Environmental Sciences

If we are to achieve environmental sustainability, we need to understand how the environment works and ensure we leave the world in a healthy functioning state for future generations.

Career Opportunities

  • Biosecurity Officer
  • Coastal and Discharges Consent Planner  
  • Environmental Analyst, Consultant or Engineer  
  • Fisheries Manager  
  • Oceanographer
  • Resource Officer  

Potential Employers

  • Crown Research Institutes
  • Energy Companies
  • Environmental Agencies
  • Government Departments
  • Local Government Bodies

Environmental Sciences is the interdisciplinary and systematic study of our environment as well as our role in its management. Pressures and impacts on our environment are increasing as the human population grows and we seek to utilise natural resources in ever increasing amounts.

Environmental Sciences can provide the scientific basis for understanding environmental problems, and finding solutions to them. By studying Environmental Sciences and becoming qualified to work as an environmental scientist or technician, you can become directly involved in solving our environmental problems.

Students may choose a specialisation in:

School subjects required

As well as biology, students may find chemistry, geography and mathematics useful.

Planning Your Degree

Environmental Sciences is available as an interdisciplinary major jointly taught between the Departments of Biological Sciences, Chemistry and Earth Sciences.

To complete a major in Environmental Sciences, students must complete 120 points above 100 Level, including 60 points about 200 Level, from compulsory papers.

Papers are worth 15 points.


  • BIOL102 – The Biology of Organisms
  • ERTH104 – Earth and Ocean Environments
Students are strongly advised to consider taking some of the following papers
  • CHEM100 – Chemistry in Context OR
    CHEM111 - Structure and Spectroscopy
  • ERTH103 – Discovering Planet Earth
  • ENVS101 – Environmental Science
  • GEOG103 – Resource and Environmental Sustainability
  • MATH165 – General Mathematics
  • STAT111 - Statistics for Science OR
    STAT121 – Introduction to Statistical Methods

Papers are worth 20 points unless specified.

Students should seek advice when selecting 200 Level papers to ensure they select appropriate papers to cover prerequisites for the 300 Level papers they may wish to pursue.

Compulsory papers

Choose a further 40 points from:
  • CHEM261 – Environmental Chemistry and Geochemistry
  • ERTH233 – Soils in the Landscape (10 points)
  • ERTH234 – Soil Properties and their Management (10 points)
  • ERTH242 – Oceanography
  • ERTH245 – Weather and Climate (10 points)
  • ERTH246 – Introduction to Hydrology (10 points)
Students are strongly advised to consider taking further papers from the list above. Other papers to consider including are any other ERTH or BIOL papers, or:
  • CHEM211 – Analytical and Inorganic Chemistry 1
  • ENMP241 – Environmental Technology 1
  • ENVP206 – Principles of Environmental Planning
  • ERTH251 –  Engineering Geomorphology
  • ERTH284 –  Introduction to Environmental Modelling
  • GEOG219 – Māori Lands and Communities
  • GEOG228 – Information Technology and Cartography

Papers are worth 20 points unless specified.

Choose 20 points from the following 300 Level Biological Sciences papers
  • BIOL312 – Applied Terrestrial Ecology
  • BIOL313 – Applied Freshwater Ecology
  • BIOL314 – Marine Biology and Monitoring
Plus choose 20 points from the following 300 Level Earth Sciences papers:
  • ERTH333 – Pedology and Land Evaluation (10 points)
  • ERTH334 – Soil and Land Management (10 points)
  • ERTH343 – Coastal Geomorphology and Management
  • ERTH344 – Coastal Oceanography and Engineering
  • ERTH345 – Catchment Hydrology (10 points)
  • ERTH346 – Groundwater and Hydrological Analysis (10 points)

Plus choose a further 20 points from the 300 Level papers listed above or CHEM361 – Applied Environmental Geochemistry.

Students are strongly advised to consider taking further papers from the lists above.

Other papers to consider including are any other ERTH or BIOL papers, or:
  • ENMP341 – Environmental Technology 2
  • GEOG306 – Disasters and Developments
  • GEOG328 – Geographical Information Systems

Postgraduate Studies

As this is an interdisciplinary major taught between two or more departments, it is recommended that you contact the Dean's Office, Faculty of Science and Engineering as you enrol in your second year of studies for programme advice, if you are considering pursuing postgraduate study on completion of your bachelor degree. This is to ensure that you enrol in the required papers that would gain you entry into a Postgraduate qualification.