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Sustainable Development and Environmental Economics (MSc)

Course Description

Sustainable Development and Environmental Economics MSc

The MSc in Sustainable Development and Environmental Economics is a one-year, full-time taught postgraduate programme run by the Department of Geography and Sustainable Development. Sharing teaching elements from the MSc in Sustainable Development, this programme takes an interdisciplinary approach and draws on economic analysis and thinking to understand the links between people and their environment, resulting in a programme of study which is both intellectually stimulating and highly relevant to today’s job market.

During the taught portion of the programme, students take six modules which are taught via lectures, tutorials, seminar presentations, student-led workshops, as well as field trips and away days. Modules are assessed through written examinations and coursework including class tests, presentations and review essays.

Over the course of the programme, but with particular focus during the summer months, students will research and write a 12,000-word dissertation, and present their research at a dissertation conference.

Further particulars regarding curriculum development.


The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue which is for the 2015-2016 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for entry to the 2016-2017 academic year.

Compulsory modules
•Development and the Environment
•Interrogating Sustainable Development: provides an introduction to sustainable development.
•Master Class in Sustainable Development: trains students to critically reflect on the potential and limitations of sustainable development.
•Economics for the Environment: introduces the contributions that environmental economics can make to helping us understand and manage a wide range of environmental problems.
•Public Policy and the Environment: introduces advanced debates in development and environmental economics.

Optional modules

Students choose two optional modules. Alternative MSc-level modules may be taken from Schools across the University, with approval of the Head of School.

Optional modules are subject to change each year and require a minimum number of participants to be offered (see the University’s position on curriculum development), but currently recommended modules include:
•Quantitative Research in Social Science: a user-friendly introduction to the fundamental concepts of quantitative analysis.
•Geographic Information Systems for Environmental Management: introduces students to the basic principles, including the use of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and an introduction to the use of remotely sensed data for spatial analysis.
•Responsibility, Sustainability and Accountability in Organisations: an introduction and analysis of sustainability and corporate social responsibility, the meaning, tensions and conflicts that these concepts entail and the role that accountability can play in their achievement.
•Advanced Geographic Research Methods: allows students to specialise in a research area using a research method or technique that most interests them.
•Qualitative Methods in Social Research: offers both a theoretical and practical introduction to the collection, analysis and writing of qualitative social science research.
•Philosophy and Methodology of the Social Sciences: introduces the basic theoretical approaches in the social sciences, encouraging you to make connections between the methodological and epistemological issues involved in conducting social scientific research.


The dissertation gives students the chance to fully engage with the area of sustainable development about which you are most passionate, by researching and writing a 12,000-word dissertation which is the culmination of your degree. Advised by a member of academic staff, you will work across the summer months on your individual dissertation.

If students choose not to complete the dissertation requirement for the MSc, there is an exit award available that allows suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PGDip instead of an MSc.

Visit the Sustainable Development and Environmental Economics (MSc) page on the University of St Andrews website for more details!

Entry Requirements

A good 2.1 Honours undergraduate degree. No previous training in sustainable development is required, but students with an undergraduate degree in Economics or a business-related subject are welcome to apply.

Course Fees

2017/18: Home/EU £7,500; Overseas £20,370

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