Environmental Sustainability MA (Hons)

  • For Entry: September
  • Duration: 4 years
  • School: School of the Environment

With the increasing emphasis on the 'green agenda' in all aspects of daily life, understanding the environment has never been more important.

Our MA in Environmental Sustainability is concerned with the use of natural resources and the attainment of more sustainable lifestyles whilst protecting critical natural capital.

Why study Environmental Sustainability at Dundee?

Environmental sustainability is a diverse and dynamic subject examining the interaction between people and their surroundings.

Global warming, biodiversity and renewable energy are just a few of the recurring themes we hear on the news, and public agencies are now looking for graduates with the ability to deliver sustainable outcomes. Businesses, both large and small, are seeking graduates with substantial environmental expertise.

This exciting degree programme means you no longer need to wait until you have graduated to turn your academic interests into practical environmental skills. You can instead draw on two highly-rated disciplines to give you both the management and administrative skills to inform environmental policy and the scientific and technical knowledge to deliver a more sustainable environment.

If you want to tackle pollution, to ensure that new developments enhance rather than detract from their surroundings, to offer communities the chance to have a real say in how people use their natural resources, in short to have a real impact on the future of our earth, then this is the degree for you.

What's so good about Environmental Sustainability at Dundee?

Dundee is uniquely located for the study of environmental sustainability. It has easy access to estuarine, maritime and a range of terrestrial environments. Its urban and industrial heritage, the fertile agricultural hinterland and the backdrop of hills and mountains afford a vibrant and varied 'laboratory' in which to study.

Professional Accreditation

Our MA in Environmental Sustainability is accredited by the professional body the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) which means that all students who attain a lower second class degree or better are eligible for Associate Membership of IEMA.

Study abroad

This course provides you with an opportunity to study abroad. You could spend your second year at the University of Northern British Columbia, Canada, or study in Europe on an ERASMUS exchange.

Student Society

There is an active student society called SPAD (Student Planners At Dundee) which organises social events and visiting speakers.

Our students rate us as No.1 and to prove it we gave 5 people the chance to sample student life for 2 days.
Check out their experience on testdrive.dundee.ac.uk

Degree Combinations

  • Environmental Sustainability and Geography MA
  • Environmental Sustainability and International Business MA

Related Courses

This course is taught by experienced town planners and geographers, based in the School of the Environment. We use a variety of teaching methods.

As well as lectures, our teaching methods include tutorials, seminars, lab work and group instruction for skills development.

Through a range of practical coursework, you will have the chance to develop your skills in communication, report writing, presentation, policy analysis and evaluation, problem solving, decision making, IT, and team work.

As progress is made through the programme students have an increasing opportunity to specialise in subjects of their choice.

Staff profiles »

Honours Degree

An honours degree normally takes four years, full time, you study levels 1-4, as described below.

Advanced Entry Honours Degree

It is possible to study for most of our honours degrees in three years if you have the required grades and subjects as listed in the Entry Requirements section. You study levels 2-4 below. There are definite advantages to considering this route as the time needed to study is reduced by one year which enables you to start working and earning earlier.

Typical Degree Programme

Visit the MA overview page for general information on our MA degree programme.

Level 1

Students study introductory modules in Environmental Sustainability and Environmental Science. You will be introduced to the principles of sustainable development and their application in practice, the processes of environmental change and some of the techniques used to measure these, and the legal and political framework that shapes environmental policy.

Sustainable Development and the Environment: TP11003
Semester 1, 20 credits
The need for a more responsible approach to resource use is established and the achievement of sustainable development is considered at the international, national and local scale. This module explores the relationship between the concept of sustainable development and the application of policies designed to deliver sustainable outcomes. It considers the interface between sustainability and economic growth, and how this has been interpreted through policy initiatives at international, European, national and local level. Of particular interest is the way in which sustainability is being applied and implemented within the UK.

Countryside Planning and Management: TP12004
Semester 2, 20 credits
This module introduces students to the principal institutions concerned with the environment. It explores the practice of planning and development in the countryside and examines some of the major issues and concerns that have a bearing on planning and environmental management processes, such as affordable housing provision, wind farm developments and community land ownership.

The Physical Environment: EV11001
Semester 1, 20 credits
The foundation of environments in all parts of the globe is a physical one, determined by geological and terrestrial processes, and flows of water and energy. These processes provide the habitat in which all species live and evolve, and provide the baseline against which change resulting from human agency can be measured. As the pace of human change accelerates in all parts of the world, an appreciation of how these influences control the nature and evolution of environments is increasingly valuable.

