Energy and the Environment

Study Energy and the Environment and graduate with a university degree

MSc, Postgraduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate

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Energy and the Environment
  • Type Full-time
  • Duration One year for Masters Nine months for Diploma Four months for Certificate
  • Start date September

Rose Goodacre University of Stirling
+ 44 (0) 1786 467842

Britain seeks to be a world leader in renewable energies and its generating potential is recognised globally, but it is equally renowned for the quality of its natural environment. This creates the potential for conflict and a need to better understand the various environmental costs associated with 21st century energy technologies, whether renewable or non-renewable, and how these costs can be evaluated, managed and mitigated. The course draws on the University’s existing expertise or research strengths in environmental impact assessment, carbon trading, planning and impacts of wind, hydro and nuclear power as well as its expertise in energy management and environmental economics. The University also has long established links with regulators, consultancy and the energy industry. We work closely with a variety of relevant organisations including SEPA, Environment Agency, the nuclear industry, Scottish Coal and Scottish Renewables.

The MSc Energy and the Environment builds on the success of our respected and long-running Environmental Management course (600 graduates). It utilises new and existing expertise or research strengths in Environmental Impact Assessment, carbon trading, planning and impacts of wind, hydro and nuclear power within Biological and Environmental Science, and expertise in Energy Management and Environmental Economics within the School of Management with which Biological and Environmental Science have an established teaching link.

Course objectives

Our course gives students:

  • an understanding of the scientific principles (atmospheric, hydrological, geomorphological and ecological) that underpin current environmental issues
  • an understanding of the economic, political, social and legal frameworks for managing the environment
  • a sound training in relevant practical, investigative, research and generic skills that managers in the energy and environment sector should possess.

Entrance requirements

A minimum of a second class honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject.  Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.

English language requirements

English Language Requirements: If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of your proficiency such as a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 (5.5 in all bands).

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard.

Our range of pre-sessional courses.

Modes of study

Full-time, one year;  part-time,  27 months

Course start date


Application procedure

Use the 'Apply Now' button to begin your application.

Structure and content

The basic structure is four modules in each of the Autumn and Spring semesters followed by a dissertation, with each module worth 15 SCQF credits at level 11:

In the Autumn Semester students will take:

  • Environmental Impact Assessment,
  • Energy and Resource Economics and/or
  • Environmental Economics

plus one or two from the following:

  • Field Techniques for Environmental Managers
  • Analysis of Environmental data

In the Spring Semester students take:

  • Environmental Impacts of Energy Production
  • Energy Markets and Policy

plus two from:

  • Economics of Climate Change
  • Environmental Law and Management Systems
  • Ecosytem Services
  • Environmental Geomatics
  • Soil and Water Management
  • Conserving Biodiversity

Students who successfully complete the taught course over two semesters will qualify for the Diploma and may proceed to the MSc. This involves completion of a three-month Research Project, often in collaboration with an outside agency. Students frequently choose a topic complementary to their option selection, allowing them to develop a high level of competence in aspects of environmental management relevant to their future employment, for example, a project chosen in summer 2013 was "Monitoring and assessment of the radioactivity levels around Chapelcross Nuclear Power Plant, Dumfries and Galloway".

Delivery and assessment

Contact hours in all modules will be 24-27 hours. Delivery will include a mixture of conventional lectures, workshop sessions, field excursions, critique of environmental statements, student-led debates and oral presentations.

Both examinations and coursework will be used with a focus on the use of case studies on different aspects of environmental impact, assessment and monitoring in relation to energy production. Modules will be assessed either by examination and coursework (typically 50:50 weighting) or, where appropriate, by coursework alone. Coursework will be based on written work and/or oral presentation.

Recommended reading

David MacKay: Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air

This can be downloaded for free from:

Example timetable

The timetable below is a typical example, but your own timetable may be different.

Full-time students are expected to be at the University on most days of the week, and part-time students should be able to set aside two to three days for study.

For students who choose the Field Techniques module, this includes a six-day residential course in the Cairngorm National Park in early October.

Course Director

Dr David Copplestone

RAE rating

In the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), 40 percent of research in Biological & Environmental Sciences at Stirling was graded as 'Internationally Excellent' or 'World Class' and a further 50 percent 'Internationally Recognised'.


Industry connections

Stirling has strong links with a variety of relevant organisations including SEPA, Environment Agency, the nuclear industry, Scottish Coal and Scottish Renewables. This is therefore a sector that we know well. The public sector is likely to contract significantly as a potential source of employment for students on our current ‘environment-based’ taught postgraduate courses during the next few years whilst it is expected that growth will continue in the commercial sector, especially in relation to energy-based projects.

Academic strengths

Biological and Environmental Sciences at Stirling specialises  in studies of man’s interactions with the environment  and environmental assessment and management is one of our key strengths. We have long established links with regulators, consultancy and the energy industry and leading researchers working on various aspects of energy and environmental management including Environmental Impact Assessment, carbon trading, and planning and the impacts of wind, hydro and nuclear power.

Our students

Already a significant proportion of our recent graduates are working within energy companies and engineering consultancies that focus on large energy-related projects. We therefore consider this course to be integral in maintaining the employability of Stirling postgraduates.

Our staff

Dr David Copplestone (Course Director)

David has over 19 years’ experience directing, leading research and modelling the fate, behaviour and impact of radionuclides in the environment. He is particularly interested in understanding how ecological systems adapt to environmental stresses caused by exposure to ionising radiation and modelling the transfer and behaviour of radionuclides.

Career opportunities

We anticipate excellent employment opportunities. Our long-standing MSc Environmental Management has a very good record with most students swiftly moving on to employment in the environmental sector.  Stirling has strong links with a variety of relevant organisations including SEPA, Environment Agency, the nuclear industry, Scottish Coal and Scottish Renewables. Over the next decade it is expected that there will be an increase in employment opportunities in the commercial sector, especially in relation to energy-based projects.




You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.


The Scottish Funding Council is funding Home/EU tuition fees for a number of places on the MSc Energy and the Environment.  Funded places are open to applicants domiciled in Scotland and the EU.  More information


for information about available scholarships.