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Environmental Sciences×

University of Edinburgh, Full Time MSc Degrees in Environmental Sciences

We have 17 University of Edinburgh, Full Time MSc Degrees in Environmental Sciences

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Programme description. This interdisciplinary programme will equip you with the analytical and communication skills to work in this important and growing field. Read more

Programme description

This interdisciplinary programme will equip you with the analytical and communication skills to work in this important and growing field.

This programme suit students with a background in environmental or geographical sciences who have already come across remote sensing, or those with a background in physics, computer science or engineering looking for a career in an applied area.

Graduates from the programme will be well prepared to pursue a research degree or find relevant employment. This programme builds on the successful Edinburgh Geographical Information Science (GIS) degree, which was the first of its type in the world, with a heritage of almost 30 years.

Applicants who applied after 12 December 2016 receiving an offer of admission, either unconditional or conditional, may be required to pay a tuition fee deposit. Please see the fees and costs section for more information.

Programme structure

This programme consists of two semesters of taught courses followed by individual dissertation project work.

Compulsory courses typically will be:

  • Spatial Modelling and Analysis
  • Research Practice and Project Planning
  • Passive Earth Observation or
  • Active Remote Sensing
  • Dissertation

Option courses may include:

  • Principles and Practice of Remote Sensing
  • Atmospheric Quality and Global Change
  • Object Orientated Software Engineering: Spatial Algorithms*
  • Principles of Geographical Information Science
  • Sustainable Energy Technologies 4
  • Marine Systems and Policies
  • Technologies for Sustainable Energy
  • Introduction to Three Dimensional Climate Modelling
  • Geology for Earth Resources
  • Encountering Cities
  • Soil Protection and Management
  • Understanding Environment and Development
  • Advanced Spatial Database Methods
  • Data Integration and Exchange
  • Data Mining and Exploration
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Forests and Environment
  • ICT for Development
  • Land Use/Environmental Interactions
  • Querying and Storing XML
  • Water Resource Management
  • Participation in Policy and Planning
  • Introduction to Environmental Modelling
  • Management of Sustainable Development
  • Communicable Disease Control and Environmental Health
  • Political Ecology
  • Epidemiology for Public Health

Courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change.

In addition, this programme typically includes a residential field-skills weekend in Scotland.

*Please note, Principles and Practice of Remote Sensing would usually be a prerequisite for Passive Earth Observation and Active Remote Sensing unless equivalent background knowledge is demonstrated.

Career opportunities

Graduates have entered employment with well-known organisations such as Amey Infrastructure Services, British Airways, ESRI, General Electric, Google, Hewlett-Packard, Intergraph, Microsoft, Oracle, Royal Bank of Scotland, Scottish Water, Sopra Group, SLR Consulting, Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations and the World Bank, as well as continuing in academia. Graduates will benefit from our proven track record in placing students with such a diverse range of employers.

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.



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This programme is unique in Europe and beyond. It embraces a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to understanding the roles of humans and their connection to marine ecosystems for survival and prosperity. Read more

This programme is unique in Europe and beyond. It embraces a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to understanding the roles of humans and their connection to marine ecosystems for survival and prosperity.

This MSc approaches marine systems as an integrated socio-ecological system through focusing on three spheres of marine systems:

  • Marine natural systems – exploring diverse scales and functions of key marine biomes, habitats and species, spanning islands, coasts, estuaries, continental shelves, polar seas and global oceans.
  • Marine policy systems – examining different approaches to marine spatial planning and governance of marine ecosystems and services, through formal policies, laws and informal customs and practices.
  • Marine built systems – exploring ‘blue growth’ opportunities e.g. the ingenuity and impact of human built environments in marine settings, from reshaping coastlines for cities, travel and trade, to the urbanisation of ocean environments through innovations in energy infrastructure.

Programme structure

(Revised 18 October 2017 to provide more comprehensive information). This programme involves two semesters of classes followed by an individual research project. The curriculum consists of compulsory and optional taught courses followed by a period of individual dissertation project work. There will also be local and international field trips.

