The MSc course consists of three core modules, three optional modules and a dissertation (representing 180 level 7 credits). The PGDip consists of three core modules and three options (representing 120 level 7 credits).
Please note: as courses are reviewed regularly, the module list you choose from may vary from that shown here.
The core modules:
- Principles of Environmental Assessment and Management (20 credits) considers the context within which EAM is carried out: the principles of sustainability, international and national policy, approaches to valuing the environment, attitudes to conservation and the role of the public in environmental decision-making.
- Procedures and Methods of EIA (double module, 40 credits) examines the processes and procedures in carrying out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), and provides a practical introduction to methods for assessing, predicting and mitigating a wide range of ecological and socio-economic impacts. The module emphasises fieldwork and case studies.
The dissertation element comprises:
- Research Methods (half module, 10 credits), which develops the skills needed to research environmental issues, including the formulation of research problems and methodology, data collection and analysis.
- Dissertation (50 credits), which is an individual research study on a topic relevant to EAM chosen by the student.
One single module generally involves one taught session per week over the 12 weeks of the semester.
Optional modules provide an opportunity for students to widen or deepen their field of study. There are three types of optional module as follows:
Recommended Optional Modules are considered to be particularly relevant to the course and include:
- Ecosystem Degradation and Management reviews the nature and extent of ecosystem degradation resulting from human activities, and considers possible methods for avoiding degradation and managing, conserving and restoring ecosystems.
- Environmental Management Systems introduces environmental management, the systems and approaches which are being increasingly used in industry and commerce to meet the challenge of sustainable development and to monitor and improve environmental performance.
- GIS and Environmental Modelling is concerned with the practical application of geographical information systems (GIS) and environmental models as tools to assist in environmental management and decision-making.
- Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) examines SEA principles and SEA’s status worldwide, links between SEA, environmental impact assessment and strategic decision making, a wide range of SEA tools and techniques, and their advantages and disadvantages in various settings.
- Spatial Planning in Action presents an analysis of the structure, objectives and responsibilities underlying the practice of spatial planning from a UK perspective. It introduces the legal basis, administrative aspects and current issues in planning decision-making, including development plan-making, development control and the appeal process.
Alternative Optional Modules are normally selected from an approved list of courses currently running in the university, including Globalisation, Environment and Development; Environmentally Sustainable Business; and International Transport Planning.
Independent Study Module involves individual work on an appropriate topic or set of topics, conducted under supervision and with prior approval of the programme leaders. No more than one independent study unit may be included in a programme.
Teaching and learning
The teaching and learning methods used in the programme reflect the wide variety of topics and techniques associated with EAM. Lectures provide the essential background and knowledge base for each module and workshops, seminars and project work provide opportunities for analysis and synthesis of this information.
The programme will also offer site visits (included in course fees), where appropriate, to provide direct experience of the important issues in environmental assessment and management.
A wide range of staff are involved in teaching on the programme. Most are from the Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment and the Faculty of Health and Life Sciences.
Our contacts from industry provide valuable inputs via guest lecture sessions including speakers from the Institute of Environmental Assessment and Management, regulatory bodies such as the Environment Agency and the Planning Inspectorate, and leading environmental consultancies such as ERM, AECOM, WSP / Parsons Brinckerhoff, and PBA.
These sessions serve to bring real-world experience to the programme, in addition to providing the opportunity for students to meet with potential employers.
A variety of materials and resources, including student experience, is used to provide a varied educational experience and a teaching and learning environment appropriate for graduate students.
The early parts of the programme focus on the background to EAM, particularly on establishing a solid grounding in planning, resource management, and principles of EAM.
Over time, increasing emphasis is placed on the skills required for environmental impact assessment and environmental management, culminating in the preparation of a major environmental impact statement (EIS) project.
Approximately two-thirds of the core-module element of the programme is devoted to environmental assessment, and one-third to environmental management. However, additional training in environmental management can be obtained by the selection of appropriate options.
Advice will be given at Induction on making appropriate choices in relation to students’ interests and intended career paths. The dissertation gives students the opportunity to explore a subject related to EAM in depth, and to integrate the various elements of the programme.
Approach to assessment
Assessment on the programme has been carefully designed to combine academic rigour,and the integration of theory and practice, along with an emphasis upon continuous development and reflection on your own learning.
The assessments are designed to develop the breadth, depth and application of your knowledge. In keeping with the programme's applied and post-graduate emphasis, most of the assessment is on the basis of coursework. Modules are assessed separately by methods which may include 'traditional' approaches such as essays and seminar papers, along with applied, practice-relevant assessment based upon workshops and simulations, project work, and presentations.
The assessment methods aim to test not only knowledge, but also skills such as research, analysis, prescription, group co-ordination and management.
As a student in Oxford you'll be at the heart of the UK's most successful economic region and in a centre for leading industries which provides you with a host of learning opportunities.
Pressure for growth and infrastructure development in the area coupled with the internationally renowned cultural heritage of the town and the presence of some internationally recognised sites of nature conservation value all add up to make Oxford a great place to explore the challenges of undertaking work in the field of environmental assessment and management.
Field trips included in the course fees can include:
- visits to major infrastructure developments that have passed through EIA processes, accompanied by presentations from the relevant developer and their environmental consultants. Recent trips have visited an energy from waste plant; a major motorway intersection upgrade; a major housing scheme; and a windfarm development adjacent to an internationally protected site of conservation importance.
- visits to undertake environmental assessment work in the field e.g. landscape assessment; noise baseline surveys; 'natural capital' appraisals; and ecological survey work
- visits to examine the implementation of ecological restoration and mitigation measures e.g. on sand and gravel extraction sites and quarries.
No specialist equipment is required for field trips, although students will require stout walking shoes / boots, warm clothing and waterproofs.
Prospective students should note that whilst we try to keep costs to a minimum, you will be required to pay for materials and printing associated with some elements of course work. These should amount to no more than £150 over the programme.
Module P38333 - GIS & Environmental Modelling
Download extract from a student coursework submission for GIS Workbook 2.
Feedback from students, employers and external examiners
'I found the course very fulfilling and enjoyable throughout and it has helped me to achieve a great start to my career. I have recently accepted a job working for EDF on the nuclear new build team. The role is as an environmental planner, initially working on the Hinckley project and then moving onto other nuclear projects that they are undertaking. This would not have been possible without the guidance I have received from you and the other staff on the course. I'd just like to thank you and others once again for getting me to this stage'
'I just wanted to thank you so much for everything over the past two years. It has been so interesting and I’ve enjoyed learning about EIA immensely. It has given me both practical skills and confidence in my job. In addition, it is the first time I’ve really enjoyed education and I think that’s down to EIA/SEA team at Brookes. I was only saying to my family over the weekend that I would recommend the Brookes course to anyone interested in this field because the teaching, lecturers and guest speakers has been so passionate about their subject and I have personally got something out of everything I’ve attended.'
'Thanks again for everything, I really enjoyed the programme and would definitely recommend it to anyone interested in EIA. I also very much enjoyed our supervision (dissertation)sessions, I think it was just the right mix of guidance and flexibility'
'I'm enjoying my new job at PBA and have found the contents of the MSc to be very useful for my role as an EIA coordinator'.
'Thank you very much for a fantastic Master's course, we all thoroughly enjoyed it and we have learnt a lot. The course has such a good reputation that I think most of us had jobs to go straight into after our dissertations.'
'I have started at Scott Wilson and have been here just over three weeks. I'm working on four projects at the moment, and all are very interesting. There is EIA work for a desalination plant in London, a waste facility in London, and a wind farm in Cornwall. There is also some other work on a second runway for Birmingham International Airport. I have responsibility as well, and am not just doing photocopying.'
'Job hunting was really easy thanks to you guys, all the interviews I went for seemed to know you and the course.'
'I also wanted to thank you for the MSc course, which has stood me in good stead ever since. I spent my first year in asbestos consultancy, before being allowed to transfer to the EIA team working predominantly on a large (200km) gas pipeline running between Wales and England. I thought I'd bring this up, as I was delighted to have the main input into the cumulative effects section, which you may recall I covered in my dissertation.'
'Thank you for all the recruitment ads, tip-offs, recommendations, and advice that you have given not only to me, but all the group, it has been very much appreciated. What has been most apparent is the preponderance of Oxford Brookes MSc graduates who are all very successful in the consultancy business. It is a great measure of the quality of the course that you offer.'
Comments From employers
'A number of members of staff in our department have attended various courses on planning and EIA at the University from one-day seminars on specialist topics up to degree and master's level qualifications and we have generally been very impressed with the results and the contribution this has made towards staff development.' (RWE npower)
'URS has a long history with Oxford Brookes University, in particular the Departments of Planning, School of the Built Environment and Life Sciences. Both our environmental and planning teams have recruited graduates from the Oxford Brookes MSc courses. We find that the graduates from these courses have a wide range of interests and are well rounded candidates in terms of their environmental and planning knowledge. The practical nature of the modules (such as EIA and SEA) means that once started, they can integrate and contribute to projects almost straight away. We currently have graduates from Oxford Brookes in offices around the world, from London to Brisbane undertaking projects from assessing the UK's impact on global biodiversity to assessing the impacts of major infrastructure projects.' (URS)
'Developing strong links with our nearby universities is proving important in supplying new EIA recruits for the Environment Agency's National Environmental Assessment Service. We currently employ a couple of members of staff who have passed through Oxford Brookes University and who come with considerable understanding of environmental assessment. Additionally, several of my team have attended and got a lot from the Oxford Brookes training events over the course of the past few years.' (Environment Agency, National Environmental Assessment Service)
External examiner comments
In their formal quality evaluation reporting, the course's external examiners have said:
'The coursework that students have to do is excellent and very relevant for professional life. The marking of coursework by staff is spot on and feedback from staff was excellent (plus the timing of marks and feedback return was very good)'.
'Students were full of praise for the course and staff'.
'I have been extremely impressed by the professionalism of all staff and the high quality of teaching and feedback provided to the students.'
'The course is of an extremely high standard, with a strong practical emphasis and fulfils a real need in terms of the jobs market, as demonstrated by the success of the graduates in readily gaining relevant employment in the environmental field'.
'I remain extremely impressed by the imaginative range of teaching approaches, the high degree of interdisciplinary, the overall marking and feedback, and the strong practical approach. '
'I was particularly impressed by the group EIAs, which are really weighty and read like real consultancy reports, with outstanding feedback.'
'The curriculum is informed by the latest research in the field.'
'[The programme]...is very strong in terms of practical application of scientific methods. As such, the students are well able to hit the ground running should they move into consultancy.'
'Staff on the programmes are regarded [by students] as being highly approachable.'
Attendance pattern Teaching is organised on a module-credit basis. Each module involves approximately 200 hours of personal study and approximately 36 hours of staff contact, normally delivered through three-hour teaching blocks over a 12-week period.