University of Chester

Programme Specification
Environmental Systems Management BSc (Hons) (Level 6 only)
2017 - 2018

Bachelor of Science (Level 6 only)

Environmental Systems Management

Environmental Systems Management (Reaseheath)

University of Chester

Reaseheath College

Reaseheath College

Undergraduate Modular Programme

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

1 year full time, 2 years part time.

3 Years

Annual - September




17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Medicine, Dentistry and Life Sciences Biological Sciences

The QAA Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences and Environmental Studies subject benchmark statements (2014) have been used to inform academic development of the programme.


Department of Biological Sciences.

Monday 5th December 2016

The educational aims of the BSc Environmental Systems Management (Level 6 only) are as follows:

  • To provide a high quality academic and practical programme of study in Environmental Science, with focus on the management of Environmental Systems. Learning opportunities will be provided for students from a variety of backgrounds both in their place of work and through the specialist facilities at Reaseheath College.
  • To provide students with the knowledge, understanding and skills employers within the environmental sector require, using teaching, learning and assessment strategies that develop professional experience concurrent with academic development.
  • To offer flexible delivery modes and study patterns to meet the needs of students from a variety of backgrounds and employment patterns.
  • To provide a programme that remains relevant, valid and responsive to the needs of employers and students, by maintaining and expanding effective partnerships with students, employers, professional bodies and sector skills councils.
  • To provide a degree programme that provides students with the academic skills and confidence to engage in further learning throughout their lives.
  • To produce graduates with the marketable skills and knowledge necessary to compete for employment in a related field of work.

The development of knowledge and understanding of principles and concepts associated with Environmental Systems Management is fundamental in providing a platform by which to analyse, evaluate, critique, synthesis and reflect. These core values formulate the emphasis of study at level 6. Therefore, upon successful completion of this programme, students will be able to:

FHEQ Level 6

  • Demonstrate an extensive and systematic understanding of key aspects of topics relating to Environmental Systems Management including but not limited to the acquisition of knowledge on the ecology, processes and management of different aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems (RC6801, RC6802, RC6803, RC6804, RC6805, RC6807), detailed knowledge and understanding of environmental hazards and how these can be managed/mitigated, within a variety of environments (RC6802, RC6803), a thorough appreciation of how environmental systems can influence and be influenced by man and anthropogenic activities (RC6801, RC6802, RC6803, RC6804, RC6806) and understanding of the effects of pollutants on aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems and how effects can be mitigated (RC6804).
  • Demonstrate a detailed knowledge and understanding of the impacts of global environmental change on earth system processes and resources with implications for the ecology of planet earth (RC6801, RC6802, RC6806).
  • Demonstrate an ability to utilise historical and existing knowledge to critically comment upon current research, devise and sustain arguments, solve problems and synthesis new ideas (all modules).

At level 6 study, students are expected to progressively shift from demonstrating description, knowledge recall and understanding towards an ability to handle cognitive complexity, to evaluate, apply knowledge and technical skills in novel situations, and devise creative and new approaches to solving problems. Therefore, upon successful completion of the programme, students will be able to:

FHEQ Level 6

  • Demonstrate an ability to assume greater responsibility for their own learning, both independently and collaboratively (all modules).
  • Develop an appreciation of one's own uncertainty, ambiguity and limitations of knowledge specific to themes in Environmental Systems Management (all modules).
  • Demonstrate an ability to critically evaluate the arguments, theories, assumptions, abstract concepts and scientific evidence in order to make informed judgements, synthesise new knowledge and identify a range of appropriate solutions to a given problem(s), including those typically encountered within themes of scientific enquiry on aspects of Environmental Systems Management (all modules).

