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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Centre for Environmental Sciences

The Centre for Environmental Sciences (CES) is a collaborative enterprise between Geography and Environmental Sciences and other science disciplines in Biological Sciences, and Ocean and Earth Science and Engineering.


The Centre is the University hub for undergraduate and taught postgraduate degrees and courses in environmental science. We act as a focal point for interdisciplinary research, providing links between traditional subject boundaries and seeking sound, well-founded solutions to environmental science problems.

We offer both three-year (BSc) and four-year (MEnvSci) degrees in environmental sciences. In each degree course, students follow a common core with specific subject pathways available in the contributing disciplines. Southampton is consistently ranked among the top 10 UK institutions for environmental sciences at undergraduate level, and has an annual intake of about 60 students.

The masters degrees comprising the Environmental Management programme complement these courses, providing the knowledge and skills necessary for a career in the environmental science sector.

We are pleased to offer supervision for students undertaking doctoral (PhD) research in environmental science. Our interdisciplinary focus enables them to integrate different aspects of their research through collaboration with academic staff working in complementary fields.


CES carries out research under the auspices of the Environment Research Group. Our 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:

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.



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