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Environmental Impact Assessment and Management

MSc / PGDip / PGCert

School of the Built Environment

Accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI)

This MSc explores the appraisal of the environmental and social effects of major development projects to inform planning and decision-making processes and to enhance the potential for ‘sustainable’ development. The urgent need to replace aging infrastructure in developed countries, combined with rapid urbanisation and industrialisation in emerging economies, have led to a significant demand for professionals to work in this exciting growth sector.  

Designed in close consultation with industry, the programme provides a fresh approach to studying Environmental Impact Assessment and Management (EIA&M) which embeds the knowledge and skill-set required to work effectively with diverse project stakeholders and multi-disciplinary teams. Drawing upon the latest concepts in environmental and social risk management and though harnessing the potential of digital technologies, participants will learn to devise innovative EIA&M solutions that maximise the potential for sustainable outcomes.

The course is targeted at those seeking to develop a career as practitioners working in environmental consultancy, local government, regulatory agencies, statutory consultees, environmental NGOs, and major development companies and engineering firms, both nationally and internationally.

 

Available start dates

September 2019 / September 2020

Teaching location

Headington Campus

Course length

  • Full time: MSc: 12 months, PGDip: 9 months

For full application details, please see the 'How to apply / Entry requirements' section.

  • Our staff have written some of the leading textbooks in Environmental Impact Assessment and Management (e.g. Therivel and Wood 2017; Glasson and Therivel 2019; Perdicoúlis et al 2012)
  • Our teaching is informed by the latest developments in theory and practice - the Impacts Assessment Unit regularly undertakes applied research and consultancy work across the private and public sector.
  • The course has strong links with the professional practitioner community, shaping the course design, and practitioner inputs bring real-world experience to the programme.
  • Offers a flexible programme of study, available both as a full-time one year programme and in open-learning mode (distance learning), with options to attend intensive study periods on campus plus a UK residential field trip.
  • The programme makes use of Problem Based Learning ('PBL') to support participants in developing skills in problem solving and decision-making in complex situations and real life case studies.
  • Extensive online learning material is provided to all participants via the Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) - our own intranet site, 24 hours a day, seven days a week

Professional accreditation

The MSc in Environmental Impact Assessment and Management is fully accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). This means that on graduation, students can progress to complete the Assessment of Professional Competence programme of RICS in order to become full members.

The course is also accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) as a specialist Master's programme. Students who wish to progress to Chartered Membership of the RTPI with the MSc EAM must also complete an accredited PG Diploma qualification in spatial planning - please refer to www.rtpi.org.uk for further information regarding accreditation.

The MSc consists of four core modules plus research methods and a final dissertation.

The programme modules have been developed in close consultation with leading practitioners to respond to key industry drivers, reflecting the latest conceptual thinking and international best-practice in the sector. 

Effective and Proportionate Environmental Impact Assessment

Notions of ‘effectiveness’ are central to the EIA / ESIA debate across both the research and practice communities, leading to calls for more proportionate assessment that better reflects the significance of development project impacts. This module explores the systematic process of EIA / ESIA and the conceptual foundations of effectiveness to promote understanding of the development planning and design cycles where EIA / ESIA has greatest potential to shape sustainable outcomes. 

Collaborative Working and Knowledge Co-Creation

The importance of collaborative working and the challenges and skills-gap associated with communication and knowledge management have been widely recognised within the context of multidisciplinary EIA / ESIA. In this module you will develop the conceptual understanding and practical insights required to work collaboratively and effectively with diverse stakeholders to harness knowledge to promote informed decision-making.

Environmental and Social Risk Management: New Frontiers of Decision Making

This module examines new concepts in environmental and social risk management that are demonstrating evidence of traction in terms of research, policy development, and ‘state of the art’ practice. This includes approaches that seek to embed the full costs of development projects and on-going operations (e.g. the concept of ecosystem services, the natural capital approach, and the circular economy) and issues such as carbon management, climate resilience and ‘future-proofing’. The module critically examines the potential incorporation of these new concepts into the assessment and management processes associated with major development projects. 

