School of Humanities and Performing Arts

MA Environmental Humanities

What can the arts, humanities and social sciences do to cultivate a deeper understanding of relationships between society, culture and the environment?

This programme brings multiple disciplinary perspectives into dialogue with the ecological sciences, conservation and environmental thought. Drawing on wide-ranging and world-leading staff expertise, this interdisciplinary MA will enable you to build key skills in communication, research and critical and creative thinking invaluable for building more environmentally responsible societies of the future.

Applications for 2020 entry

As a result of COVID-19, our team want to assure all applicants that we will be commencing our teaching with the new academic year of September 2020. We’ll be heeding government advice, but please know our programmes will be running this autumn, be it as traditional in-class delivery, a blend of this with some online teaching, or, if need be, fully online options. Ensuring the delivery of a quality education and a rich student experience is paramount, and we look forward to welcoming you.

Masters R&D Studentship 2020–21

This new initiative will pair highly skilled masters level students from across our faculty with local businesses in order to undertake a defined R&D challenge that will contribute to the development of a new product, process, service or experiential offering for the business and deliver an unprecedented learning experience for our students. The student will receive a scholarship of £3000 towards their programme fees.  

Find out more about the scheme.

Careers with this subject

The challenges of building a greener society have risen to the top of political, social and cultural agendas. This MA programme will enable students to gain interdisciplinary knowledge and skills crucial to this growth area. The MA in Environmental Humanities opens up a wide range career opportunities for graduates in areas such as

  • social-environmental research and education
  • ‘green’ cultural and creative industries such as film, TV, art and creative writing and other media
  • environmental journalism and communication
  • eco-tourism
  • private companies with a sustainability agenda
  • conservation and environmental non-governmental organisations
  • local, national and international governmental agencies concerned with conservation, climate change, and sustainable development.
To help you build your experience and skills portfolio, the MA also has the capacity to facilitate work-based projects and internships with partner organisations such as the National Trust.

Key features

  • Develop your environmental interests through humanities-based perspectives.
  • Design your own interdisciplinary pathway by choosing from a range of modules in English, History, Anthropology, Sociology and Education. 
  • Work with world-leading experts in a range of different disciplines.
  • Study at a university with strong environmental credentials; Plymouth is home to the Marine Institute and the Sustainable Earth Institute, which connect the environmental sciences to the arts and humanities through a range of exciting collaborations and events.
  • Benefit from University connections with a range of local and national organisations, such as the National Trust, Devon Wildlife Trust, the Marine Biological Association, National Marine Aquarium and The Box.
  • Make the most of the local area for both curricular and extra-curricular activities, with easy access to Dartmoor, as well as miles of beautiful coastline, numerous Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty nearby and the UK’s first National Marine Park in Plymouth Sound.

Course details

  • Year 1
  • In your first semester you take our core module which hones your skills in postgraduate research and familiarises you with key debates in the environmental humanities. You will also choose a further module from our exciting range of optional modules which range across numerous disciplines. In your second semester, you’ll take two further optional modules. Over the summer period you research and write your dissertation on a subject of your choice, with one-to-one supervision and support. This is a chance to work independently on a sustained project that interests and excites you.

    Core modules

    • MAEH700 Research Methods & Debates in the Environmental Humanities (30 credits)
    • MAEH701 Dissertation (60 credits)

    Elective modules 2020-21

    Autumn semester

    • MAEL707 Ocean Modernity: Literature and the Sea 1850 – present
    This module explores literary and cultural representations of the ocean from 1850 to the present. By engaging with a diverse array of literary and cultural texts, including fiction, poetry, non-fiction, theory and visual art, it will examine diverse and shifting cultural imaginaries of the sea. In so doing, it will also investigate wider relations between humanity and the non-human world in modernity.

    • MAHI726 Filth and the Victorians
    The module examines nineteenth-century Britain and the British world through public debates, practices, objects and environments related to dirt and cleanliness. Topics explored include: the urban dirt of human and animal waste; air and water pollution; washing and deodorising the Victorian body; the ‘cleansing’ of language and culture; cultural history of soap; ideas of pollution in terms of the racial ‘other’. These are selected to reveal key aspects of the social, cultural and intellectual, political history of the period.

    • MASU754 Alternatives in Education and Society

    This module aims to provide a systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of the current issues, challenges, new insights and opportunities in the field of alternative education and innovation in pedagogy. It will critically and creatively evaluate the emergence of utopian visions of a more sustainable and equitable society. It will consider their role alongside alternative education for developing new knowledge and the leadership of change, as well as providing critical ways of understanding the importance of envisioning probable and preferable futures.

