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Sustainability & Environmental Studies (MSc)

Course Description

Why this course?

This course offers a cross-disciplinary approach to the study of environmental management, policy and sustainable development.

You’ll gain knowledge of major environmental issues and understand the methods in which environmental considerations and climate change are used in development and planning decisions.

There’s a strong demand for graduates with environmental management and policy-making skills. We’ve seen our graduates capitalise upon a wide range of employment within the private, public and voluntary sectors.

See the website https://www.strath.ac.uk/courses/postgraduatetaught/sustainabilityenvironmentalstudies/

Work Placement

As part of the class Independent Study in Collaboration with Industry you can apply to work with industry projects. One of the projects is the Carbon Clinic. This is an innovative collaborative project between the Carbon Trust and the University. It aims to provide support to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to reduce their carbon footprint and give you practical experience on environmental responsibilities within a business.


In our Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering we have invested £6 million in state-of-the-art laboratories which cover core areas of activity including geomechanics, microbiology, analytical chemistry and structural design.

- Field investigation
We are equipped with:
- nanoseismic systems for monitoring the mechanical evolution of soil and rock masses
- electrical resistivity tomography systems to detect clay fissuring and ground water flow in earth-structures
- dielectric permittivity-based sensors to monitor water flow in the sub-surface environment

- Geomechanics Laboratory
We are equipped with state-of-the art technologies for testing multiphase (unsaturated) porous geomaterials. These include:
- suction-controlled double-wall triaxial cells
- pressure plates
- triaxial cells equipped with bender elements for dynamic testing
- image analysis unit to monitor soil specimen deformation
- instruments for measurement of pore-water tensile stress
- Mercury Intrusion Porosimeter and SEM for microstructure investigation

- Software & numerical modelling
You’ll have access to a wide range of software packages relevant to civil and geotechnical engineering applications, including:
- GEOSTUDIO suite (Slope, Seep, Sigma, Quake, Temp, CTran, Air and Vadose)
- ABAQUS finite element packages
- Ansys
- Autodesk Civil 3D
- Limit State
- Strand 7
- Talren 4


This degree is accredited as meeting the requirements for Further Learning for a Chartered Engineer (CEng) for candidates who have already acquired a partial CEng accredited undergraduate first degree.

Open Access

Home students can also choose to study through Open Access. This is initially a non-graduating route. You register for one module at a time and have the option to build up credits eventually leading to a Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or MSc. You can take up to five years to achieve the qualification.

This option is popular with students in employment, who may wish to undertake modules for Continuing Professional Development purposes.

Home students who do not meet the normal MSc entry requirements for this programme are welcome to apply through the Open Access route instead.

Pre-Masters preparation course

The Pre-Masters Programme is a preparation course for international students (non EU/UK) who do not meet the entry requirements for a Masters degree at University of Strathclyde. The Pre-Masters programme provides progression to a number of degree options.

To find out more about the courses and opportunities on offer visit isc.strath.ac.uk or call today on +44 (0) 1273 339333 and discuss your education future. You can also complete the online application form. To ask a question please fill in the enquiry form and talk to one of our multi-lingual Student Enrolment Advisers today.

Learning & teaching

The MSc involves a curriculum of three core classes and a very wide range of optional classes. Each module is taught two to three hours per week over 8 to 12 weeks.

In addition, you'll also undertake a dissertation. Progress to the dissertation is dependent on performance in the instructional modules.


There’s a strong demand for graduates with environmental management and policymaking skills. As a graduate you may find yourself in a range of positions in:
- Private consultancies
- Government agencies
- Local authorities
- Environmental regulators, businesses and agencies

- Where are they now?
84% of our graduates are in work or further study.*

*Based on the results of the national Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Survey (2010/11 and 2011/12).

Find information on Scholarships here http://www.strath.ac.uk/search/scholarships/index.jsp

Visit the Sustainability & Environmental Studies (MSc) page on the University of Strathclyde website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Paul Adderley

466.JPG Joint winner of the Thorburn Prize for the Best Dissertation in the MSc in Environmental Studies

After working for 10 years with PricewaterhouseCoopers in the accountancy profession, I decided to embark on an MSc in sustainability. When assessing the plethora of sustainability/environmental MSc programmes I had three core criteria: i) multi and inter disciplinary approach; ii) a balance of academic and industrial expertise, and iii) an established and dedicated department that was not merely the re-branding of less trendy disciplines. The David Livingstone Centre for Sustainability (DLCS) satisfied all these requirements throughout the course.

I found the module Principles of Sustainability was extremely challenging, but that’s exactly what I wanted; I wanted to immerse myself in the core issues of Sustainability. I wanted my head to ache! The Environmental Law module was also demanding, but it has given me a strong foundation. A number of other modules which provided useful practical application in the more theoretical aspects of the programme were Strategic Environmental Assessment, and Business Environmental Strategy. These modules have been very useful with my work in helping businesses with their Environmental Management.

Another strong aspect of the DLCS is that you have immense freedom to explore your own research interests which may be outside the department’s comfort zone. I also wished for my research to have a practical application. Since graduating, I kept exploring possible commercial opportunities for the research; it has now consolidated into a new web based tool for Sustainable Business Travel. In fact, the outcome of my MSc has been the central reason for establishing my own business: Sustainable Opportunity Solutions. At Strathclyde University, The Research and Innovation Group (RIG) provided helpful advice so I could begin to commercialise my research idea. Furthermore, RIG continues to provide opportunities for me to engage with the Strathclyde Entrepreneur Network.

