Course details

Study options

Full-time: 4 years

UK fee

£9,250 per year (2022/23)

International fee

£14,045 per year (2022/23)

UCAS points

72 (September 2022 entry)

UCAS code


Course level



BSc (Hons)

Start date



Kedleston Road, Derby Campus

Course description

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View Spark Change - Study Environmental Sustainability at Derby video transcript

Pressure is increasing on industries and governments around the world to respond to the harmful outcomes of human activity, and rapidly develop innovative approaches to ensure the sustainable future of the environment. This course is designed to meet the growing demand for graduates skilled in shaping innovative solutions that have a positive impact on environmental and sustainability issues.

  • This is a future-focused course, specially built to equip you with the applied skills to help mitigate today’s environmental issues and identify those which may emerge in the future
  • This is also an interdisciplinary course, enabling you to specialise in a specific area to suit your career ambitions or study a range of topics for a broad knowledge-base
  • The programme reflects an outside-in approach, embedding issues around (inter alia) the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, United Nations Biodiversity Framework and IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) 30 Year Plan for Biodiversity.  Our graduates will have an interdisciplinary and problem-solving approach to global sustainability, an understanding of the responsibilities of personal and organisational actions and accountability, and an applied and solution-based approach to global issues
  • Learn from an expert teaching team of active researchers, investigating topics such as climate change, marine ecosystems, environmental degradation, ecosystem services, urban sustainability and biodiversity conservation
  • We blend theory with plenty of practical experience. Examples include the ‘Environmental and Ethics Legislation’ module in your second year that includes a minimum of 30 hours work placement. In your final year, the ‘Business and Sustainability' module includes a field trip where you can experience current sustainability initiatives in charities, businesses and government
  • In your final year, choose to complete an Independent Study (dissertation) or an Industrial Project where you can work in industry on a live brief to help solve a real problem
  • This course can be studied with or without an Industrial Placement Year

Environmental Sustainability - your questions answered

In the below video, Programme Leader, Dr Deb Raha, answers some of the most frequently asked questions about Environmental Sustainability at the University of Derby. You can also watch exclusive subject content by signing up to Derby on Demand.

Deb Raha, Programme Leader in Environmental Sustainability.

View Environmental Sustainability - your questions answered! video transcript

Environmental Sustainability at Derby

The impact of climate change and loss of biodiversity is disrupting our ecosystems. Our module content has been mapped against the needs and ambitions outlined in key initiatives like the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the Convention on Biological Diversity. It also looks at national agendas such as the 25 Year Environment Plan, the Industrial Strategy and Bioenergy Strategy, to ensure you learn about the threats to the environment and identify solutions for sustainable living, as well as lasting harm to biodiversity, the economy and people, especially the poorest and most vulnerable communities. We know that change has to happen - this course prepares you to step up to the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.  You’ll graduate with the core skills in demand and have the opportunity to identify, study and analyse the best possible ways to protect and conserve the environment. 

On this course, you will explore major environmental threats along with the possible solutions, including:

  • Climate change: you’ll explore how anthropogenic greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions are contributing to the climate emergency and what needs to be done to halt and reverse the impacts
  • Loss of biodiversity: you’ll explore the cause and effect of changes in biodiversity, how this impacts the sustainability of the planet and what needs to be done to conserve and enhance the natural world
  • Sustainable living: you’ll also look at what makes a sustainable city and how sustainable cities and urban environments balance economic, social and physical progress with minimal risk to the environment
  • Environmental degradation and human life: you’ll consider how the degradation of the Earth’s ecosystems is negatively impacting the wellbeing of billions of people, mass species extinction, and risking the economic sustainability. You'll evaluate viable sustainble solutions which are social, ecomical and environmentally friendly
  • Sustainable governance: change doesn’t happen without firm legislation and policy, but this remains an issue. You’ll investigate what contributes to the gap in implementing new policy, and the role of public perception in influencing leaders to act

Whilst there are core study components, this is a inter-disciplinary course that gives you the opportunity to focus on a specialist route, or combine topics for a broader view of environmental sustainability. In addition, the ‘Student Initiated Module’ in your final year allows you to take the lead and build a module based on your interests, strengths, and career ambitions. In your final year, you will have the option of completing an Independent Study (dissertation) or an Industrial Project, where you can work in industry on a live brief to help solve a real problem – this could lead to employment upon graduation.