Compulsory courses typically include:

  • Marine Systems and Policies
  • Marine Infrastructure and Environmental Change
  • Corals in a Changing Ocean
  • Marine Field Methods in Research and Practice
  • Research Project in Marine Systems and Policies

Option courses:

Through consultation with your Programme Director you will choose three option courses from areas such as:

Policy/society:

  • International Law of the Sea
  • International Law of the Marine Environment
  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability
  • Foundations in Ecological Economics
  • Applications in Ecological Economics
  • Global Environmental Politics
  • Energy Policy and Politics
  • Energy and Society

Environment:

  • The Ecology of Ecosystem Services
  • Ecosystem Service Values
  • Water Resource Management
  • Values and the Environment

Analytical:

  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Principles of GIS
  • Fundamentals for Remote Sensing

Courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change.

Field trips

Our field trips provide site-based learning of both natural and social science practices, a key dynamic of this MSc. The core field trip has historically taken place in tropical locations such as Jamaica and the Maldives.

Career opportunities

This MSc provides a foundation for work up to international level, for government bodies, think-tanks, consulting firms and NGOs where an integrated understanding of marine ecosystems, policies and practice is required.



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Research profile. This masters by research programme is an opportunity to carry out a substantial piece of research in any of the following major branches of geosciences. Read more

Research profile

This masters by research programme is an opportunity to carry out a substantial piece of research in any of the following major branches of geosciences:

  • Atmospheric Science
  • Climate Change
  • Ecological Sciences
  • Environmental Geochemistry
  • Environmental Geoscience
  • Environmental Sustainability
  • Exploration Geophysics
  • Geoinformatics
  • Geology
  • Geophysics
  • Glaciology
  • Human Geography
  • Meteorology
  • Oceanography
  • Palaeoclimatology
  • Petroleum Geology
  • Physical Geography
  • Remote Sensing

The programme allows you to work on research throughout the year, and your work will be judged solely on your final dissertation. You can follow taught courses by arrangement with your supervisor, but none are required.

The programme aims to provide a structured approach to basic research training, allowing you to explore an area of research that may be subsequently developed into a PhD. You may also have the opportunity to develop links with research projects at national and international levels.

The School has the largest geoscience research group in the UK, with about 370 academics and researchers. The ambition and quality of our research was reflected in the latest Research Assessment Exercise, where 66% of our research was rated within the top two categories: world-leading and internationally excellent.

All research students are affiliated to one a research institute, which provides a forum for the development of ideas, collaboration, and dissemination of results, and an environment for training, development and mentoring of research students and early-career researchers. Our research institutes each have a very active seminar series drawing distinguished external guests as well as internal speakers, and you will be encouraged to attend and participate.

Programme structure

You can follow taught courses by arrangement with your supervisor, but none are required.



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Research profile. The Institute for Infrastructure and Environment (IIE) is among the leading centres of civil and environmental engineering research in the UK. Read more

Research profile

The Institute for Infrastructure and Environment (IIE) is among the leading centres of civil and environmental engineering research in the UK. The Institute seeks new technologies to solve real-world problems in order to promote sustainability.

Key research areas include:

  • behaviour and design of structures in fire and other extreme events
  • fire science and fire safety engineering
  • shells and containment structures
  • nonlinear finite element modelling of complex structures and structural collapses
  • mechanics and transport of granular materials and multiphase media
  • computational mechanics and bio-mechanics
  • fibre-reinforced polymer composites in structural strengthening and repair
  • high-speed rail
  • intelligent infrastructure and non-destructive evaluation
  • sustainable water and wastewater treatment technologies
  • water supply
  • waste management and resource recovery

IIE has excellent laboratory and computing facilities, including the latest facilities and instrumentation for experimental and computational research in structures, granular solids, fire safety engineering, non-destructive testing and environmental engineering.

Masters by Research

An MSc by Research is based on a research project tailored to a candidate’s interests. It lasts one year full time or two years part time. The project can be a shorter alternative to an MPhil or PhD, or a precursor to either – including the option of an MSc project expanding into MPhil or doctorate work as it evolves. It can also be a mechanism for industry to collaborate with the School.

Training and support

Students are strongly encouraged and trained to present their research at conferences and in journal papers during the course of their PhD.

Students are also encouraged to attend transferable skills courses provided by the University and to participate in external courses provided by organisations such as the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

PhD candidates pursue their research projects under continuous guidance, resulting in a thesis that makes an original contribution to knowledge. You will be linked to two academic supervisors, and one industrial supervisor if the project is industrially sponsored.

