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Earth, Climate and Environmental Change

Earth, Climate and Environmental Change

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Key information

Duration: 3 years full time

UCAS code: F764

Institution code: R72

Campus: Egham

Key information

Duration: 4 years full time

UCAS code: F767

Institution code: R72

Campus: Egham

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The course

Earth, Climate and Environmental Change (BSc)

Through Science and in everyday life we understand that climate change is happening all around us. As our planet continues to warm up and climate patterns change, bringing extreme and unpredictable weather, environments will become hotter, drier or wetter, and the natural resources we rely upon will become increasingly threatened and all life of Earth will be severely impacted.

  • BSc Earth, Climate and Environmental Change is a new degree designed to develop a strong scientific understanding of Earth system science and how it has shaped today’s world
  • You’ll experience teaching that is research-led, quantitative science based, and underpinned by the world-leading expertise of the academics in the Department of Earth Sciences.
  • We offer a broad range of optional courses to allow you to tailor your degree to your own learning interests
  • You’ll study a hands-on degree with over 60% of timetabled study time taken up by hands on practical classes and the chance to participate on fieldtrips
  • Study in a department consistently ranked among the top 10 in the country and home to an inspiring research culture that informs our teaching
Field trips

Fieldwork is the glue that brings together all aspects of the taught programme in Earth Sciences, as well as providing a chance for staff and students to get to know each other. The fieldwork programme is designed to provide progressive training throughout your degree.

The fieldwork programme includes year 1 trips to Devon, Pembrokeshire, Charnwood Forest, and Oxfordshire and year 3 trips to Southwest England. There is also the opportunity for fieldwork in the third-year project.

  • Develop a deep understanding of humanity’s relationship with the planet.
  • Teaching underpinned by the world-leading expertise of academic research in the Earth Sciences department
From time to time, we make changes to our courses to improve the student and learning experience, and this is particularly the case as we continue to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic. If we make a significant change to your chosen course, we’ll let you know as soon as we can.

Core Modules

Year 1
  • In this module you will develop an understanding of basic concepts in chemistry and physics and how to apply these to geological processes. You will look at atoms and atomic structure, the periodic table of elements, reactions, equations, geochemical analysis, the composition of the earth, interpretation of phase diagrams, solubility of minerals, weathering and the hydrological cycle. You will also consider Newton’s Laws, kinematics, circular motion, planetary orbits, gravity, magnetism, electricity, resistivity, stress, strain, seismicity, isostasy, radioactivity, and geochronology.

  • In this module you develop an understanding of the skills required to practice geology in the field, carrying out a series of activities in South Devon and Pembrokeshire. You will learn to describe and interpret the origin of sedimentary, igneous and metamorphic rocks and how to prepare a geological map and cross-section using standard symbols. You will examine stereographic projections, sedimentary logging, the construction of stratigraphic columns for the identification of rocks, and the analysis of structural features using stereonets.

  • Evolving Earth
  • Dynamic Planet
  • Climate, Ocean and Atmosphere
  • This module will describe the key principles of academic integrity, focusing on university assignments. Plagiarism, collusion and commissioning will be described as activities that undermine academic integrity, and the possible consequences of engaging in such activities will be described. Activities, with feedback, will provide you with opportunities to reflect and develop your understanding of academic integrity principles.


Year 2
  • In this research led module skills in scientific writing, communication and data interpretation will be developed alongside an understanding of current research topics in Earth, Climate and Environmental Change. A series of seminars will be led by experts on a range of research topics in the field of Earth, Climate and Environmental change. From these seminars, you will gain an understanding of cutting edge research and the way in which research projects are planned and carried out. A literature review exercise on one of the research topics from the seminar series will be undertaken with support from tutors.

    You will receive training in techniques for literature searching, synthesising a large quantity of literature and reference managing. Data interpretation skills will be developed through a short guided quantitative project.

  • Skills in GIS and Remote Sensing are most effectively acquired through practical work and the use of industry-standard commercial software packages. Practical work is entirely computer-based and involves learning techniques of handling, using and interrogating GIS data, through exercises and projects which have relevance to geology.

