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Master of Environmental Science

This is an integrated masters degree that combines undergraduate and postgraduate study. You’ll develop key research skills and a rich, scientific understanding of the environment. Learn how to tackle and solve topical issues rooted in our everyday lives at a local and global scale. An environmental science degree will equip you with a range of skills that you can apply to communicate effectively, address problems in a professional manner and manage projects.

Key features of the course

  • Gain essential skills for addressing environmental management issues in your own organisation and wider contexts.
  • Develop your planning, organising, data collecting, analysing and writing skills.
  • Practise fieldwork at two residential schools.
  • Extend your knowledge of recent research scholarship – ideal preparation for a research degree.
  • Conclude with either a substantial piece of independent study or a more academic in-depth research project.

Course Summary

Integrated masters

Integrated masters

  • Combines study at the level of an undergraduate honours degree with study at postgraduate (masters) level.
  • Common in engineering, mathematics and science.
  • Often linked to professional body recognition.
Course code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
How long it takes
Part time – 8 years
Full time – 4 years
Time limit – 16 years
Study method
Distance learning

Course details

This degree has four stages, each comprising 120 credits.

  • You’ll start Stage 1 with two 60-credit introductory modules – one with a focus on environment and one with a focus on science.
  • In Stage 2, you’ll study a 60-credit compulsory module plus choose another 60 credits.
  • In Stage 3, you’ll study two compulsory 30-credit modules. You’ also choose from either a 60-credit module or a pair of 30-credit modules.
  • In Stage 4, you’ll study a compulsory 30-credit module and choose another 30-credit module. You’ll conclude your degree with a 60-credit project module.

Prepare for OU study with an Access module

We offer two starting points depending on how confident you are or how long it’s been since you last studied. Choose to dive straight in with an OU level 1 module, or if you’d prefer some extra preparation, you can get started with an optional Access module. See Entry requirements for more details.

Stage 1 (120 credits)

You’ll start with an exploration of environmental challenges in the Arctic, Africa, the Amazon, and China – developing the key skills and concepts needed to understand our changing world. Next, you’ll study a science module, focusing on some of the key ideas in science.

Stage 2 (120 credits)

Stage 2 includes a compulsory 60-credit environmental science modulewhere you’ll gain practical experience at two compulsory UK-based field schools. You’ll also choose 60 credits from a range of options.

Stage 3 (120 credits)

Stage 3 takes a closer look at our modern environment, including the interactions between organisms and their ecosystems, with two compulsory 30-credit modules. You’ll also choose a 60-credit module or a pair of 30-credit modules

Stage 4 (120 credits)

Stage 4 modules are at postgraduate level. You’ll study a compulsory 30-credit module plus choose another 30-credit module. Finally, you’ll finish with a 60-credit extended project module.
You'll study the following:
Environmental science challenges (S831) – planned for October 202130
You'll choose one from:
Environmental monitoring and protection (T868)30
Making environmental decisions (T891)30
Managing for sustainability (T867)30
You'll study the following:
Project for Master of Environmental Science (S840) – planned for November 202160

We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 17 March 2020.


We make all our qualifications as accessible as possible and have a comprehensive range of services to support all our students. This qualification uses a variety of study materials and has the following elements:

  • studying a mixture of printed and online material. Online learning resources may include websites, audio/video media clips, and interactive activities such as online quizzes
  • using mathematical and scientific expressions, notations and associated techniques
  • working in a group with other students
  • using and/or producing diagrams and/or screenshots
  • undertaking practical work
  • using specialist software (e.g. Open Studio in module S350)
  • finding external/third party material online.

For more detailed information, see the Accessibility Statements on individual module descriptions. If you feel you may need additional support, visit Disability support ;to find more about what we offer.

Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

This qualification develops your learning in four main areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding.
  • Cognitive skills.
  • Practical and professional skills.
  • Key skills.

The level and depth of your learning gradually increases as you work through the qualification. You’ll be supported throughout by the OU’s unique style of teaching and assessment – which includes a personal tutor to guide and comment on your work; top quality course texts; elearning resources like podcasts, interactive media and online materials; tutorial groups and community forums.

Read the detailed learning outcomes here

Credit transfer

If you’ve already completed some study at another university, you may be able to count it towards your Open University qualification – reducing the number of modules you need to study.

You should apply for credit transfer before you register, at least 4 weeks before the registration closing date. Just tell us what you studied, where and when, and we’ll compare this against the learning outcomes for your chosen course.

For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.