Facilities

The Institute has excellent laboratory and computing facilities, including the latest instruments for experimental and computational research in structures, granular solids, fire safety engineering, non-destructive testing and environmental engineering.



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In this programme, leading academics encourage students to think across different disciplines to blend scientific, socioeconomic and policy perspectives for a stronger understanding of sustainability and how it can be achieved. Read more

In this programme, leading academics encourage students to think across different disciplines to blend scientific, socioeconomic and policy perspectives for a stronger understanding of sustainability and how it can be achieved. This wider perspective is attractive to organisations which promote sustainable development or seek to reduce humanity’s effect on the environment.

Ensuring the environmental sustainability of society is one of the major challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. How can the needs of the world’s growing population be met without threatening the ecological processes that support human wellbeing?

How can the economy and energy systems be restructured to combat climate change? What policies foster sustainability? How can the necessary changes in the behaviour of organisations and individuals be promoted? This MSc programme explores these and related, topical questions.

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

Programme structure

This programme consists of six taught courses, studied over two semesters. Students will also undertake a research project leading to a dissertation of up to 20,000 words.

Compulsory courses typically will be:

  • Principles of Environmental Sustainability
  • Case Studies in Sustainable Development
  • Dissertation

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

  • Atmospheric Quality and Global Change
  • Climate Change and Corporate Strategy
  • Energy & Society 1: Key Themes and Issues
  • Foundations in Ecological Economics
  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability
  • Environmental Valuation
  • Development: Principles and Practices
  • Understanding Environment and Development
  • Energy Policy and Politics
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Forests and Environment
  • Participation in Policy and Planning
  • Political Ecology
  • Sustainability of Food Production
  • The Ecology of Ecosystem Services
  • Waste Reduction and Recycling
  • Water Resource Management

Courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change.

Learning outcomes

Students will be equipped to:

  • assess the sustainability of policies, programmes and projects at scales ranging from the local to the global
  • analyse environmental problems using knowledge from different disciplines, leading to well-founded and effective solutions
  • advocate sustainable development and engage in informed debate on current environmental controversies

Career opportunities

This programme prepares students for a wide range of roles within environmental consultancy, national and local government, non-profit organisations, education or research. The choice of option courses and dissertation projects can be tailored towards your chosen career path.

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.



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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. Read more

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:

  • grounding students in an awareness of the contested development paradigm;
  • 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.

The programme will teach you to critically evaluate the multiple dimensions of the relationship between development and the environment. Teaching, fieldwork, group and practical exercises will use examples of relevance to Northern and Southern countries.

The breadth and depth of the School of GeoSciences enables students to explore a variety of environment and development issues relevant to the programme: e.g. biophysical dynamics, food insecurity, environmental governance, river basin management, cultural studies, climate change, multiple scarcities and inequalities, gender and development,etc. Students are challenged to cultivate research thinking that is cross-cutting and globally relevant, but also grounded in cases that focus on particular issues, places or systems, providing insights to effective solutions.

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 will be:

  • Understanding Environment and Development
  • Development: Principles and Practices
  • Research and Practice: Fieldwork
  • Dissertation

Option courses:

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

Semester 1 Optional Courses

  • Atmospheric Quality and Global Change
  • Development, Science and Technology
  • Displacement and Development
  • Climate Change and Corporate Strategy
  • Economic Issues in Public Policy
  • The Ecology of Ecosystem Services
  • Energy and Society I; Key Themes and Issues
  • Environmental Valuation
  • Frameworks to assess Food Security
  • Frameworks to assess Food Security
  • Marine Systems and Policies
  • Principles of Environmental Sustainability
  • Research Design in Human Geography
  • Soil Protection and Management
  • Swahili 1A

Semester 2 Optional Courses

  • Anthropology and Environment
  • Anthropology of Global Health
  • Case Studies in Sustainable Development
  • Corporate Social Responsibility and the Law
  • Critical perspectives on mental health and well-being in the global south
  • Energy Policy and Politics
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • EU and National Climate Change Law
  • Forests and Environment
  • Gender and Development
  • Global Environmental Politics
  • Human dimensions of environmental change and sustainability
  • International Political Economy
  • International Security
  • Interpreting Development: Institutions and Practices
  • Interrelationships in Food Systems
  • Marine Infrastructure and Environmental Change
  • Participation in Policy and Planning
  • Political Ecology
  • South Asia: Roots of Poverty and Development
  • Sustainability of Food Production
  • Swahili 1B
  • The International Politics of Money
  • Waste Reduction and Recycling
  • Water Resource Management

Courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change.

