From air pollution to the spread of vector-borne diseases, changes in our environment can have profound repercussions for human health.
The Health and the Global Environment Option of the MSc Environmental Technology is offered in collaboration with a highly qualified network of practitioners encompassing Imperial’s Centre for Environmental Policy, School of Public Health, the MRC-PHE Centre for Environment and Health, and the Grantham Institute - Climate Change and the Environment. The option focusses on building students’ knowledge and understanding of the key issues that link human and environmental health.
This is a highly dynamic and stimulating environment in which to study, where you will interact with a range of academics, staff scientists and policy analysts working on the most pressing environmental and health issues both locally and globally.
Human health is fundamentally linked to our environment. Environmental factors contribute significantly to the global disease burden, with an estimated 25% of death and disease globally linked to environmental hazards. In developing contexts, this figure can be much higher, reaching 35% in regions such as sub-Saharan Africa.
Crucially, many of these hazards are created or exacerbated by human activities, so managing health for the environment and the environment for health is a growing priority on the environment, public and global health agendas.
The Health and the Global Environment Option is designed to develop students’ knowledge and understanding of the key issues in environment and health. The emphasis throughout the course is on the understanding of the principles of exposure assessment, epidemiology, toxicology, health risk assessment and health protection, and their application in the field of environment and health, including:
The Option content covers four main themes:
Theme 1: Managing the Environment for Health
Considers the causes of environmental perturbation, its impacts on health, and approaches to resource management that may benefit health in a global context.
Theme 2: Environmental Decision-Making and Tools
Introduces important policy tools and techniques to assist in robust and transparent decision-making.
Theme 3: Quantifying Exposure and Health Impacts
Develops understanding of the principles and tools for qualitatively and/or quantitatively characterising health risks and impacts related to environmental sources.
Theme 4: Health and the Global Environment
Introduces key concepts in global health and global environmental change, their interactions and impacts, and identifies opportunities for co-management.
Students complete two assessed pieces of coursework. The first is undertaken in collaboration with the Environmental Analysis & Assessment and Water Management options of the MSc, and provides a "real-world" case study looking at contaminated land and water on Hounslow Heath, near Heathrow Airport, in close collaboration with the London Borough of Hounslow Council.
The other is a client-based case study specific to the Health and Global Environment option, and provides the opportunity for students to apply their developing knowledge to an emerging problem within the field of health and the global environment. These projects vary from year to year, with past topics and clients including:
The ultimate aim of the Health and Global Environment option is to prepare students for employment in consultancies, regulatory agencies, industry, research or non-governmental organisations where a systems-based understanding of environment and health issues is vital. Our alumni have found employment in government departments, consultancies, universities and NGOs.
“The experience I gained while studying the Health and Global Environment option really advantaged me in my career as a Health Impact Assessment consultant. Understanding the key concepts relating to topics covered such as epidemiology and exposure assessment is vital when linking health with planning. Although my focus is in the UK, one of the major benefits of the option is that it covers public health issues and management techniques in both the developed and developing world, giving students the opportunity to work anywhere.” Tara Barratt, Assistant Consultant, RPS Planning & Development
"The main strength of the health option is the opportunity to meet people from a wide variety of professions who lecture on different topics within the course. This brings the real world into the class room, giving the theory a more practical element. I am now a research associate in Occupational Health at the University of Birmingham and my knowledge of the industry from talking to visiting lecturers gives me extra confidence when talking to others at company meetings." Joanna Pope, University of Birmingham
"The whole health option course provided me with a sound knowledge of the broad area of health and the environment. Specifically, the training I received in the principles of exposure assessment, toxicology and epidemiology served me excellently in my summer project, which I undertook in Romania. The generic project skills which I learnt throughout the duration of the course have given me the resources to draw upon as a freelance environmental consultant." James Grellier, Environmental Resources Management (ERM) Ltd
The human race is entirely dependent on the ecosystems that feed us, regulate our environment and recycle our wastes. They provide all we need to survive and thrive. Over the past 100 years, humans have changed ecosystems more rapidly and extensively than in any comparable period in history. There have been net gains in human well-being and economic development, but these gains have been achieved at growing cost in the form of environmental degradation, loss of biodiversity and depletion of natural capital.
Many options exist to reverse ecosystem degradation, but an understanding of the ecological systems and science is just a starting point. Understanding how the science interacts with policies, institutions, and practices is vital to achieve real change.
