Environmental Sustainability (Strategy and Management) - PgCert / PgDip / MSc

Course Overview

The essential course information

How to apply
Download the course factsheet
PgCert / PgDip / MSc
  • Full Time (17 months)
  • Full Time (1 year)
Birmingham School of the Built Environment
City Centre

New scholarships for 2015/16

Postgraduate Scholarships We're aiming to make a postgraduate qualification more affordable and can offer awards of up to £10,000 to selected students.

Find out more about scholarship opportunities for 2015/16

This is the course for people wishing to develop their skills and knowledge to become the world’s environmental visionaries and managers of tomorrow.

The course offers students the opportunity to gain a broad understanding of sustainability whilst allowing for a degree of specialism within the context of strategy and management.

‘Sustainability’ and ‘Sustainable Development’ are widely used terms with various interpretations and applications across different industrial, commercial, charitable and governmental organisations. This course equips graduates with the knowledge and skills to operate across multi-disciplinary projects.

The programme has two intakes, in September and January, and may be studied in full or part-time mode. The full time duration is 17 months for January starts.

Key Facts

  • Our Environmental Sustainability courses offer a multi-disciplinary and multi-cultural experience, allowing you the flexibility to tailor your degree to meet your own particular interests in sustainable design, construction, strategy and management.
  • The Strategy and Management pathway is an ideal course for graduates and professionals looking to become the environmental policy makers and leaders of tomorrow.
  • You will learn core strategic, management and decision-making skills, underpinned by an understanding of science and technology, together with the tools needed to formulate and enact policy decisions and to instigate, develop and undertake sustainable solutions.

Get more information about MSc Environmental Sustainability teaching staff

Download the Course Programme Specification

Entry Requirements

We welcome students from around the world. You should preferably have an Upper Second Class Honours degree or equivalent. You will also need to be proficient in written and spoken English as well as numerate and IT literate. Suitable previous degrees include subjects such as planning, geography, construction, business, management, economics, engineering and the physical sciences. We will consider other qualifications and suitable work-based experience on an individual basis. 

LevelExperienceAdmissions Policy
Graduates 1st class or 2.1 With or without relevant experience An interview may be required prior to interview
2.2 With or without relevant experience Must undertake a selection process
3rd class or Pass With or without relevant experience Only admitted in exceptional circumstances

Overseas candidates must have an equivalent qualification and have a minimum overall IELTS score of 6.0 or equivalent, with a minimum score of 5.5 in all four skills.

How to Apply

To apply, please complete the most appropriate online application form from the list below.

Online application for UK or EU students
Jan 2015 PgCert / PgDip / MSc Full Time (17 months)
Sep 2015 PgCert / PgDip / MSc Full Time (1 year)
Online application for non-EU students
Jan 2015 PgCert / PgDip / MSc Full Time (17 months)
Sep 2015 PgCert / PgDip / MSc Full Time (1 year)

If you're unable to use the online form for any reason, you can complete our pdf application form instead.

Fees and Finance

Fees for students from the UK or EU countries?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Jan 2015 FT 17 months PgCert / PgDip / MSc £7,750
Sep 2015 FT 1 year PgCert / PgDip / MSc £8,000
Fees for students from non-EU countries (International)?
Start Mode Duration Award Fees
Jan 2015 FT 17 months PgCert / PgDip / MSc TBC
Sep 2015 FT 1 year PgCert / PgDip / MSc £11,500

The University reserves the right to increase fees broadly in line with increases in inflation, or to reflect changes in government funding policies or changes agreed by Parliament.

New scholarships for 2015/16

Postgraduate Scholarships We're aiming to make a postgraduate qualification more affordable and can offer awards of up to £10,000 to selected students.

Find out more about scholarship opportunities for 2015/16

International Students

International Students at BCU

Birmingham City University is a vibrant and multicultural university in the heart of a modern and diverse city. We welcome many international students every year – there are currently students from more than 80 countries among our student community.

The University is conveniently placed, with Birmingham International Airport nearby and first-rate transport connections to London and the rest of the UK. Our reputation for excellence is soaring globally, thanks to the superb links we forge with industry, our international alliances, and our focus on practical, vocational learning.