    The applications currently used are ArcGIS and ER Mapper.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the hazards associated with geological activity, their causes, and approaches to risk management. You will look at volcanoes, earthquakes, and radon, and the hazards associated with the exploitation of geological resources and associated anthropogenic activity, including asbestos, the mining industry, and contaminated land. You will examine a variety of geological and geochemical data, and learn to interpret and analyse these in order to make scientifically justified decisions as to the level of risk.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of advanced chemical concepts relevant to the Earth Sciences. You will focus on isotope geochemistry and consider techniques that are directly applicable in most geological contexts. You will attend practical classes and conduct a small project involving the analysis and interpretation of a real geochemical dataset.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how computation tools are used to read, create, analyse, and visualise digital earth science data. You will learn to use python, a popular scripting language, to read and manipulate data from digital files, and look at digital mapping techniques, using data to plot 2D and 3D maps. You will consider how to fit linear data and analyse the goodness of fit using statistical analysis tools, and examine how to produce simple models of geological processes using algebraic expression, such as generating models for seismic travel time curves, major element concentration during magma crystallization, sedimentary basin thickness, and other similar geological phenomena.

  • The oceans form a critical component of the global climate system. They redistribute heat and nutrients around the world and in doing so exert a significant influence on the proliferation of different organisms, regional climatic zones, and the formation of mineral deposits on the seafloor. In this module you will learn about the physical and chemical constituents of the oceans. You will be introduced to the types of oceanographic measurements that can tell us how the modern oceans behave, and how this behaviour might be extended into predictions of future behaviour. You will also learn how to extract and process large oceanographic datasets using open-access oceanographic software.

Year 3
  • Projects can be field and/or laboratory based, generating new scientific data, or they can be computational, analysing existing data that has not been subject to detailed and critical analysis. Early in term 1 you will submit a project plan to the supervisor and course leader and will receive written feedback on the project plan. Formative feedback will also be provided at the end of term 1 following presentations showing progress made so far. You will be expected to regularly meet with your project supervisor for guidance. At the end of the project you will present the results of your research as a scientific report and as an oral presentation.


  • This module will provide you with a working knowledge of basic meteorology. The module will begin with atmospheric basics and terminology including didactic sessions and workshops/practicals on solar radiation, thermodynamics, water vapour, stability, clouds and precipitation. It will progress into skill sessions (lectures and practicals) on radar, interpreting satellite maps and weather reports and finish with sessions (lectures and practicals) putting it all together (review and consolidation) for understanding of winds, fronts, air masses and thunderstorms. The module will finish up with lectures and practicals demonstrating how basic meteorological understanding can be applied for career useful consideration of meteorological hazards: tropical and extra tropical cyclones, regional winds boundary layers and pollutant dispersal, numerical weather prediction and atmospheric optics.

  • This course has two main aims:

    1) To introduce you to the evidence for and mechanisms of modern climate change – what climate change is, how the climate change is manifested, what physical mechanisms are driving it, and what its future status might be.

    2) Methods of research in multi-disciplinary topics, report writing, and communication of complex ideas for policy makers using Earth Science as a subject matter.

  • The Earth’s climate has changed across geological time, due to the interaction of a huge array of inter-related climate forcing agents. These changes have been reconstructed using many different lines of chemical, biological and physical proxy data, and mechanistically interrogated using computer simulations (Earth-System models). In this module, you will be taught about the key features of major climatic events in Earth’s history and should gain an appreciation of the typical rates and magnitudes of change that characterise these episodes. A key aim of the module is to demonstrate some of the techniques used for quantitative palaeoclimate reconstruction, and for you to learn the critical evaluation skills needed to interpret these datasets. These skills will be developed through class practical exercises and a summative task that requires the interpretation of a raw palaeoclimate dataset.


  • Methods of Environmental Investigation

Optional Modules

There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Year 1
  • All modules are core
Year 2
  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the key events in the history of life and their environmental impact using the fossil and sedimentary record. You will analyse fossil assemblages using stratigraphic principles such as absolute dating, lithostratigraphy, biostratigraphy and sequence stratigraphy. You will consider how to interpret sedimentary rocks, and examine the importance of fossil assemblages in the interpretation of events in earth history.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the theory and practice of seismic, gravity, magnetic and resistivity surveying. You will consider the methods used to manipulate, analyse, and display geophysical data to solve geological exploration problems, and examine the strengths and weaknesses of the different data types.

