MSc Ecotourism

Postgraduate, Full-Time

Explore the impact of humans on the environment and gain the practical skills and knowledge required to develop sustainable ecotourism.

  • Napier code:

    74704MM

  • Course type:

    Full-Time

  • Duration:

    1 year, or 18 months for January start

  • Award:

    MSc

  • Location:

    Sighthill campus

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Course introduction

Ecotourism has the potential to enable communities to benefit from the economic and social aspects of tourism while reducing impacts on the environment and wildlife.

This course takes a science framework and adds a business perspective in order to give those involved in green tourism the ecological background to inform their management decisions.

It builds on the experience of staff working worldwide in nature-based tourism and wildlife conservation to help develop sustainable livelihoods through the conservation of communities and natural resources.


ecotourism

You’ll gain a variety of scientific and business skills including ecological field skills, contract tendering, questionnaire design and analysis, community engagement approaches, proposal and report writing.

An understanding of the diversity of living organisms and their taxonomy is a core component of the course, together with an appreciation of the impact of humans on their environment.

The practical and applied nature of this course encourages the development of generic skills including communication, IT (GIS, R), problem solving, statistical analysis, research and team-working, all designed to enhance your employability.

You’ll benefit from an intensive field course to help embed practical skills in sampling, identification and data analysis. It is likely there will be a choice of two field courses; one abroad (probably in Tobago for two weeks) with an additional cost (approximately £1,400) and one in Scotland for three weeks with minimal associated costs. These usually take place in early May.

This is a one year full-time course and is divided into three trimesters. You can choose to start in September or January, however the development of theory and practice are best facilitated with a September start.

You'll be taught using a variety of teaching methods including lectures, tutorials, laboratory sessions, field trips and independent study, supported with information on the virtual learning environment.

If you do not have a biological background, you need to be aware that science lies at the core of this course and have an enthusiasm to learn how to study and manage the natural world. Your option choices from a range of business and science modules will then allow you to tailor your programme to your own interests.

Subjects include

  • Scientific methods
  • Humans and wildlife
  • Field and laboratory skills

Plus a choice of one module from

  • Environmental management for ecotourism
  • Tourism concepts and issues
  • Managing heritage tourism

And also two modules from

  • Case studies in international tourism
  • Management of aquatic protected areas
  • Experience design and management for tourism, hospitality and events
  • Natural area tourism

In addition you will undertake a research project on a subject of your choice.


Study modules mentioned above are indicative only. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Full information on this is available in our disclaimer.

Owing to its multidisciplinary nature, our graduates have gained employment in a variety of areas including green education, guiding, environmental events management, government agencies (e.g. SNH, DFID), independent non-governmental wildlife organisations and charities (e.g. RSPB, RZSS) and environmental consultancy.

Some of our graduates have set up their own companies.


The entry requirement for this course is a Bachelor (Honours) Degree at a 2:2 or above, or equivalent. We look for applicants to have a background in Biology, Tourism, Geography, Zoology in order to be eligible for the programme.

We may also consider lesser qualifications if you have sufficient and relevant work experience within this industry.

English language requirements

If your first language isn't English, you'll normally need to undertake an approved English language test and our minimum English language requirements will apply.

This may not apply if you have completed all your school qualifications in English, or your undergraduate degree was taught and examined in English (within two years of starting your postgraduate course). Check our country pages to find out if this applies to you.


Our entry requirements indicate the minimum qualifications with which we normally accept students. Competition for places varies from year to year and you aren't guaranteed a place if you meet the minimum qualifications.

International students

If your qualifications aren't listed above, visit our country pages to get entry requirements for your country.

Please note that non-EU international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:

BN Nursing/MN Nursing (Adult, Child, Mental Health or Learning Disability)

BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery

Admissions policies

We are committed to being as accessible as possible to anyone who wants to achieve higher education.

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures and how decisions are made.


Tuition fees
Students from 2016/17 2017/18
Home/EU n/a £3,750
Overseas n/a £14,690

Frequently Asked Questions about Fees
Information of Bursaries and Scholarships

The Field & Laboratory Skills module includes a field course component. Currently ,one option is held in Tobago in May and costs approximately £1400 in addition to the module fee. However this may be subject to change. An alternative experience runs in Scotland with minimal cost.

Modules that you will study as part of this course*

Case Studies in International Tourism ( TSM11105 )

• International Cultural comparison • Case Study method and comparative research methodologies • Tourism and Development • Tourism planning and policy • Urban and Rural tourism systems; • Competitiveness and responsible tourism development; • Ethical issues in international tourism • Cross-cultural behaviour in tourism • Global issues and value analysis.

Further information

Environmental Management for Ecotourism ( ENV11107 )

Environmental conservation, biodiversity, management of various habitats (coastal, farming, moorland), Legislation and regulation, Marine Mammal conservation, GIS, EIA, Data gathering and analysis, ecotourism audit, skills needed for working in ecotourism. In this module you will consider the fundamental concepts of biodiversity and conservation as well as habitat, environmental and resource management. You will examine the process of environmental impact assessment and consider its role in environmental management. Successful ecotourism requires good environmental management to ensure the sustainable use of resources as well as behaviour that is sustainable in economic, social and cultural terms. To this end you will be introduced to ecotourism resource auditing methodology. It enables potential developments to be assessed and evaluate the support needed including skills, technical advice and most importantly deciding whether ecotourism is appropriate for a specific development.