    Spring semester

    • MAEH702 Coastal Cultures: Environmental and Maritime Anthropology
    This module examines current issues in maritime anthropology focusing on the interaction between coastal cultures and the environment. It approaches the natural and maritime landscape from a social, economic and political perspective. Students will study the ways anthropologists have sought to study the relationship between humans and their environment, starting with classical ecological and environmental deterministic studies, to current concerns about the Anthropocene, climate change, pollution and social degradation.

    • MAEL706 The Utopian Novel and Modernity
    This module will explore the intersection of utopian thinking, theory and the novel over a period spanning the late nineteenth century to the present. It will explore how this intersection relates to relevant political and cultural issues and contexts such as globalism, politics, gender and the environment. The module will engage with prominent theorists of utopia such as Ernst Bloch and Fredric Jameson. It will also focus on the work of a range of authors, such as William Morris, Ursula Le Guin, Doris Lessing and Kim Stanley Robinson.

    • MASU753 The Experience of Outdoor Learning

    This module discusses key concepts within outdoor learning as well as its connection with experiential learning and its value and potential from early years to adulthood. Consideration is given to the value that the natural environment has in education as well as to personal development and wellbeing. Participants are encouraged to deepen their own experience and critical thinking in relation to the subject as well as to the means by which they would like to develop their own practice 

    • MASU755 Learning for Sustainability and Global Citizenship
    This innovative module uses an applied community engaged approach to look critically and creatively at notions of sustainability and global citizenship competencies, and the learning contexts and systems in which individuals, institutions and communities gain these competencies. This entails applying the UN Sustainable development Goals to real world projects that seek to address sustainability priorities in and around the city of Plymouth, enabling students to explore ideas of interdisciplinarity and interconnectedness, with a dynamic and experiential link between theory and practice. This inclusion of a service learning pedagogical approach enables consideration of the potential contribution of formal and non-formal education, whilst emphasising the links between our lives and those of people throughout the world. In so doing, it allows students to consider ways to actively contribute to a world in which power and resources for change leadership are more equitably shared.       

    The selection of elective modules may change from year to year, as we regularly rotate, refresh and add to our portfolio of modules.

    Core modules
    • MAEH700 Research Methods & Debates in the Environmental Humanities

      This module will develop both theoretical and practical research skills. It will explore current areas of debate within the field of the Environmental Humanities, including the nature of cross-disciplinary research. Practical research skills developed include library and digital research skills, the use of databases, and the structuring, managing, and presentation of a project.

    • MAEH701 Dissertation

      The dissertation module provides the opportunity for students to undertake a supervised, self-directed, research project, independent of the modules they have studied. The project can be on any topic of their choice, relevant to the Environmental Humanities. It will make use of the IT, library, and other research and scholarly skills learnt the core Research Methods module and developed through subsequent modules.

    Optional modules
    • MAEH702 Coastal Cultures: Environmental and Maritime Anthropology

      This module examines current issues in maritime anthropology focusing on the interaction between coastal cultures and the environment.

    • MAEL706 The Utopian Novel and Modernity

      This module will explore the intersection of utopian thinking, theory and the novel over a period spanning the late nineteenth century to the present. It will explore how this intersection relates to relevant political and cultural issues and contexts such as globalism, politics, gender and the environment. The module will engage with prominent theorists of utopia such as Ernst Bloch and Fredric Jameson. It will also focus on the work of a range of authors, such as William Morris, Ursula Le Guin, Doris Lessing and Kim Stanley Robinson.

    • MAEL707 Ocean Modernity: Literatures of the sea, 1850- the present

      This module explores literary and cultural representations of the ocean from 1850 to the present. By engaging with a diverse array of literary and cultural texts, including fiction, poetry, non-fiction, theory and visual art, it will examine diverse and shifting cultural imaginaries of the sea. In so doing, it will also investigate wider relations between humanity and the non-human world in modernity.

    • MAHI726 Filth and the Victorians

      In this module students study the Victorian era from the perspective of environment, public hygiene, cultural values of cleanliness and fear of physical, moral and other forms of contamination. Drawing on urban histories, histories of medicine and science, the module also uses a range of literary and artistic sources.

    • MASU753 The Experience of Outdoor Learning

      This module discusses key concepts within outdoor learning as well as its connection with experiential learning and its value and potential from early years to adulthood. Consideration is given to the value that the natural environment has in education as well as to personal development and wellbeing. Participants are encouraged to deepen their own experience and critical thinking in relation to the subject as well as to the means by which they would like to develop their own practice.

