This section will address how to select which program you should attend.
MOTIVATIONS FOR DEGREE
Are you interested in learning how to address environmental issues - like climate change, conservation, sustainable development, pollution, population growth etc.? Do you have a strong interest in Science and/or Geography? If so, a degree in Environmental Science (sometimes referred to as Environmental Studies) could be a good option for you.
Some universities may have combined degrees for Geography and Environmental Science; others may have separate degrees. So what is the difference between these two fields then? According to IES Journal, environmental science focuses more on the science behind human impacts on the environment and the solutions that can be enforced to combat them. Geography [at least at the high school level] is concerned more with the impacts on human populations. There are some topics that are common to both disciplines, and some which are common with Biology, Physics and Chemistry. Environmental Science also uses a more “holistic approach” as compared to Geography in terms of “identification and selection of data, evaluation of their significance and the formulation of new theories”.
It is recommended that you visit your prospective university website to see which degrees are being offered, and what the differences between a degree in Geography and a degree in Environmental Science are (if applicable).
Skills you will gain
An undergraduate degree in Environmental Science will help you gain a number of different skills, like:
- Analytical and problem-solving skills
- Research skills (you will spend a reasonable amount of time conducting field research - more information below)
- Teamwork and collaborative skills
- The ability to grasp complex issues, and look at them in a wider context
Go through this link to find out more information on why Environmental Science might be the right degree for you.
What to expect
Modes of Study
As a student in an Environment course, you will typically learn through a combination of lectures, seminars and tutorial sessions. Lectures will be large, formal sessions in which you will have little time for questions and clarification. Seminars will be smaller and more interactive (they may include student presentations). Tutorials will be even smaller in size (they can even be one-on-one discussions with the tutor) You can generally expect to have around 12-15 hours of contact hours per week. Your study may also include laboratory practicals, interactive workshops and guest lectures conducted by industry experts.
Note: this is a general guideline, and may vary by university. For more information, it is recommended that you visit your prospective course website.
You can expect to study some of the following modules: Climate Change, Ecology, Environmental Pollution and Management, Natural Hazards, Geographical Skills, Postglacial Environments, Scientific Concepts, and Scientific Modelling, Biodiversity Conservation, etc.
Do note: different courses might not offer the same modules. Make sure you visit your course website to learn more about the modules that are offered in the degree you are hoping to apply to.
A number of courses will involve fieldwork - through which you can travel to areas of significance and gain skills in experimenting, conducting research, assessing samples, etc.
A number of Environment degrees in the UK involve a year of study abroad. This year, students are required to follow the syllabus of their host university and are assessed accordingly. If you want to spend a year studying abroad (in other parts of Europe, or beyond), you should consider applying for a course like this.
Note: some study-abroad courses will require an additional year of study, so your degree will be 4 years long
Note: The careers listed below are based on information from UK-based sources, so they may be more relevant for UK citizens and the UK job market. This means that if you plan on working in the UK, as a non-UK (and non-EU) citizen, you may face different job prospects (as compared to UK and EU citizens). It also means that the job prospects in Pakistan may be different too -- for this, we recommend you to inquire and research about the career pathways this degree has to offer in the Pakistani job market.
Graduates of Environmental Sciences can opt for a number of different career paths. According to UK sources, Some graduates continue their education and complete a more specialized postgraduate degree. Others choose to go into non-research pathways and get jobs in various sectors - like environmental conservation, government, business, journalism, etc. For more information on the kind of work opportunities that are available to students within the UK after they finish their degree, please go through this link. You can also go through this link to learn more about possible career pathways (note: this article was written in 2011, so all information may not be applicable). Keep in mind, career opportunities can vary from country to country. To find out the exact options you will have available to you in Pakistan, please connect with professors or professionals in this field.
TYPES OF DEGREE
The following degrees are available for Environmental Science in the UK:
- Bachelor of Science (BSc)
- Bachelor of Arts (BA)
- Undergraduate Master’s degrees
- MSci (Master of Sci)
- MGeol (Master of Geology)
- MEarthSci (Master of Environmental Science)
- Note: MSci, MGeol, MEarthSci degrees have the same status; courses just have different titles at different universities.
Degrees may also be divided into Single-Honours and Joint-Honour courses.
BA vs BSc
Both degrees are typically 3 years in length (maybe 4 if your course includes study-abroad). There may be slight variations between a BA and BSc degree, but these depend on the university and program you to choose to apply to. Some BA degrees may be more interdisciplinary and may focus on physical, natural and social sciences -- but as mentioned before, this will vary by university. It is highly recommended that you visit your prospective course website to find out what the degree type entails.
