• Status: Fully Approved
  • Start date: October 2016
  • Duration:

    2 years part-time or 1 year full-time

  • Attendance:

    2 evenings a week part-time; 4 evenings a week full-time.

    From October

  • Location:

    Central London

  • Professional bodies that recognise this course:

    Completion of this MSc allows you to become an Associate Member of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA).

    IEMA is the largest professional membership body for the environment with over 15,000 members working across all industry sectors. IEMA Associate Member status is required for many environmental job roles.

Programme overview

This MSc Environment and Sustainability aims to provide an advanced-level grounding in sustainable responses to a broad range of environmental issues. It explores the relationship between policy, practice and the ecological environment and the development of effective strategies for addressing the threats and opportunities posed by environmental issues. As the programme is offered through part-time, evening, face-to-face study, it provides a distinctive opportunity for practitioners to combine study with a continuing career.

Completion of this MSc will allow you to become an Associate Member of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA).

Aimed at people from a wide range of backgrounds, it is suitable for anyone who wishes to develop a deeper understanding of the key drivers of environmental policy developments in the UK and internationally.

It is also possible to specialise in Geographic Information Science (GIS) and gain an MSc Environment and Sustainability with GIS.

Find out more about studying at Birkbeck and what our students say about our geography- and environment-related programmes.

Watch an Introduction to Climate Change taster lecture.

Lecture: 'Climate Change and the River Thames' (delivered by Becky Briant)

The River Thames is the lifeblood of London, yet under future climate change scenarios it will be under considerable pressure. With projected changes in rainfall affecting both the water quality and quantity received in the upper reaches of the Thames and sea level rise encroaching in the lower parts, what is the future for this iconic part of London’s landscape?

Podcast and slides

Blog post

How to apply

You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application link below.

For the MSc Environment and Sustainability with GIS, please apply for the MSc Environment and Sustainability programme, indicating in your application that you are interested in taking the GIS pathway. We will then contact you to discuss this further if you plan to study full-time. Part-time students can change between their first and second years.

Need help with your application? Watch videos featuring our academic experts giving advice on applying to Birkbeck and answering some of the most frequently asked questions.

Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form, including our online personal statement tool, which will guide you through every step of writing your personal statement.

Online application

Environment and Sustainability (MSc) (Part-time)

Environment and Sustainability (MSc) (Full-time)

Why study this course at Birkbeck?

  • All students who successfully complete the 4 compulsory modules undertaken in Year 1 of the programme also become Members of the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA). Recently merged with the Global Association of Corporate Sustainability Officers (GACSO), and aiming to be the international leader for environmental and sustainability professionals, IEMA is a non-profit membership organisation that promotes best practice standards in environmental management, auditing and assessment. IEMA supports professional development of individuals involved in the environmental and sustainability profession in the public, private and non-governmental sectors. Benefits of IEMA membership include access to: regional and national events, publications, workshops, negotiated deals for professional indemnity insurance, website and special interest groups. Associate membership is widely recognised as the minimum professional achievement for anyone who is working in an environmental role and has responsibility for environmental issues. Associates of IEMA earn the suffix AIEMA and this is increasingly being asked for by employers.
  • Relevant for managers with responsibility for environmental affairs in the public or private sector, members of a regulatory body, members of environmental pressure groups, or those with a general interest in ecological issues.
  • Provides an opportunity to undertake in-depth research in a sector of your own choosing, which can lead to important networking opportunities.
  • Birkbeck has considerable expertise in, and a long history of, effectively teaching Geographic Information Science (GIS), and this programme has a pathway that allows students to combine Sustainability and GIS studies, graduating with an MSc Environment and Sustainability with GIS.
  • The Department of Geography, Environment and Development Studies has contacts with many public and private sector organisations, professional bodies and researchers at other academic institutions.
  • We offer student support and have a range of research resources.
  • For students studying the GIS pathway, we provide access to GIS software (ArcGIS, free to UK-based students, and IDRISI, available at student rates) and GIS practicals (ESRI Virtual Campus, IDRISI and selfcontained).
  • Watch videos of our postgraduate students discussing their experience of studying at Birkbeck.

