Environmental Studies

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Pollution, climate change, deforestation, waste management, sustainable energy… The great environmental issues that confront us are an exciting challenge. This is reflected by the range of highly involving courses and careers related to Environmental Studies. If you want to do your bit for the planet, then read on…


Students interested in this field are not lacking in choice. Third-level environmental science courses are available from the following institutions: DCU, DIT, IT Sligo, Limerick IT (including LIT Tipperary), NUI Galway, Tralee IT, UCC, UCD, and UL.

Environmental science programmes are multidisciplinary. They introduce students to the chemical, physical, and biological processes that occur in the environment. The courses explore current environmental problems such as air or water pollution. They also consider their effect on public health and the natural environment. In addition, many courses cover current environmental and health and safety legislation.

Students learn through a combination of lectures, projects, lab work, and field studies. As a result, they gain experience in a variety of areas – from environmental legislation to data research and analysis.

There are different career opportunities depending on the environmental course you do. For instance, DIT’s Bachelor of Science in Environmental Health (Level 8) concentrates on legislative requirements and risk management. Therefore, this course is highly suitable for a career as an environmental health officer.

Cork IT’s Level 8 Degree in Environmental Science and Sustainable Technology gives students the skills to flourish in the smart green economy. Another interesting option is IT Sligo’s BSc in Environmental Protection. This course explores the science behind measuring, combating, and preventing pollution.

Cavan Institute’s one-year Certificate in Environmental Science – Sustainable Development is a Level 5 course. Students develop an understanding of topics such as Ecological Field Methods, Biology, and Lab Techniques. Another option is Limerick College of Further Education’s Certificate in Environmental Science (Level 5). This covers subjects such as Waste Management, Communications, and Spreadsheet Methods. Holders of either of these certificates can access many science-related third-level programmes.

The Work

The growing realisation, among companies, government bodies, and the public, that our environment is a resource in need of sound management has led to an array of career options for graduates in Environmental Science and Health. These include:

  • Environmental consultancy
  • Waste management
  • Pollution control
  • Mineral and water exploration

These are just a few of the career options available.

Environmental health officers ensure that the public and workers are not at risk from environmental hazards such as noise, pests, pollution, or disease. They are usually employed by local authorities and spend much of their time visiting sites to ensure that environmental regulations are being adhered too. They also play a major role in ensuring that food is prepared and distributed safely and hygienically.

Working in environmental protection and conservation requires a healthy interest in science, as well as the ability to work in a number of different environments: the office, lab, and in the field. An ability to effectively communicate complex data to non-experts is also important. Winning the hearts and minds of the public plays a huge role in any sustained attempt towards safeguarding the future health of the environment.

Did you know?

The number of red squirrels in Ireland is decreasing by an average of 1 per cent per year. The native red’s decline in this country has largely been attributed to the introduction of the more adaptable – and more aggressive – grey squirrel in 1911.

Further Resources

Environmental Protection Agency

Environmental Health Officers’ Association

Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment



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