The Environmental Resource Management* option is designed to provide students with a thorough understanding of how ecological principles can be applied to the management and conservation of natural resources and ecosystems, as well as practical skills and techniques.
Throughout the option emphasis is placed on how best to inform management and conservation decisions using tools that range from geographical mapping software and biodiversity appraisal to life cycle analysis. The important influence of institutional arrangements and economic forces on resource use and management decisions is also a key theme.
Practical applications of ecological, institutional and economic concepts are illustrated by case studies, practical sessions, seminars and workshops. These are augmented by field trips and frequent contact with outside organisations responsible for environmental management. The option draws on a wide range of speakers with first-hand experience of environmental and ecological management in both the developed and developing world.
Students graduating from this option will be well placed to make informed decisions relating to real-world problems and able to identify and evaluate practical management options.
To equip students with the interdisciplinary knowledge and skills to embark on a career in natural resource management and to engage and interact with professionals in these disciplines.
Four main themes run through the option:
Theme 1: Understanding natural resource systems and human interactions
Explores renewable resource systems that are critical to human survival, ecosystem functioning and conservation. Focussing on specific examples we examine how these systems function and investigate the scientific, policy and practical issues involved in their management. Dedicated lectures and case studies include fisheries management, sustainable agriculture, conservation and management of wildlife populations.
Theme 2: Management tools and applications
Introduces and provides practical experience of some of the key tools and techniques used by environmental management professionals, including life cycle assessment, GIS, participatory appraisal and citizen science. Applications of these tools include gathering data, structuring and analysing problems, and communicate insights.
Theme 3: Policy, Assessment and Law
Informing the design of better policy is the objective of a great deal of research in understanding ecosystem processes and responses. Many conservation and resource management initiatives are also underpinned or impeded by legislation. This theme examines the interaction between policy processes, the legal system and conservation objectives. Key aspects of the national, European and international legal system and the role played by international law in the protection of the environment are identified. Regulatory instruments including Environmental Impact Assessment and Strategic Environmental Assessment are also examined.
Theme 4: Management in Practice
Based around the fieldtrips and case-studies provided by external speakers and ecological management professional, this theme provides an opportunity to engage with professional working in the field and better understand what happens when theory and ideology meets practical barriers and resource constraints. Visits include forest management; farming and wildlife management, heathland management, ancient woodland and grazed pasture, ecosystem rehabilitation and wetland creation. Though these visits we explore the role of wildlife trusts in local conservation, the role of volunteers in managing sites of scientific interest, and the role of estate management in sustainable agriculture.
The Environmental Resource Management option (formerly called Ecological Management) has been running since 1978 and has more than 480 Alumni that can be found throughout all levels of Government, Industry, International agencies, Consultancy and NGOs.
Graduates are excellently placed to gain employment in a wide range of organizations dealing with natural resources, conservation and international development. Over 80% of graduates gain employment in the environmental field within months of graduating.
Common destinations include consultancy, NGOs, international organisations and government. Recent destinations include:
The EEP option is designed for students from all backgrounds with an interest in environmental economics and public policy.
It provides students with an ability to employ economic reasoning and an understanding of the importance of institutions and policy processes to the analysis of a broad range of national and international policy issues such as biodiversity protection, climate change, poverty/environment linkages and the management of renewable resources; an awareness of the institutional and policy context in which environmental economic solutions might be applied; working knowledge of a wide range of economic tools and project and policy evaluation methods; and a sound but critical understanding of environmental economics as a discipline including knowledge of the different paradigms of analysis in the field.
Environmental economics is now an indispensable part of the education of anyone dealing with environmental issues. As one of the fastest growing areas of research and study, its influence over environmental policymaking and practice is already widely recognised. For example, it has become commonplace to speak about green taxes, carbon trading mechanisms, environmental valuation and incentive design for sustainable development.
What are the underlying causes of tropical deforestation? How rapidly should we take action to deal with global warming? What is the most efficient way to tackle air pollution? Are consumers willing to pay more for cleaner fuels and technologies? These are some of the questions which environmental economics attempts to address, pointing to the need to link individual choices and patterns of behaviour to the underlying structure of the economy and its institutions. A central insight is that environmental degradation, far from being an incidental consequence of economic activity, is in many ways a central feature of the way production and consumption is currently organised. Economists are uniquely well placed to comment on, and offer analysis of, these linkages. At the same time, economists argue that solutions require systematic changes to the economic incentives which drive human behaviour in these domains, bringing about the shifts in production and consumption that are necessary for sustainable development.
