Find a Degree Postgraduate Taught Programmes Environmental Partnership Management

Programme Details

Environmental partnership

MSc Environmental Partnership Management is being offered on a full and part time basis, with a September and January start.

Sustainable development - the balancing of environmental, economic and social goals - is the greatest challenge facing the planet today. While international initiatives often state the goals and targets needed to achieve sustainable development, a significant gap exists in developing the skills, practices and processes that advance good governance. In the context of global challenges such as climate change, energy, biodiversity, food production and clean water, new and innovative forms of collaboration and partnership are needed to bring together societal, business and scientific interests.

Our new MSc in Environmental Partnership Management is an innovative and exciting programme to train future leaders and the next generation of eco-entrepreneurs with the skills and tools needed to develop the green economy. It responds to the gap for skilled graduates and environmental professionals who can work across civil society, business and government in building partnerships for sustainable development. The MSc will combine knowledge on environmental and social issues together with practical business skills to enable the design, management and delivery of effective multi stakeholder partnerships.

The MSc is intended for both:

  • new graduates from a very wide range of social and physical science disciplines, and
  • existing managers of companies or businesses with corporate social and environmental responsibilities wishing to understand the contemporary environmental context of development from scientific and social perspectives and looking for expertise in the practical decision making tools to make development successful.

The programme also offers continuing professional development, to employees of businesses and organisations, in the practicalities of reaching out to external stakeholders, and will appeal to those wishing to set up their own consultancy, Community Interest Company or NGO.



The MSc in Environmental Partnership Management will provide training in the formulation and management of partnership arrangements in pursuit of multiple areas of public, private and third-sector sustainable development activity. It will bring together knowledge about environmental and social concerns together with practical business skills to provide practical training in the design of effective partnership agreements through multi-actor engagement, mediation and leadership.

Contact Information

For further information about the programme or to discuss your application, please contact the Graduate School Admissions Unit.


The MSc programme combines the Department of Geography and Environment’s expertise in transport, energy, water, coastal and marine, agriculture and conservation with management, financial and leadership training provided by the Graduate Business School. The program will explore both theoretical and practical approaches to partnership management including engagement with professionals who are delivering partnerships. 

Students will study four courses in the first session and four courses in the second. These eight courses will be made up of six core and 2 electives chosen from the list below.

First Semester Core Courses

Collaboration and Partnership 1: Principles

Introduces the perspectives, skills and decision-making tools required to design and  manage partnerships and to build collaborative capacity to achieve sustainable development. Students will learn about the types of partnership and their emerging role in sustainable development. They will explore the concepts of multi-actor partnership working and collaborative capacity. Students will become familiar with current discussions and trends linked to cross-sector partnerships and evaluate the factors of success and failure of cross-sector partnerships.

Contemporary Environmental Challenges

This course will introduce students to contemporary environmental issues at various temporal and spatial scales, and will explore associated environmental management challenges. Students will learn about different conceptual and theoretical approaches to the study of environmental challenges and they will explore the key drivers of environmental challenges from local to global scales. Lecturers will draw on their own research experience and use case studies to illustrate many of these issues.

Operations (Project) Management

The focus of this course is not people but processes, not outside the organisation but within. Operations transform materials, information and customers to create goods and services using staff and facilities. Their strategic objectives differ and guide how they define their processes. We study process types from projects and jobs to batches and mass goods and services. We explore layout: how to arrange facilities and staff. We see how capacity and inventory reconcile demand and output and explore lean processes, supply chains, quality, improvement, projects, risk and resilience. Prepare for both critical discussion of theory and application (operationalisation), including calculation.


First Semester Electives 

Planning, Land and Environmental Law

Provides a background to the role of the law in regulating the management and use of the countryside. As such there is an emphasis on planning law and the role of the planning system at national and local levels in terms of development management and development plans.  It also covers landscape and nature conservation, access legislation, community right to buy, EIA, tenancy agreements, agricultural holdings legislation, rent reviews and CPO powers.

Marketing Management

The course will apply theoretical and practical content to explore the key concepts of marketing management to provide students with an understanding of planning, coordinating and controlling marketing activities. It aims to take students understanding beyond what has been labelled as a transaction-based approach to a relationship-based approach. As such the aim is to provide students with an understanding of the role of marketing in establishing, developing and maintaining relationships for mutual gain. This will be achieved through a combination of lectures, seminars, simulations and directed private study.

Interpersonal Management, Negotiation and Persuasion 

The course will address and examine the following business communication subject matter: negotiation; selling; business rhetoric (e.g. advertising and pitching); management and team communication; and web-presence communication on the internet.


Second Semester Core Courses

Collaboration and Partnership 2: Practice

This course builds on the theoretical and conceptual content introduced in Part 1 to develop further the perspectives, skills and decision-making tools needed to bring partners together to build collaborative capacity in the pursuit of sustainable development.   This course will have a strong emphasis on student-centred learning and the practical application of knowledge and concepts. Students will develop and demonstrate the ability to apply knowledge and skills introduced in Part 1 of the course through the practical experience of designing a partnership plan.

Governance and Political Economy of Sustainability

This course will provide students with knowledge of theories of governance in the context of sustainable development. It will focus on the political economy of sustainable development and the political and economic tensions between different institutions, levels of administration and sectors of economy. Students will learn about theories of governance pertaining to the natural environment and sustainable development. They will explore the different institutional scales (e.g. local, national, global) of environmental governance and the processes of decision making for environmental governance. The course will also investigate the tensions between social, economic and environmental objectives for sustainable development.

