Environmental and Forest Management MSc

Environmental and Forest Management, MSc


Interested in a career in forest or general environmental management, policy and/or research? Our MSc in Environmental and Forest Management is a professionally recognised qualification for careers in the forest and/or environmental sector.

Key Facts

1 Year / 2 Years
Study Mode
Full Time / Part Time
Start Month
Learning Mode
On Campus Learning

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On this MSc programme you will to study the principles of forest and woodland management as well as general environment management and their application both in the UK and overseas. The programme is aimed at individuals interested in a career in environmental management, environmental services, timber production, community forestry or a combination of these.

You will spend the first part of the programme covering all the core competencies of forestry (as defined by the Institute of Chartered Foresters) and environmental management, as well as other topics. Teaching is usually in small classes to maximise participation. Several courses include visits to local forests and other interesting locations around Scotland and you can also choose one or both of the residential field courses which take place during the Easter vacation.

The last three months of your MSc will be focussed on an independent research project which can be forest, laboratory, greenhouse or computer based. Projects can be situated anywhere in the world and are often associated with on-going cutting-edge research being undertaken by academic staff.

What You'll Study

The information below applies to the 1 year full time / 2 year part time on campus learning MSc programme which runs in September.

Semester 1

Optional Courses

Core Skills in Environmental Science (EV5006)

The course will provide the students with valuable skills required in developing their research and general study skills, essential for their progression during the MSc programme, as well as to the rest of their academic and professional careers. The course introduces basic statistical analysis, teaches data handling skills and exposes students to literature searching and reference styles. During the course, students will get experience in handling real-life, large data sets and will work together with the lecturer and demonstrators in analysing the data and presenting the results.

Experimental Design and Analyses (BI5009)

This course is uniquely tailored for biologists and will provide students with the required background and skills relevant to modern ecology and biology. The unique format of example-led lectures and real-world based practicals will provide you with a foundation to become confident and proficient in dealing with real data. Throughout this course, we will introduce you to using the programming language R (an industry standard) to implement modern statistical modelling techniques. You will use the flexible linear and generalised modelling framework to analyse biological data.

Statistics for Complex Study Designs (BI5010)

This highly regarded course will take your understanding of statistics to the next level and provide you with the skills and confidence to analyse your complex biological data. Through a combination of lectures, computer based practicals and group work you will gain an understanding of how to deal with pervasive issues in the analysis of real world biological data such as heterogeneity of variance and spatial and temporal non-independence. Hands on computer tutorials will allow you to apply statistical models using modern statistical software (R) to real data, collected by researchers to answer real biological questions.

Plant Ecology (PL5001)

Integrated lectures, field trips, data exercises and discussions provide a broad overview of theoretical plant ecology and its practical applications. You will participate in data collection in sand dune, heathland and woodland habitats and become familiar with a range of plant species. Key skills in vegetation survey, monitoring and research are taught. Class field data are used as the basis for understanding ecological processes and for learning vegetation analysis methods. You will practice writing skills in a data report and essay, supported by “clinics” and by individual help to students. Detailed feedback will help your writing in subsequent courses.

Global Soil Geography (SS5008)

Field based course that takes you across northeast Scotland exploring an ancient tropical rainforest, hill farming in action, survey techniques and soil formation.

A long tradition of soil science teaching at the University of Aberdeen assembled into lectures and field trips delivered by senior academics.

Your assessments are geared towards developing practical skills. This includes a field log book to teach survey techniques, a presentation on a particular soil that requires research akin to detective work, and a quiz on soil classification. An essay will also assessed.

Environmental Pollution (BI5301)

Enables students to increase and enhance their understanding of atmospheric, aquatic and terrestrial environmental pollution issues;

Addresses the management, monitoring and control of environmental pollutants;

Allows students to engagement with stake holders from a number of different sectors;

Uses both qualitative and quantitative data to understand the impact of environmental pollutants.

