School of Earth and Environment

Environment and Development MSc

(Full time / Part time) 2016 start

African farmer with cattle


Key facts

  • Duration/Mode:
    12 months full time
    24 months part time
  • UK/EU fees: £7,000
    International fees: £16,000
  • Entry requirements:
    A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in a related subject
  • Language requirements:
    IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component
  • Course terms and conditions

This masters provides you with high-quality interdisciplinary training designed to give you the skills, experience and knowledge prospective employers want. You will focus on the issues where the need for sustainable economic development and environmental conservation meet.

To help you understand the many perspectives on these issues, this course is led by the Sustainability Research Institute, bringing together academic expertise from the School of Earth and Environment, School of Politics and International Studies and the practitioner community.

Sustainable economic development and environmental management are two key challenges facing the world today. This course enables you to investigate the issues associated with achieving development that is environmentally, socially and economically sustainable. You will gain the knowledge, skills and practical experience which enable you to contribute towards achieving solutions in this topical field.

The course is ideal if you would like to develop or continue a career in environment and/or development practice, policy, training or research. Preparing you for work in both the public and private sectors, and within local, national and international institutions. Alternatively, you could pursue a research career or go on to a PhD.

Alumni Profile

"This MSc offered critical perspectives on a wide range of both environment and development issues and offered a truly global perspective."

Kate Massarella, MSc Environment and Development

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Alumni Profile

"When searching for a course I focused on finding the one with the largest, most inter-disciplinary environmental/energy departments. Leeds was my first choice in this regard."

David Christopherson, MSc Environment and Development

Read More

Course highlights

  • You have a large degree of flexibility – meaning you can choose the modules you take, enabling you to develop your degree in line with your interests and ambitions.
  • Gain both theoretical and practical experience – our teaching draws on specialist knowledge from practitioner and research communities covering both the natural and social sciences.
  • Carry out a wide range of fieldwork, from a FREE field course to East Yorkshire, to a further afield trip to Tanzania.
  • Attend excellent research seminar series run by the School of Earth and Environment, School of Politics and International Studies, plus those organised in Leeds’ Biology and Geography departments.


Fieldwork forms an integral part of the course. You will have three opportunities to get ‘out in the field’, which develops an on-the-ground understanding of how the tools and skills you learn in lectures can be applied.

  • In the first semester, take a FREE two day field course to East Yorkshire. Learn about issues affecting sustainable economic development and environmental management in a developed world context.
  • In the second semester, you have preferential access (at an additional cost) to the long-established field course in Tanzania. Gain first-hand practical experience and apply classroom-based learning in a developing country context. Ideal if you are considering working in an international capacity.
  • Choose to carry-out fieldwork as part of your final dissertation.

Programme Team

You will be taught by a world-leading team of researchers covering the social sciences, economics, development studies, environmental management and conservation and the natural sciences from within the School of Earth and Environment and the School of Politics and International Studies.

The programme leader Dr Martin Dallimer applies and integrates research techniques from different disciplines, from ecology to economics, to understand and better inform ecosystem management and sustainable development in a human-dominated world. His work spans both the developing and developed world, and he focuses on Agriculture and land-use change and how that is managed sustainably, and Towns and cities and the role of green infrastructure for their sustainable development.

Other academics who teach on the course are members of the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy, Choice Modelling Centre, Centre for Global Development, Sustainable Cities Group and Water@Leeds. Instructors are also active in national and international research and policy fora, such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and the The Economics of Land Degradation.

Dr James van Alstine Dr Julia Martin-Ortega
Prof John Barrett Prof Jouni Paavola
Prof Andrew Challinor Dr Susannah Sallu
Prof Gordon Crawford Dr Dominick Spracklen
Dr Hugh Dyer Dr Julia Steinberger
Prof Piers Forster Prof Lindsay Stringer
Dr Pasi Heikkurinen Harriet Thew
Dr George Holmes Prof William Young

Course content

When completed on a full-time basis, this 12 month Masters is split into three semesters. In the first two semesters you will take lectures and seminars, followed by approximately four months of individual work leading to the submission of a dissertation in late August

When completed on a part-time basis, the programme runs for 24 months, with each year split into three semesters. You will take two modules in each semester, followed by individual work leading to the submission of a dissertation in semester three of your final year.

Course structure

These are typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our Terms and conditions.

You’ll study modules totalling 180 credits, including the compulsory modules below and up to four optional modules. Each module is worth 15 credits unless otherwise stated:

Compulsory modulesOptional modules
- Introduction to Sustainability
- Environmental Policy and Governance
- Critical Perspectives in Environment and Development
- Research Methods
- Research Project (60 credits)
- Global Inequalities and Development (30 credits)
- International Relations and the Environment (30 credits)
- Standards and Tools for Business, Environment and Corporate Social Responsibility
- Business, Environment and Sustainability
- Introduction to Ecological Economics
- Environmental Economics and Policy
- Environment-Development Overseas Field Course – read additional costs
- Climate Change: Physical Science Basis
- Climate Change: Impacts and Adaptation
- Climate Change Mitigation
- Tools and Techniques in Ecological Economics
- Terrestrial Biosphere in the Earth System

Learning and teaching

We deliver a variety of teaching methods, as well as conventional lectures, so you can develop both generic and subject-specific skills. This includes team work and individual practical exercises focused around real-world scenarios and case studies to produce optimal solutions. And it includes familiarisation with state-of-the-art technical approaches, software and the regulatory regimes within which companies and public sector organisations operate.

The research-intensive environment of the School ensures that course material is both up-to-date and research led. We aim to teach the scientific and rational principles lying behind the practical approaches used in the world outside academia, so that your skills keep pace with changes in technology or the regulatory environment.

A range of learning and teaching methods are used including lectures, practical workshops, field trips (UK and overseas), computer lab sessions, research seminars and project work.

You also have access to the excellent research seminar series run by the Schools of Earth and Environment, Politics and International Studies plus those organised in Leeds’ Biology and Geography departments.


The School of Earth and Environment’s £23 million building provides world class research, teaching and facilities.


To complement teaching, assessment is varied and includes both written and oral assignments and exams.

Alumni Profile

"The interdisciplinary aspect meant I could combine my interest in international development and sustainability with my background in social sciences. I also appreciated the variety of modules offered."

Alice O'Rouke, MSc Environment and Development

Read More

Entry requirements

A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) or above in a natural, environmental, physical, management or social science subject.

Mature applicants without a first degree or with a lower degree classification may be considered on the basis of their relevant industry, consultancy or policy experience and their potential for benefiting from the programme.

International qualifications

We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For information contact the School of Earth and Environment admissions team.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English

If English is not your first language, you may be able to take a pre-sessional course before you begin your studies. This can help if you:

  • don't meet the English language requirements for your course or
  • want to improve your understanding of academic language and practices in your area of study.

Our pre-sessional courses are designed with a progression route to the degree programme and are tailored to the subject area. For information and entry requirements, read Language for Science and Engineering B (6 weeks) and Language for Science and Engineering A (10 weeks).

How to apply

This link takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.
If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Or read their advice on how to apply.

Visas and Immigration

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

Link to admissions policy document


UK/EU fees: £7,000
International fees: £16,000

For fees information for international taught postgraduate students read Masters fees.

Part-time fees are normally calculated based on the number of credits you study in a year compared to the equivalent full-time course. For example, if you study half the course credits in a year, you will pay half the full-time course fees for that year.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There is help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

School Scholarships

Four full-fee scholarships are available to UK/EU applicants with an offer on this programme. Applications must be received by Wednesday 1st June 2016.

Two full-fee scholarships are available to International applicants with an offer on this programme. Applications must be received by Sunday 1st May 2016.

If you do choose to carry out your dissertation overseas, your supervisor can advise as to where you might be able to source funding to cover your work. For instance, the University runs a competitive grant programme under the Sustainable Agriculture Bursary Fund which can cover up to £1500 of field expenses for work carried out anywhere in the world.

Find out more about our School scholarships.

Global Development Summer School Bursary

Attend the Summer School on 6th to 10th June

The Summer School is a fantastic opportunity to learn about issues such as poverty and urban growth, climate change, food and health from multi-disciplinary perspectives before you start your Masters degree in September.

The Centre for Global Development is offering a number of bursaries to offer holders. Apply by 18th May 2016.

Other funding sources

Past students have secured funding through a career development loan, for details visit UK Government website.

Career opportunities

This course is ideal if you want to continue your undergraduate studies, you are looking for a career change, or, if you are looking to increase your skill set to progress in your career (amongst many others reasons).

We typically find that graduates assume, or continue careers, in sustainability, environmental management or development practice. Our alumni work in the research, public and private sectors and within local, national and international institutions.

Possible career paths you can take:

  • Consultancy and project management
  • Development planning
  • Environmental management
  • Policy development
  • Research and advisory services
  • Stakeholder management and engagement
  • Studying for a PhD
  • Sustainability assessment and strategy development.

Where our alumni work:

  • Atkins Global
  • Build Change (Indonesia)
  • Centre for Science and Environment (India)
  • Climate Change Third World Network
  • Down to Earth (Indonesia)
  • Environment Agency
  • GIZ (Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit)
  • Haringey Council, London
  • Natural England
  • Norwegian Refugee Council
  • Ovo Energy
  • Sustrans
  • UNDP
  • United Nations University.


Careers support

We offer extra support and activities to help you stand out in your chosen field and achieve your career goals. The School of Earth and Environment has a strong commitment to enhancing student employability and has its own dedicated Employability Officer. Read more about our careers and employability.

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more at the Careers website.

Industry links

We have successful and productive links with many partners with different perspectives on sustainability, environment and development. You will come in contact with our network of partners throughout the course. For example, during the field courses in East Yorkshire and Tanzania there are opportunities to network with organisations such as the Tanzanian National Institute of Medical Research, East Usambara Tea Company, WWF-Tanzania, The Wildlife Trusts and Associated British Ports.

In addition, staff members in the Sustainability Research Institute, Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Studies and the School of Politics and International Studies maintain their own network of contacts and your dissertation project provides you with an opportunity to build on these links. We will also support and encourage you to develop your own links so that you can collaborate with institutions that might be beneficial for your future career progression. In the past, students have worked with companies, UK-based charities, international development organisations, government departments and universities.

Industry support for your dissertation

To help set up your research dissertation, supervisors have excellent collaborative links with sustainability, environment and development organisations across the UK and internationally. Recent students have worked with Brunei National Energy Research Institute, ASDA (foodwaste), Tullow Oil Company and The International Rice Research Institute. While other students have teamed up with ongoing research projects.

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