The course provides the opportunity to study with a placement year to help you translate theory into practice and enhance your employability. 

Inter-disciplinary learning

The challenges facing today’s world are complex and won’t be solved through the efforts of a single subject, so the content of this course is inter-disciplinary, connecting you with expertise from a range of subjects to give you a balanced understanding of the factors involved and the scale of today’s environmental fragility. Studying this way means that upon graduating, you will have a vast set of skills to impress future employers and contribute to global sustainability. These include strong investigative and innovative thinking, problem-solving and a solutions-focused approach, commercial and sustainable business awareness, data collection and analysis, critical thinking, and project management, to name but a few.

A electric car charging port on charge.

Our vision 

Our vision is to address local, national and global goals for sustainable development, environmental understanding and clean growth, through an applied and inter-disciplinary approach. We’re making progress on our ambitions through our  (ESRC), where our teaching teams carry out important research to inspire and inform change. There are three themes within the Centre:

  • Global Resilience (environmental hazards and climate change): Research is broad-ranging and includes work on arid lands, soil microbiology, sustainable agriculture and fisheries, conservation of cultural sites, volcanology, tectonic hazards, coastal change, glacial environments and coral ecology
  • Sustainable Resources (energy, material and biological resources): Research in this area includes the transition to a lower carbon future, rare earth elements, freshwater ecosystems and conservation biology
  • Biodiversity and Ecosystems: Research in this area is based around topics such as genomes to ecosystem functioning, encompassing animal behaviour and conservation biology

Who is this course for?

This course is for those who are passionate about securing the long-term sustainability of life on Earth. Whether you are interested in the development of clean energy, the sustainable management of businesses, the protection of the natural world, the impacts of climate change or the management of ecosystem services, this degree has the breadth to allow you to develop your career in the development of a sustainable future for the planet.

A diver swimming around corals and fishes

Demand for new thinking

As the harsh reality of the impacts of climate change and the loss of biodiversity begin to resonate, the need for innovation, bold ideas, and fresh thinking is growing in demand from countries all over the world. Greater scrutiny is also being placed on thousands of companies worldwide to reduce their environmental impacts and adopt new sustainable strategies.

To meet this rising demand and ensure you graduate with skills that can be applied in the UK and globally, the content of the course is designed to support a range of key initiatives from all over the world. These include international agreements such as the ‘United Nations Sustainable Development Goals’, the ‘United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’, and the ‘Convention on Biological Diversity’. On a national level, the content of the course addresses the goals set by the ‘25-year Environment Plan’, ‘Industrial Strategy’, the ‘Bioenergy Strategy’, the ‘Life Sciences Industrial Strategy’ report and the ‘Landscapes Review’.

A young child walking through a waste plant

Expert teaching

As a student at the University of Derby you'll be working with lecturers and tutors who have a wealth of knowledge and experience, and are carrying out research designed to offer fresh perspectives on significant issues. Their wide-ranging work includes:

  • Dr Deb Raha: main research interests include urban development (sustainable cities, urban green spaces, slum development), rural development, renewable energy and socio-technical studies, corporate social responsibility (circular economy, public-private partnerships), policy analysis, and environmental changes
  • Dr Briony Norton: main research interests include the impacts of land-use change on biodiversity and ecosystems, planning and management for urban areas that support biodiversity, how the structure of plant and animal communities are influenced by urban communities, habitat connectivity and community engagement with the natural environment
  • Dr Michael Sweet: main research interests include epidemiology, microbial interactions with hosts, the roles pathogens play in disease causation, immune responses of hosts to specific diseases and ways to manage or mitigate spread of disease. Michael focuses on coral reefs and tropical oceans, and also works with nanoparticles and DNA
  • Dr Richard Pope: main research interests include Late Quaternary and Holocene Landscape development in Mediterranean drylands. Of particular interest is the role of humankind in the landscape, and the application of geoarchaeology, geomorphology and soils for unravelling evidence of human activity on the environment

You’ll benefit from this research as your lecturers bring the latest thinking to your studies, and in some cases you will have opportunities to get involved in research projects yourself.

an iceberg

Environmental Sustainability Research Centre (ESRC)

Specialising in securing clean environments, nature recovery, and resilience to natural hazards, we work collaboratively to safeguard our planet for future generations.

