Environmental Science and Outdoor Education

Study Environmental Science and Outdoor Education and graduate with a university degree

Environmental Science and Outdoor Education photo.

This unique degree course provides you with the primary elements of our Environmental Science degree including tuition in environmental issues, landscape evolution, human impact on the environment, environmental techniques and nature conservation, along with outdoor leadership, mountain skills and environmental education.

The distinctive aspect of this course is that it includes practical training in navigation, mountain hazards, outdoor safety and the design and delivery of outdoor programmes with environmental and ecological learning outcomes.

Environmental Science and Outdoor Education photo.

In addition, you will work towards gaining a certificate in summer mountain leadership, a qualification recognised by the outdoor education industry and the Adventure Activities Licensing Authority (AALA).

Entrance requirements

Four-year Honours degree

SQA Higher:
ABBB - one sitting.
AABB - two sittings.

GCE A-level:

IB Diploma:
32 points

Essential subjects:
To include one of Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science, Geography, Geology, Mathematics or Physics.

Three-year Honours degree

Entry is possible subject to approval of individual qualifications.

Other qualifications

Year one minimum entry
Scottish HNC/D - Bs in graded units
English, Welsh and NI HNC/D - Merits and Distinctions.
Advanced entry
May be possible subject to approval of individual qualifications and experience. Students would require an HND in a Science based subject and experience in outdoor settings.
Interested candidates should email the admissions team listing all relevant qualifications and experience - admissions@stir.ac.uk.

Access courses:
Access courses and other UK/EU and international qualifications are also welcomed.

Essential subjects:
As listed above or equivalent.

Additional information

General entrance requirements apply.
Mathematics Standard Grade (2), Intermediate 2 (C), GCSE (C) or equivalent.
If examinations are taken over two sittings, or there are repeats or upgrades, the entrance requirements may be higher.

English language skills

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Modes of study

Full-time (three modules per semester).
Part-time (one or two modules per semester).

Course contact

Professor Alistair Jump + 44 (0) 1786 467848 http://rms.stir.ac.uk/converis-stirling/person/11070

Course Director

Professor Alistair Jump

Find out more


Degree course

Semesters 1 - 4

Environmental Science and Outdoor Education photo.

Typical modules are:

  • Building Planet Earth
  • Environmental History
  • Navigation and Mountain Skills
  • Sports Studies
  • Leisure Studies
  • Landscape Evolution
  • The Biosphere
  • Statistical Techniques
  • Introduction to Ecology
  • Development and Application of Outdoor Education
  • Outdoor Education in Practice: Work Placement
  • Mountain Leader Training

Semesters 5 - 8

Typical modules are:

  • Safety and Responsibility in Outdoor Education
  • Field and Laboratory Techniques
  • Environmental Policy and Management
  • Conservation Management
  • Environmental Hazards
  • Restoration Ecology
  • Remote Sensing
  • Mountain Leader Assessment
  • Residential Field Class (Iceland or southern Spain)
  • Honours Project

Environmental Science and Outdoor Education photo.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching is by a mix of lectures, field and laboratory practical exercises and tutorials.

A wide range of natural and human landscapes in the Stirling area are used for field teaching of the Environmental Science aspects of the course and a variety of residential field classes are held, including a week in southern Spain or Iceland. The Outdoor Education modules are taught primarily via residential field classes which take place in some of Scotland’s most stunning locations.

You should be aware that a certain level of health, fitness and mobility are required to complete the outdoor training elements of the course. In addition, you will need to be committed to outdoor pursuits and in particular to mountain walking. The Summer Mountain Leader Award requires that you must complete a minimum of 40 quality mountain days and these should be undertaken in your own time. You must also be a minimum of 18 years of age at the start of the course.

Related degrees

Environmental Science and Outdoor Education photo.

The Environmental Science and Outdoor Education degree at the University of Stirling has a strong focus on experiential learning, blending lecture-based teaching with substantial field-based learning about the environment and how to teach and guide others and explore in the outdoors. Students will get to learn from some of the UK’s top mountaineering instructors. Strong links exist between Biological and Environmental Sciences and conservation and environmental management employers giving students the opportunity to get hands-on experience of working with industrial partners during their degree.

Study abroad

In addition to the exchange opportunities available to all Stirling students, Environmental Science has a well-established exchange programme with universities including the University of Guelph in Canada and the University of Fairbanks, Alaska. You can spend one or two semesters studying abroad during your third year. Here you study courses equivalent to those taken at Stirling and have the opportunity to broaden your environmental and cultural experience.


The review by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education on teaching provision in Environmental Science was judged to be 'commendable' and that of academic teaching and learning was approved.