Further information

Experience Design and Management for Tourism, Hospitality and Events ( TSM11114 )

This module involves applying theoretical perspectives to develop skills and techniques in tourism, hospitality or events. The module allows students to build work-based skills in tourism, hospitality and/or event management that are underpinned with relevant theory. It facilitates a critical understanding of how the core elements of tourism, hospitality and events contribute to their effective and coherent design; and how consumer experiences can be managed. The module opens with an introduction to key design and experience theories and concepts such as: the experience economy; service encounters; experiencescapes; the tourist gaze; co-creation; and symbolic interactionism. The application of these to tourism, hospitality and events is then considered. Concurrently, students examine key management functions and consider these in the context of specific tourism, hospitality or events in an authentic experiential setting. Particular attention is paid to manager and critical consumer perspectives in specific tourism, hospitality and event design settings. There are two assessment components. Assessment 1 has two elements. Element 1 requires students to draw upon theories discussed in the module to respond collaboratively to an experience design brief by producing and presenting a proposed tourism, hospitality or event experience in the form of a group oral presentation. The second element of Assessment 1 requires students to write a reflective and evaluative essay. Assessment 2 requires students to consume a selected tourism, hospitality or event experience in real time, then to critically review and evaluate the design and management of that experience in the form of either a written or online portfolio.

Further information

Field and Laboratory Skills ( ENV11108 )

A series of practical sessions in the field and lab will be followed by a field course during which students will conduct (under supervision) sampling/monitoring in terrestrial and aquatic habitats (as appropriate to the study area) with identification and enumeration of various taxa. Habitat and species specific methods related to terrestrial invertebrates, aquatic invertebrates, small mammals, birds and plants will be covered. Students will be tested on the key employability skills of species identification and report writing.

Further information

Humans and Wildlife ( ENV11101 )

Topics include ecotourism; wildlife guiding; environmental education; community engagement; wildlife law and economics; human-wildlife conflict; urban ecology; agricultural ecology; social research in conservation; case study in protected area management.

Further information

Management of Aquatic Protected Areas ( ENV11112 )

The module will cover the following topics: marine and freshwater protected area planning, legal and legislative frameworks for the designation of aquatic protected areas, assessing and managing water quantity and quality issues, aquatic-terrestrial linkages, landscape scale approaches and management at the catchment level, the DPSIR (Drivers-Pressures-State-Impacts-Responses) framework for analysis of environmental state and management, catchment management plans, coastal zone management, marine spatial planning, the ecosystem approach to aquatic resource management, including fisheries and sustainable use of aquatic protected areas. Students will also gain skills in the use and application of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) in the context of managing aquatic protected areas.

Further information

Managing Heritage Tourism ( TSM11104 )

The module will cover the : Concepts and definition of heritage tourism;, the nature of built heritage; management issues in the effective management of heritage visitor attractions; specific issues in the management of UNESCO World Heritage Sites; balancing resource and visitor management via interpretation, technology and revenue ; and the future of managing heritage tourism.

Further information

Natural Area Tourism ( TSM11116 )

This module is designed to enable students to understand the challenges associated with developing and managing natural area tourism and how these might be effectively tackled. It commences by exploring and critiquing the anthropocentric and ecocentric perspectives which underpin human stances in relation to tourism and the natural environment. Adopting a global perspective, natural area tourism (NAT) is located within tourism more generally and the specific context of alternative tourism. Ecotourism is critically examined with a view to assessing its role and viability as a means of economic development. The module seeks to identify and critically examine the process of developing and managing tourism in natural areas across its full scope (i.e. adventure; nature based; wildlife; and ecotourism) with a particular emphasis upon the specific sustainability issues associated with each.

Further information

Research Project ( ENV11117 )

In this module you will design and conduct an independent research project. This may be a field or lab based study, a data analysis project or a piece of qualitative research (e.g. questionnaires). This involves design, development and implementation of a programme of research in a particular field of study relevant to your interests. You will critically analyse data/information generated, and communicate the outcomes in a written report, which will develop your skills in scientific writing. You are encouraged to develop a project which meets your constraints in terms of location, funding and interests. Projects can be undertaken independently (provided health and safety concerns are met) or in collaboration with organisations locally or around the world. As a full-time (FT) student, you will have one trimester to complete the module. If you are a part-time or distance learning student (PT/DL), you will have 2 trimesters to complete. In either case, you will develop a project proposal and complete any necessary risk assessments and ethics procedures prior to getting under way. In the case of FT students this proposal should be submitted by week 3 of the trimester while PT/DL students submit by week 5. In all cases, you should submit your final thesis by the end of week 13 of the appropriate trimester. If your project idea cannot be completed in the trimester when you are due to take this module e.g. your focal species is not active at that time of year, you should consult staff as to possible options.

Further information

Scientific Methods ( ENV11109 )

Philosophy of science, the nature of the literature and scientific method including survey and experimental strategies, the need for replication and controls, working with people and qualitative methods, ethical and regulatory issues in scientific research, developing a research proposal, statistical and related methods for analysing and reporting data. Taxonomic theory and practice across a range of taxa; plants, invertebrates and vertebrates, mainly birds.

Further information

Tourism Concepts and Issues ( TSM11111 )

Defining tourism/the tourism system Consumer demand and behaviour Tourism Area Life Cycle Niche tourism Role of stakeholders in tourism Impacts of tourism Crisis Management Current trends and issues in tourism, hospitality and events

Further information

* These are indicative only and reflect the course structure in the current academic year. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

MSc Ecotourism graduate Angelika on working for the Scottish Forestry Commission