BA/BSc vs. Undergraduate Master’s degrees
The BSc/BA is a 3-year undergraduate degree, whereas the undergraduate Master’s degrees are typically 4 years in length.
The undergraduate Master’s degrees will usually provide a more detailed study of Environment, as compared to the BSc/BA, and will also include a comprehensive research project (in the later years of the degree). If you want to go for a Ph.D. after finishing your undergraduate study or want to pursue a career in research, you should opt for an MGeol or MEarthSci or MSci degree. On the other hand, if you want to into a non-research based career, a BSc/BA will be sufficient.
If you are unsure about which degree type to choose, do not worry. Most universities allow students to transfer between BSc/BA and undergraduate Master’s courses until the end of the second year.
Note: when selecting your degree, keep in mind that an additional year of study (as required by the undergraduate Master’s degree) will be more costly than the typical 3-year BSc/BA.
Single Honour vs Joint Honour courses
In a Single Honours degree, you will study one main subject, i.e. Environmental Science/Studies. You may be able to study subsidiary modules in other subjects alongside it -- but you will graduate with a degree in Environmental Sciences only.
A number of universities will allow you to study Environmental Sciences as a Joint Degree, meaning you can study a second subject alongside it. Some choices for the second subject are: Biology, Geography, Physics, Medicinal Chemistry, Ecology etc.). The two subjects you choose to study (Environment and Subject X) will usually be divided equally, so you will spend half your time studying each subject. However, some universities may offer the two subjects in major and minor format which would mean that you spend more of your time studying one subject and less time studying the other. Do visit your prospective course website to find out: a) if you can do a joint degree, b) which other subject you can study alongside the language at that particular university, and c) the amount of time you spend studying each subject.
How to select the best option for yourself (among specializations and sub-fields within this field)
Look at the Venn representation on page 27 of this link to find out which subfields fall under Environmental Science.
You should select your degree based on your specific interest. Ask yourself: which area of Environmental Science am I most fascinated by? What sort of learning do I want from my undergraduate degree? Make sure you go through all the course-based resources on the website (look at how the course is taught, how research-intensive it is, which modules it includes) to make your decision. In addition to that, you should also consider the sort of career objectives you have in mind. Different specializations may have slightly different career prospects. In order to apply to ‘right’ place, you should: a) visit your university website and try to find data/statistics on where graduates of the course typically work, b) connect with current students or alumni of the course to learn more about how easy it is to find career opportunities, and c) discuss available options with your professors/instructors in Pakistan (they will be able to give you information that is most relevant to the Pakistani job market).
If you are interested in Environmental Science, you might also like:
- Geography or Geology
- Science (Biology, Chemistry, Physics)
How to select the best option for yourself (among allied fields)
- If you are more interested in learning about the impact of the environment on human populations, a degree in Geography may be more appropriate for you.
- If you are interested in studying about the living organisms that occupy the environment, or the chemical processes/molecular interactions that take place, a degree in Science (Biology, Chemistry, Physics) may be suitable for you.
- If you are interested in the recovery and analysis of materials (human and animal fossils etc.), a degree in Archaeology may be most suitable.
- No. of Universities to Apply: You will be able to apply to five universities of your choice on UCAS. Note: you can only apply to one university from Oxford and Cambridge.
When selecting which university you want to apply to, you should take the following things into consideration:
- Do you want to study for 3 years or 4 years?
- Which areas of Environmental Science do you find most fascinating, and does the course include those areas?
- How much time is spent doing practical work?
- Outside lectures, practical work and tutorials, how many hours of work are you expected to put in each week
- Is the course flexible?
- How are students typically assessed?
- The number of students at the university, on that particular course and the student-teacher ratio
- Location: is the university in a big city or is it located in a smaller town? Does that affect your decision to apply?
- Are there any grants or scholarship options available to international students at the university?
To find out more about your prospective university, make sure you visit the website and go through all available resources. Universities also recommend that prospective applicants try to attend their ‘open days’ and find out more about the course they want to apply to - since this may be difficult for Pakistani students, it is recommended that you connect with students or alumni of the course you are interested in to find out more about it.
Here are some links that could help you with selection:
Note that the ranking of a university should not be the only factor considered when choosing universities. Though the rank is an important thing to keep an eye out for, there are many other things that you should consider when choosing amongst universities/programs (some of which is explained above in the ‘Program Selection’ section).
- UNISTATS: you can go through this link to compare different universities and their courses in Environmental Studies (based on overall student satisfaction, work placement etc.).
- It is recommended that you visit Rankings websites and see how your prospective Environmental Studies courses are ranked.
Complement the above field-specific tips with general tips on program selection (under the tab of ‘selection’).
