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Global Challenges (Planetary Health) BASc

Placement Offered This course has a Placement Year option
Available in Clearing


Brunel University London’s impact on the future wages of its graduates is among the best in the country compared to other universities, according to a new analysis of government data by The Economist (2017).

About the course

The Core Spine

The core spine of Global Challenges is the common thread running through this degree, and will explore questions associated with how the citizens of tomorrow will face, analyse, and manage inevitable challenges related to the ‘wicked problems’ of our time. These themes will form the central framework of the degree programme, taking an in-depth look at issues such as climate change, migration, terrorism, aging populations, food and water scarcity, poverty and countless others. As well as undertaking the core spine of degree, you will have the choice to follow one of four pathways that specialize in an area of Global Challenges. These complementary strands have been selected not only because they all represent pressing issues faced by the international community, but also because of Brunel’s existing and emerging expertise in these areas.

Planetary Health

The impact of human activity must be addressed and managed so that we do not continue to damage our ecology and ultimately ourselves. Brunel University London is a member of the Planetary Health Alliance, a consortium of over 70 dedicated universities, NGOs, government entities, research institutes, and other partners around the world committed to advancing planetary health.

To adequately address the threats of accelerating environmental changes, there is a need for graduates able to examine the ecological determinants of human health and predict their likely consequences at both geographical and temporal scales, and within different socio-cultural and economic contexts. This understanding will enable them to contribute to better governance, better resource management, better planning and better design in order to mitigate the growing risks.

The scope of the strand straddles across environmental, health and social sciences. On completion, students will understand that the way that humanity manages Earth’s natural systems is a primary factor of future global health.

The Planetary Health strand comprises of three elements;

  • Ecosystem transformations includes the thematic areas that are centred around environmental topics: Natural Disasters, Urbanization, Pollution, Climate Change, Water Scarcity
  • Health impacts includes the thematic areas that are centred around public health topics: Infectious diseases, Non-communicable diseases, Physical health, Mental health, Nutrition Civil strife and displacement
  • Socio-cultural and economic contexts includes thematic areas that are centred around social and cultural and economic aspects of public health.


The aim of this new degree programme is to develop your knowledge and understanding of the natural sciences, humanities, social sciences, technology, philosophy and ethics and how they can contribute to identifying, understanding and responding to global issues and concerns. You will learn the critical, practical and research skills needed for successful self-directed work and for contributing to a shared objective as a team player.

Global Challenges is specifically focused around developing the ability to not only critically question ideas on knowledge, values and experience, but also engage with them. Criticising and re-interpreting major texts, conducting though experiments and developing evidence-based responses in written, oral and audio visual will all make up part of your study. This means, once you complete the Global Challenges degree, you’ll have the confidence to identify the underlying issues in a variety of contemporary global situations and the understanding of the sociological, political and economic implications of human interaction.


Contact our Enquiries team.
Course Enquiries: +44 (0)1895 265599 (before you submit an application)
Admissions Office: +44 (0)1895 265265 (after you submit an application)

Course content

The Core Spine encourages you to think boldly about global challenges in a creative and transdisciplinary manner. It will build skills in creative thinking, the use of creative research and development methods, as well as scaffolding  a range of essential individual and team-based skills needed for the workplace and for effective agency as an engaged member of society and your community.

The core spine is made up of four elements:

  • A transdisciplinary approach to global challenges will introduce you to key thinkers and approaches across a range of natural sciences, humanities and social sciences. You will also learn how to think across these boundaries, in a transdisciplinary, problem-focused way, and go on to apply transdisciplinary thinking to a range of real world problems.
  • Creative thinking with be developed in a weekly ‘ideas lab’ where you will learn about creative ideas that have challenged and changed traditional modes of thinking. You will develop your own creative thinking skills and apply these to project work, stakeholder engagement, and communicating and disseminating project findings.
  • Creative research methods will introduce you to the basics of quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, and to the philosophy of natural and social scientific methods. Having learned these building-blocks you will then advance to learning creative research methods, such as programming and data manipulation, transformative methods such as community engagement and participatory research, arts-based research,visual methods, and how to use mixed-methods approaches. You will also learn and apply creative forms of engagement and presentation of data.
  • Skills development will build your capacity to work effectively in teams, and you will develop skills in project management, client management, making a business case, presentation skills (including team pitches, blogs, vlogs, policy briefings, press releases and project reports), and preparing for the job market and job interviews.

The third year Enterprize Project will bring all these skills together in a stakeholder-defined global challenges group project.

Planetary Health: This strand addresses the connectedness between environmental change and human health outcomes. The scope of the strand includes environmental, health and social sciences.

Level 1 (first year)

  • Addressing Global Challenges
  • Introduction to Global Challenges
  • Foundations of Planetary Health in Practice - This study block aims to introduce students to the fundamental aspects of environmental studies and health and social sciences needed in order to be able to address Planetary Health issues, bringing together contributions from environmental, social and public health sciences into an integrated transdisciplinary approach.

Level 2 (second year)

  • Addressing Global Challenges
  • Addressing Contemporary Global Challenges
  • Ecosystem Transformations and Health Impacts - This study block aims to equip students with a ‘planetary health lens’ through which they may look at and understand the connectedness between environmental change and human health outcomes, examine ecological and social determinants of human health and predict the likely health consequences of certain types of environmental change. We aim to help students understand that how humanity manages Earth’s natural systems will be a primary determinant of future global health.

Level 3 (third year)

  • Arts and Sciences Dissertation in Global Challenges
  • Global Challenges in Practice
  • Healing the Planet in Practice - To give students knowledge and understanding of technologies, political economic and social management strategies that are used in managing environments and optimizing human health as well as methods that can reduce potential ecosystem transformations (e.g. climate change) and cope with the inevitable changes (adaptation).You'll gain an understanding of the concepts and processes involved in sustainable development. Furthermore we will guide students through the process of self-directed learning and synthesising ideas in the field of planetary health to provide solutions.

