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Course content

MSc Environmental Governance critically analyses some of the key environmental challenges of our time, exploring the connections between environmental governance and policies and the production, distribution and consumption of resources.

The course will develop your ability to apply sophisticated, critical and interdisciplinary sustainability and environmental theories at multiple scales and in different geographical contexts.

As part of the course, you'll have the unique opportunity to collaborate and engage with cutting-edge researchers and world-leading experts on environmental governance, political ecology, Marxist political economy and urban sustainability. You will learn from real-world practitioners, and liaise with external organisations on live policy problems.

This makes MSc Environmental Governance an ideal choice for:

  • future leaders interested in pursuing a career in environmental policy regulation and urban sustainable management
  • those wishing to develop further their academic career by pursuing a PhD
  • environmental professionals wishing to deepen their knowledge.


  • Interdisciplinary and sophisticated academic rigour: The course is highly interdisciplinary, exposing you to ideas and practices developed in a range of subject areas such as geography, environmental studies, politics, economics and development studies, rather than one alone. Our curriculum covers theories and interdisciplinary practices of environmental governance and offers you a comprehensive introduction to how human-use of the non-human world is organised at multiple scale and what the effects of this are.
  • Inclusive and collaborative research environment : The degree offers collaboration with the internationally renowned Society-Environment Research Group (SERG) . This group involves more than ten researchers from the School of Environment, Education and Development , with distinguished records of theoretical, empirical and applied research in a range of geographical and environmental settings. This includes work on water and energy governance in Europe, Africa and South-East Asia; social, environmental and climate justice and equity in Central and Eastern Europe, smart cities and urban sustainability in the UK - to name but a few.
  • Knowledge transfer and employability : We combine training in theory and critical thinking with more practical and applied elements. Our range of `real world' practitioners gives you the opportunity to liaise with external organisations on live policy problems and enhance your employability.

Teaching and learning

Part-time Study

Part-time students complete the full-time programme over 27 months.  There are NO evening or weekend course units available on the part-time programme, therefore if you are considering taking a programme on a part-time basis, you should discuss the requirements with the Programme Director first and also seek approval from your employer to have the relevant time off. Timetabling information is normally available from late August from the Programme Administrator and you will have the opportunity to discuss course unit choices during induction week with the Programme Director.

Coursework and assessment

Eight taught units comprise two-thirds of the programme. The remainder of the programme consists of a 12,000 word dissertation on an approved topic. Typical course units comprise two hours a week of seminar or small-group work. Together these units involve a range of formative and summative assessments, including individual and group work, oral presentations and long essays, project work and reports. Coursework is designed to allow you to pursue your particular areas of interest. 

In the summer semester, you work independently to undertake dissertation work based on primary and/or secondary data, or else a more philosophical/theoretical dissertation. We encourage you develop research in collaboration with members of the Society and Environment Research Group and external organisations.

Course unit details

Core course units

  • Key Debates in Environmental Governance - Introduces the main (and often competing) approaches to environmental governance in play today, ranging from `free market environmentalism', environmental modernisation and ecological economics, to the `risk society' perspective and green governmentality.
  • Issues in Environmental Policy - Links theory and practice by focusing on different types of environmental policy measures (their logic, operation and outcomes), and is taught by way of real world case studies drawn from the research literature and the work of policy practitioners locally, nationally and globally.
  • Doing Environmental Research - Provides advanced research skills and encourages you to plan and design your dissertation/research review projects. The course introduces you to a range of both research and career options appropriate to the skills acquired on the course, including planning research projects and preparing and writing a detailed proposal for dissertation/research review.

Past dissertation projects

Every year we have a range of different dissertation topics that reflect students' research interests. For illustration, this list presents some past dissertation topics:

  • The Nature of Industrial Preservation: Mapping Gentrification in New Islington, Manchester
  • Exploring the (post)political nature of urban climate change governance: a study of Manchester: A Certain Future
  • Multi-actor Partnership for Environmental Governance: An Investigation from the Perspective of Bangladesh
  • Transition Impossible? A Post-Political Analysis of the Transition Movement
  • Representation of Nature in Environmental Campaigns: The Visual Case of Greenpeace's #SavetheArctic Polar Bear
  • From government to governance in an age of austerity: an evaluation of new land management partnerships to fit a new economic era for the Peak District National Park
  • The urban commons and the scalar politics of climate activism
  • Manchester Certain Future Forum: Success of network partnerships in promoting sustainability behaviour change.

What our students say

"From the very start, I found all the staff extremely friendly and helpful. There was always someone to speak to, no matter what the problem - as someone who came into studying this subject from a very different undergraduate degree, this made my transition much easier. It also helped that the teaching staff have a real passion for the subject, which I found infectious and inspiring."

Oliver Gibbons, MSc Environmental Governance


The Arthur Lewis Building provides excellent resources including analytical laboratories, studio facilities, workshops, seminar rooms, an on-site cafe and dedicated computer clusters including GIS facilities.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: 

Visit the Environmental Governance (MSc) page on the University of Manchester website for more details!




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