A lot of our tips talk about how you can strengthen your application, but you can build a stronger application when you’ve done the things this program values in the years prior to the application. The application itself is the communication part (in which you communicate what you've done to the admission committee); but this section gives guidance on the substance part (what you can actually do before you apply). In this section we talk about what you can do in the years leading up to applying that can make you an ideal candidate. Supplement the following tips with general tips (under the tab of ‘Pre-Application’) to become a competitive applicant.
Students interested in applying for Environmental Sciences in the UK will typically be required to have studied at least 1-2 Sciences in their A-levels (or final two years of high school). Try to take subjects like Geography, Environmental Studies, Biology and Geology. Other subjects like Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics could also be looked upon favorably by admissions committees.
Note: although this is the general trend, you should visit your prospective course website to find out the specific subject-related criteria you need to meet.
While the exact requirement will vary by university and specific course, you can expect requirements for top-tier universities to be somewhere between A*A*A and ABB. The most competitive schools (Oxbridge) will typically require 1-2 A*s. The middle-ranked universities will have more lenient requirements (ABB-BBC). Lower-ranked universities will have lower requirements (BBC-BCC). Some universities might only need 2 A-Level Grades.
Please note the following:
- This is a general guideline; to find out the exact requirements for the course(s) you are interested in, please visit the course website.
- Some universities may not accept A-levels in certain subjects (like General Studies).
- Most courses will also have GCSE/O-Level grade requirements. These vary by university, so you should visit your prospective course website for more information.
It is advised that you aim for the best grades possible - since your internal transcript and A-level result, both, are very important for the admissions committee. Although some universities may be willing to accommodate students whose A-level results are a grade or so lower than their conditional offer, you should aim to meet your condition.
The average IB requirement is 30-38 points. If you are hoping to apply to the more competitive places, you should aim to get a score of at least 36 points (with the top schools requiring 39-42 points). The middle-tier universities will accept scores between 32-35 points. Low-ranked universities will usually require scores between 28-32 points. Note: this is a general overview. Do visit your prospective course website to find out the exact score requirements (along with specific HL requirements).
If you have done something other than A-Level or IB, contact your prospective university to find out what their requirements for your system are. Note: some universities may not accept or list the HSSC as an acceptable requirement. In this situation, please contact the admissions department to find out how you can meet the university entry requirements.
In case you do not meet the entry requirements or have not studied the right subjects, do not worry. A number of universities offer foundation courses, which you can apply for if you do not meet the entry requirements. Foundation courses are typically one-year long and require full-time study. Once the foundation year has been successfully completed, students can usually move directly into the standard course.
Note: if you opt for a foundation year, it will take you an extra year to complete your degree (3 years of original degree + 1 year of the foundation course). Refer to the UK country profile for more information on foundation years.
Research experience is not a strict requirement for this degree, but if you have any research projects/assignments etc. under your belt that are directly related to geography/environmental science/conservation (water, wildlife, non-renewable resources etc.), it will definitely add positively to your application. You should also try to remain up-to-date with local and global environmental issues by reading journals and magazines, and watching online videos/documentaries on your specific areas of interest.
Resources for additional reading:
- You can consider reading well-known magazines like The WWF Magazine, National Geographic, National Wildlife, The Ecologist or Planet Earth Magazine. In addition to that, you can also try to read the newspaper regularly and remain in touch with current environmental issues.
- You should also visit your prospective university’s website and see if there are any suggested reading lists for applicants. If there are, you should definitely take some time out to read that literature.
Professional experience is never a requirement for applying - but if you can work as an intern/employee in a capacity that is directly relevant to the course you are applying for, it could give your application an advantage. If you can intern for any environmental organization/group like the WWF, LEAD Pakistan, UNDP Pakistan , etc., it will definitely contribute positively to your application later.
Volunteer work is not required for this degree, but if you can relate any volunteer experience to Environmental Science, it will definitely help your overall application.
If your extracurricular activities can help you develop transferable skills like: dedication and commitment, independence and initiative, leadership or teamwork, you should participate in them. Attending science/geography competitions will definitely add more value to your overall application. (Note: participating in such activities while maintaining a strong academic record will also help you display good time management skills.). Make sure you join any Environment/Conservation clubs in school and participate in projects of your interest.
Pakistani applicants suffer most because of inadequate information -- or wrong information -- about essays and personal statements. This section will address those inadequacies specifically in relation to applying for this program. Supplement the following field-specific tips with general tips (under the tab of ‘essay’) to craft a stellar personal statement.
You will be required to submit one personal statement to the 5 universities you are applying to via UCAS. In your essay, you will need to display your enthusiasm for and knowledge of the subject in just 4000 characters -- meaning you will have to be economical and to-the-point in your writing. Your main aim is to explain to the admissions committee why you should study Environmental Science at the undergraduate level, and what academic and/or non-academic experiences have led you to this decision.
