School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

MSc Environmental Consultancy


1 year

Course type

Full-time, Part-time route available

Study location Plymouth

Conserve our environment for future generations – work within the sector on an eight-week placement to reduce human impacts and provide solutions to today's environmental challenges across the globe. This MSc programme helps launch your career, giving you the skills and knowledge required for a job in the environment sector. Maximise your career prospects by learning the latest desk, laboratory and field techniques used in the management and assessment of environmental impact.

Environmental Consultancy

The Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) 2022

We are extremely proud of our outstanding results in the latest Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) 2022. The MSc Environmental Consultancy degree received 100% overall satisfaction for course quality, 92% for teaching and learning and 93% for skills development. 100% of students responding to the survey agreed that staff were good at explaining things and enthusiastic about what they teach. The results place the degree significantly above the sector benchmark.

Times Higher Education Impact Rankings 2022*

The University of Plymouth has been named among the top 5% of universities globally in 2022 for its contribution to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals*, in particular, work on marine issues and on climate change. In the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, sustainability is at the heart of our research and teaching. From sustainable cities, affordable and clean energy, to climate policy, biodiversity, and natural hazards, our academic staff work with partners locally and overseas to help understand, communicate and solve fundamental and pressing sustainability challenges.

Careers with this subject

We pride ourselves on our proven track record of getting our students into jobs. Our degree is focused on maximising your careers prospects, facilitated via networking opportunities during the taught programme, an 8 week placement, and a dissertation project which you can complete in collaboration with partners including NGOs, consultants, industry and charities.

Key features

  • Embark on an eight week work placement in the environmental sector which will give you an invaluable insight into the environmental business sector and, in many cases, has led to permanent positions being offered by employers. See the organisations we partner with to provide student placements.
  • Benefit from our expertise in areas including species and habitat restoration, evaluation of contaminated water and terrestrial environments, environmental law, geographical information systems, waste management and marine surveys.
  • Carry out your own environmental impact assessment, from data acquisition to production of a full environmental statement.
  • Investigate through fieldwork how environmental issues and constraints have been managed in the South West and further afield.
  • Use the University’s high specification analytical equipment for environmental monitoring and the research vessel, Falcon Spirit, for marine sampling.
  • Undertake a research-based project – you’ll be encouraged to develop a solution to a problem-based research question, working where possible in association with industry and your academic advisor.
  • All modules are assessed 100% by coursework, designed to reflect the outputs of the industry, readying you for what you are likely to be asked to do in your job.
  • Work towards achieving chartered environmentalist status through your masters. The award has also received considerable support and recognition from employers and professional bodies such as the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA).
  • A diverse and respectful place in which to work and study is fundamental to everything we do. Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science.

Course details

  • Programme overview

  • Our MSc is designed by practising professionals from within the consultancy sector and reflects all of the key skills you need to thrive as a professional within the field of environmental consultancy and management 
    Learn from our environmental management expertise in areas such as data handling, environmental impact assessments including field survey work, environmental systems, professional practice, legislation and regulation as well as geographical information systems which are a key skill within the sector.
    The MSc comprises a 12-week and 7-week period of taught modules with an 8-week environmental sector work placement and 18-week dissertation period. Practising consultants give an insight into opportunities within the environmental sector. All core modules reflect the outputs of the industry, readying you for your future career.
    Module choice, placement organisation and dissertation project tailor your MSc to provide the strongest possible CV with which to gain the job you seek. Our close relationship with employers within the sector via our work placements ensures the MSc is fully up to date to provide you with the best possible for starting your career. 

    Core modules

    • Professional Practice in the Environmental Sector (GEES515)

      This module examines the place of sustainability and environmental management in modern business practice, and prepares students for professional work experience in semester 2. It also provides students with a critical understanding of the principles, ethics and methods of environmental law and regulation, and examines the role of economics in characterising and addressing human interaction with the environment

    • Environmental Assessment (GEES517)

      This module examines current legislation and guidance on, and methods of, environmental assessment, focussing on strategic environmental assessment (SEA) and environmental impact assessment (EIA). Through critical investigation of case studies, students will learn how to use methodologies to evaluate impacts on environmental receptors and communicate outcomes, including impact statements, to professional standards.

    • MSc Dissertation (GEES520)

      The student will complete an independent research project that they have designed in semester 1 as part of their research skills development. The record of the research will communicate the project aims, research problem, methodology, data analysis, interpretation, discussion/synthesis and conclusions in the format specified and to a professional standard.

    • Professional Placement Experience (GEES500)

      This module provides an opportunity to experience professional practice via work experience with a company / host organisation. It will allow you to apply and develop your subject skills and knowledge, learn more about professional careers within the sector aligned to your degree, develop contacts with potential employers, and refine your career aspirations.

