Environmental Studies and Environmental Science

Environmental Studies students examine the inter-relationships between industry, people and the environment, developing diverse knowledge and skills.

Environmental Studies students explore how humans can make a constructive impact on the earth. They develop skills in problem solving, critical thinking, communication, and bring a creative, multidisciplinary approach to their work. Students explore human behaviour, resources and issues such as globalisation, development and sustainability. Environmental Science students examine these with a greater focus on the science of the earth’s surface and the forces that shape it.

Roles and career pathways

Environmental Studies and Environmental Science graduates work in a variety of roles that use their broad range of skills. They may work for Government ministries or private companies that are researching or implementing best environmental practises in areas such as environmental management in construction, manufacturing or procurement and logistics. Graduates may also work for non-profit organisations or social enterprises that advocate for societal change through educational programmes, or for private businesses such as technology, energy or financial companies who are looking to increase their sustainability focus over the next decade. Large consulting businesses are also growing their sustainability and environmental work areas.

Environmental Studies graduates also work in jobs relating to sustainability, communities and the environment.These may include roles as sustainability advisors, environmental consultants, transport advisors, urban planners, resilience advisors, community development officers, waste management advisers, volunteer coordinators, procurement advisors, project monitoring and evaluation advisers, and programme coordinators. Government ministries employ Environmental Studies graduates in policy, stakeholder relations, communications and research analyst or advisory roles. First roles for graduates with undergraduate degrees may be in an administration or coordination role before progressing to an adviser or senior adviser in a policy team.

Environmental Science graduates may enter similar roles to Environmental Studies graduates, but due to their stronger focus on science they may move into more science-related roles, particularly if they combine their study with subjects such as Geology and Geophysics, Ecology, Geography, Geographic Information Systems Science (GIScience), Statistics or Data Science. This may include roles like environmental scientist, data analyst, environmental planner, land adviser and conservation coordinator.

Postgraduate study (such as an Honours or Master's degree) in Environmental Studies or Environmental Sciences is recommended for most intermediate to senior policy and research roles where specialised, in-depth analysis is important.

Environmental Studies and Environmental Science graduates, who also study a second teachable subject and complete a secondary school teaching qualification, can work as secondary school Science teachers. Environmental Studies graduates also have the option to teach Geography. For more information see Teaching and Victoria University of Wellington Faculty of Education.

Where Environmental Studies and Environmental Science graduates work

Environmental Studies and Environmental Science graduates work across the private, public and non-profit sectors. Recent graduates have worked in organisations such as:

Build relevant skills and experience

Part-time work and volunteering during study all help to increase your job prospects when you graduate. Programmes such as Wellington Plus and Wellington International Leadership Programme (WILP) offer opportunities to gain diverse volunteer and leadership experience. Wellington Plus participants in particular can get involved with sustainability or environmentally focused volunteering through the University with student groups or clubs such as Conservation Biology, Plastic Diet or community organisations such as Forest and Bird, Conservation Volunteers and the Sustainability Trust. The WFHSS Internship course run by the Wellington Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences helps develop practical work place experience in local organisations.

Make career connections

Making connections with individuals and groups during your degree can help you learn more about career and networking opportunities. The Victoria Development Society is a student-led club concerned with issues of development, sustainability and equality. They run events around networking, and career development. The Environmental Institute of Australia and New Zealand (EIANZ) is a professional body for students, graduates and professionals that offers resources, events, networking and a mentoring programme. The Antarctic Research Centre (ARC) and the New Zealand Climate Change Research Institute (CCRI) based at the School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences can offer opportunities to network, learn and get involved in postgraduate research. The School also holds regular seminars to learn and network with staff and students. Wellington Chamber of Commerce and Wellington Young Professionals also offer various events and opportunities for networking. The Alumni as Mentors programme for final-year students also helps enhance your connections and employability while studying.