The demand for individuals with a good grounding in environmental economics continues to grow. There are promising career opportunities in government, industry, consultancy and research for people able to apply economic ideas, concepts and methodologies to environmental problem-solving and policymaking. In drawing up this new Option, we have been concerned to offer a course which will educate and inspire individuals interested in a career in these fields. It aims to provide a broad but integrated survey of environmental economics as a field of study and assist students in developing an ability to think about and analyse environmental problems in economically-literate terms. By the conclusion of the course, students will have a sound understanding of the economic and institutional context for environmental policymaking and will be able to apply economic concepts to understanding, and prescribing solutions for, a wide range of environmental problems
The Option has been designed for students from all backgrounds with an interest in environmental economics and its applications. In terms of structure, it is divided into eleven thematic modules covering basic theory, tools and a range of applications:
Concepts: Initial lectures and small group sessions focus on the microeconomic foundations of environmental economics, looking at market processes and market failure, the theory of externalities and the concepts of public goods and open property resources.
Tools: The Option then goes on to examine the use of a range of economic tools and introduces students to some key techniques for data analysis. Topics covered in these modules include the design and implementation of market-based instruments, project appraisal and environmental valuation and the use of sustainable development indicators and green accounting. Students also receive training in quantitative and qualitative data analysis and in international environmental law.
Applications: The final set of teaching modules applies these economic concepts and tools to a series of environmental case studies in the fields of:
An essential feature of the Option, complementing, integrating and applying this lecture material, is small group project work. This is designed to develop a wide range of technical and analytical skills (project evaluation, data analysis, environmental valuation) and also organisational and communication skills (technical writing, oral presentations, team work). Finally, there is a series of specialist talks and seminars running through the term, in which invited speakers working in policymaking, industry and research give presentations on environmental economic and policy issues in the news.
There are excellent career opportunities for graduates who can combine training in environmental economics, good policy knowledge, proficiency in quantitative and qualitative methods and an ability to develop applications. Graduates from this Option are likely to find employment across a wide field, including environmental consultancy, advisory positions in commercial business and industry and careers as expert advisors in government, international institutions and environmental NGOs.
The Global Environmental Change and Policy course focuses on 4 key questions:
By addressing those four questions the overall aim of the course is to provide students with a comprehensive and broad understanding of the scientific, legal and policy concerns informing the GEC field, and to guide students towards applying, independently, the necessary tools to address GEC questions, analytically and critically. This is done through small group seminars, lectures and case studies arranged into four main strands:
Strand I - Climate Change Science, Environmental and Health Impacts and Adaptation
This strand explores the analysis and prediction of change in the earth's physical and chemical systems and their impact based on scientific evidence. Sessions include analysis, prediction and impact of changes such as climate change and acidification in the atmosphere, oceans, the water cycle and global land cover and use. In light of the projections of scientific bodies such as the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), students become acquainted with different global warming scenarios and their likely impact on water management, vegetation, soil, health and other relevant sectors, and the correlated adaptation policies required in different parts of the globe in order to manage environmental change. It also addresses specific adaptation policies necessary in areas that are most likely to be affected by climate change, such as in Africa.
Strand II – Climate Change Mitigation, Business Strategies and Innovation
This strand focuses on climate change mitigation (non-LULUCF) and related business strategies and the development of technologies in the transition towards a low-carbon economy. A number of greenhouse gas mitigation and alternative energy policies – including renewable energy deployment and Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) - are selected for analysis. It examines the social and economic causes of the environmental changes with respect to population, urbanisation, energy policy, and pollution and addresses the policy options to mitigate climate change. It includes a study of international and regional schemes, carbon markets and alternative policies such as carbon or fuel taxes. In addition, this strand assesses the broader question of quantifying the costs and benefits of mitigation and adaptation in light of the developmental priorities of different regions of the globe, as well as possible business solutions towards low carbon economic growth.
Strand III – Biodiversity, Land Use Change and Forestry, and Conservation Strategies
This strand explores biodiversity loss, conservation strategies, the monitoring and prediction of change in the earth's ecosystems and their response to a range of environmental changes including climate change, and the impact of these changes on humans, ecosystems and the management of natural resources. The different mechanisms proposed or already applied to protect biodiversity broadly and in relation to climate change are covered in this part of the course. Among other things, we may critique mitigation policies applicable to the agricultural sector and look at the sustainability of biofuels as cleaner sources of energy.
