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Environment & Development (MSc)

Course Description

Programme description

The MSc in Environment and Development (E&D) is an interdisciplinary programme exploring the inter-dependencies between pressing environmental concerns and development pressures. It explores these themes, the disputes around it and practical issues from an informed theoretical perspective, with an abiding concern for social justice claims. Conventional academic approaches focus on development or the environment as separate categories, while this programme looks at socioeconomic development as a socio-ecological and politicoecological process. In particular this E&D programme focuses on: a) grounding students in an awareness of
the contested development paradigm; and b) inculcating an awareness of economic, political and cultural links between environmental change and social inclusion. Those issues will be studied at the local and national level, but also taking into account the global scale of environmental and development agendas. In many cases the root causes of inequality and poverty, both in the Global South and in the Global North, are driven by regional or global economics far beyond the borders of a particular country, village or region.

This programme is affiliated with the University's Global Development Academy.

Programme structure

This MSc consists of two semesters of taught courses. Students take two compulsory and four option courses, each a balance of lectures, seminars, workshops and visits, followed by an individual dissertation.

Compulsory courses typically include:
•Understanding Environment and Development
•Development: Principles and Practices

Option courses:

In consultation with the Programme Director, you will choose from a range of option courses*. We particularly recommend:
•Ecosystem Services 1: Ecosystem Dynamics and Functions
•Foundations in Ecological Economics
•Frameworks to Assess Food Security
•Governing Mineral Extraction in Africa
•Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability
•Principles of Environmental Sustainability
•Principles of Geographical Information Science
•Research Design in Human Geography
•Marine Systems and Policies
•EU and National Climate Change Law
•International Political Economy
•South Asia: Roots of Poverty and Development
•Atmospheric Quality and Global Change
•Governing Mineral Extraction in Africa
•Introduction To Spatial Analysis
•Principles of Environmental Sustainability
•Project Appraisal
•Soil Protection and Management
•Applications in Ecological Economics
•Energy Policy and Politics
•Environmental Impact Assessment
•Ecosystem Services 2: Ecosystem Values and Management
•Forests and Environment
•Gender and Development
•Global Environment and Society
•Global Environmental Politics
•International Security
•Land Use/Environmental Interactions
•Participation in Policy and Planning
•Political Ecology
•Sustainability of Food Production
•Waste Reduction and Recycling
•Water Resource Management
•Marine Infrastructure and Environmental Change
•Anthropology of Global Health
•Case Studies in Sustainable Development
•Climate Change and Corporate Strategy
•Corporate Social Responsibility and the Law
•Foundations of Science, Technology and Development
•Integrated Resource Planning
•Interpreting Development: Institutions and Practices
•Interrelationships in Food Systems
•The International Politics of Money

*Please note: courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change each year.

Career opportunities

This programme is suitable for students seeking roles within international and national development agencies, thinktanks, NGOs, environmental consultancies or the private sector, or those going on to PhD research.

Student experience

Would you like to know what it’s really like to study at the School of GeoSciences?

Visit our student experience blog where you can find articles, advice, videos and ask current students your questions.

Visit the Environment & Development (MSc) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Felicity Tolley

I graduated from University of Bristol in 2013 with a BSc in Environmental Geoscience, where I also worked as a researcher within the Ocean Acidification group in the Palaeontology department. My undergraduate degree provided me with an extensive understanding of the physical processes and changes that can occur in the environment, while also giving me the opportunity to travel to some stunning geological locations. As I approached graduation I realised that the Environment and Development programme would be an ideal way to set my scientific knowledge into a more social and political context. I was especially glad to be offered a place at Edinburgh as it allowed me to return to my home town.

I hope that this postgraduate degree will expand my knowledge of development practices while introducing me to new topics and providing me with the skills to pursue a career in the development sector. I am especially interested in the ways in which climate change may impact the development of the energy industry. I am also very interested in the gendered aspects of development, at both local and global scale. I am a member of the Hollaback! Edinburgh committee, where I work to raise awareness of the dangers of street harassment, another global issue.


Head of School Scholarship - GeoSciences - 5 Awards

Three scholarships worth £5,000 towards tuition fees are available to applicants of any nationality. A further two awards covering full tuition fees are available to applicants who are liable for the overseas rate of fee.

Value of Scholarship(s)



The scholarship will be awarded on the basis of academic excellence. Candidates must have, or expect to obtain, the international equivalent of a UK 2:1 Honours degree at undergraduate level. Applicants who have already commenced their programme of study on the closing date are not eligible for this scholarship.Applicants intending to study part-time or online distance learning courses are not eligible for this scholarship.

Application Procedure

Please see our website for instructions on how to apply.

Further Information



Mastercard Foundation Scholarship - 10 Awards

Ten scholarships are available in 2017/2018 which will cover the full tuition fees and expenses for accommodation and maintenance. Awards are tenable for one academic year, and at the end of the award candidates will be required to return to Africa. Applicants must also be committed to returning to Africa following their graduation to give back to their home community and country.
Eligibility criteria includes: - You must qualify academically for admission to the University of Edinburgh in the MSc Environment and Development.. We encourage applicants to apply to this scholarship BEFORE applying to the University.
- You must be a resident and citizen of a Sub-Saharan African country, whose personal circumstances would make accepting an offer from the University of Edinburgh difficult. Applications from Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe are particularly welcome;
- You must demonstrate a track record of leadership and service within your community; and
- You are able to present economically disadvantaged circumstances and be able to show that you lack financial means from family or other sources to pursue post-secondary (university) education in your home country or elsewhere.Preference will be given to candidates who have not already had the opportunity to study in Scotland.

Value of Scholarship(s)

Scholarship will cover full tuition fees and expenses for accommodation and maintenance


The scholarships are competitive and awarded broadly on the basis of academic merit. Candidates must have, or expect to obtain, the overseas equivalent of a UK first-class honours degree. Applicants financial, personal, and family circumstances will also be taken into account.

Application Procedure

Please see our website for information on applying. Scholarship applications open on 4th October 2016 and close at midnight (GMT) on 30th November 2016.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

A UK 2:1 degree, or its international equivalent. A UK 2:2, or its international equivalent, may also be accepted with relevant work experience and a strong personal statement and supportive reference.

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Recipient: University of Edinburgh

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