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, Natural England, and the World Wide Fund for Nature. The course is accredited by IEMA and incorporates an opportunity to obtain 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 environmental 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 environmental topic 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 provide students the opportunity to obtain professional qualification of a Level 5 Certificate in Leadership and Management.

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 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 module will also involve student-led interactions 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.

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:

  • 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, and provide you with the opportunity to receive a Level 5 certificate by the ILM which also contributes to your MSc.

Environmental Knowledge to Action

This module will introduce you to theoretical perspectives on environmental knowledge and action, such as environmental governance, social learning, co-production and the science-policy interface.

Through interactive exercises and student-led enquiry, specialist knowledge from throughout the degree programme will be interrogated and applied to real-world environmental challenges.

Project Management

The module covers:

  • definitions and classifications of projects
  • objectives in project management - time, costs, quality
  • resources and resource management
  • Critical Path Methods and resource scheduling
  • performance measurement and costs
  • project lifecycles
  • project teams and leadership in project management
  • managing risk in projects
  • analysis of project successes and failures
  • project management software
Project Preparation and Design

This module will incorporate preparation for the Project in Environmental Leadership and Management. Students will work on scoping their project aims and designing their project in combination with project partners and supervisors.

This module is taught by seminars and supervision meetings with a dissertation tutor and collaboration with a project partner.

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

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
Climate Change Decision-Making in Context

This module will cover issues around the management of uncertainty and trade-offs, enhancing co-benefits between mitigation and adaptation, adapting to multiple risks in complex systems, understanding climate governance and notions of climate justice.

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 Tuesday 03 October 2023.

Due to timetabling availability, there may be restrictions on some module combinations.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops
  • Field courses

How you will be assessed

  • Research project
  • Essay
  • Presentation
  • Written exam
  • Portfolio (written/digital)
  • Reports

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 2024 entry.

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

Personal statements

Personal statements are given significant weight in the selection process. We are very interested in personal statements that convey a passion for environmental management and/or aspirations for future leadership roles in the environmental field.


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

How to apply


Qualification MSc
Home / UK £12,250
International £25,250

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

All students will need at least one device to approve security access requests via Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). We also recommend students have a suitable laptop to work both on and off-campus. For more information, please check the equipment advice.

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.


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

57.1% 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 £22,250.

HESA Graduate Outcomes 2019/20 data published in 2022. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on data from graduates who completed a full-time postgraduate degree with home fee status and are 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
" My dissertation topic was in ‘environmental psychology’ which really fuelled my passion for sustainability. When I came across this course, it merged my interests of psychology with environmental issues, as well as providing an array of employability skills. "
Sophie Llewellin, MSc Environmental Leadership and Management

This content was last updated on Tuesday 03 October 2023. 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.