windmills standing in a green field

MScSustainability & Environmental Studies

Why this course?

This course offers a cross-disciplinary approach to the study of environmental management, policy and sustainable development.

You’ll gain knowledge of major environmental issues and understand the methods in which environmental considerations and climate change are used in development and planning decisions.

There’s a strong demand for graduates with environmental management and policy-making skills. We’ve seen our graduates capitalise upon a wide range of employment within the private, public and voluntary sectors.

Work Placement

As part of the class Independent Study in Collaboration with Industry you can apply to work with industry projects. One of the projects is the Carbon Clinic.  This is an innovative collaborative project between the Carbon Trust and the University. It aims to provide support to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to reduce their carbon footprint and give you practical experience on environmental responsibilities within a business.


In our Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering we have invested £6 million in state-of-the-art laboratories which cover core areas of activity including geomechanics, microbiology, analytical chemistry and structural design.

Field investigation

We are equipped with:

  • nanoseismic systems for monitoring the mechanical evolution of soil and rock masses
  • electrical resistivity tomography systems to detect clay fissuring and ground water flow in earth-structures
  • dielectric permittivity-based sensors to monitor water flow in the sub-surface environment

Geomechanics Laboratory

We are equipped with state-of-the art technologies for testing multiphase (unsaturated) porous geomaterials. These include:

  • suction-controlled double-wall triaxial cells
  • pressure plates
  • triaxial cells equipped with bender elements for dynamic testing
  • image analysis unit to monitor soil specimen deformation
  • instruments for measurement of pore-water tensile stress
  • Mercury Intrusion Porosimeter and SEM for microstructure investigation

Software & numerical modelling

You’ll have access to a wide range of software packages relevant to civil and geotechnical engineering applications, including:

  • GEOSTUDIO suite (Slope, Seep, Sigma, Quake, Temp, CTran, Air and Vadose)
  • ABAQUS finite element packages
  • Ansys
  • Autodesk Civil 3D
  • Limit State
  • Strand 7
  • Talren 4

Teaching staff

Dr Girma Zawdie, MSc Sustainability and Environmental Studies Course Director and Leader

Delivery Team Expertise


This degree is accredited as meeting the requirements for Further Learning for a Chartered Engineer (CEng) for candidates who have already acquired a partial CEng accredited undergraduate first degree.

See for further information.

Open Access

Home students can also choose to study through Open Access. This is initially a non-graduating route. You register for one module at a time and have the option to build up credits eventually leading to a Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma or MSc. You can take up to five years to achieve the qualification.

This option is popular with students in employment, who may wish to undertake modules for Continuing Professional Development purposes.

Home students who do not meet the normal MSc entry requirements for this programme are welcome to apply through the Open Access route instead.

Course content

Compulsory classes

International Environmental Policy
Qualitative & Quantitative Research Methods
Sustainability & Strategic Environmental Assessment

This class allows students to develop theoretical and applied understanding of key principles of sustainability and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).

SEA is a significant appraisal and decision-aiding tool that evaluates the environmental impacts of policies, plans and programmes, such as a transportation policy or a local development plan.

Elective classes

Choose eight from this list

Contaminated Land Management

Within the background of land redevelopment (residential, industrial/commercial and gardens/parks), this class aims to provide insights into the remediation of contaminated land, including the regulatory framework and risk assessment, sampling & analysis, and various remedial techniques for contaminated land.

Energy Economics
Environmental Impact Assessment

This class provides an introduction to the methods used to predict environmental impacts, and evaluates how these may be used to integrate environmental factors into decisions.

The class draws principally on the UK planning context of environmental impact assessment of individual projects (project EIA), but also takes account of EIA experience in other countries and international organisations.

Environmental Law
  • Environmental problems and progress
  • EC environmental law
  • Ethical, economic, scientific and political context of environmental law
  • Approaches to pollution control and environmental protection
  • Air pollution controls
  • Human rights approaches to environmental protection
  • Environmental impact assessment
  • Nature conservation
  • Trace and environment
Environmental Pollution Management

This class develops in-depth knowledge & skills regarding the science, engineering & management of environmental pollution control approaches to protect public health.

The class achieves these aims through research-led teaching at the interface between public health and environmental engineering, with a particular focus on methodologies based on risk-centred approaches.

Lecture sessions are complemented by industrial & government case studies in contemporary air quality management practice.

Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
This practical-based classe provides a thorough introduction to the rapidly growing field of Geographical Information Science.

The class covers the key theoretical principles but also provides many computer-based exercises using current state-of-the-art Geographical Information Systems (GIS) – namely IDRISI and ArcGIS. The class evaluates how GIS can be used for spatial query and analysis, while at the same time assessing the quality and the effectiveness of the resultant products in terms of their use.
Global Water Policy

 This class aims to provide you with the ability to:

  • recognise the issues relating to overall global water policy and its interactions with other global issues
  • discuss the impact of climate change and economic development on water resources and availability
  • explore the different implementation issues based on regional case studies
  • explore the role of stakeholders on the acceptance and achievement of policy objectives
Pollution and Rehabilitation of Degraded Ecosystems

The class looks at:

  • ecological principles (organism, population, community, & ecosystem levels)
  • the impact of various forms of pollution on ecosystems
  • options available for monitoring pollution impacts;
  • remediation alternatives, recovery management, or ways to enhance environmental systems
Principles Of Economic Appraisal
Principles of Environmental Microbiology

This class introduces microbiology in a manner that is of practical importance in environmental engineering and science.

Topics covered include:

  • the microbial ecology and microbiology of dilute nutrient solutions such as lakes, subsurface environmental and biological treatment processes
  • microbial physiology
  • biochemistry
  • biodegradation
  • public health aspects of microbiology
Science, Technology & Innovation Policy
Waste Management & Landfill Design
This class covers organisational and regulatory aspects of waste management practice in the UK: legislation, composition of domestic and industrial wastes, storage, collection, reception, and disposal of solid wastes, clinical wastes, sewage sludge disposal, recycling and recovery.
Water & Environmental Management
To develop an understanding of the physical, chemical and biological parameters within surface water and how these relate to water quality, water quality objectives and pollution control strategy. To provide knowledge on the design and process involved with the control of water and wastewater treatment.

If you're interested in climate change you should take these classes

Air Pollution, Climate Change & Human Health

This class provides you with knowledge and skills related to atmospheric pollution impacts, ranging from local to global scales.

This includes a focus on the assessment & management of impacts on human health through interface between the public health sciences of environmental epidemiology and environmental toxicology; and environmental engineering approaches to manage environmental risks.

Energy Resources & Policy
Independent Study in Collaboration with Industry

This class will allow students carrying out placements and projects with industry to develop and refine professional skills while gaining credits in the process.

One project will be the small or medium sized enterprise (SME) Carbon Audit that students carry out with training from Carbon Trust. A placement type project activity is another possibility, by individual agreement.

Approval of students being able to take this module would be done on case-by-case basis by MSc course leaders. You’ll be selected by competitive application and CV. 

Learning & teaching

The MSc involves a curriculum of three core classes and a very wide range of optional classes. Each module is taught two to three hours per week over 8 to 12 weeks.

In addition, you'll also undertake a dissertation. Progress to the dissertation is dependent on performance in the instructional modules.

Entry requirements

First or upper second-class Honours degree from a UK university (or equivalent overseas qualification) from all disciplines (engineering, sciences, arts, law, business, education, languages, social sciences).

No previous technical knowledge is required.

You’re required to provide two supportive academic references.

For candidates whose first language is not English, documentary evidence of an appropriate level of competency of written and spoken English must be provided. The minimum standards are an IELTS minimum overall band score of 6.5 (no individual test score below 5.5). Applicants with slightly lower scores have the opportunity to attend the University's Pre-Sessional English classes to bring them up to the required level.

Open Access

Alternative qualifications or professional experience may be considered by the course leader (home students only), depending on the module chosen. Find out more about Open Access.

Pre-Masters preparation course

The Pre-Masters Programme is a preparation course for international students (non EU/UK) who do not meet the entry requirements for a Masters degree at University of Strathclyde. The Pre-Masters programme provides progression to a number of degree options.

To find out more about the courses and opportunities on offer visit or call today on +44 (0) 1273 339333 and discuss your education future. You can also complete the online application form. To ask a question please fill in the enquiry form and talk to one of our multi-lingual Student Enrolment Advisers today.

Fees & funding

How much will my course cost?

All fees quoted are for full-time courses and per academic year unless stated otherwise.


2015/16 - £4,500

Rest of UK

2015/16 - £9,000


2015/16 - £16,700

How can I fund my course?

Scholarship search

Faculty of Engineering Excellence Scholarship Scheme for International Students (Sept 2015 entry)

The Faculty of Engineering at the University of Strathclyde is offering a substantial number of scholarships for international students with outstanding academic qualifications who are commencing their studies from September 2015. Students may be eligible for a scholarship towards their tuition fees of up £3,340 for the first year of their programme of study. Find out full details of our scholarships.

Please note

The fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year.


There’s a strong demand for graduates with environmental management and policymaking skills.  As a graduate you may find yourself in a range of positions in:

  • Private consultancies
  • Government agencies
  • Local authorities
  • Environmental regulators, businesses and agencies

Where are they now?

84% of our graduates are in work or further study.**

Job titles include:

  • Community Renewal Energy Manager
  • Energy & Environmental Manager
  • Environmental Officer
  • Estates Manager
  • Graduate Planner
  • Principal Senior Ecologist

Employers include:

  • Atkins
  • Bell Group
  • East Dunbartonshire Council
  • Epsco

**Based on the results of the national Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education Survey (2010/11 and 2011/12).


International students

Please upload copies of supporting documentation when submitting your MSc application (including full degree transcripts, CV and supporting statement). See 'Frequently Asked Questions' for further details on documents and tuition fees. We advise applications are submitted in time to fulfil all academic and financial conditions by end of July 2015.

Home/EU students

When submitting your application, please upload full copies of degree transcripts, CV, a supporting statement and academic reference letters if available. Due to the limited number of home/EU places, a waiting list may be in operation for Sept 2015 applications closer to the start of term.

Sustainability and Environmental Studies

Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2015, Mode of delivery: attendance, full-time

Sustainability and Environmental Studies

Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2015, Mode of delivery: attendance, part-time

Sustainability and Environmental Studies

Qualification: PG Diploma, Start date: Sep 2015, Mode of delivery: attendance, full-time

Sustainability and Environmental Studies

Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2016, Mode of delivery: attendance, full-time

Sustainability and Environmental Studies

Qualification: MSc, Start date: Sep 2016, Mode of delivery: attendance, part-time

Civil & Environmental Engineering - Open Access (Modular)

Qualification: , Start date: Sep 2015, Mode of delivery: attendance, part-time

Civil & Environmental Engineering - Open Access (Modular)

Qualification: , Start date: Sep 2016, Mode of delivery: attendance, part-time

Sustainability and Environmental Studies

Qualification: PG Diploma, Start date: Sep 2016, Mode of delivery: attendance, full-time

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