Which resources should I make use of?
- Read the following links before you start planning your personal statement:
TIPS ON GOOD AND BAD STATEMENTS
What is essential in the statement:
- Make sure you demonstrate your passion and/or curiosity for environmental issues. What is it about environmental sciences that appealed to you and compelled you to apply for it? Why is studying it at the undergraduate level important for you? You can consider including “a sentence or two [about] why you are interested in the environment - whether it was a TV series, a holiday, a college tutor, a relative, or something else that inspired you”. Try to tell the admissions committee where your interests actually stem from (Dr. Pete Shaw, Associate Professor Environmental Science, University of Southampton - Source: Which? University).
- Your statement should be “well-structured, carefully-written and grammatically correct” and not too unconventional - meaning you should follow the guidelines and format that has been specified. At the same time, make sure you are retaining the “personal touch” - it should be representative of you, i.e. your interest, your ambition, and your goals. (Source: Which? University)
- Be clear about what your interests are: environmental science has a lot of branches, and you have a lot of options to choose what you want to specialize in. Make sure you identify that in the personal statement.
What are some elements of exceptional statements:
- Talk about your scientific interests: there are usually no specific subjects that are needed for environmental science degrees. Most universities will ask you for science subjects, but they will not specify which ones you need. At this point in time, they just want to make sure that “there is enough science content” in your experience. So if you have any science-based experiences or interests (extracurricular activities, research experiences, or even class assignments that tie in with your course of interest), talk about them. And avoid just mentioning them - reflect on: a) those experiences, the learnings you gained from them, and c) how they have contributed to your interest in undergraduate study. (Source: Which? University)
- Showcase some subject knowledge: most environmental science courses are interdisciplinary and combine conventional study with field-based work. In your statement, you should talk about why this combination of study appeals to you and what you hope to gain from it.
- It is suggested that you talk about your current studies and the skills you have managed to develop through them. You could explain what you have gained through any relevant experiences, or you could show your understanding of some topical issues.
- Display your engagement with current environmental issues: give evidence of how you can relate to the environmental problems of the present, or what you think needs to be done to mitigate them. Show the admissions tutors that you have an interest in “investigating complex environmental systems”. (Source: Which? University)
- Other extracurricular activities: “do include something about your extracurricular interests too. It is good to see what you get up to in your spare time, says Dr. Pete Shaw, Associate Professor Environmental Science, University of Southampton. Even if your activities are not directly related to your prospective course, you can still reflect on them - and talk about some of the transferable skills they have helped you gain. (Source: Which? University)
What are bad statements/ what things to avoid:
- Make sure you have no grammatical errors or spelling mistakes in your statement. You can do this by reviewing and revising your statement multiple times.
- Avoid making sweeping claims or including generic statements like “I have loved Environmental Studies since I was X years old” or “I have been passionate about the environment since I was in first grade”. These sentences sound insincere and unconvincing. Instead, talk about more recent experiences - even if you have been passionate about the environment since a young age, relate it to the present: why was the environment important to you then, and what experiences did it lead you to? What is your present-day understanding of environmental issues?
How can applicants manage the process of writing?
- The UCAS form usually times-out after a few minutes, so to avoid losing work you should: begin writing your statement in Word/Notepad and saving it regularly. Once you have written your final draft, you can copy-paste it into the online form. Note: no formatting is allowed on the UCAS form, so any bold, italicized or underlined words will disappear when you transfer your essay to the UCAS form.
- Get feedback. This is crucial. Try to approach your teachers and request them to read your personal statement. You can even request your family/friends to see if the statement: a) sounds coherent, b) is an honest and accurate representation of you and your interests, and c) has no grammatical/formatting errors.
This section will cover everything else related to the application process; including transcripts, interviews, resumes, and standardized tests.
Some courses will have interviews. To find out what your prospective course does, please visit its website. You should find out the following: a) are interviews conducted at this specific university, b) if yes, are they conducted for all applicants or shortlisted applicants, c) how are interviews conducted for international applicants, and d) any guidelines for interview preparation or interview day.
You may be required to submit a resume. Please make sure you follow the stated guidelines (length, structure, format etc.).
As an international applicant, you will be required to take English language proficiency tests. Most universities will allow you to choose between the TOEFL and IELTS -- websites will also state the minimum score you require (in individual reading, writing, speaking and listening components; and overall) to be considered for admission.
It is advised that you take the test well before your application deadline, to ensure that your score is sent to your prospective university at the required time.
Some universities may have written assessments/entry tests. Please check your prospective university website to confirm whether or not this is applicable. If it is required, please follow the instructions stated on the website, and use all recommended preparatory material.