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Environment and Development (MSc)

  • Duration: 1 year
  • Mode: Full time

Start date

Open day

Find out more about studying here as a postgraduate at our next Open Day.

Why study this course

This MSc in Environment and Development aims to investigate, question and explore alternatives to the prevailing tensions and interdependencies between development and socio-ecological systems.


Current agenda

Consider the politicised interconnections between socio-economic demands and environmental degradation.


Breadth and depth

Cover the breadth of environment and development issues or focus on select fields (such as economic sectors, natural resources, public services).



Learn from and engage with research-active staff who are working at the forefront of the discipline.


Multi-scale exploration

Examine lived experience of development and socio-ecological change across different levels and time periods.

Environmental challenges and development concerns are high on the international policy agenda. Our MSc Environment and Development programme encourages you to consider the politicised interconnections between socio-economic demands (the search for growth) and environmental degradation, as well as the tensions between the state and society’s outlooks.

We cover a wide range of environment and development challenges or but you can also choose to focus on certain substantive fields (such as economic sectors, natural resources, public services, governance issues, environmental management or urban and rural regions). You’ll develop your critical thinking skills and ability to examine the justification, trends and limitations of conventional responses to prevailing tensions and mounting challenges.

You’ll consider the lived experience of development and socio-ecological change at different levels – local, regional, national and global – and across different time periods. With a focus on the Global North and the Global South, you’ll study past legacies and socio-cultural influences, the allocation of resources, and the challenges to contain environmental degradation and foster environmental justice.

The programme allows you to: understand the ideological positions that influence development policies and the failures of environmental management; review tendencies to convert nature into resources and private property; the formulation and implementation of environmental regulation; the commitments and failures of the apparatus of the state; the interaction between socio-economic sectors, groups and communities; the social and cultural basis of development and environmental change; and, the political reactions, grassroots mobilisation and alliances across different geographical scales, countries and locations.

Consideration is also given to why and how the development appeal continues to influence governments, social groups and international relations while generating uneven, short-term gains and long-lasting impacts. The limitations of policies influenced by environmentalism and narrow sustainability agendas, which commonly fail to address wider social, political and economic expectations, will be a key component of this discussion.


Where you'll study

School of Geography and Planning

Join us as we explore and tackle the social, political, economic, development and environmental challenges which affect where and how we live.

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  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2087 4022
  • MarkerKing Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff, CF10 3WA

Admissions criteria

In order to be considered for an offer for this programme you will need to meet all of the entry requirements. Your application will not be progressed if the information and evidence listed is not provided.

With your online application you will need to provide:

  1. A copy of your degree certificate and transcripts which show you have achieved a 2:2 honours degree in a relevant subject area such as design, economics, environmental engineering, geography, politics, science, or sociology, or an equivalent international degree. If your degree certificate or result is pending, please upload any interim transcripts or provisional certificates.
  2. A copy of your IELTS certificate with an overall score of 6.5 with 5.5 in all subskills, or evidence of an accepted equivalent. Please include the date of your expected test if this qualification is pending. If you have alternative acceptable evidence, such as an undergraduate degree studied in the UK, please supply this in place of an IELTS.

If you do not have a degree in a relevant area, your application may be considered on the basis of your professional experience. A reference must be provided by your employer to evidence that you currently work in an area relevant to the programme. This should be signed, dated and less than six months old at the time you submit your application. 

Application Deadline

We allocate places on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend you apply as early as possible. Applications normally close at the end of August but may close sooner if all places are filled.

Selection process

We will review your application and if you meet all of the entry requirements, we will make you an offer.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements.

Criminal convictions

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Course structure

You will take taught modules to the value of 120 credits over two semesters between October and May, taking 60 credits each semester. You will complete a dissertation worth 60 credits between June and September. The classification of your degree is based on two-thirds of the average grade of the taught modules and one-third of the grade of your dissertation.

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2024/25 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2024.

You will take six taught modules worth 20 credits each. Four of these modules will be core modules. The remaining two will be optional modules from a choice of ten.

You will compete a dissertation based on original research. You will be able to specialise in different areas by choosing specific combinations of option modules and by your dissertation topic, if you wish. You will be advised at the start of the Programme on the different specialist areas.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, seminars and computer lab and studio work where relevant.

Lectures take a range of forms but generally provide a broad structure for each subject, introduce key concepts, and convey relevant up-to-date information.

In seminars you’ll have the opportunity to discuss particular themes or topics to consolidate and get feedback on your individual learning and to develop your oral presentation skills.

In computer lab and studio work you will have the opportunity to learn various research methods such as GIS and statistics depending on the modules you take.

You will practise and develop intellectual and presentational skills by participating in diverse learning activities, such as, small-group discussions, debates, oral presentations, independent research tasks and written assignments.  You will also enhance your team-working skills.

How will I be assessed?

You will undertake a variety of assessments during the programme, determined by the modules you select.

Each 20-credit module will be assessed by a 4000 word essay or equivalent. Most modules have at least two different modes of assessment with each weighted pro rata to an equivalent of a 4000-word essay overall. For instance, a 3000-word essay worth 75% and a 15 minute presentation worth 25%.