Learn more about our research Learn more about our research
A turtle swimming in the sea surrounded by plastic.

Environment and Sustainability News

We're in the fortunate position of having a wealth of expertise and knowledge to help tackle some of the world's greatest challenges. Take a look at examples of how we are responding to the climate emergency.

Read our news storiesRead our news stories

Facilities and Fieldwork

Today’s problems can only be solved through the application of cutting-edge technology and software. You’ll have access to industry-standard specialist equipment and software including drone technology, field spectrometers, Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM), map library, and Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR). You’ll also work in modern laboratories, as well as our Aquatic Research Facility, glasshouse and insectary - take a virtual tour.

You’ll also have access to Cuckoos Tor, a site on the edge of the Peak District National Park and owned by the University of Derby that is dedicated to long-term research and ecological experiments. Current projects include restoration ecology, natural flood risk management, community engagement with biodiversity, and sustainable land management - and you’ll be able to get involved.

Our fieldwork programme will include local and residential trips where you will be able to explore a range of environments, natural systems, and witness sustainability in action.

What you will study

    Please note that our modules are subject to change - we review the content of our courses regularly, making changes where necessary to improve your experience and graduate prospects.

    Kedleston Road, Derby Campus entrance

    Undergraduate Open Days

    The best way to find out if studying at Derby is right for you is to experience an Open Day. Get a feel for the city and campus, tour our first-class facilities and see where you could be living.

    Book your Undergraduate Open DayBook your Undergraduate Open Day

    How you will learn

    We use a diverse range of assessment methods, including essays, reports, field and laboratory notebooks, portfolios, posters, infographics oral presentations, vivas, and written exams (seen and unseen). You may be assessed individually or as part of a group. We’ve mapped our assessments against key graduate skillsets that employers require.

    Personal academic tutoring

    Your personal academic tutor will work with you to help you get the most out of your time at university. Having someone to talk to about your academic progress, your university experience and your professional aspirations is hugely valuable. We want you to feel challenged in your studies, stretched but confident to achieve your academic and professional goals.

    Find out more about personal academic tutoring

    Who will teach you

    Deb wearing a blue sweater with a pink striped shirt, smiling, outdoors

    Dr Debadayita Raha
    Programme leader

    Dr Debadayita (Deb) Raha is a lecturer in Human and Developmental Geography at the University of Derby. Her research interests lie in the multidisciplinary field of social science and environmental impact on people's lives. She has previously worked at the University of Nottingham looking at whole systems analysis of small scale renewable energy for rural communities in UK and India.

    View full staff profileView full staff profile

    Entry requirements

    2022 entry

    These are the typical qualification requirements for September 2022 entry.

    RequirementWhat we're looking for
    UCAS points72
    A LevelDDD
    GCSEGCSE Maths and English are preferred, however if you don't have these qualifications you will be able to undertake Maths and English at Level 2 as part of your course of study
    Access to HEPass Access to HE Diploma with 60 credits: 45 at Level 3 and 15 at Level 2

    English language requirements

    IELTS: 6.0 (with at least 5.5 in each skills area)

    2023 entry

    These are the typical qualification requirements for September 2023 entry.

    RequirementWhat we're looking for
    UCAS points72
    A LevelDDD
    T LevelPass
    GCSEGCSE Maths and English are preferred, however if you don't have these qualifications you will be able to undertake Maths and English at Level 2 as part of your course of study
    Access to HEPass Access to HE Diploma with 60 credits: 45 at Level 3 and 15 at Level 2

    English language requirements

    IELTS: 6.0 (with at least 5.5 in each skills area)

    Fees and funding

    2022/23 Fees (August 2022 - July 2023)


    £9,250 per year



    £14,045 per year


    Further information about our fees and support you may be entitled to.

    Additional costs and optional extras

    How to apply

    Please look at our application deadlines before you apply.

    UK students

    Full-time students applying to start in September should apply for this course through UCAS.

    Apply through UCASApply directly to the University
    International students

    On-campus courses starting in September 2022 and January 2023 are now closed to new applications from international students due to unprecedented demand. Applications for September 2023 will open in October. If you have any questions, please email

    Apply through UCASApply directly to the University


    As part of the consultative process when creating the course, we engaged with leaders from across the industry to ensure that the content we deliver is aligned to the skills and experience that employers need from graduates now and in the future. These included representatives from industry, the United Nations Environment and Development UK Committee, local authorities, and environmental consultancies.