Environments for Life: EV12002
Semester 2, 20 credits
Earth as a planet is experiencing change which, in many respects, is unprecedented on a geological timescale. Many of these changes are truly global in scale and have diverse impacts on living systems. Global warming, ozone layer destruction, the pollution of air and water and loss of species due to land and marine management policies are just some of the issues causing worldwide concern. Managing all these issues requires a knowledge of the scientific principles and processes that maintain a sustainable environment.

The Environments for Life module aims to provide this basic understanding in a range of accessible formats, through a programme of lectures, tutorials and practical classes focussing on environmental chemistry, atmospheric processes, weather and climate, terrestrial ecosystems, biodiversity, aquatic science and urban green space management.

Plus 2 other modules

Level 2

Level 2 continues to develop the building blocks of environmental sustainability but also introduces new topics such as environmental management and environmental law. An example of a Level 2 project is a group exercise to develop a 'green' building on a local site.

Management in the Built and Natural Environments: TP21009
Semester 1, 20 credits
This module examines management for environmental (built and natural) professionals and environmental projects.

Introduction to Environmental Law: TP22004
Semester 2, 20 credits
This module introduces students to statutory controls in relation to the environment, and considers the relationship between planning law and environmental regulation.

Management and Monitoring: EV21001
Semester 1, 20 credits
Environmental resource management is described as an essential process of decision making incorporating the setting of environmental objectives, monitoring and assessment of current environmental conditions and the prediction of future change. Students will study resource management issues in relation to Mineral Resources and in a wider context, the protection of Scotland's natural resource base as a whole. The design of environmental monitoring programmes is considered in terms of supplying information required for management. In particular, the use of Remote Sensing techniques is examined in this module.

Mechanisms and Measurements: EV22002
Semester 2, 20 credits
This module serves as an introduction to the science of aquatic, atmospheric and terrestrial processes and emphasizes physical, chemical and biological mechanisms and their measurement. The range of topics taught in the module gives students their first opportunity to study oceanography, incorporating ocean circulation and global heat transfer and leading in to the productivity of the marine environment. Of equal importance are terrestrial processes. Terrestrial ecology is studied through exploration of vegetation adaptation, land reclamation and restoration. Finally, the chemistry of atmospheric pollution, water pollution and water treatment are examined.

Plus 2 other modules

Level 3

You tackle more specialised aspects of environmental sustainability such as environmental business, environmental assessment and environmental geoscience. The Business, Law and Environment module, for example, gives students insights into environmental theory and practice as it is applied in the corporate sector and involves visits to firms who have adopted environmental management systems.

Modules on offer typically include:

  • GE30008 - Geography Theory Methods & Practice (Year-Long)
  • EV32002 - Environmental Geoscience (Sem 2)
  • TP32009 - Business Law and the Environment (Sem 1)
  • TP32004 - Environmental Assessment and Sustainability Appraisal (Sem 2)
Level 4

You can choose from a range of option modules and prepare a dissertation on a topic that interests you. This allows you to study in depth and develop your own specialism.

  • TP42004 - Climate Change: Societal and Organisational Responses (Sem 1)
  • EV41005 - Environmental Change, Natural Resource Use and Sustainability (Sem 1)
  • TP42011 - Dissertation (Year-Long)

plus 2 options from a list which typically includes:

  • TP41004 - Community Governance (Sem 1)
  • EV42001 - Coastal and Estuarine Geoscience (Sem 2)


Graduates from the programme are employed in a wide variety of jobs:

  • preparing national policy and legislative guidance on environmental protection
  • assisting local authorities with sustainable development strategies, waste strategy implementation and other environmental policies
  • working as environmental consultants in specialist areas such as atmospheric or water pollution;
  • working in large corporations as environmental sustainability personnel or corporate social responsibility managers
  • acting as countryside rangers

Whilst many of our graduates have helped shape environmental policy and regulation at local and national levels, one recent graduate has worked at European Union level, drafting pollution control regulations in Brussels while on secondment from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency.

The following are the minimum requirements, please note qualifications have to be obtained at the first sitting of examinations.

Please note that the entry requirements in our printed prospectus may be subject to change. The entry requirements listed below are up to date and should be referred to in case of any discrepancy.

Courses starting September 2015

Level 1 Entry

Qualification Minimum Grade Typical Grade
IB Diploma 30 points (including 5, 5, 5 at Higher Level)
Essential Subjects None, but see requirements for other Joint Honours subjects
EU & International Visit our Your Country webpages for entry requirements tailored to your home country
Other Qualifications
SQA A relevant HNC with grade B in the Graded Unit
Scottish Baccalaureate Pass with CC at Advanced Higher
SWAP Access Relevant subjects with ABB grades to include English Literature/Language at SCQF Level 6 and Communication 4 plus Literature 1
EDEXCEL A relevant BTEC Extended Diploma with DDM
Advanced Diploma Grade B with ASL-A Level at B
Welsh Baccalaureate Pass with A Levels at BB
European Baccalaureate 70% overall

