Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Ecological Economics MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Ecological Economics

Deciding to study the MSc Ecological Economics was one of the best academic decisions I've ever made. It has been a challenging course which has exposed me to a huge range of topics, whilst allowing me to specialise in particular skills. The teaching has been outstanding, and the work has encouraged critical thought and the development of skills that are useful in academic, policy, consulting and corporate spheres. I could not recommend it more.

Chrissy Corlet MSc in Ecological Economics

From the biodiversity crisis and the climate crisis to the question of managing economies during a global pandemic - the topic of sustainability has never been more pressing.

The MSc Ecological Economics prepares you to contribute to solving sustainability problems by focusing on the intersection between:

  • the environment
  • the economy
  • and economic decision-making

This programme aims to equip you with a new way of seeing the world.

We will empower you to analyse how the economy and economic decisions affect our progress towards a more just and sustainable future.

What will I learn?

The interdisciplinary nature of the programme links environmental, social and economic systems together and focuses on the mutual dependences between them.

You will participate in sustainability problem-solving with an emphasis on application, practical experience and 'hands-on' learning.

You will experience training in a wide range of quantitative and qualitative methodologies and the associated data analysis using real-world case studies.

During your studies, you will implement a small, team-based research project. Designed collaboratively with staff members in response to a real-world sustainability problem, it will provide you with first-hand experience conducting the work of an ecological economist.

Is the MSc for me?

Ecological economics is an interdisciplinary field. We welcome students from a variety of academic backgrounds, including the natural and social sciences, as well as the arts and humanities.

In this MSc programme, you will learn how to critically analyse the root causes of real-world sustainability problems.

This programme will suit you if you're eager to embrace a hands-on learning approach. Our MSc aims to guide you on a journey to help you become a proficient ecological economist.

The curriculum is crafted to cultivate your ability to think and make decisions like an ecological economist when addressing real-world sustainability challenges. To facilitate this, we employ flipped-classroom designs, team-based learning, and problem-based learning methods. These approaches encourage you to grow in confidence as you adopt the perspective of an ecological economist.

If you're ready to engage with peers from diverse backgrounds and perspectives and are willing to actively discuss complex sustainability problems both in teams and in class – then this programme is for you!

Scotland's Rural College

This programme is delivered in collaboration with Scotland's Rural College (SRUC).

You will benefit from being a fully enrolled student at the University of Edinburgh, as well as access to all of the complementary staff, expertise, and resources at SRUC. Upon successful completion of the programme, you will be awarded your degree by the University of Edinburgh.

What is it really like to study with us?

No one knows what it is like to study here better than the students themselves. Our students are sharing their experiences - from studying to living in Edinburgh and everything in between.

Get social with us:

When to apply

Please note: Due to high demand for this programme, we operate on a series of early application deadlines.

We strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

For dates and details, please refer to 'Application Deadlines' and 'How to apply' on the right panel of this page.

You should also avoid applying to more than one degree. Applicants who can demonstrate their understanding and commitment to a specific programme are preferred.

If you plan to apply to more than one programme, you should discuss your choices with us before you submit your application. Where possible, we may make an alternative programme offer if you have been unsuccessful in your chosen programme.

This MSc programme comprises:

  • compulsory and option courses
  • dissertation


You will build up to completing your dissertation throughout the academic year.

Part of your preparation will come through compulsory courses (in which you will practice skills you need in the dissertation). Part of your preparation will also come through group and 1:1 sessions that support you in developing and progressing your ideas.

The programme will also help to connect you with potential topics and supervisors.

Ultimately, this will be your opportunity to explore a topic of your choice concerning ecological economics and prepare a dissertation that you can use to demonstrate your work to potential employers.

How will I learn?

You will experience a range of learning styles while studying, depending on the subject matter and courses you are taking. Our courses feature flipped classroom designs, team-based learning, and problem-based learning. Engagement will happen both in-person and online with both synchronous and asynchronous elements.

Through this mix of teaching approaches, you will:

  • learn core conceptual and theoretical knowledge related to ecological economics
  • gain a wide range of professional and transferable skills
  • acquire applied knowledge related to research methodologies, data analysis, and project design/implementation.

You can view each relevant course for teaching and assessment methods through the ‘Programme Structure’ link under compulsory and option courses below.

Changes to teaching and learning

We are committed to offering high-quality education to all our students. However, please be advised that there may be changes to course options and delivery. All decisions are made to ensure we can provide the highest standards for your educational experience. 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 limited due to course capacity and timetabling constraints. It may not be possible to guarantee every offer holder their top choice of optional courses.