Like most things in life, what you get out of it strongly correlates with your effort; but DLCS provides an enabling environment to support your aspirations. For me the aspirations I had in 2005 are materialising with new business opportunities.

I would suggest to anyone whatever stage in their career to discuss their post graduate aspirations with the team at DLCS. They will surely help you make the best decision.

(Student Profile)

Dr Kate Thompson

467.JPG Winner of the Thorburn Prize for the Best Overall MSc in Environmental Studies Student and Best Dissertation in the MSc in Environmental Studies

I took the course part-time over two years, which fitted in well with my work and family commitments and meant I only ended up with a couple of all night sessions to get assignments done! I’d worked for much of my life in seabird research and survey, but had taken a bit of a career break when I had my daughter and was doing a part-time admin job at Glasgow University. I wanted to get back into something a bit more challenging that fitted with my interests and would demonstrate some level of adaptability to potential employers. Doing the course gave me the kick start I needed and I moved to my current post, working on a Marine Spatial Planning pilot project, about half way through. I was then able to do my dissertation on a project directly related to my work, which was a great help.

Things I really enjoyed about the course were the variety of topics – I’d never imagined doing stuff on law or economics and finding it fun! It also gives you skills that can be readily applied – I’ve had to do SEA for real in my current job. The unending kindness shown to students by Morag is legendary and all the teaching staff were very approachable and supportive. My fellow students in both years were also great – interesting, diverse and fun.

Scariest bits were going into lectures with bunches of senior undergraduates young enough to be my kids and writing my first essay in over 25 years. But … I found I could do it and there were other times when my previous work experience was a real help.

So, if you too are going through a mini mid-life crisis and seeking a stimulating new direction this could well be the course for you … I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

(Student Profile)

Gitanjali Nayer

468.jpg I had previously worked in Facilities Management with Jones Lang LaSalle, India and received extensive technical training in maintenance and engineering by the company. I wanted to gain technical knowledge in the environmental sector and was very interested in the subject. Studying oversees is an extremely expensive affair and it is necessary to choose the right institute and country.

After almost a year of research, I short listed University of Strathclyde, Manchester University and Lancaster University and received admission in all three Universities. The obvious choice being University of Strathclyde because of the wide variety of electives, environmental sectors covered and the years of experience in the course. I personally prefer staying in cold countries so Glasgow was a very good choice, though could do with less rain.

The course is very well structured and students have the flexibility of choosing electives that they are interested in. The course is also tailored according to the job market and there are a lot of jobs available in the sector with almost 50 plus environmental companies based within Glasgow City.

The DLCS/Civil Engineering Department staff is extremely helpful and has extensive experience in the environmental sector. My special thanks to Peter Booth and Elsa João for providing me guidance throughout the course. The course also provides ample opportunity for students to get work placements and industrial experience. I was able to secure a summer internship with the Glasgow City Council through the Business Enterprise Partnership. My internship at the council involved sustainability mapping of new infrastructure and civil engineering projects across the City of Glasgow.

(Student Profile)

Peter Phillips

469.jpg I took an unorthodox route to studying at the David Livingstone Centre for Sustainability but I’m reaping the rewards now!

Originally studying classical cello at the RSAMD in Glasgow, I changed tack after two years, deciding
against the potentially unreliable career of a freelance musician. I’d always been interested in geography, environment and science at school and before I knew it (well after two harsh years of working as a chef/ climbing instructor..) I was fixed with an interview with Peter Booth – course director.

Fortunately, Strathclyde were willing to let a keen yet degree-less candidate undertake classes towards the Environmental Studies MSc via their open-access scheme. The idea being that I ‘prove myself’ academically with a view to joining the diploma programme, grades and ability pending!
To cut a long story short, the work was highly engaging and the lecturing staff were approachable, knowledgeable and most importantly in my case; supportive. I worked hard and graduated in 2007 with an MSc in Environmental Studies at distinction level – not bad for a ‘cello player with half an undergraduate degree..?!

I found employment within the environmental sector shortly after submitting my dissertation. I am currently working as an Environmental Policy Consultant for EnviroCentre Ltd. – a multi-disciplinary environmental consultancy based in Glasgow.

If you’re considering a course within the department, especially if it’s via open-access, my advice would be GO FOR IT!

(Student Profile)

Mudzunga Thangavhuelelo-Lucas

My epic moment in the course was participating in the Carbon Audit project - a partnership between Strathclyde University and the Carbon Trust. The audit emphasised the importance of climate change mitigation and provided me with the skills that enabled me to get the job I am currently doing.


Entry Requirements

First or upper second-class Honours degree from a UK university (or equivalent overseas qualification) from all disciplines (engineering, sciences, arts, law, business, education, languages, social sciences). No previous technical knowledge is required. You’re required to provide two supportive academic references. For candidates whose first language is not English, documentary evidence of an appropriate level of competency of written and spoken English must be provided. The minimum standards are an IELTS minimum overall band score of 6.5 (no individual test score below 5.5). Applicants with slightly lower scores have the opportunity to attend the University's Pre-Sessional English classes.

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