Our BSc Global Sustainability course is focused on addressing the grand challenges facing Planet Earth and its living systems. This course will involve you in problem solving at a global scale and equip you with the tools needed to address complex problems through a highly innovative and interdisciplinary degree.
You will study the interaction of humans and nature at the local, regional and global level, whilst acquiring the data handling skills needed for a future career in sustainability. You will be trained with the knowledge and skills to tackle the most complex problems faced by our planet, led by our research-intensive academic staff.
Based in our School of Life Sciences, our BSc Global Sustainability course cuts across multiple disciplines. You can choose optional modules from other subject areas including economics, philosophy, psychology, sociology, and politics, each taught by internationally recognised experts in their fields.
You will harness the world-leading expertise from across the University of Essex and develop the tools to improve humanity’s future. You will have the opportunity to join our ongoing work with governmental, non-governmental and commercial partners with impact at local (eg Colchester Oyster Fishery), national (eg CEFAS) and International (eg Mars Corporation) scales.
The grand challenges we will tackle include the interacting climate, biodiversity and nature crises as well as pollution, inequality and social injustice. Together, we will understand how to manage these challenges and plan appropriate responses to them. You will study the relationship between the environment, human cultures and values, while working with stakeholders on the analysis, resolution and communication of complex global issues.
The diverse opportunities offered by this course include, as with all our degrees, options to spend a year abroad or in industry. This allows you the flexibility to shape a degree to suit your interests.
Sustainability at Essex
To learn about the initiatives and actions the University of Essex is taking to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises, visit our sustainability page.
You’ll receive a unique combination of research expertise from across the University for a truly novel, timely and society-relevant degree.
Take part in residential field courses in Indonesia, the Mediterranean and the UK, as well as field work in our local Marine Conservation Zone.
You’ll problem-solve sustainability issues alongside world leading academics from several academic departments, making this a truly interdisciplinary degree.
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad (see below).
Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are adaptable and mature.
If you spend a full year abroad you'll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee that year. You won't pay any tuition fees to your host university.
Our students currently study abroad at universities in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, Germany and Sweden.
Alternatively, you can spend your third year on a placement with an external organisation. This is usually focused around your course, and enables you to learn about a particular sector, company, or job role, apply your academic knowledge in a practical working environment, and receive inspiration for future career pathways.
If you complete a placement year you'll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.
Our expert staff
As one of the largest schools at our University, we offer a lively, friendly and supportive environment with research-led study and high quality teaching, where you will learn from and work alongside our expert staff.
Your course will be taught across all three academic faculties at the University. In the School of Life Sciences, our research covers a wide spectrum from the cell through to communities and ecosystems. Key academic staff for this course include:
Professor Alex Dumbrell – Internationally recognised research program on diverse aspects of ecology and biodiversity
The University of Essex has a Women's Network to support female staff and students, and our School of Life Sciences was awarded the Athena Swan Silver Award in October 2020, which reflects the work carried out by staff in our School to continue to improve equality.
Our School of Life Sciences has leading research facilities for aquatic and molecular ecology and genomics.
Depending on your choice of modules and research project, you have the opportunity to work on a vast range of topics, from a focus on policy or economics to the ecology of different habitats. You will draw on a wide range of expertise, facilities and equipment, which may include:
Local field sites and collaborators including CEFAS, Lowestoft
Resources and expertise from across the Faculties of the University of Essex
Access to cross-university seminars and research events
Overseas field sites with our collaborators in Indonesia, the Caribbean and the Mediterranean
Contact with alumni working in professional sustainability roles
Remote-sensing drones for field surveys
A 10.5m research and education vessel
Aquariums, mesocosms and other facilities for ecology and behaviour studies
An advanced bioimaging suite to visualise and process images of biological processes in real time
Government bodies, charities, and companies need to build environmental sustainability into the work they do, so there is an ever-increasing range of career opportunities.
Demand for scientists who can work across disciplines is growing, specifically within the sustainability sector and within the diverse fields of education, research, business, government, charities, NGOs and industry, for example Circular Economy Leaders, Sustainability Consultant/Managers, Senior Policy Advisors, Net Zero Coordinators and Regeneration Managers.
Many graduates chose to develop their career opportunities by studying for further degree, such as an MSc, MSD (Masters by Research) or PhD.
We also work with our University's Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
UK entry requirements
GCSE: Mathematics C/4
A-levels: BBB, including Biology or Environmental Science (or equivalent). Acceptable A-level equivalents are Environmental Technology, Geography, Life and Health Sciences, Mathematics and Statistics.
BTEC: D*DD, depending on subject and units studied - advice on acceptability can be provided.
IB: 30 points or three Higher Level certificates with 555 including 5 in Higher Level Biology.
Plus Standard Level Mathematics, if not taken at Higher Level. We will accept grade 4 in either Standard Level Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches or Standard Level Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation.
We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. Please note that Maths in the IB is not required if you have already achieved GCSE Maths at grade C/4 or above or 4 in IB Middle Years Maths.
Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.
Access to HE Diploma: 6 level 3 credits at Distinction and 39 level 3 credits at Merit, depending on subject and units studied - advice on acceptability can be provided.
T-levels: Merit, depending on subject studied -advice on acceptability can be provided.
What if I have a non-traditional academic background? Don’t worry. To gain a deeper knowledge of your course suitability, we will look at your educational and employment history, together with your personal statement and reference.
