The study of Earth and Environmental Sciences ranges the natural sciences but places a specific focus on physical geography (the study of lands, features, and environments) and geology (the study of rocks, their development and constitution). Earth and Environmental Sciences is especially concerned with the way underlying geological processes affect the ecological systems of our planet, and the impact upon each of human activity, particularly with respect to the atmosphere, oceans, land, weather, and climate. The Earth and Environmental Sciences student is necessarily engaged with concepts surrounding the internal and external processes of planet Earth, and the natural and man-made hazards which threaten to alter these processes in ways unfavourable to human beings and other animals. These are of course global issues, with a truly universal importance. Due to the interconnected nature of ecological processes, Environmental Science is a holistic concept in which the biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and geosphere are seen to be indivisible in terms of function – the health of the one relates to that of the other, each connected in an all-encompassing causal chain. Scholarly composition on Earth and Environmental Sciences, accordingly, addresses the wide-ranging multidisciplinary aspects of ecological study while relating these broader issues back to core concerns of geology and geography, the Earth’s surface and interior. This of course opens the door for many areas of specialisation, such as climatology, seismology, planetology, volcanology, and glaciology.
Academic study of the Earth and Environmental Sciences requires specialised knowledge of the natural sciences, broad awareness of relevant theory, and proficiency in research and experimentation. Fieldwork will invariably comprise an integral part of Earth and Environmental Sciences study, as, therefore, will data collection and data analysis techniques. The role of a scientist is to gather evidence, analyse results, and draw logical conclusions therefrom. The process is reason-led and non-emotional; the evidence is always the guiding light. Achieving good grades will necessitate a firm handle on the scientific method, on technical writing, and means of presenting data. Thus students will need to be familiar with how to construct a solid scientific argument, using evidence-based methodology; how to draw logical inferences from observable findings; and how to summarise research in a convincing conclusion. Furthermore, students must have a good awareness of the socio-cultural dimensions of Environmental Science more generally, the way it is popularly perceived and the repercussions for policy-decisions. Environmental Science has a very pressing imperative, in that it is geared toward understanding natural systems and processes; to meeting environmental challenges that pose an existential threat to humanity’s wellbeing. On top of being a good scientist, therefore, one needs to be a good science communicator. This begins at the local level, with learning how to compose clear and compelling academic prose; developing one’s critical thinking and mastering the means and rules of argumentation. Attaining top marks in Earth and Environmental Sciences will be the result of excellent science and lucid communication. If you can bring these two skills together, then you will be on course for top results.
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