MSc Environmental Assessment and Management


We have been awarded a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for 50 years of ground-breaking environmental science at UEA. The royal accolade from the Queen is the UK’s most prestigious higher education award.

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Prepare for a career in environmental management with this vocational course that focuses on the key skills involved.

You’ll learn from international experts how to properly evaluate the potential impacts of proposed policies, plans or projects, drawing on best practice from around the world. Learn through doing, based on an approach of applying theory in practice on a weekly basis, and through a field course.

This course is ideal for anyone who values the socio-economic environment and wishes to contribute to the achievement of sustainable development.

You will develop your research, communication, teamwork, and analytical skills – giving you the necessary skills for a career in environmental consultancies, decision makers, regulators, statutory consultees, and NGOs, amongst others.


On this MSc course you’ll explore why and how we use environmental assessment, the consequences of good and bad practice and what different stakeholders expect from it.

You’ll investigate case studies to clearly illustrate how environmental assessment works to deliver more sustainable outcomes. These include (amongst others):

  • Planning a strategy for a new deep coal mine
  • Planning a stakeholder engagement strategy
  • Working out the likely impacts of a biomass power station
  • Conducting a phase 1 habitat survey
  • Carrying out a sustainability appraisal of a land use plan

You’ll learn to connect the environmental process with the operational stages of development by examining environmental management plans to ensure the findings are implemented. And you’ll experience the challenges associated with developing and applying practical skills by conducting fieldwork in all weathers, interviewing members of the public (if social distancing allows), presenting findings in front of your peers (potentially virtually), and writing environmental management plans allocating responsibilities and timings.

Whether your background is earth sciences, or social sciences, the course is still relevant. There are no specific prerequisites as the focus is on understanding and improving environmental assessment through the core modules, and a wide range of optional modules that offer additional employability skills associated with specific impact prediction practice.

This course is accredited by the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) – the professional body for careers in this field. This gives you one year’s free IEMA membership. After your course you can upgrade to associate level. For more details visit

Course Structure

The course is made up of 180 credits taught between September and the end of August. This comprises of six 20-credit taught modules and one 60-credit dissertation module. 

You’ll take three compulsory taught modules: Theory of Environmental Assessment, Environmental Assessment Effectiveness and Research Skills. The first two are specific to the subject focus of this MSc, whilst Research Skills will give you the skills you need to successfully complete your dissertation as well as many other assessments on the course.

In the first 12-week semester (September-Christmas) you’ll study Theory of Environmental Assessment and in the second (January-after Easter), you’ll study Environmental Assessment Effectiveness. This includes an eight-day field course during the Easter break. The timing ensures that the theory taught in the classroom through lectures and seminars can be put into practice on the field course. Your Research Skills module is taught across both semesters.

You’ll also choose another three 20-credit modules in semesters 1 and 2 from an extensive range of options, both within the School of Environmental Sciences, and other Schools (subject to the agreement of the course director).

Your dissertation planning will start as part of the Research Skills module, where you’ll develop and evaluate a proposal. Then once the taught component of the MSC course is complete, you’ll work full time on your dissertation until you hand it in at the end of August. You can choose any area of focus for your dissertation under the expert guidance of a member of Faculty, as long as it falls within the scope of Environmental Assessment and Management.

Teaching and Learning


You will be taught by internationally-leading researchers in all modules through a combination of approaches that deliver the learning outcomes. Class sizes can vary – between 10-60 students depending on the module and the particular activity. For each taught module your week will usually include two one-hour lectures and one two hour practical or seminar class. With three taught modules a semester, you will have around 15 hours’ contact time a week.  

Generally you’ll practice the lecture theory in the seminars or practicals, drawing heavily on problem-based learning as a pedagogic technique. This also helps to develop practical skills valued by employers, including IT, communication, problem solving, teamwork, commercial awareness and project management.

Independent study

Working at the MSc level means that you’ll need to apply the highest levels of learning – synthesis and evaluation. You’ll gain an excellent balance of independent thinking and study skills, helping you grow into a self-motivated learner, an expert researcher, an analytical thinker, a good team worker, and a good time manager.

You will develop accuracy and precision in your written work through evidence-based analysis.  You will become highly organised and confident in self-directed study and, throughout your course, you will be given guidance on your work and constructive feedback to help you improve.

For each module you’ll need to do around 140 hours of independent study, writing essays using state-of-the-art library, carrying out research work, preparing group work, or conducting projects.



Each module has its own assessment structure to ensure that you meet the module learning outcomes. These include essays, presentations, reports, exams, and a variety of innovative approaches (like writing POST notes to advice Government on policy)

Most modules (including all compulsory modules) are assessed by coursework only, rather than exams, but it depends on your choice of optional module. For the dissertation module, you’ll mainly be assessed through a 15,000-word dissertation.

