Postgraduate study

Environment and Development MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Environment and Development

I have learnt to appreciate the social aspect of the environment through studying this programme. It has helped me get a deeper understanding of economics, anthropology, gender issues and policies. This was very valuable having come from a pure science background and it helped me integrate the two since they go hand in hand. Moving forward, I plan to be more involved in initiatives that promote social mobility and justice among the poor communities, especially in being able to access vital resources like renewable energy.

Anita Owiti MSc Environment and Development

Are you ready to explore some of the world’s most pressing challenges?

Understand the link between the environment, development agendas and global inequalities, for today and for the future.

Issues such as climate change, diminishing natural resources, biodiversity conservation, water, food, ‘waste’, energy, disaster risk, vulnerability and adaptation, gender and social equality, and urbanisation are inherently trans-boundary, multi-generational and multi-faceted.

The MSc in Environment and Development enables you to critically evaluate the multiple dimensions of the inter-relationship between development and the environment, with an abiding concern for social and environmental justice.

This MSc highlights the contested, political and ideological nature of environment and development issues, foregrounding society and nature as inherently linked, historical contexts as highly relevant to current debates, and global capitalism as an underlying force of change. Issues will be explored across a range of geographical scales, seeing the local and global as necessarily inter-related. It will consider the increasingly diverse set of actors, practices and processes driving environment and development issues, and question the power of these to direct agendas and actions.

In an inherently dynamic and diverse world, this MSc has relevance in both the ‘Global South’ and ‘Global North’, drawing attention to relationships of inequality and marginalisation as they occur for particular environments and sections of society around the world.

The MSc encourages you to reflect upon your own roles, as both researchers and as professionals, in transformations towards social and environmental justice, considering the ethics of engagement in an unequal world.

The MSc provides you with a unique critical perspective as it draws on expertise from across the University especially from development geography, social and political sciences, and environmental studies. You can explore society and environment issues through different theoretical and conceptual lenses, examining the interplay of sociocultural perspectives, economics and governance, development debates and ecological dynamics.

You will be taught by world-leading researchers, who will challenge you to cultivate research thinking that is cross-cutting and globally relevant, and provide insights to real-world applications. There is much diversity in what you can study and conduct research on, enabling you to develop your interests at an advanced level in an area you are most passionate about.

The MSc will suit a range of students, including those who have practical experience in the broad field of environment and development, either as practitioners, volunteers or activists. It is suitable for students from a wide range of undergraduate disciplines, from the environmental and natural sciences to the social and political sciences and humanities. We are lucky to attract a wide range of students from around the world and we celebrate that diversity and the opportunities for learning that brings.

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

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

Visit our student blog, where our students share their experiences of postgraduate study, living in Edinburgh and everything in-between.

This MSc programme is comprised of:

  • 3 Compulsory courses
  • 3 Option courses
  • Field trip
  • Dissertation

Although we endeavour to provide a wide range of optional courses to choose from, these can be subject to change or cancellation at short notice. Places on optional courses can be restricted on the basis of numbers, room capacity and timetabling constraints. It may not be possible to guarantee every offer holder their top choice of optional courses*.

*(Revised 11 December 2019 to include information on optional courses.)

You will experience a range of teaching styles while you are studying, depending on the subject matter and courses you are taking. Courses can be delivered through a mix of lectures, tutorials, seminars, workshops, practicals, laboratory work, short field trips and longer field courses.

Part-time study

As we are committed to helping people into education whilst continuing to work or managing family and personal commitments, you may study this programme part-time.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScEnvironment and Development1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2019/20
MScEnvironment and Development2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2019/20

Through this MSc, you will be exposed to a range of environment and development practitioners who offer their perspectives on taught courses, through dedicated postgraduate career activities, and potentially through collaborations during your own dissertation research.

Students on the MSc can go on to seek roles in a variety of sectors, including international and national development agencies, state agencies, think tanks, NGO’s and civil society, environmental and development consultancies, and the private sector.

Examples of where our recent graduates have secured positions include within the UN, Oxfam, Edinburgh-based consultancies and environmental certification organisations, and a range of smaller NGOs and home-country government departments around the world.

Our students are also well placed to progress to PhD research and academia. Recent graduates have for example gone on to doctoral studies focusing on marine governance in south-east Asia and on conservation practice in east Africa.

Field trips are an excellent way in which to explore the factors and forces that shape our world and enable you to put valuable skills into practice.

You will have a unique opportunity to experience first-hand the intersection of environment and development issues within the global South through collaboration with a leading indigenous research organisation. Previous locations have been to Nepal, where students met with a range of people from government, development agencies, (I)NGOs, grassroots organisations, research institutions, and local communities.

You will be introduced to projects, practices and processes related to issues such as water management, community forestry, adaptation to climate change, disaster management, and biodiversity conservation.

Based on these initial interactions and insights, you will then design, develop and conduct small group research projects, facilitated by staff and in-country collaborators.

This provides you with a supportive and shared experience that will prove invaluable during your subsequent independent research dissertation. It will allow you to think about the role and value of academic theory and critique ‘in the real world’, as well as to gain experience and skills valuable to employers such as first-hand knowledge of development projects and an ability to cope and thrive in challenging conditions.

The course also encourages you to reflect on the process of ‘fieldwork’ itself, its ethical dimensions, and the role it has to play in academic research and in the practice of international development and environmental management.

  • We are pleased to advise that we do not charge extra fees for compulsory field trips. Travel and accommodation costs are covered by your programme.
  • Field course locations may change for a variety of reasons. In any given academic year, the main destination of the field course will be announced as soon as possible.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent.

We may also consider a UK 2:2 honours degree, or its international equivalent, with relevant work experience, a strong personal statement and supportive reference.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)

  • PTE Academic: 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

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Tuition fee deposit

If you receive an offer of admission, either unconditional or conditional, you will be asked to pay a tuition fee deposit of £1,500 to secure your place on the programme.

Find out more about tuition fee deposits:

Field trips and field courses

We do not charge extra fees for compulsory field trips or field courses. Costs of travel, accommodation and subsistence on compulsory field trips will be covered by the programme fees. However incidental/ personal expenses are to be met by the student.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScEnvironment and Development1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScEnvironment and Development2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

School of GeoSciences Scholarships

Browse funding opportunities

You are also encouraged to undertake your own research into the range of potential scholarships and other funding for which you may be eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • 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.

You must submit one reference with your application.

Please note that applicants must demonstrate strong English language and writing skills as the ability to write effectively is required for this programme and its core courses.

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

Further information

  • School of GeoSciences
  • Geography Building
  • Drummond Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9XP