Duration: 3 years full time
UCAS code: F660
Institution code: R72
Environment and Social Change (BSc)
From climate change, food and water security and sustainable urbanisation, to poverty, health inequality, and migration, responding to the world’s challenges as a global society is more important than ever, requiring new thinking that cuts across traditional subject boundaries.
Environment and Social Change BSc at Royal Holloway is a new interdisciplinary degree designed to address 21st-century issues facing humanity and our planet. It will provide the theoretical knowledge and skillset about our environments and environmentalisms for motivated individuals to develop their careers, as policy-makers, environmental experts and scientists, and advocates for change across diverse fields.
A key feature of this innovative degree is the opportunity to take modules across the departments of Biological Sciences, Earth Sciences, Geography and Psychology, with further contributions from other disciplines including options in Politics and Business & Management. Students can choose to specialise through one of several pathways, for example, developing as skilled campaigners able to lead grassroots movements, policy-makers able to develop frameworks for governance, and scientists who are able to communicate state-of-the-art findings in accessible language and with contextual nuance.
You will be taught by international research leaders across a broad range of topics, with options to acquire real-world experience through placements as part of an embedded approach to developing your employability and transferable skills. Highlights include a social change toolkit, equipping you with practical skills and a research project, designed to apply knowledge to real-world problems, and develop your expertise to contribute to social change.
- Examine key questions about environmental challenges locally & globally
- Develop an understanding of how social change can be achieved to address these challenges
- Learn with internationally recognised experts in their fields
- Become versatile in synthesising diverse knowledge and how to communicate this effectively.
From time to time, we make changes to our courses to improve the student and learning experience. If we make a significant change to your chosen course, we’ll let you know as soon as possible.
Core ModulesYear 1
- Contested Politics of Climate Change
In this module you will develop and understanding of the factors that control the physical, biological and chemical forces which shape the Earth’s surface. You will look at oceanic and atmospheric processes, plate tectonics, hydrology and coastal processes, glaciation, and arid environments.
In this module you will develop an understanding the complexity of the relationship between people and environment. You will examine how and why ecosystems vary spatially and the impact of human activity, such as deforestation and agriculture, on the physical environment. You will also consider the nature of environmental change, including climatology.
In this module you will engage with key issues in human geography. You will consider human geography as a distinctive way to approach the world, examining key questions about globalisation, inequality, identity and the nature of place. You will look at approaches to economic, cultural and historical geography, and the development of the discipline, celebrating geographers’ active involvement in the challenges facing humanity.
This module will introduce you to human geographical perspectives on political processes, societies, development and the environment. You will develop an appreciation of the importance of scale, networks and spatial patterns, and how geographers have approached the challenges of inequality at local, national and global scales.
This module will introduce you to the concept of Earth System interactions, as a framework for understanding the causes and consequences of environmental and climate change. The module will cover the physical and chemical features of the Lithosphere, Atmosphere, Hydrosphere and Biosphere; the processes that link these parts of the Earth System together; and the consequences of disturbing these interlinked systems. Term 2 will introduce you to the mechanisms that drive climate change, and the tools that scientists have at their disposal to quantify past climate change.
This course aims to introduce students to the basics of personality and social psychology. The course will start with an introduction to key dynamic personality theories of Freud, followed by Jung. Students will then learn about theories and research on agreession, pro-social behaviour and conformity. In addition, key fundamental topics in social psychology, attitudes and values, will be introduced, as well as cross-cultural psychology and leadership.
- Communicating for Social Change
This module will describe the key principles of academic integrity, focusing on university assignments. Plagiarism, collusion and commissioning will be described as activities that undermine academic integrity, and the possible consequences of engaging in such activities will be described. Activities, with feedback, will provide you with opportunities to reflect and develop your understanding of academic integrity principles.
- Social Change Toolkit
- Applied Methodologies
In this module, you will develop an understanding of the key topics in social psychology, with a particular focus on topics that highlight over-arching debates within this area of study. You will look at how social psychology can be applied to real-world issues, examining the social psychology of relationships, the self-concept, prejudice and group conflict, attribution theory, group decision-making, situational perspectives on evil, and non-verbal behaviour and social cognition.
