Environmental Sustainability (Strategy and Management) - MSc

Full Time
September 2016, January 2017
£5,500 for UK/EU Full Time 2016 entry (view all fees)

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 you 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 you the knowledge and skills to operate across multi-disciplinary projects when you graduate.

What's covered in the course?

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 ideal if you're a graduate or professional looking to become the environmental policy maker and leader 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.

Why Choose Us?

  • Our course will enable you to take a leading role in sustainable construction for your future career. It's an area that is increasingly important and demand for skilled professionals is high.
  • We have supportive academic staff who will offer advice, guidance and key industry experience. This is complemented by exceptional levels of employer involvement, with visiting professionals supporting lectures, workshops and seminars.
  • You'll study with like-minded individuals in an inspirational setting with cutting edge facilities.
Visit our open day

Postgraduate Open Day

Our next Postgraduate Open Day will be on Wednesday 23 November, between 2pm and 7pm. Come along to find out more about our courses and see our facilities.

Register now

This course is open to International students

School of Engineering and the Built Environment

Discover the School of Engineering and the Built Environment

Visit our School site for more student work and extra information.

Visit the School website

Study options

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.

Entry Requirements

UK students

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.

Admissions Policy
Level - With or without relevant experience Requirements 2015/16
1st class or 2.1 An interview may be required prior to an offer
2.2 Must undertake a selection process
3rd class or Pass Only admitted in exceptional circumstances
EU/International students
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.

UK or EU students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MSc Sep 2016 FT 1 year £5,500
Jan 2017 FT 1 year £5,500

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

International Students

Award Start Mode Duration Fees
MSc Sep 2016 FT 1 year £12,000
Jan 2017 FT 1 year £12,000

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

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.

Additional costs

There are no compulsory additional costs or charges associated with studying on this course. While you may choose to purchase personal copies of text books, all our key text books are available from our library or online (subject to normal library loan and online access arrangements). If your course includes a residential study session, the accommodation costs for this are already included in your course fee.

Based on the past experience of our students, you might find it helpful to set aside about £50 for each year of your studies for stationery and study materials. All our students are provided with 100 free pages of printing each year to a maximum total value of £15.

Your personal statement

Your personal statement is a highly important part of your application. It gives you a crucial opportunity to say why you’re applying and why the institution should accept you.

Here are the key areas you’ll need to address:

Course choice

Why does this course appeal? What areas are of particular interest?

Career plans

If you have a specific career in mind, say how your chosen course will help you pursue this goal.

Work experience

Mention any work that is relevant to your subject, highlighting the skills and experience gained.

School or college experience

Highlight skills gained at school/college, eg summer schools or mentoring activities.

Non-accredited skills or achievement

eg Duke of Edinburgh Award, Young Enterprise scheme.

You should also mention your future plans – if you’re planning to take a year out, don't forget to give your reasons. Talk about any subjects you’re studying that don’t have a formal assessment and any sponsorships or placements you’ve applied for. And don't be scared to add in details about your social, sports or leisure interests.

Get more information on writing personal statements.

This course is not available part-time

Got any questions?

Search our Frequently Asked Questions for a range of information about our courses and studying here.

Financial Support

We offer further information on possible postgraduate financial support. This includes the type of loans, grants and scholarships available both from the government and from Birmingham City University.

Did you know that you will soon be able to apply for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,000 for some courses and options?

Postgraduate loans

Stage 1: Postgraduate Certificate

Dynamic Natural Environments
15 credits

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
15 credits

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

Green Design
15 credits

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.

Management Tools for Sustainability
15 credits

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.

Stage 2: Postgraduate Diploma

Sustainable Futures
15 credits

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
15 credits

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
15 credits

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
15 credits

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.

Stage 3: Masters

Masters Project
60 credits

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 Masters level.

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.

Further Study

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

Enhancing your employability skills

Our course will give you a thorough understanding of the principles of sustainable development and its relationship to the environment, helping you secure a job in this evolving area.

