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1 09 Subjects inside include: environmental science, geography, geology, geotechnics and palaeontology Looking Ahead Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences A guide to studying these subjects at university and your opportunities afterwards

2 Subject overview Earth, environmental and geographical sciences involve the study of topics such as the atmosphere, globalisation, coastal environments, mountain climates, remote sensing, spatial information systems, sustainable resource development, ecosystems and micropalaeontology. So, you can see immediately that the subject areas are very broad, but also provide opportunities for specialist study. A lot more people are taking an interest in environmental issues, from areas such as climate change through to how we dispose of our rubbish. Increased government investment in this area is likely to lead to more job opportunities. There are many courses on offer around the country. Here are some examples of geography, earth and environmental sciences courses at the University of Portsmouth: Earth and environmental sciences Engineering Geology and Geotechnics Environmental Science Geological Hazards Geology Marine Environmental Science Palaeontology Geography Geography Human Geography Physical Geography Please check for courses available across the UK and for up-to-date information on Portsmouth courses. Choosing a geography, earth and environmental sciences course Look out for: Course accreditation with organisations such as the Geological Society of London and the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES). National Student Survey (NSS) statistics show whether students graduating from their course have been happy with the course, facilities and support provided during their studies. This can be found through your chosen university s website. Employment statistics for graduates, which can be found on your chosen university s website, via their careers service or at Additional features of the course such as work placements, study abroad options, optional units, field trips, extended projects and enterprise opportunities. Subjects covered on the course every university will be different, so it s vital you find the right combination of topics for you. 2 University of Portsmouth Looking Ahead Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

3 The course What will you study? During your time at university, you will study your chosen subject in depth. Universities usually run a number of compulsory or core topics for each course, which everyone studies in order to gain understanding of the key areas. There will also be optional topics from which you select according to your interests and how you want to specialise within your course. Units vary depending on the university. Below are a few examples of core and optional units for courses at the University of Portsmouth: Core units: Geosciences: petrology, rock mechanics, volcanology and seismology. Environmental sciences: oceanography, hydrology, fieldwork and data analysis, environmental pollution and terrestrial ecology. Geography: geographical information systems, environmental systems and change, and population, resources and the environment. How will you study? Lesson type Teaching is usually via traditional lectures in both large and small groups. Tutorials, workshops, seminars and laboratorybased sessions cover the more practical aspects of the disciplines. Fieldwork is an integral and essential component of all earth and environmental sciences degrees and some incorporate overseas fieldwork, giving you beneficial experience of working in a non-uk environment. Contact time Depending on the course, you can expect to spend 24 per cent of your week in lectures, seminars and laboratory sessions. Optional units: Geosciences: petroleum geology, vertebrate palaeontology, landslides and slope stability, and contaminated land. Environmental sciences: freshwater ecosystems, energy resources, waste management, scientific diving and environmental and climate change theory. Geography: geomorphology, cold environments and gender and development. Assessment methods Assessment is usually by a mix of coursework and examinations. Coursework may be professional field or laboratory notebook recordings, laboratory reports, site surveys, poster displays and oral presentations. Computer-based exercises and environmental data analysis could also be incorporated into some assessments. Further details for the universities you are considering can be found via the university websites, Unistats at or Which? University at Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences Looking Ahead University of Portsmouth 3

4 Getting a place Key skills and qualities required for these subjects Skills Scientists are superb problem solvers and need to be innovative and creative with the materials they have. Teamwork and communication skills are vital as is a strong grasp of IT programmes and statistics. Qualities Qualities relate more to your personality. You will need to have a love of the outdoors, an interest in nature and a desire to travel. You must be prepared to develop physical stamina to work and do research in remote areas under varied conditions. A methodical approach and accuracy and attention to detail are key. You must also be very observant and pick up on small changes in the environment around you. Qualifications As for all degree courses, you will usually need at least five GCSEs grade A* C including English and maths. You will also need Level 3 qualifications such as A Levels, International Baccalaureate (IB) or BTEC. Generally, at least one A Level in a science-based subject is required for entry onto geography, earth and environmental science courses. These would include physics, chemistry, maths or biology (and for some courses, geography or geology). Equivalent qualifications such as a relevant BTEC would also be acceptable. Top tips for a successful application Show an active and genuine interest in your subject refer to research and hot topics you have investigated and talk about scientists or developments that have inspired you. Refer to relevant work experience or volunteering you have undertaken. Explain what you have gained from these experiences. Discuss trips you have been on, perhaps to museums, exhibitions, landmarks or public lectures. If you have completed a relevant extended project during your A Levels, discuss this in your application. Explain what you have learnt and gained from the project. For the universities you are applying to, read the entry information included within the course information on the UCAS and university websites carefully. This will often show what sort of person they are looking for. Refer to hobbies and interests you hope to continue at university through the clubs and societies offered via the Students Union; this will show how you hope to become a member of the university community. 4 University of Portsmouth Looking Ahead Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