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.



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This programme will give you a fundamental understanding of the issues affecting the Earth enabling you to play a vital role in devising and enacting strategies to protect and conserve the environment, both in Europe and beyond. Read more

This programme will give you a fundamental understanding of the issues affecting the Earth enabling you to play a vital role in devising and enacting strategies to protect and conserve the environment, both in Europe and beyond.

Human activities are recognised as having an increasingly significant effect on the Earth’s biosphere. Our use of natural resources, deforestation, soil erosion, the release of potentially toxic compounds and pathogens, and the increase in greenhouse gases are all examples of pressures that have potentially serious consequences for humanity and other life on Earth.

On this programme you will learn about the issues that face the Earth and gain an in-depth understanding of natural resource management and the processes that give rise to environmental degradation and pollution problems.

It will allow you to play a vital role in planning and putting into action strategies to protect and conserve the environment.

This programme is run in collaboration with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

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

Programme structure

This programme involves two semesters of taught courses, which are a balance of lectures, seminars, workshops and visits, plus a research dissertation project of about 16,000 words.

Compulsory courses typically will be:

  • Atmospheric Quality and Global Change
  • Analysing the Environment
  • Land Use/Environmental Interactions
  • Analysing the Environment Study Tour
  • Dissertation

Option courses:

You will also choose four optional courses^. We particularly recommend the following:

  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Waste Reduction and Recycling
  • Sustainability of Food Production
  • Participation in Policy and Planning
  • Forests and Environment
  • Foundations in Ecological Economics
  • Water Resource Management
  • Soil Protection and Management
  • Ecosystem Dynamics and Functions
  • Marine Systems and Policies
  • Carbon Capture and Transport
  • Culture, Ethics & Environment
  • Encountering Cities
  • Environmental Geochemistry
  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability
  • Principles of Environmental Sustainability
  • Principles of GIS
  • Project Appraisal
  • Understanding Environment and Development
  • Values and the Environment
  • Climate Change and Corporate Strategy
  • Passive Earth Observation
  • Introduction to Environmental Modelling
  • Political Ecology
  • Ecosystem Values and Management
  • Soil Science Concepts and Application

Courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change.

Field trip

Part of this programme is a week-long study tour in spring. Past study tours have been held in France, Greece, Portugal, Israel and Morocco.

Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • develop a scientific understanding of some of the major processes which influence the quality of land, air and water resources
  • acquire knowledge of the most effective methods of environmental protection
  • develop expertise in the design and implementation of programmes of environmental protection
  • have the opportunity to study the integrated protection and management of particular ecosystems or resources

Career opportunities

Our graduates have a solid record in finding employment in the environmental sector while some choose to further their studies through a PhD.

There are also opportunities in consultancy positions and with environmental regulators, government and NGOs.

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.



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Ecological Economics focuses on how to make sustainability and environmental management work in practice by applying economic principles. Read more

Ecological Economics focuses on how to make sustainability and environmental management work in practice by applying economic principles.

This programme is run in collaboration with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). Graduates with postgraduate training in this area are in greater demand than ever before in business, industry and government.

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

Programme structure

You will learn through lectures, group work, informal group discussion and individual study, as well as the spring study tour. After two semesters of taught courses, you will begin work on your individual dissertations. You will be able to choose from a wide selection of option courses to suit individual interests and career goals.

You will learn through lectures, group work, informal group discussion and individual study, as well as the spring study tour. After two semesters of taught courses, you will begin work on your individual dissertations. You will be able to choose from a wide selection of option courses to suit individual interests and career goals.

