Postgraduate study

Environmental Sustainability

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding available

Programme website: Environmental Sustainability

In this programme, leading academics encourage students to think across different disciplines to blend scientific, socioeconomic and policy perspectives for a stronger understanding of sustainability and how it can be achieved. This wider perspective is attractive to organisations which promote sustainable development or seek to reduce humanity’s effect on the environment.

Ensuring the environmental sustainability of society is one of the major challenges facing humanity in the 21st century. How can the needs of the world’s growing population be met without threatening the ecological processes that support human wellbeing?

How can the economy and energy systems be restructured to combat climate change? What policies foster sustainability? How can the necessary changes in the behaviour of organisations and individuals be promoted? This MSc programme explores these and related, topical questions.

This programme is affiliated with the University's Global Environment & Society Academy.

This programme consists of six taught courses, studied over two semesters. Students will also undertake a research project leading to a dissertation of up to 20,000 words.

Compulsory courses typically will be:

  • Principles of Environmental Sustainability
  • Case Studies in Sustainable Development
  • Dissertation

Option courses: In consultation with the Programme Director, you will choose from a range of option courses. We particularly recommend:

  • Atmospheric Quality and Global Change
  • Ecosystem Services 1: Ecosystem Dynamics and Functions
  • Foundations in Ecological Economics
  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability
  • Integrated Resource Management
  • Project Appraisal
  • Marine Systems and Policies
  • Development: Principles and Practices
  • Understanding Environment and Development
  • Energy Policy and Politics
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Forests and Environment
  • Global Environmental Politics
  • Participation in Policy and Planning
  • Political Ecology
  • Sustainability of Food Production
  • Waste Reduction and Recycling
  • Water Resource Management
  • Climate Change and Corporate Strategy

Courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change.

Students will be equipped to:

  • assess the sustainability of policies, programmes and projects at scales ranging from the local to the global
  • analyse environmental problems using knowledge from different disciplines, leading to well-founded and effective solutions
  • advocate sustainable development and engage in informed debate on current environmental controversies

This programme prepares students for a wide range of roles within environmental consultancy, national and local government, non-profit organisations, education or research. The choice of option courses and dissertation projects can be tailored towards your chosen career path.

Would you like to know what it’s really like to study at the School of GeoSciences?

Visit our student experience blog where you can find articles, advice, videos and ask current students your questions.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a biological, environmental or physical science, geography, social science or other relevant subject. Due to the focus of this programme, business-related degrees are, unfortunately, not suitable for entry.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:

  • an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration
  • UKVI list of majority English speaking countries
  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)
  • PTE(A): total 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections; the "Enabling Skills" sections are not considered)
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than two and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.

Find out more about our language requirements:

  • Deputy Programme Director & Admissions Contact, Dr Simon Allen
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 7215
  • Email: simon.allen@ed.ac.uk
  • School of GeoSciences
  • Geography Building
  • Drummond Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9XP

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

You must submit a reference with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Deputy Programme Director & Admissions Contact, Dr Simon Allen
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 7215
  • Email: simon.allen@ed.ac.uk
  • School of GeoSciences
  • Geography Building
  • Drummond Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9XP