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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  Existing Content - 5 JULY 2016 15:18  /  Admissions  /  Masters  /  MSc Environment, Science and Society

MSc Environment, Science and Society

The MSc Environment, Science and Society will not be open to applicants for 2016/17 entry.  This programme is being replaced with MSc Environment, Politics and Society in 2016/17.


‘Environment, Science and Society’ explores the changing relationship between nature and society in a variety of geographical contexts. It examines the ways in which environment, science and society are interwoven with issues of politics, power and knowledge in more complex ways than might be suggested by any conventional technical management 'solution.' The course thus fosters intellectual engagement grounded in analysis of contemporary environmental issues and policies.

ChangingLandscapesnrOldGreatWallChongli.jpg'Environment, Science and Society' is a one-year full time or two-year part time interdisciplinary taught MSc course and we will consider applicants with natural science, social science or humanities degrees who are interested in exploring the society-environment relationship. The programme is designed for students who want to extend academic studies and to develop academic knowledge for environmentally related careers especially in the NGO, charitable and public sectors.

For more details, please see the course handbook under ‘Further Information'.


The MSc in Environment, Science and Society runs over a full year. There are two routes through the course depending on the level of research methods training that students choose. The ‘standard route’ maximizes the choice of options in term 2. The ‘research route’ maximizes the opportunity for research methods training in term 2. The differences are outlined in the table below. For those students who are funded by the ESRC or who wish to apply for UK government research funding the ‘research route’ is compulsory.


Route one: standard route

Route two: research
training route

MSc course title

MSc in Environment,
Science and Society

MSc in Environment
Science and Society
(Research Training)

Core modules
(term 1)

3 modules assessed by coursework at 8.3% each

3 modules assessed by coursework at 8.3% each

Optional modules
(term 2)

3-4 option course modules assessed by coursework at 8.3% each.

2-3 option course modules assessed by coursework at 8.3% each.

Elective modules (term 2) Up to 1 elective module assessed at 8.3% Up to 1 elective module assessed at 8.3%

Methods modules

1 module (in term 1) assessed by coursework at 8.3% each

2 modules (one in term 1 and one in term 2) assessed by coursework at 8.3%

Research Dissertation

12,000 word individual research report assessed at 33.3%

12,000 word individual research report assessed at 33.3%

2014/15 Modules as follows.  Please note these may be subject to change.

TERM 1 (September-December)

In term 1 all students take four modules. Three are core modules, which establish the framework of the course. In addition all students also take one module on social science research methods, which focuses primarily on qualitative research methods.


Module code Module title UCL Credit value
GEOGG013 Environmental Knowledges
15 credits
GEOGG021 Sustainable Development
15 credits
GEOGG040A (term one only) OR GEOGG040B (terms one and two) Social Science Research Methodologies 15 credits (term one)/30 credits (terms one and two)

Students also take one of the following:

Module code Module title UCL Credit value
GEOGG004 Thinking Space
15 credits
GEOGG069 Conservation and Environmental Management
15 credits

These courses are term-length modules, and they are organized around a weekly two-hour class (using a mixture of lectures and seminars), which is complemented by extensive guided reading, independent student research and coursework preparation. They are assessed entirely by coursework (a combination of essays, book reviews, research reports, policy analysis), there are no unseen examinations. The research methods course and the social theory course are taught in conjunction with other MSc staff teams. Students are encouraged to follow up discussions with staff and discuss coursework through an office hours system.

TERM 2 (January to March)

In term 2 students take slightly different paths depending on whether they are following the ‘standard route’ or the ‘research route.’

If they are following the 'standard route' students choose three or four optional modules on specialist topics and up to one elective module, but do no further research methods training. If the 'research training route' is taken it is compulsory to take 'Social Science Methods II' and then two or three optional modules and up to one elective module. The elective module may be taken from a module offered outside of the department subject to approval.


Module code

Module title

UCL Credit value


Natural Hazards

15 credits

GEOGG033 Consuming Modernities 15 credits


Politics of Climate Change

15 credits

GEOGG065 Environmental GIS 15 credits


Globalisation and Security

15 credits
GEOGG094 Postcolonial Cultural Geographies 15 credits


Community Participation in Urban Strategies

15 credits

PLEASE NOTE: The range of options in any particular year will vary depending on staff availability. Short-notice changes and alterations may be made to this list or the structure as to which choices of options are available.


You may also take an elective module from another geography programme in the department and/or a maximum of 1 module from outside the department, with permission from the relevant convenors. Please explore the other MSc programme pages for details of other modules that will be available. Please note: actual course choice for electives may be constrained by the timetabling of modules.