    • MASU754 Alternatives in Education and Society

      This module aims to provide a systematic understanding of knowledge, and a critical awareness of the current issues, challenges, new insights and opportunities in the field of alternative education and innovation in pedagogy. It will critically and creatively evaluate the emergence of utopian visions of a more sustainable and equitable society. It will consider their role alongside alternative education for developing new knowledge and the leadership of change, as well as providing critical ways of understanding the importance of envisioning probable and preferable futures.

    • MASU755 Learning for Sustainability and Global Citizenship

      This innovative module uses an applied community engaged approach to look critically and creatively at notions of sustainability and global citizenship competencies, and the learning contexts and systems in which individuals, institutions and communities gain these competencies. This entails applying the UN Sustainable development Goals to real world projects that seek to address sustainability priorities in and around the city of Plymouth, enabling students to explore ideas of interdisciplinarity and interconnectedness, with a dynamic and experiential link between theory and practice. This inclusion of a service learning pedagogical approach enables consideration of the potential contribution of formal and non-formal education, whilst emphasising the links between our lives and those of people throughout the world. In so doing, it allows students to consider ways to actively contribute to a world in which power and resources for change leadership are more equitably shared.

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest programme structure and may be subject to change:

MA Environmental Humanities Programme Specification 6923

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements

A good degree (normally a 2.1 or above) in any discipline. Outstanding candidates without a degree but with relevant professional qualifications or experience are also welcome to apply. 

You will also need to meet the University’s language requirements. The minimum IELTS score for acceptable English proficiency for entry is normally 7.

English language requirements

We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated Brexit webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

New Student 2020 2021
Home/EU £7,800 To be confirmed
International £14,800 To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) £450 To be confirmed
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances.

Alumnus loyalty reward for postgraduate study

The University applies a discretionary alumni reward where alumnus meet certain criteria on particular postgraduate taught courses.

  • a 20 per cent discount on home/EU tuition fees
  • or a £2,000 discount on international tuition fees.
  • a 10 per cent alumni discount is available on the following programmes: MSc Advanced Psychology, MSc Clinical Psychology, MSc/PgDip Psychology and MSc Occupational Therapy.

PGCE programmes, Master of Architecture, MChem, MEng, MGeol, MPsych, MSci, ResM, MSc Environmental Consultancy, MSc Sustainable Aquaculture, MSc Environmental Geochemistry and postgraduate research degrees are not included in this reward.

Please note that students must have applied directly to be eligible.

For further details, and contact information, please review our alumni discount policy.

Postgraduate scholarships for international students

We offer several scholarships for international students who wish to study postgraduate taught (PGT) degree programmes.

Find out about the postgraduate scholarships available to you as an international student

How to apply

When to apply

Most of our taught programmes begin in September. Applications can usually be made throughout the year, and are considered until programmes are full. 

Before you apply

Familiarise yourself with the information required to complete your application form. You will usually be required to supply:
  • evidence of qualifications (degree certificates or transcripts), with translations if not in English, to show that you meet, or expect to meet the entry requirements
  • evidence of English language proficiency, if English is not your first language
  • a personal statement of approximately 250-400 words about the reasons for your interest in the course and outlining the nature of previous and current related experience. You can write this into the online application form, or include it as a separate document
  • your curriculum vitae or résumé, including details of relevant professional/voluntary experience, professional registration/s and visa status for overseas workers
  • proof of sponsorship, if applicable.
If you require further information take a look at our application guidance.

Disability services

If you have a disability and would like further information about the support provided by University of Plymouth, please visit our Disability Services website. 

International students

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email international-admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

Submitting an application

Once you are happy that you have all of the information required you can apply using our online postgraduate application form (the blue 'Apply now' icon on this page).

What happens after I apply?

You will normally receive a decision on your application within four weeks of us receiving your application. You may be asked to provide additional information; two academic/professional references, confirming your suitability for the course; or to take part in an interview (which in the case of overseas students may be by telephone or video conference) and you will be sent a decision by letter or email.

We aim to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. Our Admissions and Course Enquiries team is on hand to offer help and can put you in touch with the appropriate faculty if you wish to discuss any programme in detail.

If you would like any further information please contact the Admissions and Course Enquiries team:

Telephone: +44 (0)1752 585858
Email: admissions@plymouth.ac.uk 

Admissions policy

More information and advice for applicants can be referenced by downloading our Student Admissions Policy Prospective students are advised to read the policy before making an application to the University.

"We can no longer assume that the oceans are timeless and eternal. Human activities have changed the sea and we need to find new ways of imagining, conceptualising and interacting with them."

Dr Mandy Bloomfield, Associate Professor in Modern and Contemporary Literature, describes how her research explores environmental questions through literary study.

MA Environmental Humanities team