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What do you think is more valuable - a Natural Sciences degree or an Environmental Science degree?

(16 Posts)
Callisto Mon 04-Jul-11 17:43:57

Hi all, I'm at the start of an OU Natural Sciences degree but I'm wondering if Environmental Science would be better. I am aiming to do conservation work of some kind with the degree if I ever get that far. Natural Sciences sounded ideal but I do wonder if it is something that prospective employers might feel is a bit of a mickey mouse degree, whereas Environmental Science may look more meaty and serious iyswim. I'm about to choose my next module and was thinking a 10 point maths plus a 10 point in something else but I quite like the idea of doing another 60 pointer, The Environmental Web. It counts towards both, but is complusory for the Environmental Science degree. Perhaps I've just answered my own question...

Any advice or experience would be really welcome, thanks.

mnistooaddictive Mon 04-Jul-11 17:45:56

I thought natural Sciences was a classic subject studied at Oxbridge and as such is well respected. I could be wrong though.

starystar Mon 04-Jul-11 23:49:04

I'm not sure what natural sciences is with OU, however in Cambridge and Durham, it's where students can pick modules from any of the science departments ie chemistry, physics, maths, geology etc and sometimes mix the odd module from other departments such as economics, English. So in these unis 'natural sciences' incorporates joint degrees from the sciences too and gives the student a more varied degree. Definitely not a Micky mouse subject!

campergirls Tue 05-Jul-11 00:18:28

Can you explain why you think Environmental Science sounds 'more serious' than Natural Sciences? This is the opposite of what most people would assume, so you might get more helpful responses if you clarified what it is about the OU courses that makes Natural Sciences seem 'lighter'.

Darnsarfupnorf Tue 05-Jul-11 00:29:53

id say natural but then im bias grin

MrsPlesWearsAFez Tue 05-Jul-11 01:02:34

NatSci is a traditional Sciences degree of the Oxbridge persuasion (usually specialising after the second year).

Environmental science, of the two, sounds like the MM degree to be honest.

Maelstrom Tue 05-Jul-11 01:04:07

It all depends on what you want to do with your degree.

Callisto Tue 05-Jul-11 08:25:13

Thanks everyone for the replies, very useful. I think Natural Sciences might be lighter weight than Environmental Science because of the mix and match nature of it. You can indeed choose modules from any of the other sciences, just as in the Oxbridge degree courses.

I guess I need to do a bit more research into it all.

BikeRunSki Tue 05-Jul-11 08:36:03

I'm a technical expert and manager(and involved in graduate recruitment) in a large government organisation that deals in Environmental Management. I have 20 yrs experience in the academic, private and public sectors. I would say that Natural Sciences holds more gravitas every time, particularly if it is (or emulates) the Oxbridge degree. If anything, Env Sci is the MM degree.

You need good sound transferable scientific understanding of physics/chemistry/biology/earth science and maths, maybe some geography and stats (my understanding of Nat Sci) rather than a narrow understanding of particular principles applied to particular situations (my understanding of Env Sci). Having said that, I have no direct or indirect experience of the OU Env Sci degree. I am currently working with an extremely good OU Nat Sci graduate though, and am very impressed by her knowledge and understanding.

Callisto Tue 05-Jul-11 14:06:30

Wow, thanks BikeRunSki. That is really useful.

BikeRunSki Tue 05-Jul-11 17:44:32

Thanks Callisto, please feel free to PM me if you have any more queries. If it helps you any further, my own degree is BSc Joint Hons in Physics and Earth Science, with modules in Chemistry and Maths and an MSc in Engineering Geology. But I am an old bag and Env Sci didn't really exist when I applied to uni in the 1980s (shock).

HumanBehaviour Wed 06-Jul-11 10:21:30

I'm doing The Environmental Web right now, it's hard work but fun and enlightening at the same time.

campergirls Wed 06-Jul-11 13:47:13

Re the mix and match aspect of NSci: it is probably worth giving some serious thought about where you want your degree to lead and what kinds of options you will need to keep open, and choosing your modules with care so that you don't inadvertently close any doors.

notevenamousie Wed 06-Jul-11 13:56:53

I thought Nat Sciences was a predominantly Physics degree from Oxbridge. And I'm an, um, doctor (so biology/ physics, and of course not envious, from a redbrick university)

Ephiny Thu 07-Jul-11 17:49:10

I think Natural Sciences sounds more like a traditional academic subject to me, whereas Environmental Science sounds like a vocational course aimed at particular professions. Neither of those things is better/worse than the other, it depends what you want to do.

If you're not sure about that, then Natural Sciences might be the better option, giving you more flexibility about how you want to specialise in the later years of your course?

Callisto Thu 07-Jul-11 18:20:35

Thanks so much for all of your replies, it's been very helpful. I think I will stick to Natural Sciences for now.

BikeSkiRun - thanks for the offer, its much appreciated.

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