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COURSE TITLE Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Earth Systems







B.Sc. (Hons)(Melit.)

First Cycle

Level 6

3 Years



Concern over environmental change has never been greater than at present. It has long been known that the future of the human species is inextricably bound up with the health of the planet on which we live. It is therefore crucial that we gain a clear understanding of planet earth, its systems and their dynamics, if we are to determine the ways in which we should be living and utilizing resources responsibly. However, in recent times it has become increasingly clear that earth systems are characterized by complexity and uncertainty, and that a compartmentalized and piecemeal approach to studying the Earth will not suffice. Whilst we may talk of earth systems as made up of key components - the lithosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere and biosphere – we must also realize that Earth is one integrated and dynamic system, constantly in flux. Add humans to the equation, and the study of earth systems becomes even more challenging - no other living species has ever had the same pervasive and far-reaching influence that man has had on the planet, and we are only now coming to understand the impacts that some of our actions have had on the Earth. Given such a context, it has become more and more evident that no single discipline can, in isolation, provide an adequate understanding of earth systems. An interdisciplinary approach, however, which brings together relevant aspects of various disciplines, can make a significant contribution in this regard.

Earth Systems Science is precisely such an emerging field of study, and the B.Sc. (Hons) in Earth Systems will transcend disciplinary boundaries in order to adopt an integrated and holistic approach to the study of our planet. It will consider the various physical components of the earth system and interactions between these, whilst framing issues of environmental change within a broader context of environmental, social, economic and cultural sustainability. The emphasis is on developing an interdisciplinary and practice-oriented outlook. This programme also differs from traditional Earth Sciences degrees, and those generally offered in related disciplines such as geography, in that Earth Systems Science is a science-based but policy-oriented field. It is thus far more flexible in its outlook, and draws on relevant subject areas as necessary.
LEARNING OUTCOMES This 3-year programme will be taught through a variety of methods, including lectures, laboratory-based practical sessions, field-based practical sessions, seminars and supervised independent research. The raison d’être of the course is to provide students with both lecturer-led instruction and experiential learning, with a focus on linking theory and practice. Whilst the importance of a good knowledge of subject theory will thus be emphasized, this will be taught with a view to ensuring that students make the link to applicability in practice. Students will also be exposed to a range of different lecturers and will have the opportunity to benefit from the experience of invited guest speakers throughout the course. The intention behind this approach is to train students to learn from different perspectives to the subject matter. The subject matter itself will also include material from a range of disciplines, together with specific interdisciplinary concerns.

This approach will enhance students' intellectual development, as, in addition to being taught specific course content, students will also be trained in becoming flexible and versatile and in learning to deal with areas outside their direct 'comfort zone'. They will also acquire skills in absorbing and processing knowledge of different kinds and presented in different ways.

The course will provide students with:

• A sound scientific knowledge of the components and processes of Earth systems
• An understanding of the implications for mankind of changes in Earth systems
• A knowledge of the characteristics and history of environmental change
• A grounding in the varied human dimensions of environmental concerns
• An understanding of the science-policy interface
• A background history of the emergence and evolution of sustainability concerns
• An explanation of the local, regional and global context for environmental issues
• Comprehension of the policy and legal context within which management of Earth systems occurs
• A foundation in the design and implementation of empirical research
• An introduction to relevant tools and techniques for critical analysis
• A sound knowledge of the local and regional context (Malta and the Mediterranean), together with an understanding of other international perspectives
• Opportunities for pursuing areas of particular individual interest through a research project
• Engagement with leading professionals in the field.

Students will also be trained to focus on identifying and evaluating interactions through the development of linkages between different course components. Thus, whilst looking specifically at different aspects of earth systems, students will also be guided in looking at these holistically through a view of the ‘bigger picture’.

A wide range of skills will be developed throughout the course, including computing and modelling, mathematical skills, navigation, mapping (for a variety of end-purposes), analytical field and laboratory techniques, research design and implementation, quantitative and qualitative data interpretation and analysis, and critical problem solving. Several of these skills will be transferable to on-the-job scenarios and to other life situations. Furthermore, students will be trained to be able to liaise and communicate with a wide audience, and to work successfully in interdisciplinary teams, skills which will likewise enhance their employment opportunities.
CAREER OPPORTUNITIES AND ACCESS TO FURTHER STUDY Graduates of the B.Sc. (Hons) in Earth Systems programme will be uniquely furnished with a sound scientific grounding in various aspects of earth systems, together with an understanding of the social, economic, policy and legislative frameworks that are so crucial to environmental management and planning. Graduates will thus be ideally placed to join professional ranks in addressing the management and planning of activities at the human-nature interface, and will bring skills to the job from both the natural and social sciences.

Potential employers include the Malta Environment and Planning Authority (MEPA), the Malta Resource Authority (MRA), the Ministry for Resources and Rural Affairs, private-sector industry and environmental appraisal consultancies, the University of Malta, other educational institutions, as well as European and international governmental and non-governmental agencies, examples of the latter include the European Environment Agency, World Conservation Union (IUCN), Conservation International, the World Wildlife Fund, the World Bank, as well as various UN agencies including FAO, UNESCO, UNEP, UNDP and UNIDO.

Graduates of this programme will also have the option of pursuing full-time or part-time courses at Master level, either with the University of Malta or at universities abroad. Courses available locally include the IEI’s Master programme in the field of environmental management and planning as well as the University’s International Masters Programme (IMP) in Sustainable Environmental Resource Management (SERM).
COURSE INTENDED FOR This programme is targeted at students wishing to work within areas relevant to the management and planning of the environment, as well as in specific environmental resource management sectors.
MOBILITY PERIOD Students who wish to participate in an ERASMUS exchange are encouraged to do so preferably during the second semester of the second year of the course or alternatively during the first semester of the third year of the course.
Applicants must satisfy the General Entry Requirements for admission, namely, the Matriculation Certificate and Secondary Education Certificate passes at Grade 5 or better in Maltese, English Language and Mathematics.

Applicants must also satisfy the following Special Course Requirements:

Intermediate Level pass at grade C or better in at least one of the following subjects: Environmental Science, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Pure Mathematics, Applied Mathematics (Mechanics), Geography and Sociology.

The admission requirements are applicable for courses commencing in October 2016.

For more detailed information pertaining to admission and progression requirements please refer to the bye-laws for the course available here.



Last Updated: 22 February 2017
The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
Unless for exceptional approved reasons, no changes to the programme of study for a particular academic year will be made once the students' registration period for that academic year begins.

For applicable fees please check the link on the Finance Office webpage.
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