TERM 3 (April to September)

In the second half of the year students complete a research dissertation (60 credits). This is a substantial piece of independent research, devoted to a relevant topic chosen by the student in consultation with their academic supervisor, course staff members and student colleagues. The dissertation is based on original research involving data acquisition and analysis. Work on the dissertation is carried out independently, although the student can consult with their supervisor at intervals throughout the five month period in order to ensure that the project is progressing practically and intellectually. For many students the dissertation is the highlight of the course, giving them the opportunity to apply the ideas and concepts that they have been discussing in the taught elements of the course. The range of topics that has been covered by ESS students is extremely broad and some examples are given in the list below. A successful dissertation provides evidence of effective critical analysis, research design and organizational skills.


All the taught modules are assessed through a varied range of coursework tasks including individual essays, group work, book reviews and diaries. Assessment of the taught component of the course comprises 66.6% of the overall final degree. The research dissertation (12,000 words), submitted in early September, counts for 33.3% of the overall assessment.


1. Environmental social science programme. The MSc programme critically explores questions about the role of scientific and other knowledges in environmental governance, offering a social science interpretation of contemporary environmental issues. The exploration of the politics of environmental science, economics and policy distinguishes this MSc programme from more technical, managerial environmental Masters programmes.

hastingsbexhillorad.jpg2. Diversity of students. ‘Environment, Science and Society’ recruits students from all types of academic backgrounds and nationalities meaning that small group discussions are usually lively and informative. The course places significant emphasis on peer-to-peer learning so that your education is not just about the formal modules, but also the ability to learn from and exchange ideas with others.

3. Mix of core conceptual modules and social science and science options. ‘Environment, Science and Society’ offers a core conceptual training in the first term and the choice to specialize your MSc degree in the second term through a range of modules available each year, enabling concentration on social science or the option to take a couple of scientific modules. Students choose their own dissertation topics, which can be on any topic that meets the goals of the MSc programme.

Fees and Applications


Fees information is at

Please note that a few optional choice modules in term two (GEOGG067 and GEOGG068) may incur additional costs for accommodation and transport associated with residential fieldclasses or fieldwork.


For information on UCL scholarships, please visit:

UK/EU Students

The MSc in Environment, Science and Society is recognised by the ESRC as a research training designated Master's course. Please click here for further info.

  • Information on sources of funding for UK/EU students, from UCL Scholarships to career development loans, is available here.
  • Overseas Students
    There is a range of targeted funding opportunities for overseas students. The MSc in Environment, Science and Society is recognised by most major funding bodies. Further information on funding opportunities is available here. In the past, we have had particular success with students applying to the following schemes:

  • British Chevening Scholarships
  • Shell Centenary Scholarships (non-OECD applicants)
  • Karim Rida Said Foundation (Syrian, Jordanian, Iraqi, Lebanese or Palestinian applicant

The deadline for most of these awards is the start of March each year, though for some awards as much as 12 months notice is required. Please follow links for further details.

You are also strongly encouraged to contact your own Ministry of Education or Education Department, who will have details of most funding schemes and who will be able to advise you of your own government's conditions for studying abroad. You should also contact the nearest British Council office in your own country, who will have details of scholarship schemes and provide information and advice on educational programmes and living in the UK. If there is no British Council office, then contact the nearest British Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. There is additionally funding available from sources such as the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the European Commission, whom you should contact directly. For further information on studying in the UK as an overseas student please contact the UCL International Office.

Academic enquiries should be made to Dr Samuel Randalls (e-mail: in the Department of Geography at UCL or, for administrative enquiries, please contact the admissions assistant in the department ( You should normally have at least a 2:1 or equivalent qualification at undergraduate level (in humanities, social sciences or environmental sciences) but we will consider applicants with relevant work experience who don't quite meet these requirements. The department currently requires a Good level of English in the IELTS Academic or equivalent qualification. We would welcome further questions about the course, so please feel free to get in touch via e-mail or make an appointment to come and meet the course staff.

To apply online or download an application form, please click here.

Application for 2015-16 admission closes 31st July 2015. We will not accept any applications after this date. Applicants who require a student visa should do their utmost to submit the programme application form before the end of July to ensure that there is enough time to process all the necessary paperwork.

Further Information

Students are encouraged to develop their own ideas and interests into dissertation projects. The dissertation must be consistent with the Environment, Science and Society programme goals, but students have selected a wide variety of different topics and methodological approaches in past years. Students will be allocated a supervisor to help advise them on their projects.

    MSc Environment, Science and Society Flyer

    MSc Environment, Science and Society Handbook
    A short brochure can be downloaded here A more detailed course handbook for the current academic year (2014-15) can be downloaded here but please see the ‘Structure’ tab for the modules that are expected to be available in the next academic year.

    Alumni Profiles

    face.jpg"The environmental problems we face require us to radically re-think how and why we do things. My tutors and colleagues in the UCL Geography Department challenged us to question everything, and gave us the theoretical foundation to critique with credibility. My time at UCL was a crucial step for showing me how I could be useful in the world. Thank you!"
    Hannah Mowat (2011/12), Forest and Climate Campaigner, Fern