A Guide to BSc (Hons) Environmental Conservation Modules, by those who have survived it!

Recent graduate Elanor Alun has put together a guide to studying Environmental Conservation at UWTSD. 

Read more to find out, from a graduates perspective, what you will actucally be studying and why?

Environmental Conservation Module Guide

Quick Facts

1. The course has a WUSCA ranking (that’s a quality ranking based on scores from past and current students) of 125/125. Perfect score!
2. The course covers a broad range of topics within the spectrum of “the environment”, including habitat science, law, renewable energies and waste management; so, you’re bound to find something you love!
3. Although it sounds a bit intimidatingly difficult, in fact the course is taught in such a way that it’s easy to understand.
4. The department is small and friendly, so you have top-notch education; there’s never a problem of being overlooked as you become one face in a crowd.
5. Unlike most environmental courses, the focus is on practical management, making you more employable afterwards. 
6. This course has a 95% employment rate.
7. Read that again.
8. 95%

What am I actually studying?

Year One

In your first year, the modules are designed to give you an overview of the environment; as in, how it works, the issues it faces, all that stuff. It’s a fairly gentle start, designed to introduce you to the course and teach you the important basics, like how to structure an assignment, and what exactly is a rhizome, anyway?
Environmental Issues & Academic Skills
Climate change, pollution, species decline – you get a broad-spectrum introduction. You also, helpfully, learn how to structure your reports, how to research them easily, and apparently there’s something called Harvard referencing, except no one has ever seen its footprints.
Physical Landscape
Essentially, this is physical geography. This one teaches you all the physical processes that affect stuff, because it’s all well and good you trying to conserve a sand dune for a rare orchid, but if you don’t know how wind flow and sand deposits work in dune systems, all your careful work will be buried after three years.
Earth Science
Physical Landscape, but on a planetary scale. Earth Science looks at how all the world’s different sections (the atmospheric bits and the watery bits and the bits with the mountains on and all that) interact, and shape the stuff that then lives on it.
Fieldwork 1
Get outdoors! This one introduces you to the joys of practical work and data gathering. Don’t worry, though. We’ve got your back. See below for our survival guide.
Governing our Environment
All the knowledge and passion in the world won’t save that rare sand dune orchid if you don’t know how to legally protect it. Governance gives you the basics of UK laws that protect the environment, be they the important Acts (like the Wildlife and Countryside Act) or ways of slapping important labels on an area (a National Park, or an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).
Environmental Biology
What does biodiversity actually mean? What’s with all the Latin names for stuff? Why do some animals have fancy beaks, then? Get the answers to these questions and more!

Year Two

Year 2! And now the fun really begins. Year 2 is the first year where the marks start to actually count towards your degree, and also the year where you now go into detail on the topics. No more overviews! Now you know the difference between a tree and a shrub! (There isn’t any formal difference between a tree and a shrub.)
Environmental Monitoring & Remediation
Let’s say you have a factory that is only allowed to emit a limited amount of CO2 per year. Let’s say that you are now a Factory Inspector of CO2 (not a real job title. But a real job.)
How can you tell how much they’re emitting? And if it’s too much, how do you clean the air again? This module has all the answers…
Habitat Science
This one looks at different habitats (woodland, rivers, etc) and holds a magnifying glass over the things that live in them, the processes that shape them, and how those combine. And then it tells you how to manage them, in the event you become Queen of the Woods (not a real job title. But a real job.)
Environmental Law and Economics
We all thought Environmental Law was going to be mind-numbingly dull, but actually, it ended up being one of the most fascinating modules we had. It was also far simpler to follow than we’d feared. As the name suggests, it explains how environmental issues fit into UK legal systems, and what protections exist.
Economics, meanwhile, teaches you all about how the stuff the environment does for us – like, oh, say, producing the oxygen we need to live – will slap us with an enormous bill if we lose it, and could be saving us money right now if we stopped abusing it. Nice.
Low Carbon Technologies
Combining the twin greats of renewable energy and waste management – or, to put it another way, Ways To Get Electricity Without Poisoning The Planet, and Ways To Get Rid Of Our Waste Without Just Burying It And Hoping For The Best.
Again, this one is far more fascinating than it can sound. Good stuff.
Coastal and Marine Science
Are you feeling happy right now? Yes? Unacceptable. Learn all the ways in which the oceans are doomed. I hope you didn’t like fish. You’ll never eat it again.
The dolphins are cute, though, fair play.
Research Methods and GIS
This one starts you on the path to your eventual dissertation, teaching you how to come up with a proposal, research it, gather the data, and analyse the data. Your assignment will be a research proposal, which a lot of us then used for our dissertations. You don’t have to, though. You can propose a study on the impacts of wild ponies and then produce a dissertation on the technology used in Nigerian urine-powered generators, if you like. You do you.

Year Three

Third year! Nearly done! Generally, the results of your third year carry the most weight with regards to your final overall degree mark, so pay attention and knuckle down. No drinking. Fine; some drinking. 
Freshwater Conservation
Is water a right or a resource? And just what are those creepy little wriggly things in it that have the spikes on the front and the too many legs?
Sustainable Development
The module that gives you some good, hopeful answers. How do you set up a functioning city system where people use public transport rather than driving? How do we create low-impact homes to meet our housing needs? How do we balance economic growth and not killing the planet? Come and find out…
Environmental Assessment
It’s hard to protect the environment when you don’t know how it’s damaged, mind. EA takes you through the ins and outs of the biggest measurement systems, including how to do them, their strengths, and their shortcomings.
GIS and Data Analysis 
I’m not going to lie. GIS is not easy. Even if you’re the sort of computer-minded person who regularly hacks into the Pentagon for kicks and giggles, you might not get along with GIS so well. BUT – don’t be afraid to ask for help, and you shall receive it. No one fails GIS. They just curse its name and legacy.
However, every employer in the field wants GIS skills these days, pretty much, so it is worth doing.
Research Project
And finally… The DissertationTM! Essentially an extended assignment, rather than the usual 1500 – 3000 words, the Diss clocks in at 8000-12,000 words, and for that reason, DO NOT BE A PLEB. Start it in the summer, and get your lit review done by Christmas. Top tip, that.
The nice thing about the Diss is that the topic is entirely up to you. You choose whatever you’re most interested in. Wondering about the impacts of the loss of the traditional British milkman on the lesser spotted woodpecker population? You research that! There’s been everything from micro-hydro schemes, to orca captivity, to sustainable fashion trends. Go mad. Write what inspires you.

Wednesday, 22nd March 2017 we will be holding a Taster Day in Environmental Conservation - book your place now: