MSc Environmental Sustainability

Postgraduate, Part-time

Whether you’re an engineer, architect, lawyer or accountant, studying this course will give you the qualifications you need for a career in the sustainability sector.

  • Napier code:

    52742MM

  • Course type:

    Part-time

  • Duration:

    2 years

  • Award:

    MSc

  • Location:

    Merchiston campus

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Course introduction

This course takes an industry-focused approach, with particular application to buildings, property development, sustainable technologies as well as the waste and water sectors.

Part-time study is flexible. Normally students will take three years to complete the programme if they undertake one module per week but the length of the course can be reduced to two years, if two modules are taken each week. Many part-time students undertake projects in their place of work.


environmental sustainability

Extremely relevant in today’s climate-aware world, this course is aimed at graduates from a wide range of disciplines.

Explore national and international environmental legal principles, opening the door to a possible career in sustainability-based projects worldwide.

You will also graduate with the ability to analyse and plan environmental sustainability solutions, particularly relating to buildings, property, waste and water. You will develop your communication skills, and be able to exchange theory and ideas on a wide range of sustainability issues.

Subjects include

  • Sustainable energy technologies
  • Renewable energy finance and environmental law
  • Sustainable building design
  • Waste management
  • Sustainable water resources management
  • Choice of: integrated management systems, sustainable urban property development or building performance 3
  • MSc project

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.

You will be well-placed to take on an analytical or developmental position in any company or institution that incorporates an aspect of environmental sustainability, such as:

Career opportunities

  • construction contractors
  • consulting engineers
  • quantity surveyors
  • architects
  • local and central government
  • housing associations
  • management consultants
  • manufacturers
  • service sector organisations


The entry requirement for this course is a Bachelor (Honours) Degree at a 2:2 or above. We look for applicants to have a background in any discipline in order to be eligible for the programme, however sufficient mathematical ability is required.

This course is broad based and targeted at a diverse student body, including civil engineers, electrical engineers, building services engineers, mechanical engineers, architects, quantity surveyors, lawyers, accountants, estate managers, etc.

Candidates from all backgrounds seeking to gain an understanding of sustainable development are encouraged to apply.

We may also consider lesser qualifications if you have sufficient relevant work experience within the 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-Taught modules n/a *£570
Home/EU-Dissertation module n/a £350
Overseas-Taught modules n/a *£1,893
Overseas-Dissertation module n/a £1,262
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Fees for modules are calculated according to the number of credits (multiples of 20). The rate shown in the table is for 20 credits*.
This course comprises of 180 credits from taught modules and a dissertation. The total fee you will pay is dependant upon the exit award you wish to achieve.

Frequently Asked Questions about Fees
Information of Bursaries and Scholarships

Modules that you will study as part of this course*

Building Performance 3 ( BSV11134 )

Building Thermal Performance: Building Heatloss Detailing for Energy Efficient Construction Sustainable Design Strategies: Software Tools for designing Energy Efficient Buildings SAP/SBEM compliance and Energy Performance Certification Modelling Sustainable Construction Low and Zero Carbon Technologies (LZCT): Renewable Energy Technologies Integration of LZCT in Buildings Zero Carbon Buildings Testing Building Performance Targets: Airtightness Testing Infra Red Thermography Building Energy Monitoring

Further information

Dissertation ( BSV11120 )

Research methodology, developing a proposal, designing a research strategy, literature reviews, data gathering, analysis, presentation, writing up and presentation.

Further information

Integrated Management Systems ( BSV11123 )

Review of legislation affecting health, safety and environmental issues including the Environmental Protection Act, Health and Safety at Work Act and CoMAH regulations. Duties of companies, employers and employees with regard to health, safety and environmental management. Analysis of the requirements of ISO 14001, OHASS 18001 and CoMAH including the techniques for the development and implementation of integrated management systems that also meet the requirements of quality system standard ISO 9001. Risk assessment methodologies for both safety and environmental issues including: - Life cycle assessment - Environmental aspect & impact assessment - Failure Modes and Effect analysis - HAZOP / HAZAN Monitoring and improvement techniques including internal compliance audits against ISO 14001, 9001 and 18001, safety walk-overs, external assessments Incident/accident investigation and reporting including implementation of corrective actions / improvements. Reporting and recording events, RIDDOR, HSE reports, SEPA reporting

Further information

Renewable Energy Finance and Environmental Law ( MEC11122 )

There are two major parts in the contents. Renewable energy finance: Ecological/Environmental economics, concepts of sustainability, emissions calculations, energy and financial payback, accounting rate of return, Net Present Value (NPV), Internal Rate of Return (IRR), profit ratios, probability applications, sensitivity analysis, RE financial calculations, project finance practical applications, equity and debt finance, venture finance, mezzanine finance, leasing, risk management, securitisation. Environmental law: Introduction to environmental law, European communiy environmental law and policy, administration and enforcement of environmental law, private regulation of environmental pollution, protection of specific environments, water pollution, contaminated land, waste management, land ownership rights and effect of planning law

Further information

Sustainable Building Design ( BSV11114 )

Environmental Sustainability: Energy and Environmental issues; the global and local imperatives; Renewable technologies; Sustainable Design Strategies: Brownfield Site Redevelopment; Materials and waste strategies; Low carbon building designs; Environmental assessment; Implementation & Performance Targets: (building regulations, LCA, performance rating systems)

Further information

Sustainable Energy Technologies ( MEC11123 )

Review, mathematical analysis and application of renewable energy resource data for the detailed design of appropriate renewable energy systems; including autonomous off-grid systems, and methodology and rationale for grid connection. Systems control and energy storage on both a micro and macro scale will be considered. Economic and environmental impact of Biomass energy systems will be covered. Hydro electric systems design, including water turbine selection and Flow Duration Curve analysis for optimisation of energy yield will be presented Methods of estimating life cycle carbon emission and ecological impacts will also be considered.

Further information

Sustainable Urban Property Development ( BSV11125 )

Sustainable urban development, sustainable development, urban property development, development appraisal, sustainable urban property development protocol, environmental assessment methods, case study applications.

Further information

Sustainable Water Resources Management ( BSV11126 )

Channel & pipe flow revision. Sustainability: past and present perceptions related to water resources. Sustainability in water resources engineering: channel morphology, erosion control, coastal erosion, sea defences, indicators and indices for sustainable water resources development. Concept of whole-life costing and its application to water and waste water systems management. Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS): techniques, policy, mechanisms of pollutant removal in SUDS, and design of SUDS.

Further information

Waste Management ( BSV11124 )

Introduction to Waste and Recycling Waste arising, volumes, disposal, historical perspective, UK and other nation state comparisons Waste management options Reduce, reuse, recycle, residue. Residuals management Disposal options Student-led case study A recycling or waste management option selected for more detailed analysis

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.