All students should be expected to evidence the development and enhancement of practical and professional skills during their studies. Emphasis is primarily placed on the development of soft skills that can be transferred to the employment sector as a graduate (e.g. communication, time management and team working skills, problem-solving abilities). Technical skills should be demonstrated specific to the discipline, and will include utilising a variety of platforms to communicate research, show competencies in the handling, management and interpretation of data, use of information technology in a variety of formats to create, design, analyse and report, and reflect on their own learning and performance with the view to enhance their own abilities. Therefore, upon successful completion of this programme, students will be able to:

FHEQ Level 6

  • Demonstrate an ability to apply knowledge in the supervision and management of people in a range of settings (all modules), effectively communicate information to a range of specialist and non-specialist audiences (all modules) and collect data, design experiments and analyse data (RC6803, RC6804, RC6807).
  • Demonstrate an ability to manage one's own learning, and to make use of primary sources of literature to formulate new ideas and draw conclusions (all modules).
  • Demonstrate an ability to work effectively both independently and collaboratively, and manage resources effective for learning (all modules).

Students should develop their professional communication skills with emphasis on being able to accurately and concisely impart technical information in a format accessible to a range of audiences. Upon successful completion of this programme, students will be able to:

FHEQ Level 6

  • Demonstrate an ability to communicate a range of information through several pathways, to a range of specialist and non-specialist audiences (all modules).
  • Demonstrate accurate and coherent written communication, which is founded on evidenced-based reasoning and the critical analysis/evaluation/reflection of this (all modules).

The BSc Environmental Systems Management is designed with flexibility for employment in a range of industries involving the management of environmental systems, their processes and biota. 

Students will undertake the 120 credits at level 6 through seven modules, exclusively at Reaseheath College. The programme is designed so that academic knowledge and understanding underpin the development of work-related skills and their application both using specialist laboratory and field equipment, training facilities and also later, in a work-based environment. The curriculum is designed around a programme core of knowledge, understanding and skills in systems management, specific to aquatic and terrestrial environments.

The curriculum is built over one level of study with the majority of modules being compulsory. Modules are designed to prepare students for working professionally within the industry and to start to consider specialism in further career or education opportunities. For example, students might wish to focus on one aspect of land management e.g. management of fluvial systems and optional modules provide students additional opportunities to specialise in some aspects of geomorphology and ecology (RC6803), forest conservation (RC6805) and pollution management (RC6804). Students will also conduct novel research in the form of a 30-credit Honours Research Project (RC6201) enabling students to utilise the specialist resources and facilities based on the Reaseheath campus, in addition to working closely with the staff and a variety of external partners and/or collaborators.

The programme modules are designed to develop essential knowledge and understanding of the management of a variety of environmental systems and also develop understanding of how humans influence and are influenced by these environments, at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. There is a strong emphasis on the ethical and legal issues associated with environmental systems management. The Honours Research Project module allows students to perform a piece of novel, independent research.

Employability skills should be a core part of a student’s University experience and are developed throughout the course. Employability skills encompass the attributes that help graduates to secure employment, enable them to respond to the changing demands of the workplace and contribute positively to their employer’s success. Their own progress in these skills is therefore an essential outcome of the programme of study. Employability skills include self-management, team work, problem-solving, communication and literacy, application of numeracy, and application of information technology.

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
RC6201 6 Dissertation Project 30 Comp
RC6801 6 Ecology and Management of Marine Ecosystems 15 Comp
RC6802 6 Environmental Hazards: from Mitigation to Management 15 Comp
RC6803 6 International Field Course (Alpine Environments) 15 Optional
RC6804 6 Environmental Pollution and Remediation 15 Optional
RC6805 6 Forest Ecology and Management 15 Optional
RC6806 6 Global Environmental Change 15 Comp
RC6807 6 Limnology 15 Comp

7 modules are worth 15 credits and the Dissertation module is worth 30 credits. A candidate successfully completing 6 of the 7 taught modules plus the dissertation module will have accumulated 120 academic credit points, and will be eligible for the award of Bachelor of Science degree.



The candidates will have successfully completed FdSc Environmental Science for Conservation or FdSc Countryside Resource Management. Alternatively, 96 UCAS Tariff points (240 equivalent) awarded via studies undertaken in similar disciplines will be considered, including external programmes, where candidates can demonstrate sufficient practical experience. Candidates will be interviewed and the decision will be made through the college APL committee.

