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 deliver 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
  • ecosystems
  • water

Our curriculum is informed by our advisory board of sector professionals and our strong links with organisations including the Environment Agency, the British Geological Survey, 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.

You'll graduate ready to effect genuine change and to meaningfully contribute to your organisation's sustainability agenda.

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, ecosystems or 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 as part of 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.

Project in Environmental Leadership and Management

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


Conservation Planning and Practice

Across the world species and ecosystems are undergoing rapid changes from human activities such as the conversion of natural areas to settlement and agriculture and for forestry, resulting in habitat loss, ecosystem degradation and fragmentation. This module aims to provide a critical and sophisticated understanding of the theory and practice of systematic conservation planning and practice.

The module is taught using a real-world case study project in order to teach the practical skills required for delivering on-the-ground actions that achieve conservation goals such as the expansion of reserve networks and identification of areas for restoration. The module focuses not only on teaching conservation planning methods but also providing an understanding of the social, planning and policy context in which they are applied.

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


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
Assessing Water Quality

This module provides an overview of water quality assessment techniques, including chemical, biological, sensor and long-term reconstruction methods. The majority of the module will be taught as part of a residential three-day field course, supplemented with laboratory practical work. You will get hands-on experience in techniques and their application.

The module will be underpinned training in the by a theoretical understanding of the water quality and its drivers at a variety of spatial and temporal scales. Training will include how to devise appropriate water quality management plans and use of benchmarking tools from environmental monitoring agencies.

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 05 May 2022.

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.

As part of their module assessment, two of our recent graduates Matilda and Anne, created a podcast discussing definitions of environmental leadership and what actually defines an environmental leader.

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 2022 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 £11,600
International £23,500

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) .

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

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 22 July 2022.

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.

Each year 1,100 employers advertise graduate jobs and internships through our online vacancy service. We host regular careers fairs, including specialist fairs for different sectors.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

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

81.3% of postgraduates from the School of Geography secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary for these graduates was £24,300.*

* Data from University of Nottingham graduates, 2017-2019. HESA Graduate Outcomes. Sample sizes vary. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

IEMA University Partner

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.

As part of your summer project, you will undertake work alongside a partner environmental organisation. This experience will 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 will help you to demonstrate your abilities as an effective environmental leader to future employers.

Two masters graduates proudly holding their certificates
" This course offers a professional qualification which will add value to my career. The modules are open, descriptive, and very much target oriented, with clear objectives. This will help me with different aspects of managing and tackling environmental issues. "
Adeeba Nuraina Risha, MSc Environmental Leadership and Management

This content was last updated on Thursday 05 May 2022. 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.