  • Geothermal Energy
Year 3
  • Hydrogeology
  • Environmental Biogeochemistry
  • Applied Geochemistry
  • Planetary Geology and Geophysics
  • Solar, Wind and Marine Energy
  • Subsurface storage of CO2 and Energy

Classroom teaching methods are highly diverse including lectures, practicals, tutorials, fieldtrips, and other learning modes. Students will typically spend 75% of each module (90 of 120 hrs) engaged on independent tasks; however, this will vary, module-to-module, to reflect the diverse fields being synthesised, and diverse subject-specific approaches to teaching, with practical lab-based or field-based modules having higher level of classroom time.

Students on this course will benefit from pastoral support from a personal tutor. 

A combination of assessment methods will be used (exam, projects, coursework, moodle quizzes, presentations and team exercises)  and innovative assessment modes will be encouraged as new modules are developed for this course.

A Levels: BBB-BBC

Required subjects:

  • A-level in at least one science-based subject such as Mathematics, Physics, Geology, Chemistry, Geography or Biology.
  • At least five GCSEs at grade A*-C or 9-4 including English and Mathematics.

Where an applicant is taking the EPQ alongside A-levels, the EPQ will be taken into consideration and result in lower A-level grades being required. For students who are from backgrounds or personal circumstances that mean they are generally less likely to go to university, you may be eligible for an alternative lower offer. Follow the link to learn more about our contextual offers.


We accept T-levels for admission to our undergraduate courses, with the following grades regarded as equivalent to our standard A-level requirements:

  • AAA* – Distinction (A* on the core and distinction in the occupational specialism)
  • AAA – Distinction
  • BBB – Merit
  • CCC – Pass (C or above on the core)
  • DDD – Pass (D or E on the core)

Where a course specifies subject-specific requirements at A-level, T-level applicants are likely to be asked to offer this A-level alongside their T-level studies.

English language requirements

All teaching at Royal Holloway is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.

The scores we require
  • IELTS: 6.5 overall. No subscore lower than 5.5.
  • Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 54. No subscore lower than 51.
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.

Country-specific requirements

For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please visit here.

Undergraduate preparation programme

For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, for this undergraduate degree, the Royal Holloway International Study Centre offers an International Foundation Year programme designed to develop your academic and English language skills.

Upon successful completion, you can progress to this degree at Royal Holloway, University of London.

You will graduate equipped with the specialist knowledge and practical skills to tackle the scientific challenges of a rapidly changing world, ideally prepared for a scientific or technical career in your chosen field.

Graduate destinations include postgraduate research, climate and environmental consultancy, analytical careers, Government/civil service, remote sensing agencies and regulatory bodies. Climate service companies, mining, extractive, and energy industries employ a large number of Earth Scientists to handle their environmental/climate obligations.

The majority of our graduates are working in geological careers, addressing global problems like climate change and waste disposal, or have a role in global exploration for the raw materials we need – water, minerals, oil and gas. Many others go on to study for a PhD degree and become a research scientist.

Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £9,250

EU and international students tuition fee per year**: £24,000

Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course.

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loansscholarships and bursaries. UK students who have already taken out a tuition fee loan for undergraduate study should check their eligibility for additional funding directly with the relevant awards body.

*The tuition fee for UK undergraduates is controlled by Government regulations. For students starting a degree in the academic year 2022/23, the fee is £9,250 for that year, and is provided here as a guide. The fee for UK undergraduates starting in 2023/24 has not yet been confirmed.

**The UK Government has confirmed that EU nationals are no longer eligible to pay the same fees as UK students, nor be eligible for funding from the Student Loans Company. This means you are classified as an international student. At Royal Holloway, we wish to support a transition for those students affected by this change in status. Please see the fees and funding page for more information.

Fees for international students may increase year-on-year in line with the rate of inflation. The policy at Royal Holloway is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see fees and funding and our terms and conditions.

***These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree at Royal Holloway during the 2021/22 academic year, and are included as a guide. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.

95% overall student satisfaction

Source: NSS, 2020

9th in the UK for Earth Sciences

Source: Times Good University Guide 2020

93% of our Earth Sciences graduates are employed or in further study within 6 months of graduating

Source: DLHE, 2018

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