Read more about the structure of undergraduate degrees at Brunel


Today’s workforce are looking for graduate who not only are flexible and determined, but also have the awareness and ability to respond to challenges faced in different industries, across an ever-changing world. Having developed skills in scientific and non-scientific fields, Global Challenges graduates will be able to confidently engage with a range of perspective, viewpoints and stakeholders. 

Ultimately, graduates will be able to actively contribute and lead the necessary change needed to respond to emerging issues. You’ll be able to innovate and improve processes in a dynamic manner, and to actively contribute to improving outcomes of employers, or as an employer yourself.


Graduates of this programme will be equipped for the following roles. This list is certainly not exhaustive. Management consultant, Policy analyst, Systems analyst, Business analyst, intelligence analyst, Business developer, Data analyst, Market researcher, Project manager, Broadcast journalist, Commissioning editor, Editorial assistant , Recruitment consultant, Health service manager, Government and social researcher, Diplomatic service officer, Civil service fast streamer, International development manager

Work placements

Students will have the opportunity of gaining work experience through a single or two or more shorter placements if they are registered on the ‘with Professional Practice’ strand pathway. Every effort will be made to assist students in tailoring their placement experience with their career aspirations.

At Brunel we provide many opportunities and experiences within your degree programme and beyond – work-based learning, professional support services, volunteering, mentoring, sports, arts, clubs, societies, and much, much more – and we encourage you to make the most of them, so that you can make the most of yourself.

» More about Employability

Entry criteria 2018/19

  • GCE A-level BBC (all subjects considered)

  • BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma DDD in a related subject

  • BTEC Level 3 Diploma DD in a related subject with an A-Level at grade B

  • BTEC Level 3 Subsidiary Diploma D in a related subject with A-Levels grade BC

  • International Baccalaureate Diploma 29 points

  • Access to Higher Education Diploma Complete and pass an Access course in a related subject with 45 credits at Level 3, with Merit or higher

A minimum of five GCSEs are required, including GCSE Mathematics at grade C or grade 4 and GCSE English Language at Grade C or grade 4.

Please check our Admissions pages for more information on other factors we use to assess applicants as well as our full GCSE requirements and accepted equivalencies in place of GCSEs.

Entry criteria are subject to review and change each academic year.

International and EU entry requirements

If your country or institution is not listed or if you are not sure whether your institution is eligible, please contact Admissions

This information is for guidance only by Brunel University London and by meeting the academic requirements does not guarantee entry for our courses as applications are assessed on case-by-case basis.

English language requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 (min 5.5 in all areas)
  • Pearson: 58 (51 in all subscores)
  • BrunELT: 65% (min 55% in all areas)

You can find out more about the qualifications we accept on our English Language Requirements page.

If you require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK, you must prove knowledge of the English language so that we can issue you a Certificate of Acceptance for Study (CAS). To do this, you will need an IELTS for UKVI or Trinity SELT test pass gained from a test centre approved by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and on the Secure English Language Testing (SELT) list. This must have been taken and passed within two years from the date the CAS is made.

Should you wish to take a pre-sessional English course to improve your English prior to starting your degree course, you must sit the test at an approved SELT provider for the same reason.

We offer our own BrunELT English Test and have pre-sessional English language courses for students who do not meet requirements or who wish to improve their English. You can find out more information on English courses and test options at the Brunel Language Centre.

Teaching and learning

Our graduates will, through the process of engaging with the learning strategies used on the programme, which will include team based and problem based learning, flipped and blended teaching strategies, as well as project weeks, have developed the following attributes:

  • The ability to motivate oneself and work autonomously and/or collaboratively to meet deadlines
  • The ability to time manage and work on team projects in a constructive and supportive manner to deliver the requirements of a task
  • A flexible and adaptable mind/approach that is able to face new situations creatively and self-critically.
  • The ability to communicate effectively to a variety of audiences using a range of formats
  • The interpersonal communication skills to enable effective team working
  • The ability to argue and defend a case, using evidence, in an effective manner

Assessment and feedback

Much of the assessment for this programme is synoptic because of the manner in which it draws upon the content of different disciplinary areas. Depending on which strand pathway is chosen, there will be opportunities to demonstrate learning and understanding through presentations, blogs and vlogs, essays, examinations, peer and self-assessment, project work, the creation of policy documents, pitches, and continuous assessment processes.

Special features

  • Students have the opportunity to take part in a short internship after their first year as a means of broadening their skill base and their horizons.
  • Students are encouraged to begin/ improve their skills in a second or third language.
  • Placements are available and a key part of the course. Allowing you to practically apply what is taught, throughout a number of different industries.
  • You will be taught by highly qualified staff, who are actively engaged in research, or relevant professional practice.

Fees and funding

Fees for 2018/19 entry

UK/EU students: £9,250 full-time; £1,000 placement year

International students: £14,800 full-time

Some courses incur additional course related costs. You can also check our on-campus accommodation costs for more information on living expenses.

UK/EU students can opt to pay in six equal monthly instalments: the first instalment is payable on enrolment and the remaining five by Direct Debit or credit/debit card.

Overseas students can opt to pay in two instalments: 60% on enrolment, and 40% in January for students who commence their course in September (or the remaining 40% in March for selected courses that start in January).

Fees quoted are per year and may be subject to an annual increase. Home/EU undergraduate student fees are regulated and are currently capped at £9,250 per year; any changes will be subject to changes in government policy. International fees will increase annually in line with RPI, or 5%, whichever is the lesser.

There is a range of financial support available to help you fund your studies. Find out about undergraduate student funding options.