The chance to work on live briefs will help you learn how to generate ideas and developments and apply this to the development of solutions. Your sound knowledge and business and management methods and their relationship to sustainability will equip you for a leading role in the environmental sector.

You'll understand environmental legislation and policy and have up to date knowledge relevant to current practice.

With an understanding of the tools and techniques needed to complete environmental projects, you'll be a valuable asset to future employers in an evolving, eco-conscious industry.

Your research project demonstrates in-depth knowledge, commitment and critical thinking in a specialist area, which will help you develop in your chosen career.

You'll develop a range of transferable skills, such as how to communicate ideas and solve problems, as well as developing negotiation and planning skills. And thanks to the unique nature of the course, you'll learn how to work effectively and efficiently either on your own or as part of a team. That's why our graduates have secured successful careers with top firms, or even set up their own consultancies.


OpportUNIty Student Ambassador

OpportUNIty: Student Jobs on Campus ensures that our students are given a first opportunity to fill many part-time temporary positions within the University. This allows you to work while you study with us, fitting the job around your course commitments. By taking part in the scheme, you will gain valuable experiences and employability skills, enhancing your prospects in the job market.

It will also allow you to become more involved in University life by delivering, leading and supporting many aspects of the learning experience, from administration to research and mentoring roles.

Graduate jobs

Our environmental sustainability course opens up opportunities within industrial, commercial, charitable and governmental organisations. Many companies now employ environmental or sustainability specialists to work as part of larger project teams engaged in core design and construction activities.

You may find a role as an environmental policy maker or manager.

  • Environmental engineers
  • Environmental analysts
  • Sustainability managers
  • Sustainability designers
  • Construction project managers.

International Students

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

Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC)

International students who have a serious interest in studying with us but who perhaps cannot meet the direct entry requirements, academic or English, or who have been out of education for some time, can enter Birmingham City University International College (BCUIC) and begin their degree studies.


BCUIC is part of the global Navitas Group, an internationally recognised education provider, and the partnership allows students to access the University’s facilities and services and move seamlessly through to achieving a Bachelor’s degree from Birmingham City University.

Learn more about BCUIC

Our Facilities

We are constantly investing in our estate and are currently in the process of spending £260 million on new learning facilities.

Building work on our new Conservatoire began in the summer of 2015 – and is scheduled for completion in summer 2017. This, along with the construction of a new city centre accommodation block, means our students have access to their very own building sites.

We couple this with the more traditional, office-based facilities:

Surveying equipment

Part of your learning activity will be hands-on, including carrying out survey work using a range of equipment, such as levels, theodolites, measuring tapes.

Computer Assisted Design (CAD)

You will be provided with the latest CAD software – free of charge – to enable you to acquire the skills you need in a modern design office.

Learning from industry experts

Discover more about the industry experts you can meet on our Engineering degree courses.

Laura Layland is one of our lecturers, watch this video to find out more.

Nicki Schiessel Harvey

Director of Recruitment and School Tutor for Personal Development

Nicki Schiessel believes firmly that knowledge must be made applicable to everyday practice, and draws on four years' consultancy with Atkins Environment carrying out EIAs, sustainability appraisals and socio-economic assessments. Nicki is interested in the implications for decision-making of changing values in different environments, particularly urban water. She has lived and worked in Africa, Asia and the ex-Soviet republics.

Professor Mark Reed

Professor in Interdisciplinary Environmental Research

As an interdisciplinary environmental researcher, Mark’s work focuses on the value of nature, how we share ideas about the natural world, and how we can engage people and communities in decisions about environmental change.