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL), Accreditation of Certified Learning (APCL) and Accreditation of Experiential Learning (APEL) 

Appropriate consideration will be given to applicants previously certified and/or being assessed for award classification within an accepted biological/life science discipline.  Similarly, any applicant who has not received certification for prior learning experiences, but has worked within the discipline, will also be considered. Acceptable work-based experience could include one, or a combination of several, of the following: Environmental/Science Technician, Ranger, Environmental Consultant etc.

The University will assess whether the learning derived from experience and/or prior certificated study is equivalent to that of the learning derived from the programme of study. This evidence may include a combination of skills and learning outcomes, in addition to the level and relevance of the subject knowledge and understanding to be evidenced by the applicant. Prior accredited learning must be supported by a transcript indicating the number, and level, of credits achieved, and the titles of the courses for which they were awarded.

Any applicant not accredited on a certificate or transcript, would be asked to map their experience against the module, and/or programme learning outcomes, to provide a clear, evidenced paper submission. Conversely, applications stating certified learning experience must be accompanied by the certificate awarded for the qualification. In most cases, these must have been achieved within five years of the date of application.

APL is considered through the existing College APL committee and is subject to UoC APL process and approval.

The Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences and Environmental Studies (2014) benchmark statement has been used as an important reference point in the construction of the programme’s learning outcomes, knowledge, skills and content together with the methods of learning, teaching and assessment. Reference has been made to the threshold statements; these being the minimum requirement described in the benchmarking statements by the Quality Assurance Agency.

An environmental science degree should provide the knowledge and skills required to confidently and professionally support industry within the environmental sector. Such attributes should recognise the diversity of skills required to be an environmental scientist, from understanding of earth system processes, to the management of these processes and factors affecting them. In recognition of the human responsibility towards global environmental change, it is also important that environmental scientists and indeed, environmental systems managers, have an in-depth understanding of the social and environmental consequences of increasing carbon emissions and global air temperatures.

In response to such diverse responsibilities, the QAA subject bench marks from the Earth Sciences, Environmental Sciences and Environmental Studies (2014) have been utilised to develop standards within this Environmental Systems Management programme.

This programme will focus on the technical knowledge and skills, typically applied within the environmental sector and identified within the above benchmark statements that can be applied to industry as it adapts to a changing landscape, driven by global environmental change. Pertinent knowledge and skills identified from the Earth sciences and Environmental Sciences benchmarks will be used to support a basic understanding of earth systems science, whilst the Environmental Studies statement will be utilised to develop skills and knowledge directly relevant to the biota, functioning and management of ecological systems.

Students undertaking studies in this programme should be able to readily demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the topics described above upon entry, with the view that these are subsequently enhanced at Level 6. It is expected by the QAA that more specialised areas will be offered at Level 6. Specific research based topics are specifically developed within modules studied prior to entry onto the programme, and it is expected that these skills are applied as appropriate during completion of the dissertation or research project modules, in addition to other project work.

Applied modules enable students to utilise the suite of concepts and perspectives to compare, contrast, analyse and critique, to inform new knowledge and to problem solve. Students will be expected to engage in several platforms whereby these skills underpin the philosophy of the module. Students should expect to be able to access primary literature, with which to analyse underpinning concepts and the research that may support or refute them. Following critical analysis, students would be expected to synthesis new thoughts, ideas and knowledge in response to the concurrent research and express these through seminar discussions, presentations and assessed components of work.

The more generic "soft" skills identified in the benchmark statements, including time management, reflective practice, team work, communication, use of data, information technology, information retrieval and presentation, are all explicitly embedded in the majority of modules presented within the programme, either assessed formatively through classroom based activities, or alternatively through components of assessment. Furthermore, such skills are enhanced through the provision of a non-credited "Study Skills" session, which comprises a dedicated additional hour on the weekly timetable that provides students with opportunity to further develop transferable skills.

