Science degrees for a sustainable future

School leavers looking for degrees to build a more sustainable future can now study at the award-winning, world-class Natural Resources Institute (NRI) at the University of Greenwich.

The institute, internationally renowned for its work on global food security and poverty reduction, is offering BSc degrees in Environmental Science, Geography, and Biology

Dr Peter Burt, Undergraduate Geography and Environmental Science programme leader, says: "We are educating future professionals with an excellent general scientific training, as well as the tools and techniques of their chosen subject. 

"Sustainable development is at the heart of all we do. Students interested in, for example, climate change and conservation, feeding the world and creating a more level playing field for poor communities, will find rich opportunities to develop their careers."


NRI students during a field trip

Undergraduates at the Natural Resources Institute can look forward to working alongside international experts who bring unrivalled real-world experience to their teaching. The institute is committed to small classes where every student can thrive. 

Katie James, studying BSc Environmental Sciences, says: "There is no risk of staff not knowing your name here. They are so friendly and committed. I find it really exciting being taught by someone who has just come back from a farming community in Malawi or presenting at an international conference, and is giving us the latest knowledge on how our subject is being applied in the world. 

"It is really hands-on from the start with regular field trips, laboratory work and data analysis." An essential component is exposure to the latest technologies such as GIS, particle sizing and chemical analyses. 

The institute is known for its teaching at Masters level. Students come from all over the world to develop their careers in the areas of food safety and quality management, food innovation, plant sciences , sustainable agriculture and environmental management. NRI also has a strong and vibrant postgraduate research community studying for MPhil and PhD programmes linked to its world-leading research activities. 

NRI has the advantage of being based at the University of Greenwich's stunning Medway Campus, with immediate access to river, sea and wetland environments as well as the local Kent Downs. Less than an hour from London, Medway boasts a splendid Edwardian redbrick and ivy-clad campus dating from 1903 and Europe's longest library, housed in a historic naval drill hall. 

Medway is the home of the university's Faculty of Engineering & Science, which includes Life & Sports Science and Pharmaceutical, Chemical & Environmental Science, and Medway School of Pharmacy. NRI students have access to many of their courses, opening up a wide range of options and career choices.

Free field trips in UK and Spain, plus study abroad options


Fieldwork is an essential part of the Environmental Science and Geography BSc programmes. In Year 1, students spend three days in the New Forest and a week in the Lake District. Second year students go on a range of trips ending with a week in Spain. These free trips are also open to Biology students. The University of Greenwich has collaborative arrangements with universities in the Netherlands, Italy and France, enabling students to study abroad under the Erasmus European Exchange scheme. There is also the option of a minimum 36 weeks' work placement. 

BSc Biology with fourth year Masters option 

Biology at NRI offers a multidisciplinary understanding from molecular to global level. It may lead to careers in a broad range of sectors from agriculture, food, pharmaceutical and health to biotechnology, biomedical and ecology. Students can choose to stay on for a fourth year to complete their Masters (MBiol) qualification, which offers a greater breadth and depth of study. Students specialise from Year 2 onwards, and research at least one original project with professors in the field of their choice. 

"It is really hands-on from the start with regular field trips, laboratory work and data analysis."

Top ranking 

The Natural Resources Institute's undergraduate programmes, launched in 2015, are already climbing the league tables. Its geography and environmental science degrees are ranked: 

  • First among London universities for student satisfaction: Complete University Guide 2017 
  • In the UK Top 10 for student satisfaction: Complete University Guide 2017 
  • Overall 21st out of the 67 UK universities offering geography and environmental science: Guardian University Guide 2018 

A gateway to a wide range of careers 

An NRI degree is a gateway to a wide range of careers in the agriculture, conservation, ecology, food, international development, biotechnology, biomedical and pharmaceutical sectors. More specifically, opportunities for biologists, geographers and environmental scientists in the UK and EU are bountiful, using the subject specific skills relevant to, amongst other areas, mapping, planning, conservation, environmental protection and monitoring, and also as a route to teaching or further research. 

Dr Burt says: "Our students are not just learning the science but learning to be scientists. Graduates leave with the life skills such as analytical and critical thinking, and how to gather and present information, to succeed."

An NRI education could see you working in Kent or Kenya


NRI graduates go to jobs all over the world. You might enter the sustainable fertiliser and pesticide industry in the UK, or advise European businesses and parliaments on ocean health and fish stocks. Some will work with communities in Africa and Asia to add value to their crops and develop new markets. 

Claire Coote, NRI's Director of Teaching & Learning says: "The UK, along with the other 192 member states of the United Nations, signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015. The jobs of the future, across every industry and sector, will require a knowledge of the constraints and opportunities arising from the need to ensure the health and wellbeing of people and planet." 

NRI celebrates 125 years next year 

Today NRI is recognised as a world-leading centre of all aspects of development from anthropology to zoology. It started out as the Imperial Institute, opened by Queen Victoria in 1893, with a focus on tropical agriculture. 

Since then NRI has developed expertise in food production and management; pests such as mosquitoes and rats and their impact on humans, animals and crops; sustainable agriculture all over the world, and poverty reduction. 


NRI is the recipient of many awards including the prestigious Queen's Anniversary Prize in 2015 for its ground-breaking work on cassava in 17 countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, which has meant improved food security and incomes for millions of families. 

Other prizes include the 2014 Times Higher Education Award for International Collaboration and 2015 Guardian University Award for Research Impact.