Postgraduate study

Environment and Development MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

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 and development agendas, and global inequalities - for today and the future.

The MSc 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.

What will I learn?

You will learn about issues that are inherently trans-boundary, multi-generational and multi-faceted, such as:

  • sustainable development
  • climate change
  • diminishing natural resources
  • biodiversity conservation
  • water
  • food
  • 'waste'
  • energy
  • disaster risk
  • vulnerability and adaptation
  • gender and social equality
  • urbanisation

Attempts to understand and address these interconnected issues need to pay close attention to their contested, political and ideological nature.

That is why our MSc foregrounds 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.

The 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.

It will provide 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.

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.

How will I learn?

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

The programme helps you develop:

  • critical reflective skills
  • strong research and critical analysis capabilities
  • professional skills tailored to environment and development sectors
  • a deep understanding of society and environment issues

It provides a strong basis for engaged citizenship in the world, enabling you to contribute to world debates and actions for reducing inequalities and working towards social and environmental justice and more sustainable practices.

Reputation, relevance and employability

You will be taught by world-leading researchers and experienced practitioners working in environment and development fields, in a range of sectors from NGOs, consultancies or state organisations.

We will challenge you to cultivate reflective research thinking that is cross-cutting and globally relevant.

Guest speakers and teaching staff will provide insights to real-world applications.

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

Is the MSc for me?

The MSc Environment Development 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 fortunate to attract a wide range of students from around the world, and we celebrate that diversity and the opportunities for learning that brings.

Find out more from our students

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

This MSc programme comprises:

  • compulsory and option courses
  • dissertation

Throughout the programme, your teaching team will work with you to prepare for the dissertation project. This will be your opportunity to explore a topic of your choice in relation to environment and development.

Teaching methods

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 teaching and learning styles including:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars
  • workshops
  • practicals
  • short field trips
  • longer field courses

Please view each relevant course for teaching and assessment methods.

Changes to teaching and learning

We are committed to offering a high-quality education to all our students. Please be advised that there may be changes to course options and delivery, including due to Covid-19.

Changes to how we deliver teaching and learning experiences will be made to safeguard the health and safety of our students, staff and community, and to ensure we can maintain the highest standards for 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

As we are committed to helping people into education while 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.

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
MSc1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2020/21
MSc2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2020/21

As a graduate of the MSc Environment and Development, you can seek roles in a variety of sectors, including:

  • international and national development agencies
  • state agencies
  • think tanks
  • non-government organisations (NGOs) and civil society
  • environmental and development consultancies
  • the private sector

Our students are also well-placed to progress to PhD research and academia.

Recent graduates have, for example, progressed to doctoral studies focusing on marine governance in south-east Asia and on conservation practice in east Africa.

Through this MSc, you will meet 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.

Our graduates

Examples of where our recent graduates have secured positions include:

  • the United Nations
  • Oxfam
  • Edinburgh-based consultancies and environmental certification organisations
  • a range of smaller NGOs and home-country government departments around the world

Careers Service

Our Careers Service plays an essential part in your wider student experience at the University, offering a range of tailored careers and personal development guidance and support.

We support you to recognise the wealth of possibilities ahead, while at University and after graduation.

The MSc in Environment and Development usually includes an international field trip, where you can meet with a range of people from government, development agencies, NGOs, grassroots organisations, research institutions and local communities who can introduce you to a variety of projects and practices.

Previous destinations have included Cuba and Nepal. Students explored:

  • water management
  • community forestry
  • adaptations to climate change
  • biodiversity conservation

They then designed, developed and conducted small group research projects facilitated by our staff and collaborators.

You can read student experiences in Nepal here:

There are no additional charges for compulsory field trips.

Changes to field trips

Field course locations may change for a variety of reasons, including due to Covid-19.

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.

Decisions will be made to safeguard the health and safety of our students, staff and community, and to ensure the highest standards for educational experience.

Any changes 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

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 20 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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 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:

Deposit

You will need to pay this deposit if you receive an offer of admission (either unconditional or conditional).

  • £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.

Costs of travel, accommodation and subsistence on compulsory field trips will be covered by the programme fees. However, you must pay for incidental or personal expenses.

Living costs

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

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MSc1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MSc2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

Featured funding

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