What is environmental science?

Are you passionate about understanding the natural world? A career in environmental science could be an excellent fit for you. Discover more about this fascinating field.

A woman standing near a river holding a water sample

How do humans impact the natural world? What role do social and cultural practices play in creating a sustainable future? These are the kinds of questions environmental scientists seek to answer. 

Environmental science studies how people interact with the Earth's natural systems. Environmental scientists work to find solutions to some of the world's most urgent problems, including our changing climate and overpopulation.  It's not a stretch to say they use their skills and knowledge to make a positive difference. 

What are the major fields of environmental science?

Environmental science is an interdisciplinary field that combines these areas of study:

  • Biology
  • Zoology
  • Chemistry
  • Geography
  • Ecology
  • Sociology 

People studying to become environmental scientists might focus on one specific area, or several different areas. It depends on where they want to work, and where they'd like to make an impact. 

Why is environmental science research important? 

Environmental science has never been more relevant. 

As a species, humans are facing existential threats, including biodiversity loss, extreme weather and environmental degradation. 

Environmental scientists focus on how we can sustainably interact with the world around us. Their work is critical when it comes to developing conservation policies. They investigate everything from post-mining regeneration to regenerative agricultural practices. 

Working as an environmental scientist, you'll help humanity live in balance with the natural world. 

What jobs are in environmental science?

Governments and non-government organisations around the world are becoming increasingly focused on promoting sustainability and finding solutions to the challenges posed by climate change.

This means the range of career outcomes for those who study environmental science is huge. 

You could work in any of the following areas, depending on the area of environmental science you specialise in:

  • Consultancy 
  • Conservation 
  • Agriculture and aquaculture 
  • Climate change adaptation and mitigation 
  • Research 
  • Forestry
  • Marine science 

In your role as an environmental scientist, you’ll help to:

  • protect wildlife, water catchments, land formations and the air around us from pollution
  • find solutions to environmental hazards
  • shape environmental management policies.

How to start a career in environmental science

To pursue a career in environmental science, you'll need to study at university. There are courses available at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels. 

What kind of study you undertake depends on your current experience level. 

If you’ve never earned a qualification before, you should consider a Bachelor of Environmental Science and Management or a Bachelor of Science majoring in an aspect of environmental science. These degrees will give you a strong foundation in field and laboratory work, which is a must for entering the industry. 

If you already have a relevant undergraduate degree, consider enrolling in a postgraduate qualification to build on the skills and knowledge you already have. There are specialist courses available in areas like climate change adaptation, regenerative agriculture and integrated water management.  

Where to find environmental science courses

You can use Open Universities Australia to compare and enrol in flexible environmental science courses from all over the country. If you’re having trouble choosing between the different options, start a chat with one of our student advisors—or even book a one-on-one call

They’ll help you find a course that matches up with your passions—whatever those might be! 


Are you ready to make the world a better place? Explore online environmental science courses available with leading universities.