Developing the future generation of eco-entrepreneurs who have the passion and skills to lead environmental partnerships and projects of the future.

This programme is studied on campus.

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 MSc in Environmental Partnership Management is an innovative and exciting programme to provide future leaders 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 multistakeholder partnerships.

Key Programme Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
12 months or 24 months
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month
September or January

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. You will find information about other ways to study this programme in the next section on this page.

The information listed below is the structure followed for September starts. Those that commence the degree in January will study the same courses but in a slightly different order. When a student commences in January, they will undertake the semester 2 courses at the same time as the September cohort of students. The January start students will then study the Semester 1 courses, followed by the summer project.

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses

Collaboration and Partnership 1: Principles (GG5055) - Credits: 15

This course will introduce 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.

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Contemporary Environmental Challenges (GG5056) - Credits: 15

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.

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Planning, Land & Environmental Law (GG5036) - Credits: 15

The course 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 developmnet 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.

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Semester 2

Compulsory Courses

Collaboration and Partnership 2: Practice (GG5556) - Credits: 15

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.

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Governance and Political Economy of Sustainability (GG5557) - Credits: 15

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.

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The Leadership Challenge (BU5584) - Credits: 15

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.

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Research Methods (GG5516) - Credits: 15

Students are introduced to relevant research methods for the analysis of rural, land, property, and environmental resources. The course is the fundamental building block for the substantive dissertation that students undertake over the summer. Topics studies in detail include strategy formulation for effective literature review, various methodological approaches, the selection of appropriate methods for carrying out specified research exercises and the production of feasible research proposals and programmes of work.

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Semester 3

Compulsory Courses

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.

Partnership Project (GG5911) - Credits: 60

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.

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Course Availability

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

Learning Methods

  • Field Trips
  • Field Work
  • Group Projects
  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

By coursework, by written examination, or by a combination of these, as prescribed for each course. Please see individual course entries in the Postgraduate Catalogue of Courses, or departmental documentation, for further details.

Why Study Environmental Partnership Management?

  • The nature of the teaching ensures that the skills you will learn are global, allowing you to create effective partnerships around the world.
  • The programme attracts graduates from a very wide range of social and physical science disciplines, including existing managers in the industry, and the combination of students will really enhance your learning experience.
  • You will be taught by experts in a range of fields, including energy, water resources, coastal management, agriculture, transport and rural communities, with staff from the Business School offering elements of management training.
  • An exciting component of the course will be the opportunity to learn about principles and practise of partnership and collaboration from invited expert speakers from businesses, governments and NGOs.
  • Combines knowledge on environmental and social concerns with practical business skills to provide training in the design of effective partnership agreements through multi-actor engagement, mediation and leadership.
  • The programme has been designed in close consultation with a range of relevant organisations, including SEPA, Crown Estates, Scottish Natural Heritage, Visit Scotland, Local Government and the Cairngorms National Park.
  • The department, and its students, are at a distinct advantage being based in the north east of Scotland. The University is in close proximity to some of the most environmentally important and geographically varied landscapes in the whole of the UK, including the Cairngorms National Park.
  • Students have the opportunity to engage with industry in a number of ways, and we have developed close working relationships through research and teaching with key organisations, including Aberdeen Harbour Board, SEPA, Scottish Natural Heritage, Cairngorms National Park, James Hutton Institute, Crown Estate.
  • Field trips are an integral part of all our degree programmes in the Department.
  • Our research is organised into three broad research themes: Sustainable Development and Transformation, Earth Surface Processes, Palaeoecology. We draw from social, environmental and geosciences to address local and global sustainability challenges and the impact of rapid environmental change on contemporary surface processes.

2014 REF results:

  • 1st in Scotland - Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences 
  • 1st in Scotland for Impact - Geosciences
  • 5th in the UK for Architecture, Built Environment and Planning 

Entry Requirements

Motivation and understanding of this degree is an important factor in securing admission. Your personal statement/statement of purpose should focus on covering the following points:

  • clear understanding of the degree and its underlying principles
  • previous relevant experience in relation to conservation, environmental partnerships or sustainability
  • information on how the degree will help with future career development


2:2 (Honours) degree in Agriculture, Business, Ecology, Environmental Science, Environmental Management, Environmental Economics, Environmental Engineering, Forestry, Geography, Geology, Law, Marine Science, Planning, Politics, Sociology, Soil Science, Zoology.

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.

English 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 College of Physical Sciences 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

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme.

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

Fees and Funding

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

Tuition fee rates can be found on our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU / RUK Students £5,600
Tuition Fee for 2016/17 Academic Year
International Students £15,400
Tuition Fee for 2016/17 Academic Year
Home / EU / RUK Students £6,000
Tuition Fee for 2017/18 Academic Year
International Students £16,100
Tuition Fee for 2017/18 Academic Year

Additional Fees

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. 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.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.


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:

  • “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”

Industry Links

"Over the placement Marnie was efficient, diligent and professional. By being thorough in an approach to work and conscientious in planning the outputs were far beyond expectation and will be of real benefit to the development of the project. In addition Marnie was a pleasure to work with, enthusiastic and a real credit to the University."

MSc project with Aberdeen City Council, Planning & Sustainable Development

What our Alumni Say

  • Theresa Schwarz
    Theresa Schwarz, UNV / UN-REDD Communications Specialist - United Nations Development Programme at

    Theresa Schwarz

    Job Details
    UNV / UN-REDD Communications Specialist - United Nations Development Programme
    The course equipped me with valuable knowledge which I could use for my dissertation project with the UK Government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

Our Experts

Other Experts
Dr Piotr Niewiadomski
Programme Coordinator
Dr Tavis Potts

Information About Staff Changes

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.

Image for Environmental Partnership Management Field trip
Environmental Partnership Management Field trip

Environmental Partnership Management Field trip

Recent trips have included visiting community forestry and local economic development initiatives, decision making in local government and coastal management sites.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

College of Physical Sciences Graduate School
University of Aberdeen
Fraser Noble Building
King's College
AB24 3UE

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