Our international pages contain a wealth of information for international students who are considering applying to study here, including:

University Approach to Employability

Birmingham City University is committed to preparing students for successful employability and professional careers. We have an innovative approach to employability that will help you obtain an interesting and well-paid graduate job.

Read our Employability Statement to find out more.

Employment Opportunities

There are a wide range of employment opportunities available within industrial, commercial, charitable and governmental organisations. Many of these now employ environmental or sustainability specialists to work as part of larger project teams engaged in core activities.

Further Studies

The University has a range of research (MPhil and PhD) postgraduate programmes.

Course Structure

The course shares a number of modules with the MSc Environmental Sustainability (Design and Construction) pathway. Regardless of which pathway you choose, you will study Dynamic Natural Environments; Society, Economics and Environment; Green Design; Sustainable Futures; and Energy Trends and Technologies.

In addition, the Strategy and Management pathway offers modules in Management Tools for Sustainability; Complexity, Conflict and Resolution; and Management, Leadership and Innovation.

All the modules on the course incorporate a degree of flexibility to allow you to direct your learning according to your career aspirations and development needs.

The Masters Research Project is a major piece of work on a topic of your choosing which allows you to further shape your degree to your requirements.

All modules are delivered using a mix of learning and teaching styles that include lectures and small group seminars; workshops based on cases studies; action learning sets based on student-centred research; and directed learning using internet based forums. Much emphasis is placed on current developments and this will be supported by guest lectures and seminars as appropriate.

Course Modules

Semester 1 - Postgraduate Certificate - 60 Credits
Dynamic Natural Environments 15 Credits
Society, Economics and Environment 15 Credits
Green Design 15 Credits
Management Tools for Sustainability 15 Credits
Semester 2 - Postgraduate Diploma - 120 Credits
Sustainable Futures 15 Credits
Energy Trends & Technologies 15 Credits
Complexity, Conflict & Resolution 15 Credits
Management, Leadership & Innovation 15 Credits
Semester 3 - MSc Award - 180 Credits
Master's Project 60 Credits

Module Descriptions

Semester 1

Dynamic Natural Environments

This module is based upon the belief that it is essential to understand the ‘big-scale’ picture of dynamic earth processes in order to know how to make a difference on the ‘small-scale’ of everyday environmental management and sustainable development. This module equips students with a broad foundation of knowledge and skills in environmental science and covers areas including the philosophy of science; the geological record of climate and environmental change and evidence of a dynamic planet as a context for understanding future scenarios; the nature of change, complexity and paradox; the meaning of statistics; population factors; and habitats and ecology.

Society, Economics and Environment

This module will give students an understanding of social and economic aspects of managing environments with sustainability in mind. It focuses on linking theory and practice in demonstrating how the built, natural and social environments are interlinked. Students will have the opportunity to critically review existing commonly used methods and tools, and familiarise themselves with ‘new’ approaches suitable for more holistic decision-making and project appraisal. Examples of topics to be covered include the DPSIR framework; Strategic Environmental Assessment; Sustainability Appraisal; Cost Benefit Analysis; and the Ecosystem Functions and Services concept.

Management Tools For Sustainability

The assessment and management of environmental impact is an increasingly important part of development and sustainability. This module is designed to give students exposure to key ideas related to this area of work. The module takes a practical approach to the development and implementation of management and decision making tools. Students are introduced to the theory and methodology behind these tools and then expected to actively engage in their application. In particular, the module focuses on commonly used approaches such as ISO14001; Environmental Impact Assessment; Strategic Environmental Assessment; and Ecosystem Services Assessment.

Green Design
This module introduces students to a range of techniques and methodologies related to the design and maintenance of buildings. It emphasises the need for life-cycle thinking and stresses the fact that there is much more to ‘green’ buildings than the use of ‘bolt-on’ technologies. The module starts with a discussion of the general principles of green architecture and design methods along with an overview of the main standards and measures in use such as BREEAM, the Code for Sustainable Homes and Passivhaus. The main part of the module is concerned with specific design considerations including location and environment; types of building materials; thermal mass principles; the differing requirements of new build and refurbishment projects; insulation, glass and lighting; HVAC; and façade engineering.

