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.

This programme is studied on campus.

On this MSc programme you will 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.

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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

What You'll Study

Semester 1

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses

Global Soil Geography (SS5008) - 15 Credit Points

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.

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Timber Harvesting and Measurement (EV5301) - 15 Credit Points

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.

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Applied Forest Ecology (EK5806) - 15 Credit Points

Forest ecology is a science concerned with the form and function of forest ecosystems. As a science, it recognises that forest ecosystems vary in their ecological characteristics with location, and that the forest in any particular location is continually changing – sometimes quite rapidly and sometimes very slowly.

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 lectures will encourage inquiry and informed argument.

The main assignment based on actual forest ecosystems allows you to demonstrate individual thought and analysis.

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Optional Courses

Statistics for Complex Study Designs (BI5010) - 7.5 Credit Points

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.

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Experimental Design and Analyses (BI5009) - 15 Credit Points

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.

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Semester 2

Semester 2

Compulsory Courses

Applications of GIS (15 credit points)

Structured workshops provide you with opportunities to become familiar with ArcGIS software and to build your employability. An individual project allows you to explore a specific application that you are interested in and demonstrate your proficiency with the software and your command of the conceptual underpinnings.

The course catalogue will be updated with this information shortly.

Environmental Management Plan (EV5801) - 15 Credit Points

​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.

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Woodland Conservation & Management (EV5802) - 15 Credit Points

· 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.

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Optional Courses

Students must also select one course from the following list:

Ecology, Conservation and Society (EK5510) - 15 Credit Points

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

Case studies drawn from different disciplinary perspectives (e.g., anthropology, economics, human geography, philosophy) increase capacity for self-reflection and awareness of ethical and moral issues embedded in problems 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.

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Catchment Management (EK5511) - 15 Credit Points

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.

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Semester 3

Semester 3

Compulsory Courses

Environmental and Forest Management Project (EV5904) - 60 Credit Points

· 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.

View detailed information about this course

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

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

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

Assessment Methods

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 Students Say

  • Lewis Prentice
    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

Entry Requirements


The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

A minimum of a UK 2.2 honours degree (or non-UK equivalent) in a biological, environmental or physical science, geography, or other relevant subject. We also consider applicants with degrees in other disciplines who are clearly motivated by the programme and have some relevant work experience.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 51; Reading - 51; Speaking - 51; Writing - 54

Cambridge English Advanced & Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

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.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU / RUK Students £7,800
Tuition Fees for 2018/19 Academic Year
International Students £16,900
Tuition Fees for 2018/19 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.

Funding Opportunities

The following options are available to support your studies. Please click the links for full details and eligibility criteria.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.


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


This programme is accredited by the Institute of Chartered Foresters.

This degree holds accreditation from

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

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 Sir Duncan Rice Library
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
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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.

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

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
AB24 3FX