- Independent Project in Environment and Social Change
There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.Year 1
All modules are core
In this module you will develop an understanding of how biological and ecological principles can help develop sustainable solutions to the problems encountered in the 21st Century. You will look at how ecological principles can be used to tackle conservation challenges and consider the importance of ongoing management of ecosystems which have been altered by humans. You will gain practical experience in using ecological sampling techniques and learn how to apply and interpret elementary statistical tests.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the diversity and structure plants and fungi and how these can be used to reconstruct evolutionary history. You will look at the structure of the main Kingdoms of eukaryotes, examining their diversity and the relationships between the life-cycles of higher plants and fungi, and their single-cell or water-tied ancestors. You will consider the form, development and function, including photosynthesis, of higher plants, and then explore the relevance of plants to humans. You will gain practical experience in handling and observing preserved and live specimens, preparation of taxonomic keys, drawing, data analysis, interpretation and presentation.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the key concepts of ecology and conservation, working up from organisms to populations and their interactions, through to communities and ecosystems. You will look at ecological patterns and processes and consider the fundamental interactions between species and their abiotic environment. You will also gain practical experience in using ecological sampling techniques, carrying out biostatistical analyses and experimental design.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the life cycle of flowering plants, considering their evolution, developmental and functional biology. You will examine the role and biology of meristems in the structure and building of a plant muticellular body, and the role and mode of action of plant hormones in coordinating development. You will also consider a range of environmental and biotic factors affecting plants, including light, time of day, temperature, drought, and other organisms, and how plants respond to the challenges they pose.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the effects of herbivorous insects on plants and the ways in which plants defend themselves against attack. You will consider how insects can be beneficial to plants, examining their role in pollination, and how fungi mediate interactions between insects and their hosts, including pathogens, endophytes and mycorrhizas.
- Environmental Systems: Processes and Sustainability
- Earth Surface Processes and Hazards
- Political Geography
- Cultural Geographies of the Modern World
- Perspectives on Development
In this module you will develop an understanding of the hazards associated with geological activity, their causes, and approaches to risk management. You will look at volcanoes, earthquakes, and radon, and the hazards associated with the exploitation of geological resources and associated anthropogenic activity, including asbestos, the mining industry, and contaminated land. You will examine a variety of geological and geochemical data, and learn to interpret and analyse these in order to make scientifically justified decisions as to the level of risk.
This module will provide you with a working knowledge of basic meteorology. The module will begin with atmospheric basics and terminology including didactic sessions and workshops/practicals on solar radiation, thermodynamics, water vapour, stability, clouds and precipitation. It will progress into skill sessions (lectures and practicals) on radar, interpreting satellite maps and weather reports and finish with sessions (lectures and practicals) putting it all together (review and consolidation) for understanding of winds, fronts, air masses and thunderstorms. The module will finish up with lectures and practicals demonstrating how basic meteorological understanding can be applied for career useful consideration of meteorological hazards: tropical and extra tropical cyclones, regional winds boundary layers and pollutant dispersal, numerical weather prediction and atmospheric optics.
In this module you will develop an understanding of environmental sustainability in relation to business and management. You will look at local, regional, national and global issues for various aspects of the natural environment that business activities may have an impact on, including climate change, soil, air, and water pollution. You will consider the implications of these environmental issues on business functions, such as strategy, logistics, production, and marketing, and the legal frameworks surrounding them. You will also examine sustainable management practices and the role of environmental regulations.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the role of business within a moral and social context. You will look at corporate social responsibility and business ethics within key functional areas such as marketing, human resource management, and accounting, and how these relate to sustainability. You will consider the key theoretical and practical perspectives surrounding the complexities of business in society, and compare and contrast different approaches taken to ethical issues. You will also examine environmental issues and how they affect business, including regulations and emissions tariffs.
In this module you will examine theory and research in key areas of personality and individual differences. You will explore the difference between these two areas of study, and become equipped with methods of evaluating theories of personality. You will review key topics in personality and individual differences, with consideration for the relations between them in order to develop your integrative understanding of personality.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the major threats to biodiversity, including habitat loss and fragmentation, alien species, global climate change, intensive agriculture, pollution, and over-harvesting. You will look at the population and ecological processes that lead to species and habitat decline, and assess how conservation biology can be applied to redress this. You will also examine current areas of research in conservation biology, their ethical implications, and agri-environmental management plans.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the principles of population and community ecology, focussing on the forces which structure communities of animals and plants. You will look at population growth, inter- and intra-specific competition, trophic relations and the factors which regulate populations, and will examine the ecological processes that contribute to community organisation, such as food web structure, body size, succession and natural disturbances. You will also consider the role of population and community ecology in the maintenance of biodiversity.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the effects of climate change on the interaction between plants and the environment. You will critically evaluate the application of novel technologies to crop improvement and assess the relationship between growth and responses to the environment. You will also consider issues surrounding human uses of plants and conservation.
