Published: 04 April 2023

A week in the life of an environment and sustainability postgraduate student

As an environment and sustainability student, you’ll engage with modules that are taught on an intensive basis. Throughout the semester, your timetable will vary from periods of self-study to weeks full of lectures and workshops. 

How will I learn?

Before the start of each module, you’ll be tasked with pre-module reading and preparatory work which will inform your studies moving forward. This is followed by a week of teaching which will consist of:

  • Lectures
  • Captured content
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Field trips.

Following the intensive teaching week, you’ll then have four weeks to complete your post-module coursework.

Our students typically take one of the intensive modules every three or four weeks. 

What does a typical week look like?

Each week will be different as you work through your modules. Find out what a typical intensive teaching week is like for students on the Environmental Science and Society module.

Throughout the week you’ll attend lectures and workshops led by academics from the Centre for Environment and Sustainability, as well as guest speakers. Before each day of teaching, you’ll be required to complete pre-reading and engage with online resources. 

There are also many opportunities for activities in societies and clubs in the evenings and at weekends.


Introduction to environmental science and sustainability

  • 9.30-9.45am: Introduction to module
  • 9:45-10.45am: Lecture and discussion: Natural cycles, ecological systems and ecosystem services
  • 10.45-11.15am: Break
  • 11.15am-1pm: Lecture and discussion: Ecology, biodiversity and biodiversity loss
  • 1-2pm: Lunch
  • 2-3.30pm: Lecture and discussion: The importance of scale for environmental measurements - GHGs, ecosystem services and biodiversity
  • 3.30-4pm: Break
  • 4-5.30pm: Guest lecture/seminar: Natural capital in Surrey

Pollution and natural systems

  • 9.20-9.30am: Reflection on Day 1
  • 9.30-11am: Lecture and discussion: Agriculture, crop protection and pesticides
  • 11-11.30am: Break
  • 11.30am-1pm: Lecture: Pollution and environmental impact categories
  • 1-2pm: Lunch
  • 2-3.40pm: Seminar and fieldwork exercise: Managing pollution incidents on campus
  • 3.40-4pm: Break
  • 4-5.30pm: Guest lecture/seminar: Flood risk in practice

Pollution and natural systems/risk management

  • 9.20-9.30am: Reflection on Day 2
  • 9.30-11am: Lecture and discussion: Climate change, sustainable development and energy
  • 11-11.30am: Break
  • 11.30am-12.45pm: Lecture and discussion: Climate change, sustainable development and energy (continued)
  • 12.45-2pm: Lunch
  • 1-2pm: CES Lunchtime Seminar: Increasing campus sustainability at the University of Surrey
  • 2-2.15pm: Break
  • 2.15-2.45pm: Lecture: Introduction to environmental risk assessment
  • 2.45-5.30pm: Environmental risk assessment group exercise: Part 1        

Environmental Risk Assessment

  • 9:30am-5:30pm: Environmental risk assessment group exercise: Part 2   

Environmental policy and sustainability

  • 9.20-9.30am: Reflection on Days 3 and 4
  • 9.30-11am: Guest lecture: Environmental policy and sustainability at the international level
  • 11-11.30am: Break
  • 11.30am-12.45pm: Quiz, video and discussion: Mega-trends: The policy context of a rapidly changing world
  • 12.45-1.45pm: Lunch
  • 1.45-3.15pm: Guest lecture/seminar: Environmental policy and sustainability at the national level
  • 3.15-3.30pm: Break
  • 3.30-5pm: Lecture and discussion: Environmental policy and sustainability at the local level
  • 5-5.30pm: Introduction to the assignment and module conclusion

And when lectures have finished?

There are a wealth of activities on offer at Surrey for you to get involved in, such as becoming a member of our Postgraduate Society, which enables you to make new friends and access a range of social events. Or you could head over to Surrey Sports Park, explore the town of Guildford with its wide range of bars and restaurants, or take a 34-minute train journey into London for some time in the city. For some peace and quiet, and the chance to explore, you can head to the Surrey Hills, an area of outstanding natural beauty.


Learn more about postgraduate study with the Centre for Environment and Sustainability


This is an example timetable from one of our intensive modules. The timetable listed is indicative, reflecting the information available at the time of publication and may be subject to teaching availability, student demand and/or class size caps. 

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