Ecosystem Processes (PL5303)

Terrestrial ecosystems play a pivotal role in modulating the fluxes of energy and matter at the Earth’s surface, including the cycling of carbon, nutrients and greenhouse gases. Understanding the structure and function of terrestrial ecosystems is critical for understanding environmental challenges such as global warming, biodiversity loss, sustainable development and pollution. This course develops principles of systems ecology and biogeochemistry, focusing on the fundamental role played by living things in regulating key ecosystem processes such as carbon cycling, nutrient dynamics, trophic transfers, and land-atmosphere exchange of greenhouse gases.

Applications of GIS (EV5403)

Applications of GIS will provide you with the opportunities to become familiar with ArcGIS software and understand the application of GIS technologies to address environmental management and research questions.

· Provide increasingly important GIS skills on your CV

· Practical based course so you learn how to use GIS as well as getting the theory

· Range of real management and research examples used in environmental sciences

Guest speakers from relevant industry on application of GIS in their role

Timber Harvesting and Measurement (EV5301)

Lectures and practical sessions provide an integrated learning experience that will provide you with core competencies that are essential for professional accreditation in forestry.

Through practical sessions in a local forest you will develop forest measurement skills; in computer-based sessions you will learn to process, analyse and interpret field data.

Visits to an active harvesting site and a local sawmill allow you to experience these operations first hand and benefit from discussions with professionals at these sites.

Coursework requires you to write professional style reports such as those used in the forestry sector and present a topic chosen by you.

Semester 2

Optional Courses

Remediation Technology (SS5500)

A highly interactive course, that uses extensively e-learning platforms to enable students to better understand the assessment of contaminated land. Students will learn how to interpret and apply current risk assessment regulations and predict as well as model contaminant pathways. Students will gain valuable experience in using the latest computer software and incorporate real data in order to quantify risk. Very importantly, students will be able to forecast remediation options for a variety of situations and consider the implications and processes involved.

European Forests Field Course (FY5701)

· This residential field course is based in Freiburg in SW Germany. 6/7 days are spent visiting different forests and meeting German forestry professionals.

· This is a joint course with Freiburg University and University College Dublin which allows you to share ideas with students who have studied in different institutions.

· Visiting forests overseas challenges many assumptions of how forests should be managed and allows you to reflect on how culture and policy as well as forest type affect forest management.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EK5804)

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a process for providing information about likely effects of certain human activities on ‘the environment’, and for identifying ways of minimising adverse effects and enhancing any positive effects.

Case studies, workshops and field visits are used to encourage participative learning related to components of the EIA process.

Oral presentations and written reports provide opportunities to develop your communication skills and to master the theory, policy and implementation elements to EIA.

Visiting speakers from the local area provide practitioner perspectives on the role of EIA in development decisions.

Environmental Analysis (EV5800)

The mixture of applied science and theoretical work places you in a valuable position for understanding the procedures and applications in modern environmental science. A number of laboratory classes allows you to familiarise yourself with the current analytical instrumentation in environmental science. The course uses examples of environmental issues allowing you to understand the problem, how the analysis was conducted and the implications of the results. The main assessment in this course is a practical write up that is written in the style of a scientific report giving you an opportunity to perfect this style of writing.

Ecology, Conservation and Society (EK5510)

· Six themes that reflect current theory and practice in the interface between ecology and society; these are explored through structured in-class activities that challenge you to consider problems and evidence from different perspectives.

· Guest lecturers from anthropology, human geography and philosophy increase your capacity for self-reflection and awareness of ethical and moral issues embedded in problems that are often framed as ecological.

· Four short discussion essays are required; you will get detailed feedback for improving your writing skills.

· Weekly student-led discussions allow you to develop your capacity for attentive exchange, informed argument and reasoning, and skills in facilitating discussion.

Woodland Conservation & Management (EV5702)

· This five day residential field course is held during the Easter vacation and follows one of two alternating programmes of visits: one in northern Scotland and the other in the Borders (S Scotland) and the Lake District (NW England)).

· Students visit various multi-functional forests (at least one with a conservation designation) and learn about balancing different management objectives including timber production, environmental services and amenity – with visits hosted by the local forest managers.

Catchment Management (EK5511)

Field visits to examine river systems and forested catchments provide context and opportunities to discuss a diverse set of environmental management problems with professionals working in the field.

Practical sessions provide structured activities focused on the identification of freshwater invertebrates and applications of GIS approaches for analysing data to support catchment management planning.

