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Course overview

This course will give you the specialist knowledge to directly tackle the complex environmental challenges facing the planet. It will also help you develop your own personal leadership skills, to drive positive change for a sustainable future.

Core modules will give you an understanding of fundamental environmental processes and the ways in which contemporary environmental decisions are made. You can also specialise in a specific area of environmental challenge that aligns with your personal career goals, by selecting optional modules in an individual pathway covering issues such as:

  • climate risk
  • sustainable ecosystems and water resources

Our curriculum is informed by our advisory board of sector professionals, and our strong links with organisations including the British Geological Survey, the Environment Agency and the World Wildlife Fund. The course also incorporates a Level 5 professional qualification in leadership and management from the Institute of Leadership and Management.

Why choose this course?

Curriculum informed

by a professional advisory board of sector experts

Gain a Level 5

Certificate in Leadership and Management from the ILM alongside your MSc

Approved IEMA Partner

Entitles you to free student membership for the duration of the course and, on successful completion, qualify for GradIEMA


in climate or ecosystems and water

Course content

Alongside the core modules you can specialise in a particular pathway by selecting from 10-credit optional modules under the various specialisms. 

The programme also incorporates ILM tuition delivered in collaboration with GWA Ltd - an ILM Approved Centre. It will result in the professional qualification of a Level 5 Certificate in Leadership and Management.

The ILM tuition will include face-to-face teaching in the autumn semester, plus supported assignment and project work undertaken alongside your MSc studies.

Through the completion of an individual project with an emphasis on environmental practice, you will also acquire the skills needed for effective design of environmentally focussed research projects and decision-making tasks.

The project will be supervised by an academic from the School of Geography and aligned with a relevant organisation (for example, environmental NGOs; environmental consultancies; government agencies; environmental research centres and more).


Core modules

Perspectives on Environmental Leadership

You will firstly be exposed to different ways in which environmental leadership has been understood in the literature. This includes emphasis on the person of the leader, the position they are in, or the process they take.

Key themes to be explored include:

  • conceptions of environmental leadership and how these differ from other 'traditional' leadership theories
  • the role of personal character strengths in leadership style and efficacy
  • attributes of environmental leadership in different applied contexts

The second component of the module will be student-led and consist of live interviews with existing environmental leaders from different sectors. These will form the basis for inquiry into your own concept of environmental leadership.

People and the Environment

This module will provide an introduction to the central issues facing people and the environment in the Anthropocene. The first half of module will explore key themes and approaches for understanding these environmental issues. These may include environmental knowledge(s), risk perception, ecosystem services, environmental governance, gender issues, and legal perspectives.

The second half of the module will engage with these concepts in the context of current environmental issues, such as climate change, pollution, biodiversity, urbanisation, and water management.

Managing for Sustainability

Sustainable companies are those that are managed in socially, economically, and ecologically responsible ways. Today's managers are expected to understand the impact of management decisions and practices on the environment and society.

This module considers how sustainability principles are applied in organisations, and how to manage for sustainability. Through use of multiple learning approaches, the module enables you to practically interact with real businesses to address some sustainability challenges faced by the organisation.

The module introduces the you to frameworks and theories use to critically assess sustainability, and to integrate sustainability into the business strategy.

The module enables you to develop an understanding of the practical dilemmas facing businesses as they seek to respond to multiple, and often, conflicting stakeholders expectations. You will be expected to critically reflect upon your practical experiences and capture these using a learning journal.

Techniques for Environmental Solutions

This module will introduce you to a breadth of techniques relevant to addressing practical environmental challenges. These techniques relate to human and physical components of environmental problems and engage with quantitative and qualitative data. You will be required to integrate these methods and address a real-world environment challenge.

This module will also incorporate:

  • preparation for the Project in Environmental Leadership and Management
  • methods for designing and implementing studies to assess environmental impacts of human activity
  • stakeholder mapping and engagement
  • methods for aiding decision-making under uncertainty
  • common statistical techniques for analysing environmental data
  • displaying data clearly to communicate to diverse audiences
  • extracting information from various textual sources
  • spatial representation of environmental information
Leadership and Management in Practice

This module is delivered by an external training provider (Goodman Wilkinson Associates). Assessment and teaching will be modified to ensure that the standard of the content can be accredited at masters level, resulting in you receiving a Level 5 certificate by the ILM which also contributes to your MSc.

ILM Certificate L5

This module takes you through the theory and practice of leadership and management in different types of organisations. It is delivered by an external training provider (Goodman Wilkinson Associates). Upon completion of assessment and teaching you will receive a Level 5 certificate by the Institute of Leadership and Management, which also contributes to your MSc.


In this module you will conduct a detailed independent analysis of an applied environmental leadership or management challenge of your choice. Working alongside a partner environmental organisation, you will develop skills in project design, independent inquiry, solution development and communication.

