School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

MSc Sustainable Environmental Management

This programme provides an outstanding foundation for a career in environmental management by providing diverse perspectives and practical training on the scientific, economic, ethical and political challenges of sustainability and environmental protection. Classroom and field-based teaching enables you to investigate your specific interests and to gain first-hand experience and skills in developing practical solutions to sustainability issues.

Key features

  • Gain broad-based, vocationally focused training led by expert academic staff with industry experience, in an enthusiastic and interactive learning environment that includes a residential field course.
  • Tailor your studies for the career you want – from environmental agencies and consultancies to local or central government and research – and take your place shaping the pioneering policy and projects of the future.
  • Focus on the aspects of sustainable environmental management that you feel most strongly about, with an individual research project and accompanying dissertation.
  • Work side by side with experts from across the Faculty of Science and Engineering and Plymouth Business School – which were rated as ‘internationally excellent’ in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.
  • Benefit from our local, national and international sector connections as part of a respected and active research community that includes groups such as the Marine Institute – the first and largest of its kind in the UK. 
  • Add value to your qualification by studying on a programme accredited by the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA)* – the benchmark for high-quality programmes recognised internationally by learners and employers.
  • Balance your work commitments and further education with the opportunity to study part time for a masters-level qualification.

Course details

  • Programme overview
  • Exploring topics that span the natural and social sciences, you’ll gain vital insight into the whole spectrum of environmental management issues – from law and ethics to impact assessments, freshwater environments and climate change to contaminated land, river basin plans to marine regulations. We've designed the programme flexibly to equip you with an in-depth understanding of the essential theories, as well as practical fieldwork and industry experience. 

    During the first two semesters of this one-year programme, you’ll study a range of core and optional taught modules – from international environmental policy making to options like climate change: science and policy or economics and the environment. These modules are designed specifically for this degree and you also undertake a placement, complemented by fieldbased experiential learning to provide an interdisciplinary foundation to environmental management. In the final semester you’ll complete an independent dissertation project. Throughout your studies, we’ll support you in gaining the research and professional skills to help you get the most from the programme – and launch a successful career.
    Core modules
    • GEES515 Professional Practice in the Environmental Sector

      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

    • GEES516 Science, Society and Environmental Governance

      This module provides students, firstly, with a critical understanding of key debates in the principles, ethics and methods of both scientific and societal understandings of environmental issues. Secondly, the module makes a critical examination of the systems of governance and policy-making that have been established to regulate resource management, environmental degradation and nature conservation.

    • GEES517 Environmental Assessment

      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.

    • GEES518 Professional Experience in Environmental Management

      The work-based learning module provides you with the opportunity, via a placement with a relevant environmental organisation, to develop your skills, learn more about professional careers in the environmental sector, develop contacts with potential employers, and refine your career aspirations.

    • GEES519 Environmental Knowledge: From Field to Stakeholder

      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.

    • GEES520 MSc Dissertation

      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.

    Optional modules
    • ENVS5002 Investigation and Assessment of Contaminated Environments

      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.

    • GEES506 Climate Change: Science and Policy

      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

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 Sustainable Environmental Management programme specification 1905

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 honours degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline. Candidates with experience in a relevant area are also encouraged to apply. 

Applicants with overseas qualifications can check their comparability with the UK equivalent through NARIC, who provide an advisory service.

English language requirements

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.

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 2019 2020
Home/EU £9,500 £9,800
International £14,400 £14,800
Part time (Home/EU) £550 £550
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% discount on home/EU tuition fees
  • or a £2,000 discount on international tuition fees.

PGCE programmes, Master of Architecture, MChem, MEng, MGeol, MPsych, MSci, ResM, MSc Psychology, MSc Advanced Psychology, MSc Clinical Psychology, MSc Occupational Therapy, MSc Environmental Consultancy, MSc Sustainable Aquaculture 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.

£5000 of postgraduate student awards available

These new awards from London livery company the Worshipful Company of Water Conservators are for postgraduate study in environmental consultancy or sustainable environmental management

More information and how to apply

Plymouth students and Cape Point African penguins during South Africa fieldwork module (1995)


Celebrating 50 years of geography

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of geography as a degree subject at the University of Plymouth.

In the last half century, 6,394 students have graduated from our geography programmes and 154 staff have worked with us, supporting and carrying out world-class research and teaching.

Research community

As part of the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, we contribute to a strong collective of research groups – so you’ll benefit from insights into work at the forefront of the sustainability sector.

Be inspired by people who are dedicated to forging new knowledge in your chosen field.

Find out more about the research groups

Student voice

Who better to give you an insight into the course than our alumni? We asked some previous students to share their thoughts.

Location, staff expertise and flexibility are just some of the reasons they chose Plymouth. What’s important to you?

People

*MSc Sustainable Environmental Management has been accredited by IEMA since 2009.