Part-time study

You may study this programme part-time as we are committed to helping people into education while continuing to work or managing family and personal commitments.

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
MScEcological Economics1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2024/25
MScEcological Economics3 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2024/25
MScEcological Economics2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2024/25

Upon successful completion of the MSc in Ecological Economics, you will have:

  • An in-depth understanding of the field of ecological economics. As a part of this, you will understand how economic and environmental systems interact with and connect to each other and how these insights can be used to progress to a more sustainable future.
  • Experience applying a wide range of research and data analysis methodologies related to ecological economics and sustainability. This includes a mix of qualitative, quantitative, and simulation approaches.
  • Completed a team-based research project focused on a real-world sustainability problem.
  • Designed, led, and completed an individual research project related to ecological economics.
  • Developed a wide range of transferable and professional skills related to teamwork, interdisciplinary work, project management, leadership, and communication.

Graduates of the MSc Ecological Economics have historically been in high demand.

Our graduates are working in a variety of sectors, including:

  • environmental consultancies
  • international and governmental agencies
  • non-governmental organisations (NGOs)
  • financial institutions
  • multinationals
  • environmental education and research

Additionally, around a quarter of our Masters students eventually go on to doctoral research programmes.

Our graduates

Examples of the organisations our graduates have gained employment with include:

  • New Economics Foundation
  • UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre
  • Centre for European Policy Studies
  • Delta Energy and the Environment
  • Living Wage Foundation
  • Octopus Energy
  • Energise
  • LTS International
  • World Wildlife Federation (WWF)
  • NatureScot
  • University of Oxford
  • Department for Environment
  • Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
  • Carbon360
  • Conservation International
  • Mott MacDonald
  • EDF Energy
  • Scottish Water
  • Golder Associates Peru
  • Seafish
  • University of Leeds
  • ZALF
  • Price Waterhouse Coopers
  • Uganda Carbon Bureau

Alumni network

We maintain an alumni network on LinkedIn where jobs, PhD studentships, other opportunities, and announcements are shared.

All new students are invited to join and this helps to connect students to a wider community of practice related to ecological economics and sustainability.

Careers Service

Our award-winning Careers Service plays an essential part in your wider student experience at the University, providing:

  • tailored advice
  • individual guidance and personal assistance
  • internships and networking opportunities (with employers from local organisations to top multinationals)
  • access to the experience of our worldwide alumni network

We invest in your future beyond the end of your degree. Studying at the University of Edinburgh will lay the foundations for your future success, whatever shape that takes.

Field trips

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

Through our residential field trip, you will have the unique opportunity to design and complete a research project on a sustainability problem relevant to ecological economics. We will be guided by the needs of the location the trip is focused on in any given year.

Previous years have carried out projects that explored:

  • Perceptions of a just energy transition
  • Women’s perspectives of rural change
  • Envisioning conceptions of a good quality of life
  • Attitudes to conservation and environmental management

You will complete the research design process in teams under the mentorship of our expert staff.

The research process will involve primary data collection, analysis and communication with stakeholders. You will also gain valuable experience in project design, data collection and analysis before starting your dissertation.

You may also experience shorter field trips at other points in the year, either through Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) or the courses you are taking.

Our compulsory field trips or field courses are free, including travel and accommodation.

Changes to field trips

Field course locations may change for a variety of reasons, including the health and safety of our students, staff and communities, and to ensure we can maintain the highest standards for your educational experience. Where suitable, fieldwork will be relocated or rescheduled. We will also look at alternative arrangements that will ensure you achieve the quality learning outcomes of your degree. We will announce any changes as soon as possible.

Accessibility on field trips

We are committed to making our degree as accessible and inclusive as possible. In the event that you cannot attend a fieldwork trip, we will provide alternatives with comparable learning outcomes where necessary.

Where you will study

This programme is delivered in collaboration with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC).

You will have access to student facilities at both:

  • Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC)
  • University of Edinburgh

As a student of this MSc, you will also have access to the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute (ECCI) Masters Hub.

University of Edinburgh

You will have access to the University's facilities across all University sites.

For example:

  • laboratories
  • libraries
  • study spaces (some of which are open 24 hours)
  • computing facilities
  • social spaces
  • leisure facilities

Depending on the option courses you choose, you may study at various campus locations in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Climate Change Institute

As a student of this MSc, you will also have access to the Edinburgh Climate Change Institute (ECCI) Masters Hub. You will have access to the shared 'Masters Hub' study space in ECCI as well as the café and shared working spaces on the ground and first floors. Some of your teaching may take place in the ECCI.