Through formative assessments in each area, we’ll help you develop your skills and abilities before completing the ‘summative’ assessment that counts towards your degree grade.


You’ll discuss your feedback on your formative assessment with your tutors to help you improve your work before you submit your summative assessment.

For both formative and summative coursework assessments we always aim to give you feedback within 10 working days of hand-in (except for the dissertation where we take longer).

After the course

This course is essentially vocational, but can lead to PhD level study if you wish to advance your academic skills in the subject area. Most of our graduates go into the environmental management field working either with environmental consultancy companies, regulators, developers or NGOs.

Career destinations

  • Environmental consultancy
  • Non-governmental organisation (eg RSPB)
  • Statutory consultee (eg Environment Agency or Natural England)
  • Decision maker (eg local planning authority in the UK)

Course related costs

Your Environmental Assessment Effectiveness module includes an eight-day field course. Depending on pandemic safety measures, this will either: 1) involve two days of travelling, food, and board.The School of Environmental Sciences subsidises half of the field course costs, which cannot be exactly predicted in advance and covers travel costs from the university.. However, the most recent cost to our students (after subsidy) was £235 per student. 2) be run entirely virtually, making use of aerial photographs, Google Earth, video, replicating the same activities that would take place in the field. There is no cost for this version. 


This course is accredited by the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) – the professional body for careers in this field. This gives you one year’s free IEMA membership. After your course you can upgrade to associate level. For more details visit

Our accreditation is valid between January 2018 and January 2019, renewably annually up to 2021 before reaccreditation is required.

The IEMA accreditation will be relevant to all of these career paths if your employment is based in the UK. The accreditation is independent of the course provision so the outcome doesn’t have any implications for any learning outcomes or skills taught.

Course Modules 2020/1

Students must study the following modules for 120 credits:

Name Code Credits


The dissertation is an individual research project which you will complete independently under the guidance of an academic supervisor within one of the research groups in the School. In addition, you may also choose to undertake a project placement with an outside organisation, with the possible guidance from an outside collaborator. Research undertaken normally involves the analysis and interpretation of data collected in the field, from measurements of a sample in the laboratory or from data gathered from other sources including the media, questionnaire surveys, interviews, etc.




Environmental Assessment is considered to be more effective when conducted at strategic levels of decision making and is usually perceived to have a goal of achieving sustainable development. This module provides experience of conducting a particular form of strategic assessment, Sustainability Appraisal (SA), which incorporates environmental, social and economic considerations into plan making. Through practice of SA, a field course involving hands-on application of environmental assessment techniques and consideration of effectiveness theory, this module will examine what makes assessment effective. Please note that there will be a charge for attending this field course (in the range of GBP300-GBP400) to cover attendance.




This module provides support and training for the dissertation to ensure that the necessary research is well planned in advance. Advice is given on how to make the best use of UEA library resources, how to undertake a literature review, ethics procedures and how to write a dissertation proposal. A substantial part of semester one is devoted to how to use statistics for the analysis of different types of projects. Supporting lectures and practicals in social science research skills are provided in semester two. These include: social science research design; questionnaire survey design; interviewing techniques; focus groups methods and techniques analysing qualitative data. This module must be taken before the Dissertation Module.




Environmental assessment is a term used to describe procedures for evaluating the potential environmental consequences of policies, programmes, plans and projects. It is a well established tool for environmental policy integration, being routinely employed in more than 100 nations and by many international aid and funding agencies. This multidisciplinary module focuses on the theory and methods of environmental assessment and the decision-making contexts in which they are employed. It explains the procedural stages of, and selected methodologies for, environmental assessment and provides practical experience in applying them.



Students will select credits from the following modules:

Students will select 60 credits from the following modules. Students may also choose modules from other Schools, subject to their approval and to timetable compatibility, with the agreement of the Course Director and of the School concerned.

Name Code Credits


The module addresses the fundamental requirement for an interdisciplinary catchment-based approach to managing and protecting water resources that includes an understanding of land use and its management. The module content includes the design of catchment monitoring programmes, nutrient mass balance calculations, river restoration techniques, an overview of UK and European agri-environmental policy and approaches to assessing and mitigating catchment flooding. The module is structured to enhance professional skills development through the provision of sessions designated at assisting students who wish to pursue a career in the water industry.




Climate change and variability have played major roles in shaping human history and the prospect of human-caused global warming is a pressing challenge for society. But how and why has climate changed, how do we predict future climate and how do our choices affect future climate? Throughout this module, you will learn how climate science can answer these questions. Discover the approaches, methods and techniques for understanding the history of climate change and for developing climate projections for the next 100 years. You'll also explore the scientific evidence about climate change and where the uncertainties lie. Starting with an introduction to the changing climate and the main themes in current climate research, your study will be structured around three topics. (1) Fundamentals of the changing climate. (2) Research methods. (3) Climate change and causal mechanisms. Studying the physical science basis of climate change will enable you to understand what controls our climate, to explain the causes of the changes we have observed, and to interpret projections of future climate change.