Optional modules


Global Climate Change: Impacts, Adaptation and Mitigation

This module covers:

  • the impacts of climate change on the oceans, food security, forests, water scarcity, extreme events and human health
  • mitigation of, and adaptation to, the impacts of future climate change
  • communication and perception of climate change
  • the role played by policy-makers and NGOs in climate change adaptation and mitigation
Global Climate Change: The Scientific Basis

This module includes:

  • an introduction to the climate system
  • attribution of climate change to human causes
  • an introduction to climate modelling
  • understanding uncertainty in projections of future climate change
  • scenarios of future climate and socioeconomic change

Ecosystems and water

Advances in Managing Rivers and Catchments

This module will focus on the following themes:

  • Key river and catchment processes 
  • Impacts of anthropogenic (ie climate, land-use) change on rivers and catchments
  • Current and historic river/catchment management practises 
  • Tools and techniques for monitoring and mapping rivers and catchments
  • Modelling rivers and catchments to test management scenarios
Ecosystem Function, Management and Conservation

This module will present key concepts to understand ecosystem function and processes, humans' place in natural systems, and basic tools and goals for ecosystem management and conservation. Specific themes include:

  • Introduction to biodiversity and ecosystem function and processes
  • Ecosystem services – how humans depend on ecological systems
  • Human impacts on biodiversity and ecological systems 
  • Consequences of the conservation crisis 
  • Ecosystem management and conservation – goals and tools for sustainability and conservation of biodiversity and ecological systems
  • In-depth case studies of management and conservation
The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Thursday 07 January 2021.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops
  • Field courses

How you will be assessed

  • Research project
  • Essay
  • Reflective portfolios
  • Presentation
  • Examinations

You will be assessed through a combination of individual assignments or group projects and written exams.

Contact time and study hours

Contact hours are about 12 hours per week, but this doesn’t account for some intensive block teaching, group work meetings, and other personal study time which is significant.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2021 entry.

Undergraduate degree2:1 (or international equivalent) in a relevant discipline


Our step-by-step guide covers everything you need to know about applying.

How to apply


Qualification MSc
Home / UK £11,000
International £22,000

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2021/22 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

As a student on this course, you should factor some additional costs into your budget, alongside your tuition fees and living expenses.

You should be able to access most of the books you'll need through our libraries, though you may wish to purchase your own copies or more specific titles.


Fee bursaries for University of Nottingham graduates

Here at the School of Geography we value Nottingham graduates. If you hold a degree or are expected to graduate from the University of Nottingham, fulfil the admission criteria for the MSc in Environmental Leadership and Management and meet all conditions associated with your offer of study, you will be automatically considered for a 20% Alumni Scholarship (until we reach our funding limit) if you apply before 23 July 2021.

Fee bursaries

There are many ways to fund your postgraduate course, from scholarships to government loans.

We also offer a range of international masters scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding


We offer individual careers support for all postgraduate students.

Expert staff can help you research career options and job vacancies, build your CV or résumé, develop your interview skills and meet employers.

More than 1,500 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

Graduate destinations

Your skills as a solutions-orientated change agent will enhance your career opportunities across a range of sectors such as:

  • government agencies
  • environmental NGOs
  • environmental consultancies
  • environmental research centres
  • organisations involved in environmental risk management
  • organisations involved in disaster planning and recovery

Career progression

83.3% of postgraduates from the School of Geography secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation.*

* HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020, using methodology set by The Guardian.

As part of your summer project, you will undertake work alongside a partner environmental organisation. This experience will give you enable you to apply your learning to a real-world environmental challenge, and to develop the skills and contacts necessary to begin your career in the environmental sector.

You will also have the opportunity to apply for the University placement scheme, which facilitates work experience hosted by an environmental organisation. This experience in an organisational context will help to demonstrate your abilities as an effective environmental leader to future employers.

The programme also incorporates ILM tuition delivered in collaboration with GWA Ltd - an ILM Approved Centre. It will result in the professional qualification of a Level 5 Certificate in Leadership and Management.

We are an approved IEMA University Partner. This course entitles you to free student membership for the duration of the course and, on successful completion, qualify for GradIEMA. Graduate membership is a launchpad for future leaders within environment and sustainability and offers a range of benefits to support you throughout your career. You can then “fast track” to Practitioner Membership (PIEMA) following successful completion of the work-based assessment of competence.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
Play video

MSc Environmental Leadership and Management course overview

Dr Nick Mount and Dr Chris Ives talk about the MSc Environmental Leadership and Management (Mandarin subtitles available, click the CC icon).

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning (2017/18). Our teaching is of the highest quality found in the UK.

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) is a national grading system, introduced by the government in England. It assesses the quality of teaching at universities and how well they ensure excellent outcomes for their students in terms of graduate-level employment or further study.

This content was last updated on Thursday 07 January 2021. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur given the interval between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.