ECCI is also close to many teaching spaces and facilities within the Central Area campus. For example, the Main Library and gym.

King's Buildings campus

The King's Buildings (KB) is the main campus of the College of Science and Engineering.

The King's Buildings campus is around 15 minutes from central Edinburgh. It is easily accessible by bus. You can also cycle (10 minutes) or walk (25 minutes) from the central area.

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC)

You will have access to SRUC’s student facilities. These include facilities at SRUC Edinburgh, which is located within the University of Edinburgh's King's Buildings campus.

Take a virtual tour

You can take a closer look at the School of GeoSciences and explore our facilities and campus on the University's Virtual Visit site. Discover our city's landmarks, our campuses, accommodation and get video tours - all in one place.

Edinburgh is your ideal base

Edinburgh is ranked 2nd in the UK and 16th in the world in the QS Best Student Cities 2024.

Edinburgh is not only a fantastic city to live in - it is the perfect location to study the subject you're studying. Our vibrant capital is an irresistible blend of history and modern city life. We have rich environmental locations to explore right on our doorstep. Immerse yourself among rugged coastlines, misty mountains, forest glens and sparkling freshwater lochs.

It is no surprise we are regularly voted one of the most desirable places to live in the world!

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

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 appropriate work experience.

Applicants from a wide variety of backgrounds are welcome to apply, but all students will be expected to engage critically with economic and environmental concepts, and will also be asked to engage in both quantitative and qualitative analysis. Students whose undergraduate degrees have not addressed one or more these areas should highlight in their applications their abilities to learn and to engage with these subject areas.

Students from China

This degree is Band B.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

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

English language tests

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

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.0 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 169 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 59 in each component.

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, Trinity ISE or PTE, 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 (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:


If you receive an offer of admission you will need to pay a deposit to secure your place.

  • £1,500 (this contributes towards your tuition fees)

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. The programme fees will cover costs of travel, accommodation and subsistence on compulsory field trips. However, you must pay for incidental or personal expenses.This may include suitable outdoor clothing and footwear.

Living costs

You will be responsible for covering living costs for the duration of your studies.

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScEcological Economics1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScEcological Economics3 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
MScEcological Economics2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

School of GeoSciences scholarships

Scholarships and student funding

You can find funding opportunities, tuition fees and costs of living for prospective UK and international postgraduate students on the University website.

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

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) alumni discount

The SRUC alumni discount aims to encourage SRUC graduates to take up opportunities to study taught masters (MSc). SRUC may provide a financial contribution towards tuition fees for eligible applicants for SRUC programmes delivered in conjunction with the University of Edinburgh.

SRUC will notify you if you are eligible to receive the discount on tuition fees during the application and admissions process. Please tell us on your application if you are a SRUC graduate, as this will help speed up the process. For further information, please get in touch with the Programme Administrator.

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Scotland's Rural College
  • Peter Wilson Building
  • West Mains Road
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3JG

Due to high demand for this programme, we operate on a series of selection deadlines.

We strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications may close earlier than the published deadlines if there is exceptionally high demand.

We may make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis. However, the majority of applications will be held until the advertised deadline.

We aim to make the majority of decisions within eight weeks of the selection deadline. Sometimes it may take longer than eight weeks to complete our decision-making and when this is the case we will contact applicants directly to provide an updated timeline for decision-making.

If we have not made you an offer by a specific selection deadline this means one of two things:

  • your application has been unsuccessful, in which case we will contact you to let you know
  • your application is still being considered, it will be carried forward for consideration in the next selection deadline, and we’ll be in touch once a decision is made

The final deadline may be extended if any places remain on the programme.

Selection Deadlines

Round Application Deadline Decisions made or applications rolled to next deadline
1 15 December 1 March
2 31 March 31 May
3 31 May 31 July

You must submit one reference with your application.

Please submit a CV/Resume with your application. Find out more about writing a suitable CV:

Failure to submit all required documents will prevent the Admissions team from considering you for a place on the programme. It may also delay the decision on your application beyond the stated deadline.

We advise you do not apply to more than one programme.

Where possible, we may make an alternative programme offer if you have been unsuccessful in your chosen programme.

More details are available on the College website: School of GeoSciences deadlines

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

Further information

  • Scotland's Rural College
  • Peter Wilson Building
  • West Mains Road
  • The King's Buildings Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH9 3JG