Postgraduate study

Environmental Sustainability MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Environmental Sustainability

The best thing was being around so many engaged people all wanting to make the world a better place. In my latest role - campaigning against large scale bioenergy developments - I can finally put the same political thinking I developed during the Masters course into my job. I wouldn't have even got close to this without my year in Edinburgh.

Mark Robinson MSc Environmental Sustainability
Mark Robinson               MSc Environmental Sustainability

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 well-being?
  • How can 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?

The MSc in Environmental Sustainability explores these and other related, topical questions. You will be encouraged to think across different disciplines to blend scientific, socio-economic and policy perspectives for a stronger understanding of sustainability and how it can be achieved.

The programme takes an international perspective, with a focus on regions in the global North.

With a rapidly growing population and global climate change, more organisations are working to promote sustainable development or reduce human impacts on the environment. Edinburgh is a hub for organisations seeking to influence national environmental sustainability debates, giving you access to interesting case studies and opportunities for networking.

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:

  • 2 Compulsory courses
  • 4 Option courses
  • Dissertation

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

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, small group projects and field trips.

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
MScEnvironmental Sustainability1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2019/20
MScEnvironmental Sustainability2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2019/20
MScEnvironmental Sustainability3 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2019/20

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 will prepare you for a wide range of roles within environmental consultancy, national and local government, non-profit organisations, environmental agencies, education or research at community, national or international levels.

You can apply critical thinking, policy analysis and interdisciplinary environmental skills in sectors as diverse as transport, renewable energy, ecosystem planning and management, community development, technology innovation and beyond.

There is much diversity within the programme, where your option courses and dissertation can be tailored to support your intended career path.

Recent graduates have been employed in sustainability related roles in organisations such as Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Carnegie Wave Energy, E.ON, Friends of the Earth, German Council for Sustainable Development, Global Justice Now, Institute for European Environmental Policy, International Energy Agency, London Borough of Camden, Marine Conservation Society, Northumbrian Water Group, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), John Muir Trust, The Scottish Government, Transport for London, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC secretariat), World Resources Institute and Zero Waste Scotland.

During Welcome Week there is a two-day residential field trip to the Scottish Highlands, providing a good opportunity to get to know fellow students, and see some of Scotland’s rural landscapes. In previous years, the trip has visited Findhorn ecovillage, an internationally-renowned exemplar of sustainable living, and the Cairngorms National Park, an important area for nature conservation and tourism.

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 not suitable for entry.

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.

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScEnvironmental Sustainability1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScEnvironmental Sustainability2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
MScEnvironmental Sustainability3 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.

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