    Your experience will be valued by organisations where sustainable growth is a priority. This could include helping them to achieve targets such as moving to 100% renewable energy, increasing their energy production or switching to electric vehicles. You could also lead on developing strategies for conserving wildlife, better waste management, reducing greenhouse gases, managing environmental and sustainability plans, designing sustainable environments, and much more. Companies are investing in experts who can strategically advise the business and educate their workforce. As the importance of sustainability continues to grow, the diversity of career options is increasing too. Sectors you could go into include:

    • Environmental agencies
    • Global businesses
    • Local authorities and government
    • Environmental consultancies
    • Wildlife conservation

    The EU Economy Report in 2019 showed that between 2000 and 2016 there was a 38% increase in environmental employment and a 68% increase in gross value added. EU employment in renewable energy also increased from 600,000 in 2000 to 1.7million in 2016.

    Your skills will be in high demand in the green sector of the economy, and will be closely aligned to the goals outlined in international agreements, such as The United Nations Sustainability Development Goals, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Convention on Biological Diversity.

    There has also been an unveiling of a ten-point plan with which the Government are proposing to aid the green industrial revolution. The plan will cover clean energy, transport, nature and innovative technologies, and will gain £12bn of Government investment to create and support up to 250,000 highly-skilled green jobs in the UK.

    Through our Professional Development Package, you'll gain valuable skills, including:

    • Scientific writing and use of scientific software
    • Written and verbal communication
    • Research and statistical analysis
    • Data handling and analysis
    • Personal motivation, organisation and self-reflection
    • Digital competency
    • Laboratory and fieldwork data collection and analysis
    • Critical awareness
    • Project management

    Careers and Employment Service

    To boost your employment skills, you can access the University's Careers and Employment Service. The team can connect you with employers to help find opportunities for work placements, part-time jobs, and volunteering. Our careers consultants are also on hand to guide you through the career options for your degree, CV writing, or starting your own business - and we commit to helping you for three years after you graduate to find a job.

    Contact us

    If you need any more information from us, eg on courses, accommodation, applying, car parking, fees or funding, please contact us and we will do everything we can to help you.

    Contact us Contact us

    Additional information about your studies

    Teaching hours

    Like most universities, we operate extended teaching hours at the University of Derby, so contact time with your lecturers and tutors could be anytime between 9am and 9pm. Your timetable will usually be available on the website 24 hours after enrolment on to your course.

    Additional costs and optional extras

    We’re committed to providing you with an outstanding learning experience. Our expert teaching, excellent facilities and great employability prepare you for your future career. As part of our commitment to you we aim to keep any additional study costs to a minimum. However, there are occasions where students may incur some additional costs.

    Please also note that due to the current Covid-19 situation, if your course offers fieldtrips, the location of these may change or be cancelled. If this happens, you will be communicated to in advance and we will do our very best to seek out other practical opportunities to ensure your experience is not affected.

    The information provided on this page is correct at the time of publication but course content, costs and other individual course details do change from time to time and are updated as often as possible, so please do check these pages again when making your final decision to apply for a course. Any updated course details will also be confirmed to you at application, enrolment and in your offer letter.

    Included in your fees
    • You will receive a dissection kit, goggles and a laboratory coat
    • All equipment and consumables needed for your experimental/fieldwork are provided by the University. This is subject to consumables being costed for the Independent Study and approved by your programme leader
    • Costs (excluding food) of non-residential mandatory field trips in optional modules are covered
    Mandatory costs not included in your fees
    • If not already owned, appropriate footwear for fieldwork such as wellington/walking boots - approximate cost is between £5-£50
    • If not already owned, appropriate outdoor clothing such as a waterproof jacket and trousers - approximate cost is between £50-£100
    • Two bound copies of your Independent Study - approximate cost is £12
    • Most assessments are submitted electronically but where a hard copy is required printing will cost approximately 5p per page
    Optional costs not included in your fees
    • Some travel costs may be required for activities such as work experience - the costs will depend on the location and length of the experience
    • There may be some costs associated with field trips that are not centrally covered, such as food and drink and passports/visas

    Please note: Our courses are refreshed and updated on a regular basis. If you are thinking about transferring onto this course (into the second year for example), you should contact the programme leader for the relevant course information as modules may vary from those shown on this page.

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