    • Environmental Knowledge: From Field to Stakeholder (GEES536)

      This module reviews qualitative and quantitative research methods relevant to professional and academic investigations in the field of policy-making, planning, management and consultancy in the built and natural environments. It encompasses the complete lifecycle of research (design, planning, data collection, knowledge dissemination and application), including stakeholder engagement across these stages.

    Optional modules

    • Investigation and Assessment of Contaminated Environments (ENVS5002)

      Students are introduced to the scientific principles underpinning pollutant behaviour in the environment including the use of modelling and the process of site investigation and risk assessments. Students undertake a risk assessment of a contaminated site using literature and field investigation. Case study examples are used to highlight environmental consultancy approaches to site investigation and evaluation.

    • Ecological Survey Evaluation and Mitigation (ENVS5003)

      This module will examine UK and European nature conservation policy, species and habitat protection, ecological survey techniques and habitat mapping. Taught survey methodologies will follow statutory and developer guidelines for both protected species and habitat survey. Case study examples will be used to highlight environmental consultancy approaches to compensation and mitigation.

    • Climate Change: Science and Policy (GEES506)

      This module explores the science and policy of climatic change, including lessons from the past and the relevance of past climates to the global warming debate. We question climate change detection and attribution, feedbacks and uncertainty in climate change. We explore political actions through international political agreements and national policies and adaptation strategies and management of change in the UK

    • Big Data and Social Network Visualization (MATH513)

      Sophisticated analytics techniques are needed to visualize today's increasing quantities of Big Data. Up-to-date R tools including dplyr for data manipulation, ggplot2 for visualization, and knitr/LaTeX for document presentation are studied. These are applied to database interrogation, social network visualization and sentiment analysis. The module provides considerable experience of writing professionally documented R code using RStudio.

    • Analysis of Chemicals of Environmental Concern (GEES526)

      Students will undertake a series of advanced analytical techniques in order to characterise and quantify a range of environmental pollutants commonly encountered in environmental investigations. Students are presented with case study examples based upon typical investigations undertaken in environmental consultancy.

    • Geohazards and the Built Environment (GEES532)

      This module will introduce geohazards and their impacts, exploring how to assess, monitor and mitigate them. Students undertake an assessment of a natural geohazard and produce a professional report on that assessment with a proposal for remediation. They will also learn about anthropogenic hazards and develop skills in public communication of these issues, via a practice based assessment.

    • Site Investigation and Land Quality (GEES533)

      This module introduces all the phases of a site investigation, including the assessment of contamination, how it may impact upon receptors and, remediation strategies. Students undertake a desk study and write a related report of known sites where historical land use may have impacted land quality. Non-intrusive assessment techniques and the use of novel and advanced remediation technologies are covered in the module.

    • Water Management and Sustainability in Mining (GEES534)

      This module considers sustainable water resource management and mitigation of environmental damage from mining. Threats to ground and surface water resources are explored at all stages of mine operation from exploration to closure and reclamation. Students develop necessary theoretical geochemical, hydrological and hydrogeological knowledge to predict and manage outcomes according to current international best practice.

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:

MSc Environmental Consultancy programme specification_3607

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

You will normally be a graduate with an upper second class (2:1) degree or higher from an environmental, geographical, chemistry, marine, geology or biological subject discipline who is looking for environmental sector training. If you apply with a 2:2 and relevant environmental management experience, this would also be acceptable.
Equally, you could be a graduate from related disciplines who have worked within the environmental sector and is looking to gain a specialist qualification. If you apply without recent formal qualifications you may still be accepted.
If you are an overseas applicant you can check the comparability of your qualifications with the UK equivalent through Ecctis, who provide an advisory service.
We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary. 
If your first language is not English then evidence of English proficiency is required. The level of proficiency that is required can vary with the type of programme for which you are applying. For further advice on the appropriateness of overseas qualification and proficiency in the use of English, please contact our International Office. 
The minimum IELTS score for acceptable English proficiency for entry is normally 6.5 (with a minimum of 5.5 in each element).

Fees, costs and funding

Student 2023-2024 2024-2025
Home £10,400 £10,400
International £18,000 £19,800
Part time (Home) £580 £580
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. More information about fees and funding.

Postgraduate scholarships for international students

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

Studentship award

Delivered in collaboration with the JBA trust, the British Hydrological Society and the Environment Agency.
Deadline for applications: 08 August 2022.