Courses starting September 2015

Advanced Entry (to Level 2)

Qualification Grade
SQA Advanced Higher AB (Advanced Higher) + BB (Higher) in different subjects
IB Diploma 34 points (including 6, 6, 5 at Higher Level)
Essential Subjects None, but see requirements for other Joint Honours subjects
EU & International
Other Qualifications
SQA A relevant HND with grade BB in the Graded Units
Scottish Baccalaureate Pass with BB at Advanced Higher
SWAP Access
EDEXCEL A relevant BTEC Extended Diploma with DDD
Advanced Diploma Grade A with ASL-A Level at B
Welsh Baccalaureate Pass with A Levels at AA
European Baccalaureate 75% overall

There have been many changes to the arrangements for funding students entering higher education in recent years, yet a degree from the University of Dundee, with its high rate of employment success, remains a cost-effective option.

The fees you pay will depend on your fee status. Your fee status is determined by us using the information you provide on your application. Find out more about fee status.

Fee categoryFees for students starting September 2015 or January 2016
Scottish students £1,820 per year of study (for Sept 2014 entry). Fees for September 2015 will be confirmed by the Scottish Government in early 2015.
Rest of UK students £9,000 per year, for a maximum of 3 years, even if you are studying a four year degree. See our scholarships for rest of UK applicants.
EU students £1,820 per year of study (for Sept 2014 entry). Fees for September 2015 will be confirmed by the Scottish Government in early 2015.
Overseas students (non-EU) £12,950 per year of study. See our scholarships for international applicants.

Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish Government.

Rest of the UK students can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loans Company.

Tuition fees for Overseas (non-EU) students are guaranteed for the length of your course. This means that the tuition fee you pay in your first year (shown above) is the same fee you will pay for each year of your course. We guarantee that this will not increase while you are studying with us. The only exceptions to this are our MBChB Medicine and BDS Dentistry degrees which charge a different tuition for the clinical years.

The Dundee MA degrees follow the distinctive pattern of many Scottish universities by offering a broad-based education that requires you to study a number of different subjects in Levels 1 and 2 (Level 2 only for the Advanced Entry Honours degrees). You do not have to finalise your choice of degree course until you are better able to appreciate both the nature of the subjects you are studying and the relationships between them. However, you must make an initial choice of course on the application form and we would expect you to provide some evidence of your enthusiasm for your chosen course and details of any relevant experience.

We use a range of learning methods at Dundee: you will be expected to respond to the information and advice provided by academic staff, especially in lectures; to prepare for and participate in tutorial discussion or to work in practical classes; to work individually or in groups on set assignments such as essays and projects; and to 'read round' the subject. Consequently, we are looking for evidence that you are capable of working systematically, of responding to the guidance of your teachers, and that you have both the ability and enthusiasm to successfully complete a degree programme.

A degree in Environmental Sustainability helps you develop a wide range of complementary skills designed to support you in a career as an environmental professional. We place emphasis on basic skills of numeracy and literacy, but teach our courses in a way which makes them accessible to students from a wide range of academic backgrounds. Indeed, that diversity adds to the value of our students' learning experiences.

No prior environmental experience is required. Good students have an enthusiasm to learn about the environment and how our understanding of it affects its management. Many have gained their own insights into environmental issues through travelling abroad or through conservation projects. Basic IT skills and some breadth of basic grounding in the sciences are an advantage.

What is important to us, in your application, is the evidence provided by the grades you have attained, or are predicted to attain, in your examinations, along with whatever you and your referee can point to indicating both your special interest in any of our subject areas, and your general liveliness of mind.

Your personal statement is an opportunity to say why you should be offered a place to study in Dundee. We are looking for applicants with an ability to express opinions clearly with reasoned support and evidence, who are open to critical guidance, and who have a commitment to high standards of achievement in all they do. These qualities can be demonstrated through academic attainment, paid or voluntary work, and extra-curricular activities of all kinds.

Referees should concisely indicate your analytical abilities, communication skills, capacity for academic work, and commitment to your studies. We will be interested to hear about examples of initiative, leadership, and any evidence of organisational skills. Indicators of a positive outlook and engagement with social and cultural activities will be welcome, as will an assessment of your potential to develop in the university environment.

We will consider applications to one or more MA courses at Dundee: each application will be considered on its merits. We are looking for applicants who either have achieved, or will achieve, the published requirements in terms of Highers, Advanced Highers, A-Levels or acceptable alternative qualifications.

  Degree UCAS Code KIS Data
Apply NowEnvironmental Sustainability MA (Hons)F751
Apply NowEnvironmental Sustainability and Geography MAFL7R
Apply NowEnvironmental Sustainability and International Business MANF17