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Environment, Culture and Society (MSc)

Course Description

Programme description

This exciting MSc gives you the breadth and background to bridge disciplinary divides and tackle the environmental issues that face us all.

This programme provides up-to-date knowledge of the contemporary issues and debates on the relationships between the environment, nature, culture and society.

This interdisciplinary programme draws on expertise from across the University, especially from geography, philosophy, theology, science, technology studies and development studies, providing a unique critical perspective.

You will develop the research skills and abilities to assess the importance and implications of geographical, philosophical and other theoretical debates which shape environmental policy and practice.

Our graduates are equipped to think critically, to generate new knowledge related to the environment, and to use this knowledge effectively to address urgent environmental challenges.

This programme is affiliated with the University's Global Environment & Society Academy.

Programme structure

This programme consists of six taught courses, including four option courses, studied over two semesters. In addition, students undertake an individual dissertation project.

Compulsory courses typically include*:
•Values and the Environment
•Political Ecology

Option courses:

In consultation with the Programme Director, you will choose from a range of option courses*. We particularly recommend:

•Global Environment: Key Issues
•Research Design in Human Geography
•Human dimensions of environmental change and sustainability
•Encountering Cities (PGT)
•Topics in Environmental Humanities
•Ecology, Ethics and Spirit
•Marine Systems and Policies
•Atmospheric Quality and Global Change
•Distributed GIS
•International Development in a Changing World
•Key Concepts in Global Social Change
•Soil Protection and Management
•Principles of Geographical Information Science
•Principles of GIS for Archaeologists
•Archives: History, Geography, Politics
•Green Thoughts: Landscape, Environment and Literature (PG Version)
•Methodological Debates in Human Geography
•Animals and Society
•Anthropology and Environment
•Understanding Environment and Development
•Case Studies in Sustainable Development
•Forests and Environment
•Global Environment and Society
•Sustainability of Food Production
•Global Environmental Politics
•Climate Change, Justice and Responsibility
•Environmental Impact Assessment
•ICT for Development
•Interpreting Development: Institutions and Practices
•Land Use/Environmental Interactions
•Innovation in Sustainable Food Systems
•Humans and Other Species
•Time, Place, Belonging: understanding time in society

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

Career opportunities

Graduates have pursued careers in environmental policy, conservation, animal welfare, NGOs (environmental charities and development organisations), public consultation and 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, Culture and Society (MSc) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Sara Brouwer

I went almost straight from my Bachelors in Human geography with a minor in conflict studies, at Utrecht University, to this Masters at Edinburgh University. I am interested actually in a lot of different things. From environmental ethics to political ecology, moral economy, sociology and anthropology of everyday life, qualitative research methods and alternative food networks. Being a geographer has made me see the value of approaching different environmental topics from an interdisciplinary social sciences perspective. It comes therefore as no surprise that the MSc Programme in Environment, Culture and Society has been the right choice for me. I have been able to choose courses that cater to my own field of interest perfectly. In this way, my curiosity of different themes within the environmental social sciences has been answered partly. Why only partly? Because I think I will always find topics I want to know more about!

Apart from studying, I have been actively involved in the European Geography Association. I organised and participated in congresses, activities and exchanges, gave trainings and was in the board of the Utrecht entity. Here in Edinburgh, I am a class representative and I am organising an event for the Innovative Learning Week. If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact me!

(Student Profile)

Clemens Küpper

About me:
I did my undergraduate degree in Geography (BSc) at the University of Bonn, Germany including an ERASMUS-term at University College London. During that time I have worked as a student assistant in Historical Geography and as an instructor for tutorials. After my graduation in 2013, I moved on to the MSc in Environment, Culture and Society where I am currently class representative.

About my programme:
I have chosen the MSc in Environment, Culture and Society because of its unique combination of philosophical backgrounds and their application to the nexus of environment and society. It has enabled me to think across the boundary between ‘Nature’ and ‘Culture’. The high number of optional courses from different Schools gives each student’s profile an individual and interdisciplinary character and makes it possible to go all the way from theory to practice and back. This is complemented by a very stimulating and motivating environment in terms of teaching as well as in terms of my fellow students who bring a high variety of disciplinary and professional backgrounds into the programme. At the same time, my fellow students and I share the same interests which creates a very fruitful studying experience.


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


Entry Requirements

A UK 2:1 degree, or its international equivalent. Applicants with a 2:2, or its international equivalent, may also be accepted with relevant industry experience.

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Recipient: University of Edinburgh

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