NATURAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES
Profile of the programme
The Natural and Environmental Sciences degree course was established in the 2009-2010 academic year, merging into a single Degree Course the three-year degrees in Natural Sciences and Environmental Science and Technology. The objective was that of enhancing the basic preparation of students and allowing graduates access to second cycle degrees both in the natural and environmental sciences. The restructuring and merging of the courses followed a few specific criteria: 1) providing a good cultural basis in the core subjects, with a number of credits in Chemistry, Physics, and Mathematics which is on average higher than the minimum required; 2) provide an good background in the natural sciences, with the foundation courses in Earth Science and Life Science having significant and equivalent weight 3) reorganizing and harmonizing the economy and environmental management syllabuses.
Natural and Environmental Sciences is a three-year first cycle degree course organized in six semesters, comprising 20 subjects for a total of 180 university credits.
The course has a single programme, with the opportunity of developing interests about natural or environmental sciences within the 12 university credits available for elective subjects.
Natural and Environmental Sciences graduates can go on to second cycle degrees at the University of Parma in Ecology and Nature Conservation (LM6, with a structure compatible with class LM60) and in Science and Technologies for Environment and Resources (LM75) with full recognition of the 180 university credits earned in the first cycle.
Key learning outcomes
The three-year degree course in Natural and Environmental Sciences was designed in order to provide a solid academic grounding, such that students are capable of dealing with themes and problems regarding the natural habitat and the environment modified by man, considering all its biotic and abiotic components, and their interactions. More specifically, the course provides a good cultural preparation in the foundation subjects so that natural and environmental themes can be developed from a scientific viewpoint. It provides a satisfactory grounding in natural sciences in the sectors of Earth and Life Sciences; it provides the fundamental core knowledge necessary for the management of the environment; and it enables students to learn a European Union language, apart from Italian, in written and oral form, including the study of the respective specialist vocabulary. The academic activities are therefore designed to train professionals capable of analyzing natural and environmental questions, of varying degrees of complexity, giving them the skills necessary to take samples and make the appropriate measurements. Such professionals are capable of working with professional studios and public and private research centres, and they can work in cooperation with other professionals operating in the public administration (the ARPA environmental authority, provincial, regional and local health authorities, parks, etc.) on activities in the nature and environment sector. The course includes lectures in Chemistry, Physics and Mathematics, at foundation level; and lectures providing fundamental knowledge in the areas of the Life and Earth Sciences, which will be further developed with lectures on ecology, with juridical and economic considerations helping to define the complex relations between environment and society. Fieldwork and laboratory activities will be performed. More specific syllabi in the area of natural sciences or environmental sciences will be offered. As regards the academic activities performed in order to attain the above-mentioned objectives, they will have the following characteristics: 1) in order to attain satisfactory knowledge in the fundamental scientific sectors, a number of credits higher than the minimum has been allocated to the subjects Mathematics, information Technology, Statistics, Physics and Chemistry, amongst the foundation subjects; 2) the consolidation of knowledge in the area of Life and Earth Sciences is attained by means of a number of credits higher than the minimum in the natural sciences as regards foundation and course-specific activities, within the area of biological subjects and Earth Sciences; 3) a satisfactory training in ecological subjects and the principles of sustainability will be ensured by increasing the number of credits, when compared with the minimum, for subjects in the area of ecology, and likewise those concerned with juridical, economics, agricultural science and chemistry subjects, and other subjects characteristics of the context; 4) laboratory and fieldwork will be developed in order to implement the application and consolidation of the theoretical knowledge learnt. These activities will be developed for the dissertation, during work experience sessions, and in teaching in course-specific areas, above all chemistry, biology and applied ecology. The related and additional activities provide foundation knowledge in juridical, economics and management areas, and they can be considered as additional components with respect to the foundation knowledge in Natural Science and Environmental Science. The difference between course areas makes it possible to provide different directions as regards the course structure, with detailed study of taxonomic and systematic concepts for the naturalistic syllabus, and analytical-management studies for the environment syllabus. Apart from the differing syllabi directions, the course is unitary, designed to train professionals with satisfactory foundation skills in the scientific field, above all in the area of Life and Earth Sciences. This knowledge can be used to understand man’s interaction with the environment. For the purposes as detailed above, the course may include external activities in relation to specific activities, such as work experience sessions at companies, structures belonging to the public administration, and laboratories, as well as periods of study at other Italian or foreign universities, including programmes organized as part of international agreements.
Final examination, if any
Upon completion of the course the final exam must testify to the cultural growth of the student in their field of study. To this end, the final exam consists of a progress report on an advanced and/or innovative subject in a discipline from the course, chosen under the supervision of a professor on the course. The report is discussed in front of a Commission, usually composed of professors from different disciplines. The discussion must make clear in particular the capacity gained by the student to select and use independently and critically the methodologies of analysis acquired during the training on the one hand, and the flexibility to use other interdisciplinary frames of reference on the other.