against the stunning natural landscape of south west England, this is where you’ll acquire a wide range of knowledge and skills to make a difference. From climate change and natural hazards to energy transitions and land- and seascape conservation, degree programmes are professionally accredited and designed with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in mind.
The University of Plymouth offers undergraduate programmes across the broad range of Earth and Environment programmes including BSc (Hons) Geology; BSc (Hons) Physical Geography and Geology; BSc (Hons) Environmental Geosciences; BSc (Hons) Environmental Science; BA/BSc (Hons) Geography and even BSc (Hons) Chemistry that addresses current and future challenges.
While at the postgraduate level, programmes such as MSc Environmental Consultancy, MSc Environmental Sustainability and Management; MSc Environmental Geochemistry; MSc Environmental and Engineering Geology; and ResM Geological Sciences are offered too.
At all levels and in all fields, the emphasis is placed onto students learning by doing both in and out of the classroom or laboratory. Fieldwork — such as learning and putting into practice skills in natural settings — is required for all students on geography, geology and environmental science courses. Current and previous students have travelled across four continents to countries including Spain, Iceland, Malta, Morocco, Western Australia and the US. Equally, the spectacular local environment of Devon and Cornwall is also extensively used to teach students and develop an understanding of terrestrial and marine environmental systems.
Field work is essential for Plymouth Geology programmes, in particular — starting with UK-based fieldwork in their first year to learn key skills, before progressing to a trip to the Spanish Pyrenees in their second year, during which they hone geological mapping skills for their final year independent project that normally has a significant field component of data collection.
The importance of such excursions are well-known. Allowing the students to develop a deeper understanding of taught subjects; advancing skills in the recording, interpretation and presentation of data; and independence in designing and carrying out field investigations. They also demonstrate the real-world impact and application of the subject under investigation.
“Students gain experience of hands-on research, investigating critical contemporary social and environmental issues in a wide variety of environments,” explains Dr. Matt Telfer, Geography Programme Leader. “The skills gained from fieldwork such as project design, data collection, teamwork, and working in different settings are highly sought after by a range of employers. As geographers, these trips provide a better understanding of different cultures and landscapes too.”
“The overlapping diversity of disciplines here at Plymouth makes it a great place to study geology, and our fantastic geological backyard is ideal for an outstanding range of fieldwork experiences,” says Professor Iain Stewart MBE, Chair in Geoscience Communication and former Director of the Sustainable Earth Institute.
Dr. Telfer and Prof. Stewart exemplify the pinnacle of applied interdisciplinary scientific enterprise at Plymouth. Teaching here draws on the latest cutting-edge research and is delivered by experts and world-leading researchers on climate change policy to give you in-depth knowledge and guidance.
The Environmental Science degrees will see you become involved in Plymouth’s aims to develop a sustainable path for the future and solve real-world issues such as managing natural resources and environmental impacts. “Environmental experts are at the cutting edge of addressing global environmental challenges,” shares Programme Leader Dr. Alison Stokes. “Our range of degrees provide students with the knowledge, expertise and skills to investigate and understand the impact of humans on the environment and start building sustainable solutions.”
Plymouth degrees are crucial launchpads to fulfilling careers. Since graduating, BSc (Hons) Environmental Science graduate Adam Cook has worked at the National Marine Aquarium, taught science communication at Dartmoor Zoo, coordinated research at the Dartmoor Institute of Animal Science and ran research projects in the South West. He’s spent much of his career conserving wild bears and turtles, and working metres away from big cats and Iberian wolves. “My career now has a lot of strange segments like bear tracking in Italy, our own sustainable coffee brand, and animal science, but they all feed into one another nicely,” he muses.
In addition, he was nominated by the university’s Alumni Relations team to be the UK’s sole representative for the International Visitor Leadership Programme (IVLP) — the US State Department’s premier knowledge exchange initiative. The programme involved intensive networking across five states as well as meetings with a dizzying array of NGOs, universities, businesses, and government departments.
“The theme of the trip was to look at ‘urban resilience and sustainability’ and I learned so much from it; travelling from Washington DC to New York, Cincinnati and Los Angeles enabled me to gain so many different perspectives,” he shares. “It’s a cliché, but it was truly a life-changing experience because it has helped to redefine my professional and personal beliefs and goals.”
He credits lecturers such as John Bull and Dr. Paul Lunt for their positive influence in his career development. “I wanted to be a conservationist, which usually means postgraduate study and a PhD,” he says. “But John and Paul were very open in telling us that there were other ways to approach our careers. Plymouth taught me that there were plenty of paths to follow.”