Compulsory courses typically will be:

  • Foundations in Ecological Economics
  • Applications in Ecological Economics
  • Ecological Economics Field Methods in Research and Practice
  • Dissertation

Option courses previously available include:

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

  • Principles of Environmental Sustainability
  • Marine Systems and Policies
  • Understanding Environment and Development
  • The Ecology of Ecosystem Services
  • Political Ecology
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Waste Reduction and Recycling
  • Participation in Policy and Planning
  • Water Resource Management
  • Forests and Environment
  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability
  • Principles of GIS
  • Energy & Society I; Key Themes and Issues
  • Atmospheric Quality and Global Change
  • Introduction To Spatial Analysis
  • Climate Change and Corporate Strategy
  • Frameworks to Assess Food Security
  • Soil Protection and Management
  • Encountering Cities
  • Development: Principles and Practices
  • Further Spatial Analysis
  • Sustainability of Food Production
  • Interrelationships in Food Systems
  • Case Studies in Sustainable Development
  • Introduction to Environmental Modelling
  • Marine Infrastructure and Environmental Change
  • Ecosystem Service Values

^Courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change

Field trip

To experience and understand conflict between ecosystem conservation and human development needs at ground level, this programme typically includes a unique 7-10-day study tour, usually overseas and in the developing world (previous destinations have included South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania).

Career opportunities

Being able to identify ecological economic problems, and apply economic principles and methods to solve these problems is increasingly valued by employers.

Our graduates are working in a variety of sectors, including environmental consultancies; international and governmental agencies; NGOs; financial institutions; multinationals; environmental education and research.

Additionally around a quarter of our masters students go on to doctoral research programmes.

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.



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

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.

Applicants receiving an offer of admission, either unconditional or conditional, may be required to pay a tuition fee deposit. Please see the fees and costs section for more information.

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 will be:

  • Values and the Environment
  • Political Ecology
  • Dissertation

Option courses:

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

  • Archives: History, Geography, Politics
  • Culture, Ethics & Environment
  • Encountering Cities
  • Ethics in a Technological Society
  • Foundations in Ecological Economics
  • Foundations of the Bioeconomy
  • Global Environment: Key Issues
  • Research Design in Human Geography
  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability
  • Understanding Environment and Development
  • 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 GIS
  • Principles of GIS for Archaeologists
  • Society and Development
  • Ecology, Ethics and Spirit
  • Marine Systems and Policies
  • Climate Change, Justice and Responsibility
  • Global Environmental Politics
  • Green Thoughts: Landscape, Environment and Literature
  • Methodological Debates in Human Geography
  • Urban Development
  • Biobusiness
  • Case Studies in Sustainable Development
  • Climate Change and Corporate Strategy
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Forests and Environment
  • Global Environment and Society
  • ICT for Development
  • Interpreting Development: Institutions and Practices
  • Land Use/Environmental Interactions
  • Man and the Natural World in the Enlightenment
  • Management of Sustainable Development
  • Sustainability of Food Production
  • Courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change.

Courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change.

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.



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Unique in Europe, and one of only a few in the world, this internationally respected MSc programme offers you the chance to develop a holistic approach to outdoor education with a specific emphasis on environmental and sustainability education. Read more

Unique in Europe, and one of only a few in the world, this internationally respected MSc programme offers you the chance to develop a holistic approach to outdoor education with a specific emphasis on environmental and sustainability education. This programme will prepare you for a career in which you will facilitate learning that focuses on themes of environmental, sustainability, and ecological education.

There are three possible exit levels: Certificate (60 credits), Diploma (120 credits), or Masters (180 credits). The Certificate programme provides a broad theoretical coverage of the field of study. The Diploma extends this with further academic study and a Professional Development Programme (involving field courses, such as a canoe descent of the River Spey, introduction to group leadership and navigation techniques, a teaching placement/practicum, and a group project), which provides a broad base for a professional career in outdoor environmental and sustainability education. The Masters extends this further still with a dissertation and associated research methods course.

The emphasis — whether Certificate, Diploma, or Masters — is on developing the knowledge, understanding, and judgement necessary to facilitate meaningful learning in, for, and through the outdoors. You will consider a range of connected subject areas as well as the particular demands for teaching these in a variety of settings, from schools, residential centres, and Ranger sites, to charitable/not-for-profit organisations.

You will develop your intellectual skills through critically assessing theoretical, professional, and academic issues while honing transferable skills such as environmental literacy and oral communication. You will also expand your understanding and personal practice of educating outdoors through a range of professional development activities.

Courses take place at our Edinburgh campus and the University’s two residential outdoor centres in the highlands of Scotland, from where you will journey by boat or on foot to live and learn in the outdoors.

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

Programme structure

Learning will take the form of lectures, seminars, group discussions, student presentations, field courses, self-study, and work experience/practicum.