In this module you will also consider climate change from the viewpoint of energy generation and usage. You will learn about the key relationships between energy, fossil fuels and the economy. The module draws on historical analyses to understand how energy systems have evolved in the past, as well as examining the role that scenarios play in exploring energy futures. You will gain an in-depth understanding of the complexities of changing energy systems, enabling you critically engage with debates around future "energy transitions", the role that innovation and emergent technologies might play, and the various challenges of shifting towards renewable based energy systems.




This interdisciplinary module focuses on the critical evaluation of scientific evidence as a basis for effective biodiversity conservation policy, strategy and interventions in a world challenged by climate change, population growth and the need for socio-economic development and environmental justice. You will attend an initial block of lectures examining socio-economic drivers of biodiversity loss and motivations for conservation, challenging common assumptions and outlining conceptual frameworks for conservation interventions. A series of seminars by global conservation practitioners provide insights to implementation and employability. Coursework assessments are designed to develop skills of evaluating, synthesising and communicating scientific evidence and are supported by feed-forward formative exercises.




This module studies a set of different proposed techniques, called geoengineering, that seek to modify the Earth's climate by reducing the degree of anthropogenic radiative forcing, either by reflecting more sunlight back to space or by removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This is a complex, controversial and highly uncertain area of science that requires a strongly interdisciplinary approach. The potential role of geoengineering techniques as a complement to mitigation and adaptation in tackling future climate change raises a number of important questions, not least for international policy making.




This module will provide essential GIS tools and principles that will be applied to modelling ecological and environmental change. This module includes two parts, the first part delivers core GIS skills. The second part examines recent ecological and environmental changes with particular emphasis to climate change. Students will learn to identify, extract and analyse data from national and global databases. GIS analyses will include the manipulation of such files. Particular attention will be paid to using the data to understand and model the consequences of environmental change. These skills are important in many areas of ecological and environmental research.




Our aim is to show how environmental problems may be solved from the initial problem, to mathematical formulation and numerical solution. Problems will be described conceptually, then defined mathematically, then solved numerically via computer programming. The module consists of lectures on numerical methods and computing practicals, the practicals being designed to illustrate the solution of problems using the methods covered in lectures. We will guide students through the solution of a model of an environmental process of their own choosing. The skills developed in this module are highly valued by prospective employers.




Environmental economics provides a set of tools and principles which can be useful in understanding natural resource management issues. This module introduces you to key principles and tools of environmental economics for students who have not studied the subject previously. It then explores how these principles can be applied to address a number of complex economy-environment problems including climate change, over-fishing and water resources management. In this module you will have the opportunity to practically apply cost-benefit analysis as a framework for decision-making and will gain knowledge on the key non-market valuation techniques that are used to monetarily value environmental goods and services. At the end of the module you will have gained insights into how environmental economics is used in developing natural resource management policy as well as some of the challenges in using environmental economics in policy-making.




How can science and society work better together to solve sustainability challenges? How can society be properly engaged and accounted for in addressing pressing issues like climate change, energy transitions and natural hazards? These questions, that lie at the core of this module, have become major concerns for scientists, governments, businesses, NGOs and citizens the world over. Throughout the module you will gain a rich appreciation of key theories, approaches and practical methods for understanding and improving relations between science, technology and society in sustainability settings. You'll explore the nature of science and how it relates to society. You'll discover a wealth of approaches for public engagement with science and consider how sustainability can be more effectively governed. You'll also learn how to critically evaluate and communicate these ideas through written, oral and self-reflective means. You'll learn through a mixture of lectures, practical classes, in-class debates, and self-directed study. Your new knowledge and skills will be put into practice by creating a blog to communicate your ideas, as well as through written work and presentations. You'll also benefit from the module being taught by staff in the Science, Society and Sustainability (3S) Research Group, which houses some of the world's leading experts on societal engagement with sustainability.




How do you test a hypothesis? How do you compare biological traits between wild populations? How do you best test and visualise differences between samples? Scientists use a wide array of methods for statistical analysis and plotting data, and increasingly, these tasks are carried out using R. R is a free programming language for statistical computing and graphics, including general and generalised linear models, time-series analysis, and community analysis and also specialised analyses in many scientific subfields. Learning R will equip you with a flexible statistical, modelling and graphics tool. Learning the basics of running R in the RStudio programming environment, you'll spend most of your time on general and generalised linear models, which unify the range of statistical tests that are classically taught separately: t-test, ANOVA, regression, logistic regression and chi-square, plus residuals analysis. Additionally, you'll learn how to use R to write simple programs and carry out community analyses such as principal components analysis. Finally, throughout the class, you'll learn R methods for data formatting, graphics, and documentation. On successful completion of this module you'll be able to use R to carry out and present results from the most widely used statistical tests in current scientific practice, giving you sufficient knowledge to continue learning statistical analysis on your own. A pre-requisite of first and/or second year statistical modules is required.




