Environmental Science and Outdoor Education

BSc (Hons)


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).

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Key information

EU Applicants
The Scottish Government has confirmed that EU students enrolling in the 2018 and 2019 academic year will be entitled to free tuition fees in Scotland. EU Students will retain that status for the duration of their four year degree.

  • UCAS: FX99
  • Qualification: BSc (Hons)
  • Study methods: Full-time, Part-time, Campus based
  • Course Director: Professor Alistair Jump
  • Faculty: Faculty of Natural Sciences
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Download undergraduate prospectus
View fees and finance

What makes us different?

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.

World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

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Life at Stirling

Of the many reasons students come to Stirling, such as academic reputation and research standards, one factor is always cited: the outstanding beauty of the University's Stirling campus. View our online films to get a picture of what it's like to live and study on our beautiful campus.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

Four-year Honours degree

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

GCE A-level:

IB Diploma:
32 points

BTEC (Level 3):

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.

Foundation Apprenticeships

considered to be equivalent to 1 Higher at Grade B

Essential subjects:
As listed above or equivalent.

Additional information

General entrance requirements apply.
Mathematics Standard Grade (2), National 5 (B), Intermediate 2 (C), GCSE (C) or equivalent required.
If examinations are taken over two sittings, or there are repeats or upgrades, the entrance requirements may be higher.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 6.0 with 5.5 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade C
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 54 with 51 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 80 with no subtest less than 17

More information on our English language requirements

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.

Fees and costs

Fees 2018/19

Overseas students (non-EU) £ 14,460
Scottish and EU students £ 1,820.00
Students from the rest of the UK £9250 – with a generous package of scholarship options

From 2016/7 onwards, the fees for overseas undergraduates will be held at the level upon entry. 


If you plan to commence your studies at the University of Stirling in January 2018, please note you will be subject to our 2017/18 fees. Please contact us for more information.

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. 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.

You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.

Please note there is an additional charge should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

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.

Delivery 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.

Related degrees

Conservation Biology & Management; Ecology; Environmental Science; Geography.

Modes of study

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

Find out more


Why Stirling?


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.

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes applications from all countries.

Study abroad opportunities

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.


Biological and Environmental Sciences (BES) within the Faculty 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 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.

Careers and employability

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.

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