MSc Ecotourism

Postgraduate, Part-time

Ecotourism MSc

Our course looks at exploring the impact humans have on the environment, helping you to gain practical skills to work in ecotourism


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 students at The Water of Leith Centre

Mode of Study:


(available as Full-time)


3-4 years

Start date:


Study Abroad:


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Course details

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.

Field course

You’ll benefit from an intensive field course to help embed practical skills in sampling, identification and data analysis. This is likely to be based  in Scotland for three weeks in early May with minimal associated costs.

If you do not have a biological background, you need to be aware that science lies at the core of this programme and have an enthusiasm to learn how to study and manage the natural world. Your choice of option module will allow you to develop a 50:50 or 66:33 split between science and business modules.

Lead academics and short bio
  • Jay Mackinnon – skills and interests in environmental education, botany and social research.
  • Stephen Taylor – interested in sustainable development and governance of natural area tourism and adventure tourism.
  • Kathy Velander -broad experience in developing and troubleshooting nature based tourism businesses world-wide including developing the USP, considering potential environmental impacts, assessing training needs and delivering training.
  • calendar How you’ll be taught

    The course is studied part-time starting in January or September and takes 3-4 years. It takes three academic years to complete the taught modules (PGDip) and then another two trimesters to complete the research project. 

    The academic year is split into 3 trimesters with taught modules running in trimester 1 (Sept-Dec) and trimester 2 (Jan – Apr) only. The number of modules taken each trimester can vary to suit your availability. If you're eligible for a SAAS loan, then you'll need to study the taught modules over two academic years, otherwise, the standard rate is to take 20 credits per trimester with the result that it will take you three years to complete the 120 taught credits.

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

    As your interests develop through the taught course you'll be able to design a final research project to suit your individual goals. You'll have two trimesters in which to complete this research project. This may include trimester 3 (May-Aug) which does not otherwise require any study while you are completing the taught components. These ‘free’ summers are a good opportunity to get involved in projects locally and build your networks.

  • note and pen Assessments

    You will work on a variety of relevant professional tasks, both written and oral. 

    Assessments include a development proposal for a brown field site, a site management critique and several tourism based essays and reports. Taxonomic identification and statistical analysis are key skills. 

    In addition, you will lead a guided tour and present a research proposal pitch.

  • library Facilities

    The science modules are based at the Sighthill Campus where we enjoy excellent well equipped laboratory and IT facilities. In addition, the good transport network around the city allows us to visit and study a range of terrestrial and aquatic habitats within easy reach of the campus.

    Tourism modules are based at the modern Craiglockhart Campus and direct bus routes run between the two sites.


Modules that you will study* as part of this course

Field and Laboratory Skills ( ENV11108 )

A series of practical sessions in the field and lab will be followed by a residential field course during which students will conduct (under supervision) sampling/monitoring in terrestrial and aquatic habitats 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 and environmental education. Aspects of urban ecology, community engagement and social research in conservation, relate directly to the challenges of land management in an urban setting which forms one of the assessments. Agricultural ecology and examples of human-wildlife conflict around the world are also studied in relation to wildlife law and economics. The Yellowstone National Park reintroduction of wolves acts as a case study in protected area management.

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 research paper, 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 research paper 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

* 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.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

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.

International students

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by 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’re committed to admitting students who have the potential to succeed and benefit from our programmes of study. 

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures, and how we use the information you provide us in your application to inform the decisions we make.

Undergraduate admissions policies
Postgraduate admissions policies

Fees & funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you will depend on a number of factors including your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. We also have a number of bursaries and scholarships available to our students.

Tuition fees
Students from 2019/20 2020/21
Home/EU-Taught modules *£922 tba
Home/EU-Dissertation module £553 n/a
Overseas Taught Modules *£2,028 tba
Overseas Dissertation £1,352 tba

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

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.


 View of a loch in Summer