If everyone on Earth lived like a typical UK citizen, we'd need three planets-worth of resources. But we only have one. Why do we consume the way we do? What drives our behaviour and how might we persuade people to live more sustainably? What do we mean by a sustainable lifestyle, anyway? These are questions academics, business people, campaigners and policy makers struggle with every day and there are no easy answers. In this module you'll get to grips with competing visions about what sustainable consumption is. You'll gain an understanding of a range of theoretical approaches to understanding consumption behaviour and you'll learn how to apply these theories to develop strategies for achieving sustainable consumption. You'll begin by examining the impacts of western-style consumerism on the Earth's social, economic and environmental systems. Drawing on interdisciplinary social science theories from economics, psychology, sociology and ethnography, you'll go on to investigate a range of strategies for achieving change. You'll get hands-on experience testing and applying these ideas yourselves, in participative workshops, alongside award-winning innovative teaching methods. In lectures, you'll learn about topics such as Ethical Consumption, Limits to Growth, Collaborative Consumption, Community-based initiatives, Life Cycle Analysis and Behaviour-change campaigns. Understanding the theoretical debates behind everyday actions for sustainability will make you better able to design and implement sustainability strategies in the workplace - whether in the public or private sector, or civil society. You'll be able to identify the strengths and weaknesses in sustainable consumption campaigns and policies and offer theoretically-informed solutions.




Whilst the University will make every effort to offer the modules listed, changes may sometimes be made arising from the annual monitoring, review and update of modules and regular (five-yearly) review of course programmes. Where this activity leads to significant (but not minor) changes to programmes and their constituent modules, there will normally be prior consultation of students and others. It is also possible that the University may not be able to offer a module for reasons outside of its control, such as the illness of a member of staff or sabbatical leave. In some cases optional modules can have limited places available and so you may be asked to make additional module choices in the event you do not gain a place on your first choice. Where this is the case, the University will endeavour to inform students.

Further Reading


    "Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) accreditation ensures students graduate as GradIEMA members, which is the first rung on the ladder of professional accreditation, and a career development stepping stone in the environmental consultancy sector." Dr Alan Bond


    Find out about the impact UEA has made over the past 50 years.

    Read it CELEBRATE 50 YEARS

    Twelve things you need to know about the School of Environmental Sciences.


    Your University questions, answered

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    Whether you want to diversify or specialise – explore your options.


Entry Requirements

  • Degree Subject Sciences, Social Sciences and Arts and/or related work experience.
  • Degree Classification Bachelors degree (minimum 2.1 or equivalent)
  • Alternative Qualifications Please contact us if you are unsure about the suitability of your background.

Students for whom English is a Foreign language

We welcome applications from students whose first language is not English. To ensure such students benefit from postgraduate study, we require evidence of proficiency in English. Our usual entry requirements are as follows:

  • IELTS: 6.5 (minimum 5.5 in all components)
  • PTE (Pearson): 58 (minimum 50 in all components)

Test dates should be within two years of the course start date.

Other tests, including Cambridge English exams and the Trinity Integrated Skills in English are also accepted by the university. The full list of accepted tests can be found here: Accepted English Language Tests

INTO UEA also run pre-sessional courses which can be taken prior to the start of your course. For further information and to see if you qualify please contact

Fees and Funding

Tuition fees for the academic year 2020/21 are:

  • UK/EU Students: £7,850
  • International Students: £16,400

If you choose to study part-time, the fee per annum will be half the annual fee for that year, or a pro-rata fee for the module credit you are taking (only available for UK/EU students).

We estimate living expenses at £1,015 per month.


A variety of Scholarships may be offered to UK/EU and International students. Scholarships are normally awarded to students on the basis of academic merit and are usually for the duration of the period of study. Please click here for more detailed information about funding for prospective students.

How to Apply

Applications for Postgraduate Taught programmes at the University of East Anglia should be made directly to the University.

To apply please use our online application form.

Further Information

If you would like to discuss your individual circumstances prior to applying please do contact us:

Postgraduate Admissions Office
Tel: +44 (0)1603 591515

International candidates are also encouraged to access the International Students section of our website.

    Next Steps

    We can’t wait to hear from you. Just pop any questions about this course into the form below and our enquiries team will answer as soon as they can.

    Admissions enquiries: or
    telephone +44 (0)1603 591515