Study Environmental Sciences

Environmental management issues now feature prominently on national and international political agendas. Global climate change, sea-level rise, and pollution are threatening the equilibrium of the planet. Against the backdrop of these environmental concerns, there is increasing demand in the UK and around the world for highly skilled managers of the environment.


Study Environmental Sciences

Those who have studied environmental management courses at postgraduate level can help to meet the demand. Graduates from environmental management MSc courses find that job opportunities are expanding in public and private sector agencies and companies for specialist staff to help devise strategies to meet ambitious sustainability targets set by governments both in Britain and across the world. Not only are the employment opportunities excellent for those with an MSc in Sustainable Environmental Management, there could hardly be a more important field for a career than environmental management.

Environmental Management StudentsWhy is Environmental Management Needed?

The impact on our world of human activities is so great that natural systems are now failing to absorb the damage that we inflict upon them, leading to the destruction of fragile habitats, including tropical rain forests, species extinction, and the depletion of non-renewable resources. We face acute competition for building land, waste-disposal problems, food security issues, the trans-national spread of epidemic diseases, and the relentless rise in the total human population. Few now doubt that ways to live in a far more sustainable way - in better harmony with our environment – must be found.

Why Study a Graduate Environmental Management Course?

While the competencies acquired as a result of studying for a BSc or BA degree in subjects such as Geography, or the Biological and Environmental Sciences, are undoubtedly valuable, and can provide a sound base for progression to a career in a branch of environmental management, many employers seek recruits who hold a graduate degree that has equipped them with specialised training. Those already pursuing a career also often seek an MSc qualification in order to enhance their promotion prospects.

Employers look for expertise and experience in subjects such as environmental law, economics and policy formulation, environmental assessment techniques, environmental management approaches and strategies (including, for example, coastal management, land restoration, marine environment management, or forest management). The facility to use geographical information systems (GIS), and to analyse data sets – perhaps acquired by remote sensing - is also deemed essential.

Eden ProjectSuch studies, undertaken within the crucial context of a deep understanding of sustainability issues, global environmental change, and international environmental politics, provide the kind of challenging and advanced education needed by those who are required to make critical environmental management judgements that fundamentally affect the lives of us all.

A small number of UK universities rank amongst the world’s leaders in the provision of postgraduate taught masters degree courses in environmental management. There is only a handful that offer programmes with a particular emphasis on sustainability issues and they attract candidates from within the UK and around the world. Indeed, international students who graduate with an MSc in Sustainable Environmental Management from a UK university take home a qualification of immense value not only for their own career prospects, but also for their country’s quest to solve environmental problems.

Choosing a Graduate Environmental Management Course

A major difficulty that confronts potential applicants, especially international students, is how best to judge the quality of a UK course in environmental management, or to recognise the elements which are essential to secure the best training and educational experience.

Things to Consider:

A Variety of Learning Styles

Masters courses in Environmental Management need to be challenging and demanding. The best go beyond the traditional ‘teacher-centred’ approach which sometimes dominates postgraduate courses; instead, they focus on collaborative, student-centred, experiential and practical learning styles.

Thesis

A substantial ‘thesis’ element, backed by one-to-one supervision by a member of the academic staff, is also an essential feature of a good MSc degree in Environmental Management.

Communication

Overall, those who gain a postgraduate degree in sustainable environmental management will be expected and required to communicate effectively and to be confident in debate and discussion. The demands of a research-based thesis or dissertation offer the best training of all in these skills.

Accreditation

Institute of Environmental Management (IEMA) accreditation, though not critical, is often a good indication of quality,

 

Environmental Management StudentInterdisciplinary Approach

More important, perhaps, is the interdisciplinary character of the curriculum. Applicants should make sure that modules within the Environmental Management degree course are offered by staff drawn from more than one academic department or school, preferably spanning the sciences and the social sciences, and that a choice of optional modules is provided. While much of the subject matter involved in environmental management is applied science, it is sensible to choose a masters course that also considers political, social, legal and economic dimensions. After all, the answer to the world’s environmental problems cannot come from scientists alone – politicians, financiers, and society at large, all play a key role; managers therefore need to understand the interconnections that exist between science and society.

Links with Industry Professionals

Postgraduate courses which engage professional experts (such as consulting engineers, Environment Agency staff, or specialists drawn from local and national government departments) to lead seminar discussions and workshops should also be targeted. Exchanging ideas with practitioners is vital. Indeed, learning approaches that emphasise discussion and practical problem-solving should be sought.

Work Placements

It is advisable to find an MSc Environmental Management course that offers opportunities within the curriculum to undertake ‘work-based’ learning placements or short internships. Fieldwork is another critically important element: there is simply no substitute for first-hand engagement with environmental management issues, meeting those who are working on them, and participating in the collection of information, and contributing to debates and discussions.

Wind TurbinesIf we are to enjoy a sustainable future, the world needs people with the skills and ability to manage our environment in a sustainable manner. Whether you hold, or you are about to acquire a BSc or BA degree in Geography, or a degree in a related subject, choosing to take an MSc in Sustainable Environmental Management could prove to be the best decision you ever make. Make sure you choose a graduate Environmental Management course that best suits your needs and will prepare you well for a long and valuable career in Environmental Management.

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