Leadership Challenge

This course provides an opportunity to explore and develop an understanding of your own leadership behaviour. Through seminars, group activities and discussions we investigate how personality, past experience, current situations and culture shape the way each of us behave in a leadership role. Using this information as a starting point we then explore how different leadership theories and approaches can be used as frameworks for developing a deeper understanding of leadership behaviour. You will also have an opportunity to try out a range of practical tools and techniques to assist you in the development of your own approach to leadership. 

Second Semester Electives

Business model innovation

This course is about business development and the application of new business models. Increasingly companies have to radically rethink the way they do business if they are to remain competitive. To do this organisations need to be prepared to analyse and challenge their current business models. Through a practical business development project and the analysis of case companies you will be encouraged to explore the tools, techniques and theories used by successful business developers. The course will be especially useful for those interested in strengthening their skills for identifying and evaluating business opportunities.

Managing our Coasts and Seas

Sustainable use of marine and coastal areas is growing in scientific, political and practical importance around the world. Demands on the marine and coastal environment are increasing in intensity and more informed decision-making and policy responses are required. In light of climate change and growing development pressures, coastal management must consider social, economic and environmental concerns This module covers: the Marine Scotland Act, the National Marine Plan, Integrated Coastal Zone Management, Marine Spatial Planning, coastal defences, ecosystem-based management, beach management, coral reefs, stakeholder participation, data acquisition, analysis, and access to information, providing a background to managing coastal and marine environments.

Economic Development and Regeneration

The course provides students with an overview of the concepts and practice of regeneration and economic development throughout the UK and beyond.  It examines the, often, dramatic transformations of our urban (and some rural) landscapes and covers a breadth of contemporary topics such as flagship urban projects, sustainability, partnership working, place marketing, tourism, culture led regeneration and creative urban design etc. Theory and practice is looked at in projects from the UK, Europe and Americas. Guest lecturers are brought into the course to help develop an understanding of practical based regeneration.

Third Semester

The Partnership project will involve collaboration (potentially in the form of a placement) with a supporting partner organisation/agency (eg with SEPA, SNH, the National Park Authority, NGO or a Community group.The aim of the Partnership Project is to  enable students to produce an independent and original piece of work that demonstrates advanced specialist knowledge in an approved aspect of environmental partnership management.  Through the successful completion of the project students will have the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to identify, define and develop appropriate research questions and solutions. The Partnership Project will be an opportunity for  students to collect, evaluate, analyse and interpret qualitative and quantitative data to address specific research aims using a range of standard and specialised techniques of enquiry.


Courses are assessed by continuous assessment or by written examination or a combination of these, as prescribed by each course co-ordinator. The outcome of Partnerships Project is based 85% on the dissertation/project and 15% on an oral examination based on the Project.


The MSc will be taught by experts in energy, water resources, coastal management, agriculture, transport and rural communities from Geography and Environment, with staff from the Business School offering elements of management training currently part of the MBA. An exciting component of the course will be the opportunity to learn about principles and practise of partnership and collaboration from a range of invited expert speakers from businesses, governments and NGOs. 


Graduates of this programme will possess analytical, interdisciplinary and problem solving skills that are in high demand from all employers, from the largest global corporations to small community based organisations.

Consultants from businesses, government development agencies and NGOs who were engaged in drawing up the programme said : -

  • “an excellent list of potential skills for students to learn”
  • “Excellent, and very timely – if I had time I would apply to do this course myself!”
  • “I am very impressed by the breadth of topics and skills, and the fact that they are so clearly interlinked.”
  • “...the new MSc looks really interesting and very pertinent in all sorts of ways. Nothing I do now can really be effective without partnership.”
  •  “Partnerships or what we call ‘alliance building’ is an important part of our organisation’s work – so I can see the merit of an academic course directed specially at this”
  • “I like the way in which the MSc complements technical environmental knowledge by providing participations with the skills they need to engage with the wider world and ... to function as a manager”
  • “an exciting prospect”

A degree or equivalent qualification, at 2:2 (Hons) in Geography, Environmental Science, Environmental Management, Business Management, Psychology, Biology, Sociology and Economics. Candidates with degrees in other subject areas will be considered if they can demonstrate interest, aptitude and experience in a field relevant to the application of environmental studies and management and/or have experience in data analysis.

Good level of English Language competence needed because of liaison with partnership organisations. Please check If you are in doubt about your proficiency in English, contact the British Council office or its equivalent in your country. If your first language is not English, it is important that your proficiency in English is good in order for you to study successfully at the University of Aberdeen. Without this ability you will find great difficulty in understanding lectures, producing written work and sitting examinations.

Please consider the following questions within your personal statement (not more than 500 words):

  • How do you think your background (both academic and work-related) relates to the study of environmental partnerships?
  • In your opinion, what are the opportunities for business, government agencies and communities to form environmental partnerships?
  • What aspects of environmental partnerships do you find interesting and would like to explore during your studies?
  • How do you see a qualification in Environmental Partnership Management shaping your career?


2016/17 Fees

UK/EU Students - £5,600

International - £15,400

Information on tuition fees, can be found on the University Registry website.


Funding opportunities can be found in our searchable Funding Database. You are advised to search the database as a broad range of funding exists much of which you may be eligible for.

A list of funding opportunties is also maintained on the College of Physical Sciences Funding Page.

University of Aberdeen Alumni Discount Scheme

The University of Aberdeen is very pleased to offer a 20% discount on postgraduate tuition fees for all alumni who have graduated (or about to graduate) with a degree from the University of Aberdeen. More Information


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