You apply theoretical and practical knowledge to a case study, demonstrating your capacity to evaluate site specific data and to interpret relevant legislation and regulation.

Working individually and with a group you will write and present a management plan for a location of your choosing.

Environmental Management Plan (EV5801)

​One week of field work in a multiple use forest followed by five weeks of data analysis, practical tasks and writing provides training required to construct a management plan.

Structured practical sessions provide experience with spreadsheets, ArcGIS and other technical software and increases your confidence with data handling and analysis.

The main assignment in the form of a management plan allows you to develop your skills to a professional standard.

The mixture of science and management offers you a unique range of skills required by employers.

Applied Forest Ecology (EK5806)

Applied forest ecology, or silviculture, is the application of scientific principles to the management of forests - to create and maintain the types of forest (both planted and natural) that will best fulfil the objectives of the owner and society in general.

Current theory and application of forest ecology will be covered in a series of lectures to allow you to explore the science of forest ecosystem dynamics.

Discussions during the lectures will encourage inquiry and informed argument.

One main assignment based on actual forest ecosystems will allow you to demonstrate individual thought and analysis.

Semester 3

Compulsory Courses

Environmental and Forest Management Project (EV5904)

· Independent research project that can cover any area of forestry: it may be computer, laboratory, greenhouse or field based;

· The project provides a thorough training in managing all aspects of a research project from inception to delivery of a thesis in the format of a paper for an international scientific journal;

· Projects can be based anywhere in the world and often are associated with on-going cutting-edge research by academic staff;

· Collaboration with external organisations is encouraged to enable students to gain a greater range of experience.

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

Each course is different but all consist of lectures and practical sessions. Participation and contribution to discussions, workshops and some lectures is expected. Self-directed learning and additional reading should also be carried out to complement what is covered in class. Practical sessions could include:

  • forest mensuration exercises
  • visiting a recently established forest to discuss environmental impact
  • visiting an active timber harvesting site and meeting the forester to discuss production, safety and environmental issues
  • mapping using GPS devices
  • manipulating spatial data on a Geographic Information System
  • computer based statistical exercises
  • workshop assessing the visual impact of forestry operations

The field courses comprise visits to forests with different management objectives. These visits in Great Britain and/or Germany enable students to experience forest management practices. Some visits include students participating in exercises similar to tasks undertaken by professional forest managers.

The final ‘course’ requires students to plan and execute an individual research project under the supervision of a member of staff. The supervisor will provide guidance about planning the research project, literature and sources, and requisite skills but students are expected to take responsibility for their project.

All courses are supported by websites where material supporting classes is readily available.

Learning Methods

  • Lectures
  • Field Work
  • Field Trips
  • Research
  • Individual Projects
  • Workshops


All courses are assessed by continuous assessment only (there are no exams). Assignments are a mixture of traditional essays, presentations, practical reports and fieldwork exercises. A few assignments are group work but the majority are individual assessments. The research project undertaken at the end of the programme is assessed by the submission of a written thesis, usually in the form of a paper for a relevant scientific journal.

Why Study Environmental and Forest Management?

  • The University of Aberdeen has been teaching Forestry for over 100 years and its Forestry graduates are now working all over the world in a wide range of roles.
  • We are ranked number 1 in Scotland in terms of overall research excellence in the fields of earth systems and environmental sciences (REF 2014).
  • Aberdeen MSc Environmental and Forest Management graduates have good employability, finding positions in both the private and public sectors in the UK as well as overseas.
  • You will carry out field work in various different locations, including the agricultural and forested areas of NE Scotland, National Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
  • The programme makes use of the proximity of many forests, from within Aberdeen City’s limits to ancient forests on Royal Deeside. Aberdeenshire’s forests range from one of the largest remnants of the ancient Caledonian pine forest to recently established commercial plantations.
  • The department maintains active links with the forestry sector and many visits to forests are hosted by forestry professionals.
  • Forestry is part of the much larger School of Biological Sciences so the programme draws of the expertise of world leading experts in a range of fields, e.g. Prof Steve Woodward, Member of the UK Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Task Force on Tree Health and Plant Biosecurity and the Scottish Tree Health Advisory Group; and Prof Pete Smith, the Science Director of Scotland’s Climate Change Centre of Expertise.
  • Teaching is mostly in small groups that encourage active participation by all students.
  • Aberdeen University has an active Forestry Society which maintains links with former members. This provides you with the opportunity to meet graduates currently working in forestry and find out about the many career openings that may be available to you.

