What’s it like to study Environmental Geoscience?


What do you study?

Environmental Geoscience is an interdisciplinary degree applying various subjects, with an analytical, environmental lens. Students join the Earth Sciences department with different backgrounds – I considered subjects I enjoyed most and was best at in school, and these were Chemistry and Geography.

One of the most underrated things about Earth Sciences to me, is the foundational grounding of first year content and how we largely learn it collectively. I was quite set before uni on my academic interests. The module requirements that year, however, required me to cover content like geology, whereas I’m more into environmental issues. In the end, I enjoyed most modules and can appreciate how they’ve all made me a more well-rounded Earth Scientist. I do wish I had known there was a heavy geology component beforehand though to allow preparation, as it took me by surprise!

What’s studying in Earth Sciences like?

As a STEM student, I do have a reasonable number of contact hours, typically between 15-18 hours across my 3 years, mainly consisting of lectures and practicals. I like that the department is fairly small and I feel that it makes support both more personal and staff more responsive – most lecturers know us by name and are helpful when emailed in and out of office hours. It’s been very important and useful, especially when first settling into university and learning to learn in a different way. They also request regular feedback. For example, the department recently increased the range of sustainability/climate-driven modules, to reflect growing interest. Earth Sciences also offers study abroad and module-based fieldwork opportunities, currently ranging from the Lake District, to Tenerife.

Why Durham?

I chose Durham considering university reputation, course interest, travel connections to home, and local surroundings with aesthetic, green spaces, of which Durham has plenty. Although it’s technically a city uni, I love that it feels like a cross between city and campus with a strong student-centric focus.

Outside the Arthur Holmes Geological (Earth Sciences) building, at night

Study vs social

In terms of balancing studying with other areas of student life, I largely try to structure it like a job by studying Monday – Friday and have the weekends off but I often do weekend work, especially in deep study season. Across the years, I’ve been involved in a few societies and sports, from Durham African & Caribbean Society (ACS) and Durham People of Colour Association (DPOCA), to rowing and tennis, founding and co-presiding over Durham University Book Club or participating in Durham University Charity Fashion Show (DUCFS). I also love to spend time with friends and am a huge foodie (I think I’ve visited most if not all of Durham’s cafes).

Overall, I’ve been enjoying my time at Durham and love that, through Earth Sciences, I get to explore various academic interests in a research-driven manner. My favourite modules are Environmental Geochemistry and Environmental Management, as they link to sustainability, climate policy and environmental chemistry. I’ve also taken different optional modules each year – in first year, I took a Maths module; in second year, I learnt a language, and this year, I’m studying Business. It’s been great to study something different with my degree and helped me enjoy it more.

Discover more

Our Department of Earth Sciences is ranked in the world top 50 by the QS World University Rankings. The department aspires to help shape the future by providing the highest quality education for our students and by undertaking research that is both intrinsically excellent and relevant to society. 

Feeling inspired? Visit our Earth Sciences webpages to learn more about our postgraduate and undergraduate programmes. 

Visit the Environmental Geoscience course page.

 Create your own personalised prospectus here

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Hi, I’m Seye! I’m a 3rd year Environmental Geoscience student at Josephine Butler College. I’m a huge foodie, bookworm and love spending time with friends or at the gym.

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