It is intended for the BSc Top-Up year to offer university education closely linked to employment. The BSc Environmental Systems Management has been designed both for part-time study by people employed in relevant industries and for full-time study by people aspiring to careers in the environmental sector. All modules have been designed for delivery at Reaseheath College, where we can offer appropriate work-related experience through the expertise of staff and our specialist facilities. The aims, learning outcomes and content for both forms of study are identical, with a core emphasis on the development of students’ cognitive, key and professional skills, and the application of academic knowledge and understanding in relevant work settings.

Full time and part time students attending college will encounter a broad range of teaching and learning experiences across all levels of study as befits the subject matter. Methods of teaching and learning are indicated clearly in each module descriptor and the list below describes the variety of approaches used by tutors.


These feature in most modules as an effective way of imparting important content, themes and pointers for further study. They will be used to set a framework for further study and inform students of the value of the discipline. However, they are supplemented by a variety of other methods of teaching and learning as described below.

Practical classes/Fieldwork

Most practical skills developed in students at Level 6 have been founded on practical classes delivered at Levels 4 and 5 of the foundation degree. At Level 6, skills in data collection, manipulation, and analysis are required to be demonstrated through the Dissertation module.   

Virtual Learning Environment (VLE)

The University has a VLE available to all students on or off campus. This offers access to a wide range of facilities including Learning Resources, the Library and all modular support materials. Staff are committed to using the VLE interface for making additional support materials available for students.

Directed reading

As reading is central to the process of knowledge acquisition in higher education, module tutors provide reading lists to guide their students to appropriate material. Increasingly, these lists include references to the Internet and electronic sources, as well as more traditional book and journal references. Primary reference lists, comprising key texts, can be found in the module descriptors and handbooks. Additional reading is also provided during lectures to promote further reading around specific topics. With the expectation of increasing autonomy at Level 6, it is not uncommon for students to be expected to engage in weekly directed reading, whereby students are required to disseminate information from primary sources of scientific research to address directed questions/scenario-based exercises.

Group work

The QCA Key Skills document lists ‘working with others’ as one of the six categories of Key Skills that needs to be demonstrated in higher education. Throughout the programme, working with others has been incorporated at each level. In many modules, particularly in practical work, students are encouraged to work in groups and to share ideas. 

In the main, teaching and learning activities take place on the campus. Timetabling is arranged centrally, except for individual tutorials. There is some flexibility for students to change groups for laboratory classes and group tutorials to suit part-time students and those who have family commitments or transport difficulties. This is in accordance with the University's widening access and participation strategy. It is possible for all students to access support materials at home via the ‘Sharepoint Portal'.

Independent research 

In line with benchmarking and the Department's Learning, Teaching and Assessment Strategy, the need for students to become effective as independent learners is planned for and encouraged. The programme structures its learning outcomes so that this will happen progressively across the programme.  At Level 6, students can conduct an extensive piece of independent research (equivalent to two modules) that requires them to plan and implement a research project, analyse data and report on their study.

Assessment Criteria 

The University's over-arching level-related criteria are a key reference when designing modular assessments. Therefore, progression towards more complex and involved assessments, that require greater levels of study autonomy and greater levels of critical analysis, underpins the overall assessment strategy of the programme.   

In addition, all students who pass any part of a degree are expected to possess such basic skills as the ability to make use of numerical and statistical information; the ability to locate internet sites from given web addresses; the ability to send and receive e-mail messages; the ability to use basic software packages such as Word; the ability to perform basic searches on standard electronic retrieval systems, and the ability to write legibly. Students who succeed at Level 4 and above should be able to construct an essay using correct grammar, spelling and referencing according to the American Psychological Association (APA) system of referencing.

In the preparation of coursework, which can include essays and presentations, students are given time and scope to present their work in a variety of modes, particularly where an examination would be inappropriate. However, the institutions are aware that examinations have an important role to play in summative assessment, and give academic credibility to the degree programme. 

