Overview / About Programme Courses

The MSc in Ecosystem Services involves two semesters of taught courses followed by a dissertation research project. There is also a field trip in the spring.

For a PDF Programme Structure please scroll down to the bottom of the page.

Taught courses

The taught courses run over two semesters (September - December and January - April) and are worth a total of 120 credits. The two core courses are compulsory (40 credits) and the remaining 4 are optional courses selected by you, with guidance from your Programme Director.

If you are a part-time student, you can discuss the balance of courses across the two years with your Programme Director.

Core courses

The four core (compulsory) courses are:

  • Ecosystem Dynamics and Function (Semester 1, 20 credits)
  • Analysing the Environment (Semester 1, 10 credits)
  • Ecosystem Values and Management (Semester 2, 20 credits)
  • Analysing the Environment Study Tour (Semester 2, 10 credits)

Optional courses

You can select the remaining taught component from the broad range of optional course options available within the School of GeoSciences and across the University.

At the start of the year you will meet with your Programme Director to discuss which electives are most suited to your background, interests and goals.


From April to August you will undertake a dissertation project worth 60 credits. You are strongly encouraged and supported to link your dissertation with outside organisations, and to work in small groups around similar topics.

The University has partnerships with a wide range of local and international organisations involved with Ecosystem Services, including businesses, government, research institutions and policy institutes who can facilitate dissertation projects.

There is often addtional funding available to support dissertation projects in particular areas, including climate change and development, and the links between ecosystem services and poverty.

Field trip

The field trip takes place in spring and is an integral part of the core course Analysing the Environment Study Tour. It provides you with the opportunity to develop skills and gain experience in a variety of methods and approaches that will be useful for your dissertation and beyond completion of your degree.

Destinations for the field trip include Southern France (2011/12), and the Cairngorms in 2012/13 and 2013/14.

Ecosystem Services Programme Overview

To see how the academic year is made up and for further information on Core Courses and recommended Option Courses, please see the PDF below.

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