The promotion of human health and welfare has its roots in the 16th century when the Poor Laws were introduced in Britain. Later, in the 18thcentury Sir Edwin Chadwick was heavily involved in the reform of these Poor Laws and became the founding president of the Association of Public Sanitary Inspections in 1884. This Association is now the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. Chadwick and his associates felt that the poor should be entitled to a better standard of living as it would save money. Today there are number of other factors to take into account.
The environment in which we live, the food we eat, the water we drink, the houses we live in and the places where we work all have an effect on us and our health. The World Health Organisation defines environmental health as, "…comprising those aspects of human health, including quality of life, that are determined by physical, chemical, biological, social and psycho-social factors in the environment." This gives an indication of the variety of areas those courses in environmental health offer and also the areas that environmental health workers work within.
Those working within the environmental health field are concerned with making the areas in which we live and work better places, but it is not all pest control and unblocking drains. They work within areas that set the standards and guideline for food standards, housing conditions, the regulation of body art practitioners, and help to test the quality of the water that we drink and swim in at the beach.
Example areas of study
Environmental health courses are a mix of science and social subjects and therefore the modules that you may have the opportunity to study are varied. Courses accredited by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health are the ones to take if you intend to become an Environmental Health Office/Practitioner and this information is on the course listings. The type of modules you may study are listed below but it is best to check with the institutions directly the focus of the course before submitting your application.
- Public health
- Environmental economics
- Scientific enquiry
- Environmental health
- Environmental pollution
- Food and public health
- Industrial health and safety
- Housing and sustainability
- Environmental protection
- Biological sciences
- Food science and inspection
- Organisational management
- Community strategies
- Health risk management
- Occupational health
- Pollution control
- Society and health
- Professional studies
- Urban pest management
- Enforcement and compliance strategies
- Environmental law and practice
- Water quality and health
- Acoustics and noise pollution
- Built environment
- Health education
- Environmental stress and health
- Social policy
- Environmental assessment
Some career possibilities
The obvious career for graduates from an environmental health degree is as an Environmental Health Officer/Practitioner within the Local Authority. However, there are number of opportunities within the private sector including consultancy and research roles. Other opportunities may exist in the retail sector, the travel sector, waste management, the Environment Agency, the Health and Safety Executive, the NHS, the Health Protection Agency or within housing associations. There are also a number of postgraduate courses available in the subject.
What do I need to get on a course?
The entry requirements for environmental health courses vary from course to course so it is worth checking the exact requirements with the institutions themselves before you send your application. However, the list below will give you an indication of the grades and qualifications that you may be expected to have:
- UCAS Tariff: 180-240 including a science subject
- A-levels: CDD-CCC including a relevant science subject
- SQA Highers: BBC-BBBC
- SQA Advanced Highers: CDD-CCC including a relevant science subject
- International Baccalaureate: 23-30 points
- European Baccalaureate: 64-68%
- BTEC National Diploma: MMM in a relevant science subject
- HNC/D: relevant subject
Further information on environmental health and associated careers is available from The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, The Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland and The Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.
To find out more about the typical subjects you will study, potential career paths and further information useful for your application log-on to Course Discover at www.coursediscoveronline.co.uk*
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