You may be considered for entry into Year 1 of your chosen course. Alternatively, some UK and EU applicants may be considered for Essex Pathways, an additional year of study (known as a foundation year/year 0) helping students gain the necessary skills and knowledge in order to succeed on their chosen course. You can find a list of Essex Pathways courses and entry requirements here
If you are a mature student, further information is here
International & EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.
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Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications
If you are an international student requiring a visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The following modules are based on the current course structure and may change in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.
We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We’ll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, or in response to COVID-19, we’ll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.
Components and modules explained
Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.
Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.
What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.
Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.
In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.
Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:
The department or school the module will be taught by.
In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.
This module will introduce you to the major themes of sustainability along with the most recent developments. Topics include environmental sustainability issues like water, food, and energy; social sustainability themes like environmental justice and transportation; and economic sustainability topics like green businesses and economic development as well as sustainability issues in universities. We will use case studies to explore examples and understand the issues and future of sustainability.
Why do we all look different? Are some illnesses hereditary? Are animals born ready-suited to their environment? From the early theories of Mendel to modern studies in molecular genetics, you explore how scientists have answered these questions over the last 150 years.
Examine how the structure and function of DNA allows genetic material to be expressed, replicated and inherited, and consider how genetic variation leads to adaptive evolution. From developing new technologies in gene cloning to the applications for modern medicine, you explore how geneticists are building on the earlier achievements in this fundamentally important field to enhance our understanding of life on earth.
Develop your skillset and boost your CV. This module prepares you for the coursework, laboratory practicals and research projects that you will encounter during undergraduate study. Get to know referencing systems and learn how to effectively communicate scientific information. Use scientific units and simple algebra and demonstrate understanding of logarithms, exponentials, geometry and elementary calculus. Learn how to design experiments, handle data and display, interpret and analyse basic statistics.
Teaching and learning will be through a mixture of lectures, classes, practicals and tutorials, with an emphasis on developing the key transferable skills needed for a career in biosciences.
You will develop your transferable skills in scientific writing (including referencing and avoiding plagiarism), teamwork and communication through oral presentations, study and research skills (including essay writing, lecture note taking, use of library and databases). Teaching and learning will be through a mixture of lectures, classes, and tutorials. The emphasis will be on small group, tutorial-style teaching and interaction with other students on this module, with assessments tailored to your degree subject area.
This module develops knowledge from the exploration of the major themes of sustainability. Case studies will be used to deepen knowledge and explore specific examples from each facet of global sustainability. We will critically examine the current action being taken at the local and global scale.
Professional skills for Ecological and Marine Scientists
In this career-focused module you develop skills specific to your discipline, such as information retrieval, data-analysis and interpretation techniques, as well as a broader range of transferable skills, such as communication, team-work, numeracy and attention to detail. Learn how to best approach job applications, including CV and cover letter writing, aptitude testing and the interview process.
This final-year research project is an opportunity to carry out an individual investigation on the topic of your choice relating to Global Sustainability.
You will use the skills and knowledge developed in the course to identify a suitable question with the guidance of an academic supervisor. Then, you will conduct a desk-based (or short field-based) approach to addressing your research questions.
The qualitative or quantitative analysis and presentation will take the form of a report to demonstrate research, understanding and critical thinking about the literature relating to your research topic.
Earth`s climate has fluctuated throughout history, but the speed of change in recent decades has been unprecedented. Warming, acidification, drought, flooding, and fire are increasingly prevalent features of our modern world.
In addition, humans are responsible for widespread environmental pollution, which is any input of material or energy into air, land, or water that causes harmful environment change.
The sources and ecological consequences of climate change and pollution will be explored and discussed, concentrating on biodiversity, species distributions and extinctions, and the provision of ecosystem services of benefit to humans.
Examples of climate change and pollution will be presented from both terrestrial and aquatic domains, and from polar to tropical biomes, together with a review of the avenues to be followed for remediation of biosphere processes and the conservation of biological diversity. The module will be delivered through lectures and a practical session incorporating data analysis and interpretation.
On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
Learn through a combination of lectures, laboratory and field sessions, as well as workshops
Gain experience collating and interpreting data, using mixed methods
Participate in specialist field trips
Degrees are awarded on the results of your written examinations together with continual assessments of your practical work and coursework.
Fees and funding
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.
Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.
The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are 'L' and 'S' respectively.
You can find further information on how to apply, including information on transferring from another university, applying if you are not currently at a school or college, and applying for readmission on our How to apply and entry requirements page.
If you are an undergraduate student residing in the UK who has received an offer to study with us in October 2023, you will receive an email invitation to book onto one of our Applicant Days. Our Colchester Campus Applicant Days run from February to May 2023 on various Wednesdays and Saturdays, and our Southend Campus Applicant Days run from March to June 2023 on various weekdays and Saturdays. Applicant Days provide the opportunity to meet your department, tour our campus and accommodation, and chat to current students. We appreciate that travelling to university events can be expensive. This is why we have increased our Applicant Day Travel Bursary cap, allowing you to claim up to £150 as reimbursement for travel expenses. For further information about Applicant Days, including Terms and Conditions and eligibility criteria for our Travel Bursary, please visit our Applicant Days webpage.
If you are an overseas offer-holder, you will be invited to attend one of our virtual events. However, you are more than welcome to join us at one of our in-person Applicant Days if you are able to, so if you’d like to book a place, please contact our Applicant Day Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Visit Colchester Campus
Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.
If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tours allows you to explore our University from the comfort of your home. Check out our Colchester virtual tour and Southend virtual tour to see accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.
Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.
At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.
The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.
The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and
Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.