The different modes of assessment include written essays (including short essays and critical review essays), presentations (both individual and in groups), group work, report writing, poster presentations, reflective journals, consultancy reports, reports on statistical analysis and an individual dissertation. The dissertation is worth 60 credits and is 20,000 words maximum.

How will I be supported?

We want to make sure that you are able to achieve you academic and professional ambitions. As such we take pride in offering a supportive and collegiate learning and teaching environment.

Specifically, you will be allocated a personal tutor who will help you reflect on your performance on the course and advise you on study techniques, Module selection and career planning (in conjunction with the University’s Career Service). They will also provide a first point of contact if you experience any difficulties.

A range of other staff are available to provide further support, including a Course Director, Director of Postgraduate Studies, Postgraduate Administrator, specialist IT support and subject librarians. A member of academic staff acts as a designated Disability and Diversity Officer and ensures that reasonable adjustments are made for students with disabilities.

All Modules within the Programme make extensive use of the University’s Virtual Learning Environment, Learning Central, where you can access discussion forums and find course materials including links to teaching and related materials, reading lists and podcasts, and where you submit and access assessed work.

A programme of careers lectures and workshops is also delivered within the School which will help to show the range of professional options open to you after graduation and enable you to start building your professional network.

Formative Feedback

The goal of formative feedback, which does not contribute to progression or degree classification decisions, is to improve your understanding and learning before you complete your summative assessment. Formative feedback is embedded into all modules and will be provided continuously throughout the year. This type of feedback helps:

  •  improve your understanding of the taught material;
  • identify your strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work;
  • staff to support you and address the problems identified with targeted strategies for improvement.

Formative feedback may include verbal feedback on the presentation of ideas or research that will be assessed in a written piece of work; verbal feedback during computer lab work and in seminars and group discussion; written feedback on essay plans; verbal feedback on points raised during lectures; written feedback on workshop exercises; written and verbal feedback on draft chapters of your dissertation / research

Summative Feedback

Summative feedback is feedback that contributes to progression or degree classification decisions.  The goal of summative assessment is to indicate how well you have succeeded in meeting the intended learning outcomes of a Module or Programme and will enable you to identify any action required in order to improve. All feedback is directly linked to the Module grading / assessment criteria and is usually electronic and available on-line.

What skills will I practise and develop?

Knowledge & Understanding:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • a critical understanding of theoretical debates, ideological constructions and application of development models, taking into account key dynamics in environmental change, public policies and regulation and exploring alternatives and opportunities.

Intellectual Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • independent and critical understanding of the multiple interactions between environment and development from a theoretical, methodological and practical point of view;
  • advanced skills in independent research and analysis (including formulating and carrying out a critical research agenda);
  • advanced knowledge of quantitative and qualitative methods and associated data management and analysis;
  • critical appreciation and interpretation of theoretical debates and empirical data.

Professional Practical Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • an ability to analyse the problems of the interface between development and environmental change and begin to identify potential responses and alternatives within policy and regulatory frameworks

Transferable/Key Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • the ability to organise, analyse and critically present complex ideas and evidence orally and in written form;
  • the ability to work independently;
  • the ability to work collaboratively in groups and to plan and conduct empirical research

Tuition fees for 2024 entry

Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.

Learn how we decide your fee status

Fees for home status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £10,700 None

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2024/25 be in line with the overseas fees for international students, unless you qualify for home fee status. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Fees for island status

Learn more about the postgraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Fees for overseas status

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £23,450 £2,500

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Additional costs

Some optional modules may have a field study visit that students may have to make financial contribution towards. If this is the case then students will pay a contribution towards the field study visit. This is typically one-third of the cost of the trip. In previous years, this has been around £500-700 depending upon the location of the trip. Students will be informed at the start of the academic year the cost of the trip to help them decide on module choices.

Living costs

We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.


Master's Scholarships

An award open to UK students intending to study one of our taught master’s degrees.

Postgraduate loans

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2024 or later, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan to support your study at Cardiff University.

Alumni Discount

The alumni discount is available for Cardiff University graduates who are planning to start an eligible master's in 2024/25.

Careers and placements

After the completion of the programme, you will be able to work in a wide range of development and environmental management careers, including jobs in public, private and Third Sector organisations. This can involve policy-making (for instance, on natural resources, energy, transport, urban and rural planning, agri-food or environmental conservation), consultancy on local and international development, or environmental regulation, project management.

You will also be well-positioned to undertake further study towards an academic career in development and environmental studies.


During the programme, you will have the opportunity to base your dissertation research around workplace activities – for example, it could be developed in consultancy organisations, public authorities or international development agencies.

This is an optional element and the placement would need to be self-sourced (often an internship you have arranged).

Placements are sometimes advertised through the School and these would be open for application on a competitive basis. The placement itself will not be assessed although work deriving from the placement may be linked to coursework (e.g. the dissertation).

Next steps


Open Day visits

Register for information about our 2023 dates.

Make an enquiry

Contact us for more information about this course.


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Related searches: Geography and planning, Enviromental science

HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.