- Coast and Estuarine Management
- Global Warming
- Wetland Environments: Process and Policy
- Managing River Environments
- Mammals in a Changing World
- Post-Capitalist Cities
- Geopolitics of Media and Communications
- Atmosphere: Art, Science, Politics
This course has two main aims:
1) To introduce you to the evidence for and mechanisms of modern climate change – what climate change is, how the climate change is manifested, what physical mechanisms are driving it, and what its future status might be.
2) Methods of research in multi-disciplinary topics, report writing, and communication of complex ideas for policy makers using Earth Science as a subject matter.
In this module you will develop an understanding of responsibility in the context of entrepreneurship. You will look at the entrepreneurial process and consider the inherent ambivalence of both new ideas and their unintended consequences. You will examine the concepts of social entrepreneurship, sustainable entrepreneurship, and minority entrepreneurship, and evaluate how new organisations emerge, grow, and approach responsibility challenges.
In this module you will develop an understanding of the scope and nature of marketing ethics. You will look at the complexity and interconnectedness of moral dilemmas in marketing practice and consider potential responses by stakeholders, such as consumers, businesses and governmental actors, to ethical marketing issues.
- Health Psychology
- Advanced and Applied Social Psychology
Teaching & assessment
This flexible, interdisciplinary course lets you tailor your learning, offering a wide array of optional modules to choose from. You will be part of a supportive learning environment with small group seminars, and tutorials encouraging development and cooperation
Synthesis of disparate knowledge represents, undoubtedly, the single most important learning outcome of this new degree, and you’ll join a stimulating tutorial system to debate with staff and students and be guided in your knowledge development.
More details about the teaching and assessment of this new degree will follow soon.
A Levels: ABB-BBB
- At least five GCSEs at grade A*-C or 9-4 including English and Mathematics.
Where an applicant is taking the EPQ alongside A-levels, the EPQ will be taken into consideration and result in lower A-level grades being required. For students who are from backgrounds or personal circumstances that mean they are generally less likely to go to university, you may be eligible for an alternative lower offer. Follow the link to learn more about our contextual offers.
We accept T-levels for admission to our undergraduate courses, with the following grades regarded as equivalent to our standard A-level requirements:
- AAA* – Distinction (A* on the core and distinction in the occupational specialism)
- AAA – Distinction
- BBB – Merit
- CCC – Pass (C or above on the core)
- DDD – Pass (D or E on the core)
Where a course specifies subject-specific requirements at A-level, T-level applicants are likely to be asked to offer this A-level alongside their T-level studies.
English language requirements
All teaching at Royal Holloway (apart from some language courses) is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.
The scores we require
- IELTS: 6.5 overall. Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
- Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
- Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.
For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please visit here.
Undergraduate preparation programme
For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, for this undergraduate degree, the Royal Holloway International Study Centre offers an International Foundation Year programme designed to develop your academic and English language skills.
Upon successful completion, you can progress to this degree at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Your future career
We believe that developing resourceful people with purpose is key to maintaining a resilient planet. Skilled generalists are needed to communicate across interdisciplinary boundaries of science, politics, and social action, to solve complex global problems, and this is a highly employable skillset. You will graduate with OECD Global Skills that go beyond the traditional four Cs of communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, developing as a digitally literate individual with an awareness of intercultural competence, citizenship, and wellbeing. Our dynamic research culture also means you'll be in a great position to progress to further postgraduate study.
Graduates from Royal Holloway from similar courses are highly sought-after by a wide range of employers, from environmental conservation and NGOs to media relations and the Civil Service among other fields.
Fees, funding & scholarships
Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £9,250
EU and international students tuition fee per year**: £24,000
Other essential costs***: You will have the opportunity in your first year to go abroad and carry out fieldwork for no additional cost. In your second and third years you may choose to participate in fieldwork abroad that will incur additional costs of between £750 and £2000. However it is possible to complete the degree course with no additional fieldwork costs.
How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, scholarships and bursaries. UK students who have already taken out a tuition fee loan for undergraduate study should check their eligibility for additional funding directly with the relevant awards body.
*The tuition fee for UK undergraduates is controlled by Government regulations. For students starting a degree in the academic year 2022/23, the fee is £9,250 for that year, and is provided here as a guide. The fee for UK undergraduates starting in 2023/24 has not yet been confirmed.
**The UK Government has confirmed that EU nationals are no longer eligible to pay the same fees as UK students, nor be eligible for funding from the Student Loans Company. This means you are classified as an international student. At Royal Holloway, we wish to support a transition for those students affected by this change in status. Please see the fees and funding page for more information.
Fees for international students may increase year-on-year in line with the rate of inflation. The policy at Royal Holloway is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see fees and funding and our terms and conditions.
***These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree at Royal Holloway during the 2021/22 academic year, and are included as a guide. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.