UCAS- Focus on Environmental Studies: Take a holistic view of the world

Environmental studies deals with the big picture: humans and their relationship with the natural world, as Simon Midgley discovered

According to George Hume, studying for a degree in environmental management at Northumbria University was "an absolutely fantastic preparation for the job I am doing at the moment."

Mr Hume, regional communications officer in Newcastle-upon-Tyne for Going For Green, a charity which promotes sustainable development, graduated with a 2:1 BSc (Hons) in 1998: "Every aspect of what we have to do here was encompassed at one point or another during the university course. Promoting sustainable development: cutting down waste, using less energy, travelling sensibly, looking after the environment and reducing pollution - all those five aspects were dealt with."

Born and brought up in Newcastle, Mr Hume left school to train to be a quantity surveyor. After four years working in construction he became very critical of the adverse impact of building on the environment.

"I had always had an interest in environmental matters," he said. "The course seemed ideal for me. It was about what I wanted to achieve in life. It covered everything from ecology and life sciences to social sciences and sustainable development. I did my dissertation on The Effect of Religion on People's Perceptions of Nature.

"I really enjoyed the course. It's been fantastic. It's given me a thorough grounding in everything I have gone on to do."

During his degree Mr Hume also elected to study remote sensing - observing the earth through satellite imagery. He has now been awarded a pounds 7,000 grant by the National Environmental Research Council in order to study for a masters degree in remote sensing at Dundee University.

Karen Trigg, 32, a divorced single mother with a six-year-old son called Lewis, has just graduated with an upper second in environmental science from the University of Greenwich.

"The course looks at the environment as a whole and the effects that humans can have on the environment," she says. "It includes environmental impact assessment, ecological science, bio-monitoring of pollution, marine ecology, uplands ecology - it's a really broad spectrum of subjects taking a very holistic view of the environment."

Ms Trigg, who lives in Rochester, Kent, across the Medway from the university, says that working for her degree and coping with her son, who suffers from dyspraxia, a development and co-ordination problem, was difficult.

She opted to follow an ecological pathway through her course, while other students opted to follow environmental assessment or management pathways. During her third year Ms Trigg wrote a dissertation on barn owls. She studied at the RSPB nature reserve at High Halstow, Northwood Hill, in the north Kent marshes. She says that since 1950 barn owls in Kent have declined by 72 per cent, mainly due to habitat loss, road traffic accidents and pesticides.

In September she is organising a "conservation of raptors" event at the university to introduce children to owls, hawks and other birds of prey. Ms Trigg, who is now working part-time for the university, assisting the campus director, is to start a part-time MSc in conservation at the university this autumn. Eventually she is hoping to work in conservation education, perhaps for an organisation such as the RSPB.

Laura Snowball, 19, from Blyth in Northumberland, has just completed her first year of studying for a BSc in environmental conservation at Sheffield Hallam University. Ms Snowball has A-levels in general studies (A), biology (B), chemistry (D) and mathematics (D).

"The course is about conserving the environment so that it can be used for people and wildlife," she said. "It's a very general first year. There are elements of IT, social psychology, law, countryside and environmental issues and trends, ecology and landscapes, and conservation practice. The staff are very friendly and very easy to talk to if you have any problems. They will explain things and explain how things fit together with other units - how they connect."

Course members have to do a 10-week unpaid work placement in their second year. She is considering trying to get a placement at Earth Balance, an alternative technology/conservation centre in Cramlinton, Northumberland. When Ms Snowball was at school she gained work experience at a nearby countryside centre and the school also organised sand dune restoration work with the local council.

During the university course students get practical experience of tree felling and dry stone walling. Students are also encouraged to join conservation groups to gain further experience. Ms Snowball is eventually hoping to become a park ranger in a national park or perhaps a National Trust warden.

Sarah Hodges, 19, is studying environmental geology at the University of Greenwich. A first-year student from Ashford in Kent, she is studying the impact of geology on the environment.

"In the first year we study geological structures and processes. In the second and third year your studies are more specific to what you want to do. You can study tectonics, for example, and its relation to industry and the environment."

Ms Hodges first started to become interested in geology when she was about 12 years old and started to collect rocks.

"It's something I continued all the way through secondary school," she said. "I have always been very interested in vulcanology, plate tectonics and things like that."

At Canterbury College in Kent she took A-levels in geology (A), geography (B), environmental science (B), English literature (B) and English language (B). Ms Hodges hopes to pursue a career in the United States doing "hazard mapping" - advising industries about the dangers of building in earthquake zones with the attendant risks of damage, pollution and spillage.

"I decided I should pursue a career in something I enjoyed," she added. "I had an accident in the summer which left me numb from the waist down for a couple of months. I could not go away that far from home.

"Our college had some revision days at the university. I liked the atmosphere there and I decided that it would be probably best for me. I have had a lot of support from the university. I think that going to Greenwich was one of the best things I decided to do."

Arts and Entertainment
Nick Frost will star in the Doctor Who 2014 Christmas special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
TV
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Actor and director Zach Braff

TV
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Meera Syal was a member of the team that created Goodness Gracious Me

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The former Doctor Who actor is to play a vicar is search of a wife

film
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pointless host Alexander Armstrong will voice Danger Mouse on CBBC

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Pharrell dismissed the controversy surrounding

music
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur

film
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne modelling

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape

Robin Thicke admits he didn't write 'Blurred Lines'

music
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

film
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black

Review: Cilla, ITV TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars with Cillian Murphy in Peaky Blinders II

TV
Arts and Entertainment

art
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

film
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West is on his 'Yeezus' tour at the moment

Music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week