Semester 2

Sustainable Futures

This module considers the impact of sustainability and climate change on the future of planning and the environment. It explores possible adaptation and mitigation of the built, managed and natural environment and looks at the ways in which society might change in the future. Due to the changing nature and importance of issues over time, the content of this module is likely to alter on a regular basis. Examples of topics that might be covered include: future urban and rural forms; food production; transport issues; water management; and civic participation and inclusion.

Energy Trends and Technologies

Energy plays a key role in today’s society. Any discussion of sustainable development needs to consider how supply and demand will be managed in the future. This module starts by considering the fundamentals of energy and the problems associated with our current dependency on fossil fuels. It examines energy policy in terms of demand, security of supply and the potential of renewables; nuclear; clean coal; and carbon capture and sequestration. Renewable options discussed include solar energy; heat pumps; hydro-power; and wind energy. The module also emphasises the importance of energy efficiency and the possibilities offered by localised microgeneration.

Complexity, Conflict and Resolution

This module identifies and critically examines the complexity of human relationships with the built and natural environment, considering the range of often contested interests and values that decision-makers need to take into account (and where possible resolve), to achieve sustainable management. The module starts by examining ideas of governance relating to complex and dynamic social-ecological systems. These ideas are illustrated by the use of examples and case studies from around the world. The second part of the module then looks at how these ideas can be applied along with knowledge exchange and participation to help facilitate the decision-making process in practice.

Management, Leadership and Innovation

This module aims to provide students with the opportunity to research, assess and analyse real life problems with a view to developing, presenting and implementing original solutions. Students will be put into inter-disciplinary teams and tasked with working on a set of given problems along the lines of the annual Engineers Without Borders challenge. They will be encouraged to take the lead role in their investigations and to both apply and challenge accepted best practice in sustainable development. The module is designed to be student led and the content will vary dependent on the challenge presented. However, core ideas will be introduced throughout the module to familiarise students with accepted norms of management practice and leadership styles and also to encourage creativity and innovative solutions.

Semester 3

Masters Research Project

The Research Project is a major piece of individual work that allows students to build their understanding and expertise in a selected area of specialised study. It involves use of appropriate research approaches and skills, abilities to theorise and conceptualise, and encourages students to make connections between theory and practice in a selected specialist topic. It promotes independent and reflective learning in order to demonstrate ability to think and write at Master’s level.

Assessment Methods

The course is delivered using a mix of learning and teaching styles that include lectures and small group seminars; workshops based on case studies; action learning sets based on student-centred research; and internet based forums. Much emphasis will be placed on current developments and this will be supported by extensive use of external speakers as appropriate.

A wide variety of assessment methods are employed to provide both a challenging and stimulating environment. For example:

  • Individual reports
  • Individual presentations
  • Time-constrained exercises
  • Role-playing exercises
  • Development of a research proposals
  • Literature reviews
  • Research papers
  • Design portfolios
  • Reflection on learning experiences
  • Group reports
  • Group presentations

Roger Wall

Senior Lecturer

Before joining the University in 2001, Roger worked for a water resource management consultancy specializing in IT solutions and GIS applications, and as a software engineer for a German consultancy firm.

He recently completed his involvement with the IEE IEC-SME project and was part of the team that wrote the final report and disseminated the findings in Brussels. He was worked on a joint ESRC-EDF bid with other members of the School and have taken part in an Erasmus exchange to EIGSI in La Rochelle. He is currently responsible for developing a new MSc course provisionally entitled, ‘Creating A Sustainable Environment’.

He has also previously worked on business engagement programmes designed to help SMEs develop and market environmental technologies (EnviroInnovate & EBOP).

Rogers current interests are linked to building design and renewable energy technologies. He is also interested in the complexities of sustainable systems and the need to balance many different and often conflicting factors.


Prospective students from the UK
  • Take a look at our Frequently Asked Questions for answers to a range of questions about our courses and studying here.
  • If you need further help, you can contact the Course Enquiries Team online by using the Course Enquiry Form.
  • Alternatively, call us on +44 (0)121 331 5595.
Prospective students from outside the UK


For an overview of our postgraduate courses and a range of other information please download our Postgraduate Prospectus (10Mb).

Further Information

Birmingham School of the Built Environment
Birmingham City University
Millennium Point
Curzon Street
B4 7XG

Tel: +44 (0)121 331 5400
Email: BSBE

If you haven't already, visit Birmingham School of the Built Environment website for more information.

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