Course structure

The MSc Environment and Sustainability comprises 6 taught modules, 2 at 30 credits, the others at 15 credits. A 60-credit dissertation is also required, making 180 credits in total.

Compulsory modules will be undertaken in the first year in Environment and Policy (30 credits); Environmental Science for Environmental Management (30 credits); Climate Change and Sustainable Business Practice (15 credits) and Environmental Reporting and Management Systems (15 credits).

By engaging with academic, professional and popular literature you will gain an informed understanding of the key issues in the 2 important areas of science and policy. You will be able to assess the effectiveness of different policy approaches and critically evaluate different environmental issues.

In the second year of the programme, you will further develop your research skills in the module GEDS Research Methods (15 credits) and choose a 15-credit option to take your own interests further (e.g. in Energy and Climate Change, Cultural Landscapes, Readings in the Environment or other Birkbeck modules) and research for a dissertation (60 credits) to conduct an in-depth study of real environmental challenges.

It is also possible to gain an MSc Environment and Sustainability with Geographic Information Science (GIS) if the following modules are taken: Environment Science for Environmental Management (30 credits); Environment and Policy (30 credits); Climate Change and Sustainable Business Practice (15 credits) and Environmental Reporting and Management Systems (15 credits); Introduction to GIS (15 credits); and one of: GIS Data and Databases (15 credits); Remote Sensing and Environment (15 credits) and Spatial Analysis and Statistics (15 credits) and a dissertation.

Compulsory modules: MSc Environment and Sustainability

Compulsory modules: MSc Environment and Sustainability with GIS pathway

Option modules


Entry requirements

Good honours degree or equivalent.

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, the requirement for this programme is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 7.0, with not less than 6.5 in each of the sub-tests.

If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.


Part-time home/EU students: £ 3975 pa
Full-time home/EU students: £ 7950 pa
Part-time overseas students: £ 7225 pa
Full-time overseas students: £ 14450 pa

Payment and Fees Discounts

Flexible finance: pay your fees in monthly instalments at no extra cost. Enrol early to spread your costs and reduce your monthly payments.

Fees discounts: If you are a Birkbeck alumni or a member of a union that is recognised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), you may apply for a 10% discount off your tuition fees.

Funding and Financial Support

The government's new postgraduate loan scheme allows you to borrow up to £10,000 to cover the cost of your tuition fees, living costs or other study expenses – and you don't have to start repaying until 2019.

Use our interactive tool to help you explore your payment options in more detail.

Part-time students who are experiencing financial need may apply for assistance from the Birkbeck Alumni Fund Postgraduate Opportunity Bursary.

Find out more about funding and financial support at postgraduate level.

Careers and employability

Graduates go on to careers in business, environmental management, local government, policy work, and in environmental groups and charities. Possible professions include geographical information systems officer, nature conservation officer, or environmental consultant. This degree can also be useful in becoming a planning and development surveyor or town planner.

Find out more about these professions.

Find out more about the destinations of graduates in this subject.

We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

Teaching and assessment


    Teaching will take place in lectures and seminars, but substantive content will also be delivered through the Moodle virtual learning environment.

    Student learning, as well as taking place within formal face-to-face sessions, will involve reading and assimilating the considerable literature on this subject, and engaging with key experts and stakeholders in guest sessions.


    Coursework and examinations. Master's programmes require a substantial piece of independent research in the form of a dissertation, which accounts for one-third of the MSc.

    Our research

    Birkbeck is one of the world’s leading research-intensive institutions. Our cutting-edge scholarship informs public policy, achieves scientific advances, supports the economy, promotes culture and the arts, and makes a positive difference to society.

    Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.

    In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), Sociology at Birkbeck was ranked 13th in the UK.

    Read about Birkbeck research that crosses disciplines and focuses on pressing questions within the social sciences and humanities.

    Further study opportunities