Biological and Environmental Sciences (BES) within the School of Natural Sciences is a multi-disciplinary department that participates in research and teaching in a broad range of subjects in the biological and environmental sciences. The principle focus of the research is at the interface between the environment and society. Within BES, staff conduct research in areas as diverse as the reconstruction of past landscapes; conservation, environmental impact assessment and environmental management; evolutionary ecology of plants and animals; and cellular biology and immunology.  BES is a friendly, vibrant, and dynamic place in which to learn and research with a great sense of belonging engendered in our students from their very first days at the University.

Research-led teaching is the key to deep learning and understanding. The academic staff in Biological and Environmental Sciences at Stirling are typically world leaders in their respective fields, thus ensuring that research-led teaching is at the core of all of our courses.  Many students work closely with academics throughout their time and benefit from actively participating in research programmes.  We have strong contacts with external conservation and environmental organisations who also contribute to the undergraduate experience. This approach ensures that our students appreciate the transferable nature of a science degree and see how their learning can be applied to the real world.

Our students

Students on this degree come from a wide range of backgrounds and ages, some straight from school, others having changed career or returned to university for professional development.  All are united by their enthusiasm for environmental science and their passion for learning and teaching outdoors.

This is a unique degree that offers solid bases in environmental science complemented with outdoor experience and leadership. Because of its location, the University of Stirling is an ideal place for such a demanding degree. It is located near some of the most challenging and prominent mountains and ridges of Scotland while at the same time the University excels in active academic research as well as an approachable and friendly departmental staff. In my experience, the degree manages to balance scientific training while working towards a career in the outdoor industry.

In order to complete the British Mountain Leader award, quite a lot of time is spent on the hills actively practising the skills taught throughout the course such as mountain navigation and outdoor safety. This has helped me understand taught concepts of the environment such as landscape evolution and the human impact on the environment.

Daniel Souto 4th Year Environmental Science and Outdoor Education student, 2012

The close proximity of the University to a diverse range of cultural and natural landscapes adds an extra dimension to the course and really enhances the benefit and enjoyment of the practical classes. Courses and modules are structured so that, if they wish to, students can pursue particular areas of interest. I found this to be a highly advantageous aspect and one which helped me to find good full time work in my chosen area within a few months of graduation. The outdoor education part of the course integrates well with the environmental science modules and would be extremely useful for anyone who anticipates having to work in the outdoors, not just outdoor educators.

Andrew Morris Graduated in Environmental Science and Outdoor Education in 2011, now working for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency

Stirling University has a very supportive and nurturing approach to learning. I thoroughly enjoyed my degree and its breadth allowed me to gain an insight into several aspects of environmental science before beginning to focus on what I was particularly interested in. The week and weekend environmental science field trips combined with outdoor education residentials allow for a ‘second to none’ learning environment where both staff and students can build excellent working relationships which enhance the sense of partnership learning. In addition the central Scotland location of the University, supported by excellent transport links, allowed me to attend University as a mature student living at home.

Jacqueline Ferguson Graduated in Environmental Science and Outdoor Education in 2011, now working for Ramblers Scotland as their Medal Routes Project Officer

Our Staff

Alistair Jump is a plant ecologist with substantial field-based research experience in mountain environments. His work focuses on the impacts of environmental change on ecological processes from the scale of individual populations to the distribution of species and vegetation zones.  His work takes him around the globe, from projects with National Parks and conservation charities within the UK to mountain systems in Africa and Asia.

94% of our students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating (Destination of Leavers from Higher Education, 2012/13).

Career opportunities

Environmental Science and Outdoor Education photo.

This course is specifically designed for those who wish to have a sound scientific degree in Environmental Science but also wish to lead and guide groups outdoors and to provide outdoor educational activities with an environmental and ecological emphasis.

In employment terms, the combination of an Environmental Science degree and the Summer Mountain Leader Award is attractive to employers whose focus is on raising public awareness of the environment and teaching Environmental Science in an outdoor environment. Likely occupations for such graduates include countryside rangers and Environmental Science educators based in outdoor centres. The creation of a number of National Parks in Scotland, for example, has increased demand by park managers for rangers and guides. In addition, students will be equipped to undertake employment in the same professions as our standard Environmental Science graduates.

This course is not designed to train you to become an outdoor instructor, although you may wish to gain additional qualifications independently (e.g. SPA or BCU awards) or undertake a suitable postgraduate programme in outdoor education which would then qualify you to pursue this type of career.

Fees 2016/7

Overseas students (non-EU) £ 13,760.00
Scottish and EU students TBC
Students from the rest of the UK £6,750 per year for a maximum of 4 years


Fees 2015/6

Overseas students (non-EU) £ 13,425.00
Scottish and EU students £ 1,820.00
Students from the rest of the UK £6,750 per year for a maximum of 4 years


Please note: Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish government.

Please note: Students from the rest of the UK can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loan Company.

Environmental Science and Outdoor Education
  • Degree award BSc (Hons)
  • UCAS Code FX99
  • Type Full-time, Part-time
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