What our Current Students Say

  • Lewis Prentice

    Lewis Prentice

    The course is taught to an exceptionally high standard covering the principal aspects of contemporary sustainable forest management comprehensively with a particular focus on the key applications within the industry

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fees and Funding Table for HOME, EU, RUK and International Students
Nationality Status Amount
Home / EU / RUK Students Tuition fee for main award £7,400
International Students Tuition fee for main award £16,100
  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trip courses. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.


The University of Aberdeen is very pleased to offer a 20% discount on postgraduate tuition fees for all alumni who have graduated with a degree from the University of Aberdeen. More information can be found on our Finance and Funding page.

(Please note this cannot be claimed in conjunction with any other scholarship award.)

View all funding options in our Funding Database.

Entry Requirements


An Honours degree (minimum second class) or equivalent, usually in Forestry or another subject such as a Biological or Environmental Science, Environmental Management, Geography or Soil Science.

Graduates with degrees in other subjects may also accepted. In recent years we have accepted applicants with degrees in History, Psychology and Modern Languages, who were looking to gain a qualification for entry to the forestry profession.

For degree equivalency: In My Country pages.

Language Requirements

All students entering the University must provide evidence that they can use English well enough to study effectively at the University of Aberdeen.

Details of our English language entry requirements can be found on our English language requirements webpages. This programme requires that you meet the 'Postgraduate Standard' level of English proficiency.

If you have not achieved the required scores, the University of Aberdeen offers pre-sessional English courses. Further details are available on our Language Centre website.

Nationals of some English-speaking countries or those who hold degrees from some English-speaking countries may be exempt from this requirement. Details of countries recognised as English-speaking can be found on our English language requirements webpages.

Document Requirements

  • Degree Transcripta full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
  • Personal Statementa detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme
  • Degree Certificatea degree certificate showing your qualifications
  • CVan up-to-date CV/Resumé


  • Sir Duncan Rice Library

    Sir Duncan Rice Library

    The University’s award winning Sir Duncan Rice Library is listed in the “Top 20 spellbinding University libraries in the World”. It contains over a million volumes, more than 300,000 e-books and 21,000 journals.

    Find out more
  • Bettyhill Field Station

    Bettyhill Field Station

    This field centre located in Sutherland, one of the most scenic areas of Britain, is used for teaching and research in ecology and environmental sciences.

  • Forests


    Aberdeenshire’s forests range from one of the largest remnants of the ancient Caledonian pine forest to recently established commercial plantations


The MSc Environmental and Forest Management programme prepares you for a range of careers in forest and environmental management, policy and research.

In recent years most graduates have found positions in forest management, particularly the private sector, e.g. the graduate development programme of Tilhill Forestry. Some graduates are now working for government organisations, e.g. Forestry Commission and Scottish Natural Heritage and a few graduates choose to do research and go on to undertake a PhD after completing the MSc.

Industry Links

  • The University of Aberdeen maintains active links with the Institute of Chartered Foresters and the forestry sector: the Forestry Commission, Forest Research and the private sector (e.g. Tilhill Forestry, Scottish Woodlands, RTS ltd)
  • Many forest visits are hosted by forestry professionals: both formal visits and more informal visits
  • Forestry companies sponsor tables at the annual Forestry Society Dinner and students are always offered places at these tables

Our Experts

The programme will be delivered by an experienced, multidisciplinary team of internationally renowned researchers in environmental and forest management.

Other Experts
Professor Stephen Woodward
Dr Andrew Cameron
Professor Michelle Pinard
Professor Paul Hallett
Dr Vasilis Louca
Programme Coordinator
Dr Louise Page

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.


College of Life Sciences and Medicine Graduate School
University of Aberdeen
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AB25 2ZD
+44 (0)1224 437096
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