The Digital Transformation: Towards Intelligent Impact Assessment

This module develops the knowledge and skills required to critically engage with the call for more ‘intelligent’ EIA/ESIA i.e. the use of ICT to harness new opportunities for stakeholder interaction and engagement with development proposals, assessment information, and the ongoing management of impacts. The module emphasises geospatial information and spatial analysis (GIS) with reference to key stages of the EIA/ESIA process; technologies and strategies for engagement in the ‘Social Age’; and the use of technical opportunities for creative collaboration e.g. via Building Information Modelling (BIM). The module concludes by raising awareness of digital citizenship and cyber-ethics, the ‘seduction of digital’, and potential digital futures.

Applied Research Methods examines the fundamentals of research design, highlighting the difference between qualitative and quantitative approaches and exploring how data can be gathered and analysed to produce valid insights. It also provides an overview of particular research techniques that are likely to be appropriate for use within the Dissertation.

The Dissertation follows on from Applied Research Methods and aims to generate new knowledge and also to develop your capacity to undertake rigorous research, to plan and execute an extended project, and to communicate complex ideas effectively. 

PGDip/PGCert

The PGCert and PGDip are offered as 'exit' awards on the programme. Candidates seeking to graduate with one of these awards should apply for the MSc programme in the first instance. 

It is also possible to take individual modules as an associate student, either for personal or professional development (CPD).

 

Teaching and learning

Teaching takes place at our Headington campus in Oxford, UK for full-time participants and online for our open learning participants through a series of webinars, recorded lectures, discussion forums and other activities. Extensive online learning material is provided to all participants via our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) and the course is assessed by 100% coursework submitted via the VLE.

The programme utilises an applied approach to learning, sometimes called Problem Based Learning (PBL), which encourages learning by allowing students to actively puzzle through problems adapted from complex real situations and case studies, and shown to develop lifelong learning skills, transferable skills and subject knowledge, readily applied in practice.

For full time students:

Study time during the semester will typically be divided between attending two x 2 hourly sessions per week for each of the two core modules (comprising a mixture of lectures, seminars or workshops), and a weekly 2 hour session for research methods in the first semester (reducing to approximately two class sessions in the second semester as students work on a research proposal, supported by tutorials). Outside the module contact hours, students will undertake independent learning (e.g. reading and research, review of online material, and online individual and group collaborative learning) and work on coursework assignments.

For the open-learner:

Study time will be divided between: attending online seminars (approximately monthly); participating in ‘Question and Answer’ sessions (approximately once a fortnight); engaging in on online discussion forums; collaborating online with peers for assessments and independent study. Face-to-face contact for open learning students takes place within the Intensive Study Periods, which enable students to share experiences and knowledge as well as renew friendships and make connections that extend into the industry. 

 

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.

Field trips

Participants can participate in a UK-based residential field trip, in early January, and one intensive study period per semester. The intensive study periods take place at our Oxford campus in Week 3 of each semester, typically lasting three days. Please note that, although subsidised by the University, there are additional costs associated with the UK residential field trip and intensive study periods to reflect the fact that some students prefer not to take up these options (see below for further details).

Additional costs

Field trips: All course participants can participate in an optional UK-based residential field trip in early January, between Semester 1 and 2. This is a great learning opportunity which we anticipate will be attended by the majority of the class.

Partially subsidised by the University, participants need to cover the cost of travel, and make a contribution to accommodation and food. These costs are additional to the programme fee reflecting the fact that some students prefer not to participate. The total additional cost will be in the region of £150-200.  This does not include any flight and visa costs from the participant's location to the UK.

Intensive Study Periods: Twice a year open-learners are invited to join full-time students on campus for a three-day intensive study period. Open-learners must find their own accommodation and need to cover expenses for:

  • Travel
  • Accommodation (to give an indication of the cost- the University's Scott House offers single ensuite rooms with self-catering facilities at £50.40 per night subject to availability (2018 rates). Alternatively, B&B accommodation or rooms in Oxford University Colleges can be found starting from approximately £40 per night or hotel accommodation starting from approximately £100 per night.
  • Food.

