The University of Southampton
Engineering and the Environment

Environmental Science

Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary subject that integrates several disciplines to study the environment and to provide solutions to environmental problems. It integrates physical and biological sciences and also includes aspects of social sciences and environmental engineering.







The Centre for Environmental Sciences (CES) is a collaborative enterprise operating across the University, with inputs from other science disciplines in Biological Sciences, Geography, and Ocean & Earth Science, as well as CES’s home, Engineering and the Environment.

Environmental scientists are at the sharp end of dealing with the challenges that face our world, managing our natural environments sustainably and seeking ways to balance this with economic and social concerns. We work with industry and governments to address some of the key problems facing the world today, including mitigating the effects of, and adapting to climate change; sustainable development; conservation of biodiversity; environmental protection; resource management; and pollution control. We work closely with colleagues in Civil Engineering with whom we also share a common focus on the impacts and management of human activities on the natural environment. Our core business is knowledge. We aim to provide all of our students with the skills to acquire knowledge. Through our research we generate new knowledge, and we apply this knowledge to real life problems.


The Centre for Environmental Sciences research activities encompass many areas, although there is a common focus on the impacts and management of human activities on the natural environment. Current areas of study include:

  • carbon management
  • estuarine, marine and coastal ecotoxicology
  • ecosystem services for poverty alleviation in developing countries
  • risk assessment for genetically modified crops and biofuels
  • applied avian ecology and conservation
  • coastal environmental change
  • communities, habitat, restoration and management of streams, rivers and urban ponds
  • applications of remote sensing and geographical information systems for environmental monitoring
  • reptile habitat management and ecology
  • bioenergy
  • waste recycling, reduction and management
  • ecology and management of freshwater fish and fisheries
  • employability and sustainability 

Waste recycling, reduction and management

We have carried out a series of projects for the UK Government on maximising the resource potential and minimising the impact of organic waste management. Waste collection and treatment systems are being evaluated from the viewpoint of energy usage and greenhouse gas emissions.  We are leading the development of European industrial networks in the automotive, construction, electronics and photovoltaic sectors targeting 3 million companies (>20 million employees) with €2,8 trillion turnover and a value creation of €800 billion. ZeroWIN is an €8.3 million, 32 partner project involving both SMEs and large multi-nationals. It is creating innovative technologies, waste-prevention methodologies, strategies and system tools based on the vision developed by the CES. 

Other recent and recent work includes: critical analysis of international WEEE management practices and trials of innovative reuse/recycling projects for small W/EEE (with Nokia); estimation of the impact of the UK digital switchover on disposal of WEEE; quantification of the intergenerational influence of an education programme on behaviour at home (with Wastewatch); estimation of the carbon footprint of the UK waste sector (with Environmental Services Association); optimisation of the design and implementation of kerbside recycling facilities; Economic Impact of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (with European Investment Bank); an ERDF-funded Sustainable Construction Project (ZeroWISE, with Remade South East); a LIFE+ funded Environment Policy and Governance Programme 2011-2014 (Clear Info, with UK Environment Agency and others). 


As part of the EU FP7 funded Hylow project we are researching the impact of hydropower development on fisheries and developing mitigation strategies, including resolution of socio-economic impediments and conflicts through associated EPSRC-ESRC funding. The UK Environment Agency is supporting work quantifying fish response to the fine-scale hydrodynamics associated with fish passages, screens and tidal structures and the group is developing technologies to improve the performance of these. Research to identify potential impacts of river development by measuring fish response to acoustics is part of an Environment Agency and Cefas funded project. 