The programme uses a wide range of forms of assessment including:

  • Essays and written assignments - testing the ability to write within word limits, convey ideas with clarity and accuracy, reference to an academic standard and the ability to conduct private study and research.
  • Reports - covering a variety of structured styles, to summarise findings from investigations, reflect on practical activities or discuss approaches to case study.
  • Oral presentations - testing presentation skills, the ability to discuss issues with clarity and respond to questions.
  • Dissertation - testing the ability to conduct individual primary research and communicate ideas and information effectively in an academic manner and within word limits.
  • Portfolio - testing the ability to acquire key survey and census skills, analyse ecological data and present material in a clear, effective manner
  • Short-based seminar exercises.
  • Reading of academic texts and discussion exercises.
  • Close analysis of texts.
  • Literature reviews.
  • Critical Reviews.
  • Online multiple-choice and short answer exams.


Formative assessment and feedback

All students receive written comments on assessed components of work and additional feedback on the work is given more informally by individual tutors during group workshops and one-to-one tutorials. Formative feedback is an important and essential component of all taught modules. The nature of the assessment and feedback varies from module to module but typically takes the form of a written assignment done under time constraints, marked by the module tutor. Formative feedback is staggered throughout the year. The programme also makes use of on-line formative feedback in the form of electronic marking and self-evaluation forms.

Reassessment Methods   

Reassessment will address the learning outcomes included in the failed components. Reassessment will normally take the form of the resubmission of all failed component(s) of the modular assessment. Here, students will be expected to resubmit the coursework or re-sit the exam in its original format, albeit using a different perspective or suite of questions.

It is intended that graduates of the BSc Environmental Systems Management program will have:

  • A comprehensive and systematic knowledge and understanding of the application of research and evidence-based methods to the management of environmental systems.
  • Ability to apply academic knowledge and techniques to practical solutions in environmental work settings.
  • Skills of academic enquiry to generate potential solutions to problems in environmental systems management and cognitive skills to critically evaluate these to arrive at solutions fitted to context.
  • An understanding of the limits of their knowledge, and how this influences analysis and interpretations based on that knowledge in the context of environmental systems management.
  • Skills to effectively communicate information, arguments, and critical analysis, in written and oral form, to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
  • Confidence and transferable skills to undertake further training, develop existing skills, and acquire new competencies that will enable students to assume responsibility within relevant organisations.
  • The characteristics and attributes that will enable progression onto further education and training, specifically postgraduate study, should they wish.

In addition, candidates in possession of this qualification should also be able to:

  • Foster an appreciation of how environmental systems can influence and be influenced by man and anthropogenic activities. 
  • Demonstrate practical competencies in the general management of environmental systems.

The programme will serve as a unique platform by which to project graduates of this programme into employment within the industry. Beyond developing core generic skills in time management, project design and implementation, communication and team work, students undertaking study on this programme will have a unique opportunity to develop industry-specific skills, primarily through the practical application of theory via utilising the specialist resources available on-site. In addition, students will engage with relevant field equipment, instrumentation and information technology to enhance their skills in monitoring and managing a variety of aquatic and terrestrial environments. Thus, the combination of subject theory and its practical applications will stand students in good stead for employment within the sector.

Careers within the environmental sector typically fall into the following roles:

  • Consultant/field technician
  • Ranger
  • Land manager
  • Environment agency (or equivalent) staff member
  • Rivers trust (or equivalent) staff member
  • Forestry commission (or equivalent) staff member
  • Charity (e.g. RSPB) staff member
  • Postgraduate education (Msc., PhD)
  • Researcher/Research Assistant
  • Animal Welfare Campaigner

It is envisaged that graduates in possession of this qualification, in addition to undertaking postgraduate study at level 7, may demonstrate the competencies required to be successful in their chosen careers at a more senior level within a relevant environmental institution.

Both Reaseheath College and the University of Chester are committed to the active promotion of equality of opportunity. Both institutions seek to ensure that no student is disadvantaged or discriminated against on the grounds of: gender; age; marital or parental status; sexual orientation; racial group (race, colour, nationality, ethnicity or national origins); creed (religious, political or personal beliefs or principles); membership or non-membership of a trade union; and socio-economic background. It also aims to ensure that disabled people and those with special needs do not suffer unfair discrimination, and that they are enabled to achieve their full potential as students.  The ultimate objective of the programmes delivery is to ensure all aspects of delivery are open to all sections of society and in their activities, all students can participate to the best of their ability. This programme is designed to ensure inclusivity and the diverse needs of our students are provided for.  At a departmental level, all programmes are developed and delivered with the following aspects in mind:

Admission requirements are clearly set out in promotional materials and due consideration is given to a policy of widening access, participation, diversity and equality. 