For the Postgraduate Certificate you will complete the following courses:

  • Outdoor Environmental Education: Concept-based Practice (20 credits)
  • Interpreting the Landscape (20 credits)
  • Ecology and Field Studies (20 credits)

For the Postgraduate Diploma, in addition to the above courses, you will complete:

  • Education for Environmental Citizenship
  • Introduction to Learning for Sustainability
  • Experiential Education (10 credits)
  • Sources of Knowledge (10 credits)

For the Masters, in addition to the above courses, you will complete:

  • Research Methods – Planning Research (10 credits)
  • Dissertation (50 credits)

For the Masters and Diploma you will complete a four-week professional placement/practicum, a five-day canoe descent of the River Spey, a three-day land-based group leadership and navigation course, a two-day specialist outdoor first aid course, and a weeklong ‘Environmental Education in Practice’ practicum project. While not strictly compulsory, the CPDP is vitally integral to the programme. Further optional courses are also available.

The Masters and Diploma programmes can be taken on a full-time or part-time basis. The Certificate is by nature a part-time programme of study.

Work placements/internships

To facilitate and broaden direct experience of teaching outdoors, course members undertake a 4-week professional placement. The placement occurs at a stage in the programme when students are able to make a useful contribution to the agencies they choose to work with and are able to relate their experience to theoretical material covered in class. Placement agencies range from those focusing on environmental education, to inner city projects, special needs organisations, management training, outdoor education centres, and many more.

Career opportunities

This industry-recognised qualification will allow you to take on roles in outdoor environmental and sustainability education in a variety of settings from schools, to community education, private organisations, or charitable/not-for-profit organisations.

Completion of the MSc degree will enable you to continue onto advanced research, and a possible academic career. However, you will also develop highly transferable skills, such as communication and project management, which can be applied in any field.



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This internationally renowned degree, based within a world-leading renewable energy research group, equips graduates and professionals with a broad and robust training. Read more

This internationally renowned degree, based within a world-leading renewable energy research group, equips graduates and professionals with a broad and robust training.

Wind, marine and solar energy technologies are covered, as well as the wider environment in which they are to fit, including: resource assessment; energy production, delivery and consumption; efficiency; sustainability; economics, policy and regulation.

In addition, our MSc students actively engage in research as part of their dissertation projects either within the Institute for Energy Systems or with industry, with some joining our PhD community afterwards.

This programme is accredited as counting towards further learning (FL), as a requisite in the educational base for a Chartered Engineering (CEng). This programme is also affiliated with the University's Global Environment & Society Academy.

Programme structure

This programme is run over 12 months, with two semesters of taught courses followed by a research project leading to a masters thesis.

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses:

  • Technologies for Sustainable Energy
  • Energy and Environmental Economics
  • Sustainable Energy Contexts

Plus one of:

  • Electrical Engineering Fundamentals of Renewable Energy
  • Mechanical Engineering Fundamentals of Renewable Energy

Semester 2

Compulsory Courses:

  • Sustainable Energy Group Design Project
  • An MSc Dissertation project from May to August

Students will also choose a further 50 credits for Semester 2 depending on their background in Electrical or Power Engineering.

Optional Courses: A further 20 credits of available courses from the Schools of Engineering, GeoSciences, Mathematics, and Social and Political Science, and from Scotland's Rural College will be chosen in Semesters 1 and 2.

Career opportunities

Graduates go on to a wide range of activities in industry, public organisations or academia. The MSc has well established links with industry, with many graduates finding employment with leading national and international companies involved with energy, consultancy and engineering. Recent graduates are now working as civil, structural, automotive, subsea and electrical engineers and as power systems, energy and environment and renewable energy consultants. Employing firms include Arup, Alston, Avery, Dennison, GE, Schneider, SSE and Scottish Power.



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Graduates will be equipped with the analytical and communication skills to contribute to humanity’s efforts to achieve and sustain food security during the 21st century. Read more

Graduates will be equipped with the analytical and communication skills to contribute to humanity’s efforts to achieve and sustain food security during the 21st century.

This programme is not suitable for applicants pursuing a career in food science or food safety/hygiene or related areas. Please read the programme description and ensure you understand the nature of the programme before you apply. Applicants who do not show a clear understanding of the programme will not be accepted.

