School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

MSc Sustainable Environmental Management

This IEMA accredited 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.

Postgraduate opportunities – virtual drop-in session

Find out more about postgraduate study in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at our virtual drop-in session.

Careers with this subject

MSc Sustainable Environmental Management has proved very attractive to employers because of the vocational relevance of the teaching programme and it tackling the environmental issues of the 21st century. You'll receive training and gain skills which are in demand in the environmental sector.
The vast majority of our graduates have secured employment within the growing environmental sector, working mainly working in environmental regulation and protection, the business community, charitable organisations, local councils or environmental consultancy (e.g. Environment Agency, Plymouth City Council, Westcountry Rivers Trust, Cornwall College).
Our work placements have proved very successful with up to 20% of graduates from our programme annually securing employment through their placement providers.
Careers in sustainable environmental management
MSc Sustainable Environmental Management is a springboard to a diverse range of careers in the environment and sustainability sector. Last year our graduates have secured professional positions with organisations including Natural England, Brittany Ferries, Environment Agency, Babcock International, RPS, and Adler and Allen/OHES Environmental. The work placement module regularly leads to offers of permanent positions in our placement partner organisations which include: The Environment Agency, local authorities, Natural England, Aecom, RSPB, and many more.

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.
  •  By enrolling on our MSc you will become a student member of IEMA and on graduation you will be entitled to become a professional member using the suffix GRADIEMA. 
  • 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

  • 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

    • 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

    • Science, Society and Environmental Governance (GEES516)

      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.

    • 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.

    • 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

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 September 2024 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 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.

Fees, costs and funding

Student 2023-2024 2024-2025
Home £9,950 £10,400
International £18,000 £19,800
Part time (Home) £550 £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.

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 

Postgraduate scholarships for international students

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

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.

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.

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 Sustainable Environmental Management degree received 100% overall satisfaction for course quality, 97% for teaching and learning and 92% for skills development. 100% of students responding to the survey agreed that staff are good at explaining things, enthusiastic about their subject, and that the course is intellectually stimulating. These results place the degree significantly above the sector benchmark.


The Worshipful Company of Water Conservators Award

We are pleased to announce once again this year an award to the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at the University of Plymouth from London livery company the Worshipful Company of Water Conservators
For informal enquiries about the award contact the course Programme Lead.
Applications for this award will close on 31 July 2024 and the successful applicant will be notified by the first week of September.
Applications must be submitted to: GEES Enquiries with the title of the award in the title and the programme you are applying to. 
Company of Worshipful Water Conservators

My journey towards becoming an environmental biochemist

"I have always wanted to go into the environmental and earth sciences. Combining this programme with my undergraduate degree in biochemistry gives me a wide range of knowledge. After I graduate, I plan to get a job using my degree."
Regina Ben-Ibezim travelled from Nigeria to study MSc Sustainable Environmental Management.
Regina Ezinne Ben-Ibezim

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

Employment and work placement

MSc Sustainable Environmental Management has proved very attractive to employers because of the vocational relevance of the teaching programme in tackling the environmental issues of the 21st century.You will gain knowledge, training and skills, e.g. Environment Impact Assessment, which are in high demand in the environmental sector.

Our work placements have proved very successful with up to 20% of graduates from our programme annually securing employment through their placement providers.

Staff profiles

Dr Jessie Woodbridge 

Programme Leader
Jessie Woodbridge is a Lecturer in Ecosystem Resilience teaching across disciplines within the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences. Her research focuses on interdisciplinary approaches to address modern environmental challenges that integrate long-term past environmental perspectives. Jessie’s recent projects include research into past vegetation change, climate change and wildfire in UK peatlands to understand the resilience of socio-ecological systems; land use impacts on biodiversity change in the UK; and water security and long-term environmental change in Turkey. Her research aims to integrate stakeholder engagement to facilitate improved environmental decision making. Jessie is also Associate Editor for the Anthropocene journal. 
Dr Jessie Woodbridge
Geography 50 - Ian Bailey

Professor Ian Bailey

Ian Bailey specialises in environmental politics and the social dimensions of sustainability issues. His research and teaching include the use of economic instruments for environmental protection, the green economy, public engagement with marine and onshore renewable energy, and smart eco-cities. His recent projects include analysis of the design of emissions trading schemes and the development of community-led energy projects. He is also an advisory member of the Net-Zero Task Force established by Devon County Council to help radically decarbonise the Devon economy.

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.
Researchers in the arctic

Academic staff

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