Each module and programme is developed in line with University policy to both promote equality and diversity and encourage all students in the development of their learning.

There is flexibility in materials and delivery of teaching to support students with disability or from culturally diverse backgrounds and the Department works closely with Learning Support in delivering this support through Learning Support Plans.

The induction week activities are designed to integrate all students both academically and socially and to make academic staff aware of any issues.  Students are made aware of avenues of support if they a have any issues regarding diversity and equality.

Supportive formative exercises are presented in modules in the first year to give all students an equal chance of succeeding.

Assessments are designed to afford equal opportunity to all students to display their knowledge and skills. The introduction of anonymous marking also enhances equal opportunity, fairness and independence to all students.

To ensure that the needs of all students are met any barriers to access (physical, environmental and curriculum) are identified and removed or reasonable adjustments will be made based on requirements.

All learning materials and teaching and learning sessions are designed to be free from racist, sexist and other discriminatory assumptions and practices.

All lecturers are aware of diversity issues and discharge their roles with knowledge and sympathy and all students are made aware of both institutional Department structures to discuss issues should a concern arise. 

Reaseheath College offers specific support for students with specified learning needs, encompassing all physical abilities, in conjunction with the Higher Education Support Team (HEST) on campus.  In collaboration with student support services, and safeguarding task groups, the college's equality and diversity policy aims to ensure that all students and all members of staff at the College have equality of opportunity and are treated solely based on their aptitude, ability and potential to pursue a course of study or to fulfil the requirements of a job. The policy also aims to eliminate discrimination, which is unlawful or unfair.

The college has established HE provisions and in the recent QAA HER performance achieved the following judgements: 

  • The maintenance of the threshold academic standards of the awards offered on behalf of degree-awarding bodies meets UK expectations
  • the quality of student learning opportunities is commended
  • the quality of the provider’s information about learning opportunities meets UK expectations
  • the enhancement of student learning opportunities is commended

Of the 7 recognised areas of good practice, the following have relevance to this programme:

  • The management and use of long-term strategic relationships with external stakeholders to enhance the student experience. (A5, B1, B3, B4, Enhancement)
  • The systematic approach to providing work-based learning opportunities of quality and relevance to students and to the College’s mission. (B3, B4, B10, Enhancement)

The college has dedicated resources for HE students, including an HE centre consisting of lecture rooms, computer suites, quiet study areas and a social area including a café. All students will have access to the college VLE, which is particularly important for distance learners. There are plans to further expand this facility due to growth of student numbers. In addition, HE students have access to the Higher Education Support Team, which provides specialist academic and pastoral support to meet the needs of HE learners. Students can live on campus, in 18+ halls of residence. These are fully wardened and were graded Outstanding by Ofsted for Care Standards. The college also has good recreational and social facilities available to all students, including, gym, sports hall, sports fields, canteen, cafes and the Student Union bar.

Teaching facilities include but are not limited to specialist arboriculture and aquaculture equipment, sample processing laboratories, a hydraulics laboratory (under development), a 330-hectare estate offering access to a wide variety of aquatic and terrestrial habitats. In addition, there are excellent links to industry within the department and where appropriate, students will have access to specialist pieces of research equipment e.g. electromagnetic flow meters, pressure transducers, gravelometers, Mcneil Sampler, thermistors, sediment processing equipment etc.

There is a team of 12 full-time Countryside staff. Pertinent qualifications of key teaching staff members are included below:

1 x PhD in fluvial geomorphology and fish ecology; MSc Environmental Science; BSc Geography

1 x PhD in Mesolithic archaeology; MSc Environmental Science

1 x PhD in environmental science; BSc Environmental Studies

1 x MSc Countryside Management

2 x MSc Environmental Science

1 x BSc Marine Biology

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