5 What to do next Unlike at school and college, university courses do not always have a set curriculum and can therefore vary widely in their content. Look carefully at the course content of the universities you are considering to make sure they cover the topics you are most interested in. Compare universities on a range of factors including employability, student satisfaction, assessment methods and lecturer contact time using the Key Information Sets (KIS) which can be found on each university s website or via Show a genuine interest and commitment to the subject research hot topics in recent journals and publications. Participate in award schemes such as the Duke of Edinburgh Award, to show you have teamwork, commitment and leadership qualities. Take up an extracurricular hobby/ activity such as playing a sport or musical instrument, or joining a society. This shows you are a well-rounded person. Where to find out more GSL: the Geological Society of London for information, publications and events about geology at IES: Institution of Environmental Sciences at PalAss: the Palaeontological Association at BES: the British Ecological Society at Lantra: the Sector Skills Council for the environmental and land-based sector at Uni info: a site where students share academic and social knowledge at and a website that provides university and course reviews at UCAS: Universities and Colleges Admissions Service for information about university courses and the application process at Aim to hold a position of responsibility such as a prefect or house captain. Get involved in voluntary work/work experience. Perhaps you could help implement a recycling scheme at your school/college or a similar project. Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences Looking Ahead University of Portsmouth 5

6 Where could you work? For earth science graduates there is a large amount of work in the fields of mineral exploration, geological mapping and engineering geology. Recent graduates have been recruited by petroleum consultancy companies in North Wales, mining companies in Australia and engineering consultancies in Hong Kong. For environmental science graduates there are many opportunities in conservation and with public sector agencies and private companies involved in, for example, recycling, waste management and contaminated land. As geography is such a broad subject it opens doors to a wide range of careers. Many graduates work with local government or travel and tourism companies. Geography students have gone on to become cartographers, geographical information systems officers, planning and development surveyors and town planners, to name but a few. A range of jobs in physical systems and the natural environment is also available to geographers who undertake postgraduate study or research, including pollution analyst, earth scientist or coastal engineer. Some larger companies may also offer graduate training schemes, which provide fast-track training in a specific area. These schemes can be very competitive and usually require a high pass grade at degree level. Transferable skills These courses are highly vocational, but will also give you many transferable skills. You will develop your teamwork, communication, problem solving, selfmotivation and time management skills, making you highly employable in a wide range of careers outside this industry. In fact, it is estimated that 60 per cent of employers looking to recruit a graduate (someone with a degree qualification) do not mind what your degree is in, just that you have that level of qualification. 6 University of Portsmouth Looking Ahead Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

7 What do our geography, earth and environmental sciences students go on to do? Each year we gather statistics to identify what our students are doing six months after graduating. Many find work, continue studying or even take time out to travel. Here are the statistics for our geography, earth and environmental sciences students who graduated in 2013: Destination 72.8 Employed 11.5% Further study 2.1% Volunteering 8.2% Unemployed 5.3% Other Please note, these statistics (in line with national requirements) are gathered just six months after students graduate; employment prospects often change and improve greatly over the following few years. Find out more through the What do graduates do? publication at Here are a few examples of careers followed by our students: BSc (Hons) Geography Carbon Reduction Officer Hydrographer BEng (Hons) Engineering Geology and Geotechnics Graduate Geotechnical Engineer BSc (Hons) Environmental Science Environment and Recycling Officer Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences Looking Ahead University of Portsmouth 7

8 Contact us Education Liaison and Outreach Team University of Portsmouth T: St Andrew s Court E: St Michael s Road W: Portsmouth PO1 2PR Disclaimer Please be aware, this is not a course leaflet, it is a guide for university. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this publication at the time of going to press (April 2015). However, you are advised that this information could be subject to change. For the most up-to-date information, please refer to and for University of Portsmouth courses, please refer to our website Accessibility If this document is in a format inaccessible to you, contact us and we will provide the information in a more suitable format. Please PDF versions of this leaflet and others in the series are also available on our website at Titles in the series 01. Accounting, Economics and Finance 02. Architecture, Property and Surveying 03. Art and Design 04. Biological Sciences 05. Business and Management 06. Computing and Creative Technologies 07. Engineering 08. English, Film, Journalism and Media 09. Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences 10. Health Sciences and Social Work 11. History, Politics and Social Studies 12. Law and Criminology 13. Mathematics and Physics 14. Modern Languages and Area Studies 15. Psychology 16. Sports Science MD

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