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Having just finished the first year of my degree in Environmental Management at Northumbria, having not yet found a job for the summer, and generally having nothing better to do I have decided to share my experiences of the course thus far...
The degree I am studying for is Environmental Management (Bsc (Hons)); it is a full time three year program. I have just finished the first year (awaiting results- fingers crossed!) which you are required to pass by gaining over 40% and marks from this year do not count towards your degree classification. The final degree classification is based on all of the assessed work in Years 2 and 3 (40% : 60% ratio) or 100% in Year 3 (whichever gives you the better mark). In the third year all students carry out a dissertation project.
Environmental Management encompasses a wide range of issues that relate to the interaction between humans and environmental systems, and examine key issues involving wildlife, landscapes, urban environments, commerce and industry.
The first year is designed to give you a broad foundation in all areas of Environmental Management; So that you develop a range of skills that you will use during your degree program and in the scary world of work.
In the second and third year you have a choice of options that allow you to specialise in certain subject areas (e.g. sustainable development, nature conservation, and Geographical Information Systems [G.I.S.]).
"...So what exactly is Environmental Management?"
A question I often get asked. Often I fob people off by saying it's like Geography- not strictly true. I haven't studied Geography at GCSE or A level and this has not been a problem. Geography that I did up to the age of 13 was SO BORING; this degree is the complete opposite (and has the minimum amount of colouring in!).
There is such a job as an 'Environmental Manager' but graduates can
go on to get jobs in a range of careers including; Waste management Pollution control Urban regeneration Local government Conservation Environmental consultancy Overseas development Teaching
The requirements to get onto the course are five GCSEs at grade C or better (inc. English and Mathematics) and 260 UCAS points including 80 points in A-level Geography OR a science. General studies can count towards UCAS points as a third A2. If any of that means anything to you then you're probably in sixth form or college at the moment, because the moment I got accepted into university I completely forgot what UCAS points are and what "260 UCAS points" is in real terms!!
The modules I have studied this year were:
-Introduction to the Physical Environment - this is a module that introduces basic principles and concepts of the physical environment (e.g. Weathering, Soils, Atmospheric processes etc). It is the most Geography I have had to deal with and has been alright although was a bit of a shock at the beginning of the year, as most students had studied some geography, whereas I had a heck of a lot of background reading to do to have a clue what was going on in lectures! The module was assessed by two exams; one in January and one in May.
-Background to Environmental Management - this module provides a foundation in modern environmentalism and environmental management. It aims to develop a critical awareness of major environmental concepts. The module was assessed by an exam, submitting an essay and preparing and presenting a presentation to a tutorial group.
-Environmental Science - Now call me a nerd (and I probably am), but I really enjoyed this module; perhaps I just found it easy as I had done A level chemistry (not well I hasten to add) and a lot of the chemistry covered in this module was about GCSE level. This module was assessed by a multiple choice online test worth 30% and a written exam that counted for 70% of the module mark.
-Environmental Biology - This module was an exploration of life on planet Earth. It covered fleetingly the history of life, and looked towards the future management of the planet. The exam was assessed by a written exam.
-Introduction to Urban Environmental Management - An interesting module that covered a range of environmental issues that trouble policy makers; ranging from transport provision, to waste/waste water management. The module was assessed via a 'Reflexive Journal' in which we had to discuss three key issues in depth that were touched upon in lectures, seminars and fieldtrips.
-Skills 1 and 2 - Two modules that covered a range of topics that can be studied in depth later in the degree program (inc. Statistics and G.I.S)
-Tutorial Module - A module designed to introduce you to the standards of work expected from you as an undergraduate. The module was assessed by submitting three essays and completing a simple portfolio.
-Environmental Fieldwork - This was the last module we looked at this year, and was left completely until the last week of exam period. They really left the best 'til last - we were taken on a weeklong fieldtrip to the Lake District where we carried out a mini project and presented our findings in small groups on the final day. There was also a small amount of written work that counted towards the assessment for this module.
Support and Staff
Staff throughout the department are very approachable and have an 'open-door' policy; you can approach them at any time. Email is used to communicate quite a lot, and is an accepted way to contact lecturers with any queries or problems, or to arrange a meeting.
Northumbria University is situated in the centre of Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, only five minutes walk from the Newcastle University, and with very good transport links. Northumbria (previously Newcastle upon Tyne Polytechnic, was formed in 1969) gained university status in 1992 and became Northumbria University.
Northumbria often gets a lot of jip (especially from those poshies at Newcastle University- inc. my Boyfriend!) however the Applied Sciences department is a really well run department (unable to comment on the other subject areas obviously!) with high standard facilities (modern lecture theatres, laboratories and IT suites, well stocked with specialised equipment and software, and a map room).
One thing I was worried about when I started university was that I would be surrounded by eighteen year olds and feel old (I'm only twenty). Obviously this was stupid but you can't help worrying about these things- in actual fact there are only a couple of students on the course who are straight out of school, as most people seem to have taken at least a year (or ten) out for various reasons.
Passionate as I am about the environment, I am by no means a tree-hugger; talking to fellow students I have discovered that it was a common concern that we would be surrounded by people who were very "green" and would look down upon the rest of us who sometimes *shock* eat non-organic food, and other such things. This was completely false, everybody on the course seems to get along well, and are surprisingly normal (well, in comparison to me haha).
I really love this degree, and if you have a passion or an interest in the environment and for environmental issues then I would definitely give this course a look. More information can be found on the Northumbria University website (see below).
I am sure that there was so much more that I wanted to say, but cannot think of all the things I've missed out, so if you have any questions please feel free to ask me.
References- I have used information from the Northumbria University website to help write this review (www.northumbria.ac.uk).