Classification of your degree

On successfully completing this course, you’ll be awarded the Master of Environmental Science degree. The class of degree (first, upper second, lower second or third-class honours) depends on your grades at Stages 3 and 4.

You’ll have the opportunity to attend a degree ceremony.

Recognition in your country

If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Read recognition in my country.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Student Policies and Regulations website. 

Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for this qualification.

At The Open University we believe education should be open to all, so we provide a high-quality university education to anyone who wishes to realise their ambitions and fulfil their potential.

How much time do I need?

  • Most of our students study part time, completing 60 credits a year.
  • This will usually mean studying for 16–18 hours a week.

How much will it cost?

We believe cost shouldn’t be a barrier to achieving your potential. That’s why we work hard to keep the cost of study as low as possible and have a wide range of flexible ways to pay to help spread, or even reduce, the cost.

  • Fees are paid on a module-by-module basis – you won't have to pay for the whole of your qualification up front.
  • A qualification comprises a series of modules, each with an individual fee. Added together, they give you the total cost.
  • Fees vary by level – our typical fee for 30 credits at undergraduate level is £1,548* and £3,096* for 60 credits; between £1,260* and £1,440* for 30 credits at postgraduate level and £2,520* for 60 credits.
  • The total cost of your chosen qualification starts from £23,767* based on our current fees.

*The fee information provided here is valid for courses starting before 31 July 2021. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University’s strategic approach to fees.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a computer, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

If you’re on a low income you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after you start studying.

Residential schools

This qualification includes a compulsory module Environmental science (SXF206) that includes two compulsory UK-based residential schools. For both schools you must pay a joint additional charge to cover costs such as tuition, accommodation and meals (see module description for more information). You must also pay for your travel to and from the venue.

This qualification may also include other science modules that include or are associated with an optional residential/laboratory school. For each school you choose to attend, you must pay an additional charge to cover costs such as tuition, accommodation and meals (see individual module descriptions for more information). You must also pay for your travel to and from the venue.

Ways to pay for your qualification

We’re confident we can help you find an option that’s right for you.

Review our Fees and funding page for a summary of the funding options available.

Please note that even if you have a degree you may be eligible to use a Part-Time Tuition Fee Loan as a payment option towards this qualification. Please contact us for further information.

Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and therefore the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fees and funding information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2021. Fees normally increase annually in line with inflation and the University’s strategic approach to fees.

Skills for career development

As a graduate of the Master of Environmental Science, you’ll have gained breadth and depth of understanding in scientific, technical and environmental issues. You’ll be able to think creatively; tackle multifaceted issues; and collect, analyse and interpret complex quantitative and qualitative data. You’ll also develop research, planning and fieldwork techniques as you take part in practical and project work.

You’ll also gain important transferable skills that will demonstrate your all-round ability and make you more employable. These include:

  • problem solving
  • digital literacy
  • communication
  • self-motivation
  • team working.

Career relevance

The broad and specialist skills you’ll develop during this degree course will equip you to work in a variety of jobs. Environmental science skills are in demand from government and regulatory bodies, the private sector, consultancies and conservation organisations. Careers directly related to the degree include:

  • ecology and nature conservation
  • energy management
  • environmental consultancy
  • environmental education
  • pollution control
  • recycling
  • resources
  • sustainability
  • water quality.

Other careers

The logical, reasoned approach needed for science study is also relevant to a wide range of non-scientific contexts. Many graduate-level jobs are open to graduates of any discipline, particularly in business, finance, management consultancy and the public sector.  Science graduates with good communication and interpersonal skills are demand. Some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree.

Exploring your options

Once you register with us (and for up to three years after you finish your studies), you’ll have full access to our careers service for a wide range of information and advice – including online forums, website, interview simulation, vacancy service as well as the option to email or speak to a careers adviser. Some areas of the careers service website are available for you to see now, including help with looking for and applying for jobs. You can also read more general information about how OU study enhances your career.

In the meantime if you want to do some research around this qualification and where it might take you, we’ve put together a list of relevant job titles as a starting point (note that some careers may require further study, training and/or work experience beyond your degree):

  • botanist
  • countryside manager
  • environmental consultant   
  • environmental engineer
  • estates manager
  • forensic scientist     
  • industrial researcher
  • landscape architect
  • marine scientist
  • meteorologist
  • nature conservation officer
  • science communicator
  • science teacher
  • technical consultant
  • water quality inspector.

Register for this course

Start dates
Credit transfer: apply by 10/12/2020

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