About the programme

The MSc in Environment and Development (E&D) is an interdisciplinary programme exploring the inter-dependencies between how critical ecosystems are managed and pathways for fair and sustainable socioeconomic development.

As one E&D student said "traditional academic approaches focus on 'just' development, while E&D is the future, looking at development as part of the environment". Many of the world's most pressing challenges - climate change, diminishing marine, coastal and forest resources, water, food, education, urbanisation, are inherently trans-boundary, multi-scalar and multi-generational. This MSc in E&D focuses on the nexus of environmental change and livelihoods for the least developed countries (LDCs), or the "Global South", where the quality of many people's lives are severely compromised by declining ecosystem functionality and impacts on livelihood options and security.

This MSc in Environment & Development challenges students to cultivate research thinking that is cross-cutting and globally relevant, but also grounded, through focusing on particular issues, places or systems, and providing insights to real-world applications. For example, this programme addresses questions such as:

  • What links poverty and the natural environment?
  • Are there environmental limits to economic growth?
  • Does development solve poverty and environmental degradation, or create new problems?
  • How will climate change shape the opportunities of people living in poverty?
  • How do regional or global economics influence poverty beyond the borders of a particular country, culture or village?

A hallmark of the MSc in E&D at the University of Edinburgh, is the programme's home in the School of GeoSciences, with world-leading researchers and lecturers in the earth, ecological and social sciences. The breadth and depth of the School enables students to explore society and environment issues through different lenses, examining the interplay of biophysical dynamics, socio-cultural perspectives, economics and governance.

Through combining the latest environmental research with practical knowledge of international development, you will learn to analyse pressing social and environmental problems. Whether you presently work with an NGO or are looking a career in environment and development, this MSc will give you the skills to look at real world problems in a new way.

The programme has strong links to international development practices and outside organisations. The skills you will obtain during the programme would enable you to work for development agencies in the government and non-government sector.

You will typically have a background in a social science or a natural science subject, including strong writing and critical thinking skills in English developed through your undergraduate or professional experience. You will typically have proven work or volunteer experience at the community, regional, national or international scale demonstrating your interest in development issues and the impact of the environment on communities in the developing world.

Your 'Personal Statement' for your application to this programme will illustrate how your background and interests are relevant to the MSc in Environment and Development and how this particular MSc will help you advance your personal and professional career goals.

Global Development Academy

This programme is affiliated with the University's Global Development Academy.

Teaching and Assessment

MSc teaching is executed through a range teaching and assessment modes which are designed to prepare the student for competency in doing a master's dissertation.

Teaching modes vary with courses but may include:

  • formal lectures on targeted topics and case studies from around the world
  • informal lectures with questions and group discussion
  • reading lists from key peer-reviewed social and natural science literature;
  • practical classes including computer and scenario modelling on some courses
  • verbal feedback and written feedback on assessed work

Assessment modes vary with courses but may include:

  • short written responses and reviews of key readings and literature
  • formal written essays challenging critical thinking and analytic of complex social and environmental topics;
  • essay based exams on key content of courses
  • group and individual visual and verbal presentations on case study topics
  • group and individual poster session materials on case study topics

All admissions queries and questions relating to the application process should be directed to:

  • Recruitment and Admissions Team
  • College of Science and Engineering
  • Weir Building
  • The King's Buildings
  • West Mains Road
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3JY
  • Work: +44(0)131 650 5737
  • Fax: +44(0)131 650 5738

For general enquiries about the programme, please contact the Programme Secretary. For academic enquiries, please contact the Programme Director.

Programme Secretary:

  • Natasa Honeybone
  • MSc Programme Secretary
  • The School of GeoSciences
  • Geography Building
  • Drummond Street
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9XP
  • Work: +44 (0) 131 650 2572

Programme Director:

  • Dr Antonio Ioris
  • MSc Environment and Development, Programme Director
  • The School of GeoSciences
  • Room 1.06
  • Geography Building, Drummond Street, Edinburgh
  • EH8 9XP
  • Work: +44 (0) 131 651 9090

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