Food security has become a critically important issue for societies around the globe. Interactions between demographics, changes in diet, trade liberalisation, an increased focus on conservation, technological innovations including GM crops, the impact of climate change and new responses to climate change resource limitations (particularly in terms of energy, water and nutrients) all affect food security.

With such a rapid growth in this area, there is an increasing demand for qualified experts to contribute to policy creation and legislation in food production and the supply chain.

This unique MSc offers students the scope and multidisciplinary approach to address all of these issues, as well as an understanding of the technical, agronomic, environmental, economic and socio-political factors that influence food security.

This programme is run in collaboration with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

Programme structure

This MSc programme consists of six taught courses over two semesters, and an individual dissertation project of about 12,000 words.

Compulsory courses typically will be:

  • Frameworks to Assess Food Security
  • Sustainability of Food Production
  • Interrelationships in Food Systems
  • Professional and Research Skills in Practice
  • Dissertation

Option courses:

In consultation with the Programme Director, you will choose from a range of option courses.

  • Atmospheric Quality and Global Change
  • Ecosystem Services 1: Ecosystem Dynamics and Functions
  • Foundations in Ecological Economics
  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability
  • Integrated Resource Management
  • Principles of Environmental Sustainability
  • Soil Protection and Management
  • Understanding Environment and Development
  • Marine Systems and Policies
  • Applications in Ecological Economics
  • Climate Change and Corporate Strategy
  • Integrated Resource Planning
  • Interrelationships in Food Systems
  • Land Use/Environmental Interactions
  • Case Studies in Sustainable Development
  • Ecosystem Services 2: Ecosystem Values and Management
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Soil Science Concepts and Application

Field trip

The programme typically includes a field trip providing an opportunity to apply some of the principles of food security to real world scenarios. In previous years, the tour has taken place in locations such as Italy, Morocco and Kenya.

Learning outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • provide a broad understanding of agronomic, environmental, economic and socio-political factors that influence food security
  • apply scientific information and methods in the analysis of complex problems
  • formulate a research problem and independently carry out the research needed to produce an appropriate solution in a range of scientific or policy contexts
  • enhance their skills in specialist topics related to food security

Career opportunities

Graduates of this programme typically go on to work in government and non-governmental agencies as well as international bodies and businesses where they can utilise the invaluable, and highly prized, skills they have acquired on the programme, such as food security assessment.

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.



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This programme aims to introduce students to the concepts of soil for the 21st century and is suitable for students wishing to pursue a career in land-based management or environmental protection. Read more

This programme aims to introduce students to the concepts of soil for the 21st century and is suitable for students wishing to pursue a career in land-based management or environmental protection.

Soils underpin the sustainability of terrestrial ecosystems and are key to food production. Soils form the basis of all agricultural production, but they also store water, mediate the impact of pollutants, provide biological habitats, have an impact on the accumulation of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere, are involved in dealing with society’s waste, are a source of extractable minerals and provide the foundations for the housing and roads on which society depends.

You will learn about soil function and management, and soil classification, assessment and analysis, with a strong emphasis on practical skills. You will gain expertise in the relationship between soil and sustainable approaches to land resource use.

This programme is run in collaboration with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

Programme structure

This programme involves two semesters of compulsory and option taught courses followed by a period of individual dissertation project work.

Compulsory courses typically will be:

  • Soil Protection and Management
  • Soils Science Concepts and Application
  • Professional Research Skills in Practice
  • Dissertation

Option courses:

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

  • Analysing the Environment
  • Analysing the Environment Study Tour
  • Culture, Ethics & Environment
  • Ecosystem Dynamics and Functions
  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability
  • International Development in a Changing World
  • Principles of Environmental Sustainability
  • Principles of GIS
  • Project Appraisal
  • Atmospheric Quality and Global Change
  • Frameworks to Assess Food Security
  • Integrated Resource Management
  • Spatial Modelling
  • Ecosystem Values and Management
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Land Use/Environmental Interactions
  • Participation in Policy and Planning
  • Sustainability of Food Production
  • Interrelationships in Food Systems

Courses are subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change.

Field trip

An integral, week-long study tour lets you refresh skills learned on the programme and develop new tools and techniques, useful during the dissertation process. The tour has historically been held in Mende, France. In addition to the formal taught component, students had the opportunity to go rafting and visit the Aven Armand caves.