Tuition fee discount for University of Plymouth graduates

If you studied your undergraduate degree at Plymouth, you may be eligible for a fee discount if you complete your postgraduate studies here as well.
  • 10% or 20% discount on tuition fees for home students 
  • For 2024/2025 entry, a 20% discount on tuition fees for international students (International alumni who have applied to the University through an agent are not eligible to receive the discount)

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 Inclusion Services
If you have an impairment, health condition or disability, learn about the additional support the University provides.
International students
Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office. Take a look at our how to apply information or email
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 weeksof 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
Admissions policy
More information and advice for applicants can be referenced in our admissions policy which can be found on the student regulations, policies and procedures page. Prospective students are advised to read the policy before making an application to the University.
srk consultancy logo

Scholarship opportunity 

SRK (UK) is pleased to announce its scholarship programme for the academic year 2024/25, created to assist students undertaking a masters (MSc) degree in geochemistry or relates courses (geoscience, applied environmental geology, environmental science) which can be applied in the resources and engineering industries. The award is for £1500 towards tuition fees. The recipient may also have the opportunity to work alongside SRK’s geochemistry team and gain hands-on experience in their selected field, during their summer dissertation. 
Closing date 28 July 2024. Please contact programme leader for more details and eligibility criteria.  

I aim to apply the environmental expertise I gained on my courses in a UK career

"One of my college lecturers... said the University is known for its world-leading research and could grow my potential further. I knew this would offer me a valuable introduction to the practical and professional side of natural conservation, giving me a clear understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of environmental study."
From one ocean city to another: Polly Hung left Hong Kong for Plymouth to study BSc Environmental Science and MSc Environmental Consultancy.
Polly Hung, 
BSc Environmental Science and MSc Environmental Consultancy

Where are our graduates now?

Where do our graduates find jobs? 

Our graduates find jobs across the whole environmental sector, from large and small consultancies, to NGOs, charities or go on to do PhDs. 

Our Environmental Consultancy MSc students have been particularly successful in the past few years in securing jobs within the environment sector set against a challenging economic climate. 

A large proportion have gained jobs within consultancies as well as with NGOs, Government/regulators and within teaching and academia.

We have an excellent employability record for our students, driven to a large degree by their eight-week placement during March to May of their MSc course which provides the opportunity to contribute to projects, meet clients, write reports and in a number of cases each year this has led to a full-time job at the same company. 

90%+ of students get jobs in Environment Sector within 6 to 12 months of completing their masters, many at their placement organisations.

Chris Rowett – Senior Environmental Consultant

Working at a variety of consultancies and NGOs (Non-Governmental Organisations), Chris completed an Environmental Science degree at the University of Plymouth before undertaking his MSc Environmental Consultancy in 2014–15.

He undertook his placement at Parsons Brinkerhoff just before the merger with WSP in Exeter and secured a full-time job there from September 2015. 

Chris’ training and practical experience at the University of Plymouth has provided the knowledge and techniques required for his role as an Environmental Consultant. 

This includes an understanding of environmental law, policy and planning, pollution, impact assessment and sustainable development.

Chris Rowett (WSP - Exeter)

Chris has supported various environmental projects including EIA and SEA, as well as having undertaken numerous site and desk-based impact assessments and audits.

Work experience

 The MSc provides ‘real world’ experience during your eight-week placement (which can lead to permanent employment) of working with organisations who manage our environment, including:
  •  Marine ecology and conservation at GoBe, Royal Haskoning DHV, Natural England, Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Marine Biological Association, RPS
  • Environmental consultancy at Pell Frischmann, WSP, Atkins, Aecom, Royal Haskoning-DHV, White Young Green, Arcadis, Black and Veatch, Ramboll, Mott MacDonald 
  • Catchment management at the Westcountry Rivers Trust, Environment Agency, Natural England as well as Tamar, North Devon, South Devon, Blackdown Hills, Cornwall Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty 
  • Ecology at FPCR, Richard Green Associates, EAD ecology, Blackdown Environmental, Acorn Ecology.
Environmental Science at Plymouth

Discover facilities in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

As student in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences you will have access to a range of cutting-edge resources and facilities.  
These will support your learning in the field and in the laboratory – whether in traditional chemistry lab or a high-performance computing room. Many are solely for the use of our students and researchers and you will also have access to LABplus Resource Centre and the Marine Station.
Students using a petrographic microscope

Mock planning inquiry film

Refusal of planning permission for tungsten reprocessing at Devon Great Consuls, near Tavistock, West Devon.
Starring MSc students from the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Plymouth.
Royal Haskoning


MSc Environmental Consultancy students present their placement posters for the work placement project module.
The students worked at various environmental companies including Marine Ecological Surveys Ltd, Dorset Coast Forum, EcoSulis and Acorn Ecology.