Postgraduate study

Environment and Development MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Environment and Development

The MSc in Environment and Development (E&D) is an interdisciplinary programme exploring the inter-dependencies between pressing environmental concerns and development pressures. It explores these themes, the disputes around it and practical issues from an informed theoretical perspective, with an abiding concern for social justice claims. Conventional academic approaches focus on development or the environment as separate categories, while this programme looks at socioeconomic development as a socio-ecological and politicoecological process.

In particular this E&D programme focuses on:

  • grounding students in an awareness of the contested development paradigm;
  • inculcating an awareness of economic, political and cultural links between environmental change and social inclusion.

Those issues will be studied at the local and national level, but also taking into account the global scale of environmental and development agendas. In many cases the root causes of inequality and poverty, both in the Global South and in the Global North, are driven by regional or global economics far beyond the borders of a particular country, village or region.

The programme will teach you to critically evaluate the multiple dimensions of the relationship between development and the environment. Teaching, fieldwork, group and practical exercises will use examples of relevance to Northern and Southern countries.

The breadth and depth of the School of GeoSciences enables students to explore a variety of environment and development issues relevant to the programme: e.g. biophysical dynamics, food insecurity, environmental governance, river basin management, cultural studies, climate change, multiple scarcities and inequalities, gender and development,etc. Students are challenged to cultivate research thinking that is cross-cutting and globally relevant, but also grounded in cases that focus on particular issues, places or systems, providing insights to effective solutions.

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

This MSc consists of two semesters of taught courses. Students take two compulsory and four option courses, each a balance of lectures, seminars, workshops and visits, followed by an individual dissertation.

Compulsory courses typically will be:

  • Understanding Environment and Development
  • Development: Principles and Practices
  • Research and Practice: Fieldwork
  • Dissertation

Option courses:

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

Semester 1 Optional Courses

  • Atmospheric Quality and Global Change
  • Development, Science and Technology
  • Displacement and Development
  • Climate Change and Corporate Strategy
  • Economic Issues in Public Policy
  • The Ecology of Ecosystem Services
  • Energy and Society I; Key Themes and Issues
  • Environmental Valuation
  • Frameworks to assess Food Security
  • Frameworks to assess Food Security
  • Marine Systems and Policies
  • Principles of Environmental Sustainability
  • Research Design in Human Geography
  • Soil Protection and Management
  • Swahili 1A

Semester 2 Optional Courses

  • Anthropology and Environment
  • Anthropology of Global Health
  • Case Studies in Sustainable Development
  • Corporate Social Responsibility and the Law
  • Critical perspectives on mental health and well-being in the global south
  • Energy Policy and Politics
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • EU and National Climate Change Law
  • Forests and Environment
  • Gender and Development
  • Global Environmental Politics
  • Human dimensions of environmental change and sustainability
  • International Political Economy
  • International Security
  • Interpreting Development: Institutions and Practices
  • Interrelationships in Food Systems
  • Marine Infrastructure and Environmental Change
  • Participation in Policy and Planning
  • Political Ecology
  • South Asia: Roots of Poverty and Development
  • Sustainability of Food Production
  • Swahili 1B
  • The International Politics of Money
  • Waste Reduction and Recycling
  • Water Resource Management

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

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

This programme is suitable for students seeking roles within international and national development agencies, thinktanks, NGOs, environmental consultancies or the private sector, or those going on to PhD research.

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.

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.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates. Revised 22/03/2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)

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.

Any applicants who are required to pay will receive an offer with full details. (If there is no information on your offer about the deposit then you are not required to pay.)

  • If you receive an offer before 1 March, you must pay your deposit by 31 March.
  • If you receive an offer between 1 March and 30 June, you must pay your deposit within 28 days.
  • If you receive an offer on or after 1 July, you must pay your deposit within 14 days.

Find out more about tuition fee deposits:

Tuition fees

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

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not 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. We may consider late applications if we have places available, but you should contact the relevant Admissions Office for advice first.

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