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 in 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.
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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.
A minimum of a second class Honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject. Applicants from other disciplines with a 2:1 or 1st 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
Structure and content
The basic structure is three modules in each of the Autumn and Spring Semesters followed by a dissertation, with each module worth 20 SCQF credits at level 11. There may be some modules offered at 10 credits to allow flexibility and to accommodate the needs of part-time students.
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
The course is taught primarily by staff within Biological and Environmental Sciences, but also by staff from other departments of the University and visiting professionals from outside agencies.
Delivery will include a mixture of conventional lectures, workshop sessions, field excursions, critique of environmental statements, student-led debates and oral presentations. These activities may be undertaken in teams.
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.
David MacKay: Sustainable Energy without the Hot Air
This can be downloaded for free from:
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.
The Field Techniques module includes a six-day residential course in the Cairngorm National Park in early October.
Analysis of Environmental Data builds competency in the use of R (a statistical analysis package) and RStudio (which makes coding in R easier) for the analysis of environmental data. Students understand how to undertake effective manipulation, statistical analysis, interpretation and presentation of data, and how to critically assess the same procedures in the scientific literature.
Environmental Policy and Management focuses on the establishment of environmental policy formulation principles and its relationship to environmental management, a critical awareness of the objectives, principles and instruments of environmental policy at a UK/EC level, and an understanding of how environmental management systems can be effectively integrated with business operations.
Environmental Economics enables students to understand and apply economic theory and methodologies to the better understanding of environmental problems, and to become competent in applying economic analysis to improve the design of environmental policy.
Field Techniques On this residential field course students learn environmental monitoring and survey techniques and their limitations, and about sampling issues develop an awareness of up to date approaches and technology available for fieldwork.
Environmental Impact Assessment focuses on the understanding of the current approaches, concepts and requirements for environmental impact assessments. In particular, specific knowledge on the types of environmental impacts caused through the different phases (e.g. construction, operation and decommissioning) of energy production infrastructure will be gained.
Conserving Biodiversity enables students to understand the nature of biodiversity, its spatial and temporal patterns, and the need for its conservation. The causes of contemporary declines in biodiversity are examined, the challenges and controversies within conservation are discussed and the application of the scientific method in conservation explored.
Environmental Geomatics delivers a knowledge of the concepts and foundations underlying Geographical Information Systems (GIS), Earth Observation (EO) and Global Positioning Systems (GPS), an understanding of different remote sensing platforms, instruments and data types, and builds an appreciation of the use of GIS and EO in environmental management.
Environmental Geomatics (Remote Sensing) students gain practical skills in data processing, analysis and interpretation using the software packages ArcGIS and ENVI.
Environmental Law covers the principles of environmental law at different levels (e.g. international, European, UK and Scottish) and examines how the regulations are enforced in Scotland and the UK.
Ecosystem Services explores the application of the ecosystem services concept to environmental management and conservation, provides an understanding of the principles of ecosystem functioning and the importance of biodiversity, raises awareness of the complex interactions and feedbacks between environmental and ecological processes, and the policy context of different energy technologies.
Environmental Impacts of Energy Production enables students to understand the key technical principles of different forms of energy production and their relationship with environmental impacts, recognise major knowledge gaps and uncertainties in our understanding of environmental impacts, and examine some of the approaches used to mitigate impacts and the constraints on their effectiveness.
Economics of climate change enables students to apply economic reasoning to issues in climate change and to think about climate policy in a consistent and creative manner.
Dr David Copplestone
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'.
Biological and Environmental Sciences at Stirling specialises in studies of human 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. A unique aspect of this course is the input of staff from external organisations and the opportunities for work based placements in the energy sector.
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.
I chose to do an MSc in Energy and Environment because its foundations are built upon the successful and long running MSC in Environmental management, coupled with a focus on 21st century energy production. Additionally, the top class facilities and relevant learning modules offer applicable scientific skills and sound knowledge in areas ranging from the environmental impacts of energy production right through to energy and resource economics. Excellent dissertation supervision is offered by staff from a variety of research backgrounds giving students the opportunity to focus in on their areas of interest.
Diana McLaren, graduated 2013
Dr David Copplestone (Course Director)
David has over 20 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.
While this course is still in its early years our long-standing MSc Environmental Management has a very good record with most students swiftly moving on to employment in the environmental sector.
As an indicator, we have students working for the following companies:
Enertrag - renewable energies, Ventus Green Energy, Wind Prospects, Scottish Power.
Here's what Jo McKenzie says of her experience:
“I had a first degree in Applied Chemistry and then studied for the Masters in Environmental Management at Stirling University. Gaining the Masters has enabled me to further develop skills that have become so valuable to my current career. A month after completing the course I started work as a field engineer for an oilfield services company in Oman and have been able to apply many of the skills and information gained from the MSc course. There is a lot of room for personal growth at Stirling as the course is not just spoon fed; there are opportunities to develop ideas, and apply the information in real life situations. All the staff and support staff were more than helpful, and were very encouraging and supportive, both during my time there and since.” Jo is now working for Lloyds Register in Norway.
And this from Fraser Bell:
"I thoroughly enjoyed the MSc which included a variety of different subjects and allowed me to develop a wide range of Environmental skills including outdoor survey methods which was highly beneficial. In particular, the knowledge gained from the Environmental Law and Environmental Policy subjects as well as the practical fieldwork aspect of the course were useful with regards to my job role today. After graduating with an MSc, I was offered a job as planner for a small wind farm developer in Ayrshire where I worked for two years developing small/medium wind turbine projects. For the last year, I have been working for Wind Prospect as a Development Officer working on large scale wind farm projects UK wide. This involves Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) to support planning applications for multi turbine wind farm developments. The knowledge and skills I developed at Stirling University have given me the opportunity to progress my career in the Renewable Energy Industry. I am very grateful to all of the lecturers and staff for their encouragement and dedication to their students. This course has given me a fantastic opportunity and a great start to my career, and I would recommend anyone to apply for this course if they would like to pursue a career in renewable energy."
NERC have recently released their most wanted skills in the following report:
This includes a set of cross-disciplinary skills that underpin our programme structure. Early on in this course, students take a residential field module and immediately begin to learn practical identification, surveying, measuring and sampling skills. Having learned how to collect data they are then taught how to analyse, report and present them through the modules Analysis of Environmental Data (using R), GIS and Remote Sensing. Transferable skills often required within Environmental agencies/consultancies include the ability to translate theory into practice, to work in a team and independently, plan and coordinate research, and engage with a variety of different users.
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.