Strand IV – Law and Governance
The strand draws together some of the issues outlined above. The role of international law and policy in developing innovative solutions for global environmental problems, such as climate change and biodiversity loss, is emphasised. It addresses the law and politics behind the negotiation of, inter alia, global climate change agreements, the international framework for climate change, environmental governance, examines the role of compliance and monitoring, asks bigger philosophical questions related to rights, equity and justice in an environmental context and looks at the fundamental principles and norms of the international environmental law regime and their utility in going forwards.
The course structure, individual seminars and activities are designed to enable each student to attain the following:
Understanding, skills and capabilities are developed and assessed through active participation in coursework which comprises research and presentation, negotiation and conflict management and a panel group exercise. Panel Meetings run throughout the option term. The aims of these sessions are to establish and coordinate research, discussion, presentation and negotiation in respect of selected global environmental change issues, leading ultimately to the formal conclusion or agreed policy and scientific statement on one or more aspects of GECP.
The Pollution Management option focuses on the interface and interaction between science, technology, and policy in the environment. There is an emphasis on local issues, but these are inescapably set within the context of regional and global developments. We draw on best practice in the UK and Western Europe, applied not only here but also in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and the Americas.
In Western Europe and North America, many short-range pollution problems of past decades have been solved, but business and industry find themselves operating in an environment where the public and government demand ever more stringent environmental standards. Other parts of the world might be seen as following some way behind this trend and learning from it, including where examples of acute local and regional pollution remain in a context of a pressing need for rapid socio-economic development. Globalisation is an additional, external source of pressure on every nation to meet the highest environmental standards that are increasingly prevalent elsewhere. In many cases, however, developing countries have an opportunity to learn from our mistakes as well as our successes. In particular, the trend of the past was for environmental protection to be an expensive luxury. Today, it is possible to find a different and more efficient path to a better quality of life for everyone, now and in the future, by protecting the environment in a way that leads simultaneously to an increase in economic prosperity. There is therefore continued growth in demand for graduates with expertise in pollution management:
Responses to pollution at least must reassure the public it is safe, or allow adaptation to or protection from its effects. A better approach is to control concentrations of a pollutant in the environment, but the best solution is to prevent its formation in the first place.
Integrated Pollution, Prevention and Control is a major development in this area, pioneered in the UK and now led by the European Union, bringing together management, planning, and communication as well as end-of-pipe technological solutions. But this needs to mesh with other kinds of regulatory and voluntary initiatives, especially where non-industrial sources of pollution including transport and agriculture make an important contribution, in more and less developed countries alike.
The Option is divided into six modules, covering all the major areas of environmental concern, and there is a significant interdisciplinary element throughout, reflecting the philosophy of the MSc as a whole. They should not be considered as stand-alone, but should be seen as a closely integrated whole:
Environment and Health
Air Pollution and Climate Control
Waste and Resource Management
Environmental Decision Making and Tools
Environmental Pollution and Assessment
Water Technology and Pollution
The majority of the graduates enter environmental consultancy both in the UK and abroad usually within the risk assessment and contaminated land areas. A second path of graduates is to regulatory agencies/government bodies such as the Environment Agency of England & Wales and the Department of Environment, Food & Rural Affairs. Other paths have included further study, the retail sector and banking. To date, the Option has had an excellent track record of employment with over 90% of graduates employed within 12 months of completing the MSc.
• PhD, Technical University of Athens
• Projects Manager, British Council, Brazil
• Environmental Health Officer, London Borough of Newham
• Assistant Director, Science & Technology Division, Ministry of Science, Technology and the Environment Malaysia
• Field Engineer, Schlumberger (Angola)
• Senior Consultant, Arthur D. Little
• General Director, Environmental Management, Environment Ministry, Mexico
• Partner and Director of UK Environmental Services, Price Waterhouse Coopers
• Technical Director, Stanger Science & Technology
• Senior Lecturer, Roehampton University
• Quality Control Engineer, Chiyoda Corporation, Doha, Qatar
• Head of Environmental Audit, Body Shop International
• Head of Solid Waste Control, Hong Kong Environmental Protection Department