Claudia Carter

Reader in Environmental Governance

Claudia is an interdisciplinary researcher in the field of environmental governance. Her research relates to climate change and sustainability adopting social-ecological systems thinking/approaches. A poignant area of interest are the opportunities and barriers to 'low-impact' living and the emergence of transition initiatives/towns and degrowth movement. Claudia studied geography and environmental management and for many years worked in academic and applied research on environmental policy and management, environmental values, public and stakeholder engagement, critical evaluation, and interdisciplinary research approaches. She joined Birmingham City University in 2011 as a researcher and lecturer teaching and supervising undergraduate and postgraduate students. Since 2011 she has been Associate Editor (Socio-Economics) of the journal Environmental Values.

Current/recent research projects include (i) development of PARTICIPOLOGY, a resource to engage people in participative planning, decision-making and training using a board game format; (ii) work packages 9 and 10 of the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) Follow-On programme focusing on assessing and developing tools to take account of the Ecosystem Approach in decision-making; and (iii) collaboration in the Rural Economy and Land Use programme (RELU) - funded project 'Managing change at the rural-urban fringe'.

Past posts included Project Leader/Social Scientist at the Forestry Commission's Research Agency - Forest Research (Farnham, England; 2006-2011); Researcher in the Socio-Economic Research Group (SERG) of the Macaulay Institute (Aberdeen, Scotland; 2002-2006), Research Associate in the Department of Land Economy at the University of Cambridge (1998-2001). For more information about Claudia's work and current research, please contact her via claudia.carter@bcu.ac.uk.

Professor Alister Scott

Professor of Environment and Spatial Planning

Alister started his career as a Landscape Conservation Officer for Dartmoor National Park in 1986.

In 1988 he become Head of Countryside Management at the Welsh Agricultural College in Aberystwyth

In 1996 his role expanded with the merger of the College with Aberystwyth University and he was Head of Countryside

In 2004 he took up a Senior Researcher role at the Macaulay Land Use Institute in Aberdeen

In 2006 he became Head of Research in the Centre of Environment and Panning in Geosciences at the University of Aberdeen

In 2008 he joined the Geography, Tourism and Environmental Planning unit  at the University of Waikato in New Zealand as Head of Environmental Planning  

In 2009 he joined Birmingham City University as senior lecturer and advanced to his present role as Professor of Environment and Spatial Planning.

Roger Wall

Senior Lecturer

Senior lecturer Roger Wall worked for a water resource management consultancy specialising 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. His current interests are linked to building design and renewable energy technologies.

Dr Julian Lamb

Associate Head of School (Academic)

Julian has a diverse yet interlinked academic background. After three years working in the NHS, Julian completed a degree in Accountancy, and then moved into Civil Engineering research at the University of Birmingham from which he gained a PhD in 1998. Julian’s interest in ‘society and the industrialised landscape’ continued through gaining Masters degrees in Social Work in 2000 (Warwick) and Industrial Archaeology (Birmingham) in 2004.

Julian ran his own management training and design business for eight years from 1998 and returned to full time teaching at Birmingham City University in 2006: first as a senior lecturer and then, from 2012 as Associate Head of School (Academic).

Having taught in Higher Education since 1993 Julian now contributes regular lectures to the MA (Higher Education) taught programme in the Centre for the Enhancement of Learning and Teaching at the University.

Susan Johnson

Senior Lecturer

Senior lecturer Susan Johnson’s industry roles looking at cost control of new build and refurbishment projects worth up to £80m gives her valuable insight which assists students. She is passionate about sustainable design and green infrastructure issues.

Professor Peter Larkham

Professor of Planning

A Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Royal Historical Society, Peter teaches on postgraduate courses in built environment subjects, and has contributed to a number of academic journal papers and other publications. He also supervises at PhD level.

Paul Laycock

Senior Lecturer

Paul is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering and the Built Environment and Course Director for BSc (Hons) Architectural Technology.

Paul was originally a site manager. He moved into design management and from there became an Architectural Technologist. He taught at Northumbria University and then moved back into industry as a developer, before returning to education at Birmingham City University in 2005.

UK prospective students:

UK enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5595

EU / International prospective students:

International enquiry form

+44 (0)121 331 5389

Already applied?

Email the applications team

+44 (0)121 331 6295