Postgraduate study

Environmental Protection and Management MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time


Funding opportunities

It was one of the best academic years I have completed. I was immersed in such a wide range of environmental issues. I took my dissertation as an opportunity to do an internship with Scottish Power Energy Networks. I currently work for an international development NGO. There is so much opportunity at Edinburgh, make sure to not let it skip you by!

Laura Young MSc Environmental Protection and Management
Laura Young               MSc Environmental Protection and Management

Your chance to play a vital role to protect and conserve the environment starts here.

Our actions have had, and continue to have a significant impact on our planet. Human impacts such as the use of natural resources, deforestation, soil erosion, the release of pollutants and pathogens, invasive species, and the increase in greenhouse gases are all examples of pressures that have potentially severe consequences for humanity and other life on Earth.

The MSc Environmental Protection and Management will give you an in-depth understanding of natural resource management based on a scientific understanding of the issues, but also linked across disciplines.

It will equip you with advanced skills and knowledge about the processes that give rise to environmental degradation and pollution problems, and the strategies to affect sustainable change.

Reputation, relevance and employability

The programme has been successfully delivered for over 20 years and continues to grow from strength to strength.

You will be taught by world-leading experts in key fields, as well as benefiting from our excellent relationships with industry and relevant employers.

The programme attracts students from a variety of backgrounds which gives you exceptional opportunities to learn from one another, and become part of a strong alumni network around the globe.

Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC)

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

You will not only benefit from being a fully matriculated student at the University of Edinburgh, but also access to the expert staff and resources at SRUC.

Upon successful completion of the programme, you will be awarded your degree by the University of Edinburgh.

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.


The MSc Environmental Protection and Management is accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES), allowing students on this programme to become members.

The IES provides access to news about jobs and events, free journal access and free or reduced entry to IES events.

Upon completing the programme, you can then upgrade for free to become an Associate of the Institution.

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 environmental protection and management.

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.

By studying the MSc Environmental Protection and Management, you will:

  • develop a scientific understanding of some of the major processes which influence the quality of land, air and water resources
  • acquire knowledge of the most effective methods of environmental protection
  • develop expertise in the design and implementation of programmes of environmental protection
  • have the opportunity to study the integrated protection and management of particular ecosystems or resources

Global climate change, our growing population and unprecedented consumption of finite resources are rising higher and higher on the political agenda across the world.

Graduates with the knowledge to apply the principles of effective management of limited resources and protection of our fragile environment are in high demand to find answers and solutions to problems such as deforestation, pollution, soil erosion, natural resource management and more.

In particular, addressing such issues needs graduates that can take a holistic and flexible approach to problem-solving, often also working with or across other disciplines.

Our graduates have a strong record of finding employment in the environmental sector around the world.

Recent graduates are working in roles such as:

  • environmental protection officer
  • coral reef fieldwork leader
  • planning consultant
  • scientific publisher
  • catchment management
  • ecological/environmental consultant

There are also many consultancy opportunities with environmental regulators, governments, non-government organisations (NGOs) and private environmental consultancies.

You can also progress to further research and academia.

Recent PhD subjects pursued include:

  • deer management
  • air pollution modelling
  • human-wildlife conflicts
  • use of UAV (drones) in environmental monitoring
  • Arctic ocean circulation systems

Our graduates

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

  • Scottish Environmental and Protection Agency (SEPA)
  • Talisman Energy
  • the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation

During my dissertation I managed to secure a position at the Environment Agency in Water Resources, basing my application around skills I was able to develop during this MSc. Since then I have progressed into Integrated Environmental Planning working on the River Basin Management plan and with water companies on catchment nutrient balancing projects. Mike Garland, MSc Environmental Protection and Management

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.

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 take part in a residential field trip* as part of this programme. This will enable you to refresh skills you have learned as well as develop new tools and techniques for your dissertation and future career.

On recent trips students learned a range of field and data analysis techniques, covering topics such as:

  • water quality, biodiversity and flood modelling
  • carbon footprinting of local agriculture
  • evaluating tourist and local community attitudes to sustainable tourism
  • soils, land use and biodiversity
  • air quality monitoring

You may also take part in a short field tour during induction week, to give you a chance to get to know your fellow students and staff.

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.

For the academic year 2021-22, the School of GeoSciences has decided not to run overseas field trips for our postgraduate taught Masters programmes.

Your safety and the safety of our staff and communities is our priority. We believe that attempting to take our students on international trips for the next twelve months will include an element of unacceptable risk that we are unable to anticipate and prepare for under current sector and Scottish government guidance.

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.

Any changes will be announced as soon as possible.

*(Revised 9 June 2021 to update information on field trips.)

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in biological science, environmental science, physical science, geography, engineering, economics or other relevant subject.

We may also consider a UK 2:2 honours degree, or its international equivalent, with relevant industry experience.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

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:


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

SRUC alumni discount

The SRUC alumni discount aims to encourage SRUC graduates to take up opportunities to study on taught masters (MSc) degree programmes run by SRUC in conjunction with the University of Edinburgh by providing a financial contribution towards the programme tuition fees to eligible applicants.

We will inform 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 contact the Programme Administrator.

*(Revised 26 March 2021 to remove information on SRUC bursary as this is no longer offered.)

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:

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

Due to high demand, the school operates a number of selection deadlines.

We will make a small number of offers to the most outstanding candidates on an ongoing basis, but hold the majority of applications until the next published selection deadline.

We aim to make the majority of decisions within six weeks of the selection deadline.

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, or
  • your application is still being considered, will be carried forward for consideration in the next selection deadline and we’ll be in touch once a decision is made

Selection Deadlines

Round Application Deadline Decisions made or applications rolled to next deadline
1 31 January 2021 15 March 2021
2 31 March 2021 15 May 2021
3 30 June 2021 15 August 2021

(*Revised 9 March 2021 to add information on decision timescales.)

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

Further information

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