There may also be a short tour during induction week, to give students a chance to get to know each other.

Learning outcomes

Students will:

  • gain a knowledge and understanding of the relationship between soils and sustainable land management
  • gain an understanding of soil sampling and analysis, interpretation and reporting
  • be able to assess soil management issues and develop improved management plans
  • understand the function of soils in relation to sustainable land use and societal needs

Career opportunities

A recent report by the British Society of Soil Science (BSSS) identified soil science as an area in which there are critical skills shortages, meaning graduates will be in high demand.

Soil scientists are employed in a broad range of vocations including environmental consultancy, research, overseas development, environmental impact assessment and analysis, site reclamation and remediation, and conservation as well as advising on government policy, archaeological excavations and laboratory analyses, forensics, and landscape design.

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.



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This is a truly interdisciplinary degree, combining environmental politics and environmental sociology with normative philosophy. Read more

This is a truly interdisciplinary degree, combining environmental politics and environmental sociology with normative philosophy.

This programme provides a social science-based, practice-oriented understanding of global environmental challenges and solutions. Understanding issues such as climate change, sustainable development and biodiversity requires knowledge about the political, moral and societal dimensions of environmental problems and solutions.

This programme will provide you with knowledge and analytical tools to address questions such as:

  • Are meaningful environmental agreements possible in a system of sovereign states?
  • Is the environment more than an economic resource for human exploitation?
  • What drives groups, individuals or institutions to take action on environmental issues?
  • What is the effect of such mobilisation?

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

Programme structure

Teaching methods will include seminars, group work, lectures, presentations and guided independent study. Students will be assessed through coursework, seminar assessment and presentations.

Students will also undertake a supervised research dissertation, or may apply to complete a project-based report with an NGO, government department, political party, or business over the spring and summer.

Learning outcomes

Students on this programme will:

  • develop a critical understanding of the key concepts, actors and dynamics characterising global environmental problems and solutions
  • engage critically with different disciplinary and theoretical perspectives on environmental issues
  • assess competing claims and make informed judgments about current global environmental problems
  • develop their ability to present - in written and verbal form - coherent, balanced arguments
  • use a range of research skills to plan and execute a significant project of research on a major global environmental challenge

Career opportunities

You will acquire an advanced, multidisciplinary understanding of the major contemporary environmental challenges facing the world, and the different disciplinary and theoretical perspectives (from politics, international relations, ethics and sociology) used to explain them.

You will graduate with the knowledge and skills necessary to assess competing claims and make informed judgments about current global environmental problems and possible solutions.

Such knowledge and skills are sought after by a wide range of public and private employers in the fields of environmental policy, consultancy and advocacy.



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This MSc is an opportunity to study international educational responses to global issues and benefit from Scotland’s position as one of the leading countries in the world in this field. Read more

This MSc is an opportunity to study international educational responses to global issues and benefit from Scotland’s position as one of the leading countries in the world in this field.

The programme has been designed in response to recent policy declarations by the General Teaching Council for Scotland (Revised Professional Standards) and the Scottish Government.

It seeks to understand and contribute to the ways schooling, community and higher education respond to issues such as climate change, resource depletion, inequality and well-being, and ecological and economic stability.

It explores the relationships between learning and social and environmental change in complex, global circumstances, through local places and educational contexts.

Programme structure

For the Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert) programme you will study:

  • Introduction to Learning for Sustainability
  • Ecosystems for Educators
  • Outdoor Learning

For the Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) programme you will study the PgCert courses plus the following:

  • Education for Environmental Citizenship
  • Environmental Philosophy and City-based Outdoor Learning
  • Experiential Education
  • The Sources of Knowledge (or Conceptualising Research)

For the Masters (MSc) programme you will study the PgCert and PgDip courses plus the following:

  • Planning Research
  • Dissertation

Career opportunities

The programme is designed to enhance career opportunities for practising teachers, education professionals, policy-makers and activists from informal, environmental, outdoor, community and NGO education providers and for Scottish, UK and international students who already work, or intend to work, in these and related areas.

The University of Edinburgh plays a key role in Scotland’s UN Recognised Regional Centre of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development, and can offer strong collaborative links with other Scottish universities, non-governmental organisations, and third sector organisations within Scotland and internationally.



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