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MSc Environmental Change and International Development

Course Description

About the course

This is a vibrant postgraduate community, with strong international links. Our research partners are global, from UK universities to institutions in southern Africa, Denmark, Iceland, Australia and the USA. Our teaching is invigorated by work from several interdisciplinary research groups, like the Sheffield Centre for International Drylands Research, the Urban and Regional Policy Research Institute and the Sheffield Institute for International Development.

How we teach

Our staff are active researchers at the cutting-edge of their fields. That research informs our masters courses. As well as the usual lectures and seminars, there are practicals, lab classes, field trips and research projects.

Facilities and equipment

A new £1m Sediment-Solute Systems lab enables geochemical analysis of aqueous and solid phases, especially in the context of biogeochemistry. We have equipment for chromatography, UV spectrometry and flow injection/auto analysis.

Our sample preparation facilities enable digestion, pre-concentration by evaporation under vacuum, and tangential flow filtration. There are alpha and gamma counters, a laser particle sizer and a luminescence dating lab. Field equipment includes automatic water samplers, weather stations, data loggers and environmental process characterisation sensors.

We have high-quality petrological microscopes for examining geological samples. We have labs for spectrometry and for palaeontological preparation, and you’ll also have access to specialist facilities in other departments at the University.

Laptops, camcorders, tape recorders and transcribers are available for your fieldwork. Our postgraduate computer labs have networked workstations for GIS research and climate modelling, ARC/INFO, ERDAS software and specialist software for remote sensing. GIS facilities are also provided by the £5m Informatics Collaboratory for the Social Sciences.

Our new postgraduate media GIS suite has facilities for Skype, video conferencing, web design, video editing and creative media.


Most of our courses involve fieldwork. The MPH, MSc and MA International Development take students on a 10-day field trip where they put their research skills into practice. Recent classes visited the West Pokot region of Kenya, urban and rural areas of Nepal, the suburbs of Cairo and India.

Core modules

Ideas and Practice in International Development; Research Design and Methods in International Development; Understanding Environmental Change; Key Issues in Environment and Development; Professional Skills for Development; Dissertation with Placement; International Development field Class, currently in either Kenya or Nepal.

Examples of optional modules

Data, Visualisation and GIS; Living with Climate Change in the Global South; The Political Economy of Natural Resource-led Development in the Global South; Using Policy to Strengthen Health Systems; Cities of Diversity; Cities of ‘the South’: planning for informality.

Teaching and assessment

There are seminars, lectures, workshops and reading groups. You’ll be assessed on your coursework assignments and a dissertation.

Visit the MSc Environmental Change and International Development page on the University of Sheffield website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Mei Feng

Where were you/what were you doing before coming to Sheffield?

I was working as the China/Program Officer in the Secretariat of Australia-China Environment Development Program (ACEDP) funded by the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID). Prior to this I had completed my BA in Foreign Languages and Literature.

Why did you apply for this course?

I felt it was relevant to my previous technical background and the placement module is unique and attractive and I was fortunate to gain funding from the Chevening Scholarship which is co-sponsored by the university.

What has been the highlight of the course?

The field trip to Kenya and the forthcoming placement in Rome are both exciting and valuable experiences that can contribute to academic and practical skills improvement as well as professional portfolio enhancement.

What has it been like studying here?

The department has a quiet and friendly environment.

What would be the one bit of advice you would give to someone coming to study at Sheffield?

To be prepared for academic pressure and look forward to self-improvement.


Entry Requirements

You’ll need a good 2:1 or first class honours degree in geography or a related subject, or an equivalent recognised qualification. English language requirements: overall IELTS grade of 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component, or equivalent.

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