Fresh water ecology

Our research on freshwater aquatic environments concerns primarily the influences of anthropogenic processes and actions on the quality and composition of habitat and organisms. The Game and Wildlife Conservation Trust, Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, and the Environment Agency are funding work quantifying the use of thermal refugia by brown trout (Salmo trutta) in Southern English chalk streams. The National Grid supports research on the effects of power station operation on aquatic ecology. This thermal ecology data has been used to predict effects of climate change on rivers and coastal waters. Other work addresses the impacts of human activity on rivers with emphasis on channel form, riparian habitat, discharge, rehabilitation and management, focusing on aquifer-fed systems and in collaboration with the Environment Agency, Forestry Commission, Salmon & Trout Association, and Wild Trout Trust. The group's interests also include the long-term recovery and rehabilitation of polluted rivers and canals, as well as the impact of land use on the diversity and composition of fish and invertebrate communities.

Carbon Management

The Carbon Management Group (CMG) aims to assist individuals, organisations, industrial sectors, events, cities and countries to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions or carbon footprint. The CMG developed the first practical internationally supported definition of a carbon (and a climate) footprint. We have developed sophisticated software that allows us to estimate carbon emissions from a range of scenarios and map them.

Centre for Under-utilised Crops

The Centre’s mission is to improve human food security, nutrition and economic welfare through the development and sustainable use of the biological diversity of underutilised crops. The Leverhulme Trust is currently funding an international network on preserving the safety and nutrition of indigenous fruits and their derivatives with work in Asia. Previous EU-funded projects produced added value from underutilised crops (PAVUC) in rural areas of Latin America and supported the development of sustainable production systems for baobab and tamarind in three West African countries (DADOBAT). Areas of particular expertise include improving value chains for underutilised crops, domestication of indigenous species and community-based management of wild-harvested natural resources.

Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation

The University has received several major grants totalling over £7million from the Joint Research Councils/DfID Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation (ESPA) programme. Southampton is leading two major consortium projects which will help to address poverty in developing countries while promoting the sustainable use of natural resources. These are interdisciplinary projects combining the expertise of environmental scientists, civil engineers, ecologists, geographers, social scientists and medical scientists across the university, in partnership with leading researchers from across the world. This work has a global reach to forested ecosystems in Africa and Amazonia and to major deltas in Asia.

The University of Southampton is one of the UK's leading universities for environmental science with an international reputation for teaching excellence and research activities. Our courses are designed to prepare you for a career as a professional environmental scientist.

Putting theory into practice
Putting theory into practice


We offer four undergraduate courses in environmental science - two 3 year BScs and a 4 year MEnvSci - as well as a Foundation Year. You can choose to study one of four pathways: biodiversity and conservation; environmental change; sustainable environmental management; and aquatic environments and resources.

Our MSc courses are linked to areas of current or developing research strengths, and are designed both to contribute to the professional development of environmental scientists and to enable graduates with first degrees in cognate disciplines to qualify to work as specialist environmental scientists. In addition to the degree of PhD by research, some students may be qualified to undertake an Engineering Doctorate (EngD).


Undergraduate courses:

BSc Environmental Science (F900)

BSc Environmental Management with Business (F750)

BSc Environmental Monitoring and Modelling (F751)

MEnvSci Environmental Science (F902)

BSc/MEnvSci Environmental Science with Foundation Year (F903)

Postgraduate Taught courses:

MSc Biodiversity and Conservation

MSc Environmental Monitoring and Assessment

MSc Environmental Pollution Control

MSc Integrated Environmental Studies

MSc Water Resources Management

Postgraduate Research Programmes:





Some consultancy is provided through the Research Institute for Industry (RIfI). RIfI is a cutting edge consultancy and applied research organisation able to support and collaborate with industry in specialist fields.

We can also offer consultancy in fields such as environmental impact and ecological assessment, environmental and waste auditing, environmental monitoring and pollution control, carbon footprinting, environmental modelling, environmental management systems, remote sensing and GIS.


We have facilities at the main Highfield Campus, the Waterfront Campus and at the University of Southampton Science Park including:

  • Environment engineering laboratory
  • Hydraulics laboratory
  • Several indoor and outdoor experimental flumes
  • Spawning Habitat Research Facility
  • National Marine Facilities

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