Student body

Course participants are likely to include:

Recent graduates (e.g. geography, environmental / natural sciences, social sciences) seeking a career-oriented PG degree, and graduates in allied fields e.g. planning, construction / civil engineering and surveying; 

  • Early-career practitioners recruited for a technical specialism (e.g. acoustics, hydrogeology) but requiring development of their wider knowledge base;
  • Mid-career practitioners looking to upskill and further specialise in EIA&M; and
  • Graduates or professionals seeking to retrain and change career direction.

Students on the MSc Environmental Impact Assessment and Management will come from a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, including environmental science, ecology, planning, geography, landscape architecture, construction, surveying, civil engineering, economics, and management (amongst many others). On this interdisciplinary programme such diversity of interests and skills is welcomed and is further enhanced by the perspectives of international students from as far afield as Mongolia, China and India.

Open-learning students are typically employed in related fields or may possess professional experience e.g. in preparing or reviewing EIA/ESIAs. They may be working for private or public sector employers, both in the UK and from around the globe. 

 

 

 

Sample work

Module P38333 - GIS & Environmental Modelling

Download extract from a student coursework submission for GIS Workbook 2.

Feedback from students, employers and external examiners

Student feedback

'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 Hinkley 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.'

'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

The University delivers module teaching during two semesters, each of 12 weeks duration. 

Full-time students take two 30-credit modules each semester, as well as the Applied Research Methods module which is 10 credits and runs across the two semesters. Typically, each 30-credit module is delivered through two 2-hour sessions each week. Full-time students undertake their dissertation once they have completed the taught part of the course.

The distance learning mode of delivery is designed to enable participants to fit their studies around their other commitments. Online delivery provides the flexibility for 24/7 learning. Distance learning students are strongly advised to attend the intensive study periods, which are typically three days long. 

Please refer to ‘Course brochures and further information’ to see programme structure diagrams that illustrate the sequence and progression of the course for the different learning modes and entry point.

 

Programme changes

On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our Changes to programmes page.

Tuition fees

Home/EU - full time fee: 2019/20: £7,630

Home/EU - full time off-campus fee: distance learning fee: 2019/20: £3,900

International - full time: 2019/20: £14,000

International - full time off-campus fee: distance learning fee: 2019/20: £6,080

Where part time fees are quoted this is for the first year only. Fees will increase by up to 4% each year.

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed in the 'This course in detail' window above.

Questions about fees?
Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088
finance-fees@brookes.ac.uk

Funding and scholarships

Entry requirements

The course is open to applicants who hold a 2.1 undergraduate honours degree (or international equivalent).

We will actively consider applications from candidates with lower degrees, who can evidence relevant experience (or an alternative qualification) that demonstrates an ability to study at postgraduate level.

English language requirements

If your first language is not English you will require a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 overall with 6.0 in all components.

OR

An equivalent English language qualification acceptable to the University.

Please also see the university's standard English language requirements.

Please also see the university's standard English language requirements

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the university's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

International applications

Preparation courses for International and EU students

We offer a range of courses to help you to meet the entry requirements for this course and also familiarise you with university life. You may also be able to apply for one student visa to cover both courses.

  • Take our Pre-Master's course to help you to meet both the English language and academic entry requirements for your master's course.
  • If you need to improve your English language, we have pre-sessional English language courses available to help you to meet the English language requirements of your chosen master’s.

If you are studying outside the UK, for more details about your specific country entry requirements, translated information, local contacts and programmes within your country, please have a look at our country pages.

How to apply

There is no formal application deadline (recruitment closes when teaching capacity is reached). However, we advise applying in good advance to secure places, and allow sufficient time for applications to be reviewed. 
Applicants should also factor any time needed to meet offer conditions, arrange accommodation, and obtain a UK Tier 4 visa (if applicable).

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

How this course helps you develop

Oxford Brookes has been delivering postgraduate teaching in environmental assessment and management for well over 25 years and has an extensive network of alumni working in leading environmental consultancies, while others have secured high-level environmental positions within organisations such as the European Commission and the World Bank.

The MSc in Environmental Impact Assessment and Management adopts a collaborative approach to teaching which draws upon strong links with employers to contribute to the programme. For example, visiting speakers from consultancy, industry, regulatory bodies, and professional organisations contribute case studies, lectures and workshops to explore the challenges of practice.

Designing the programme curriculum has also involved close consultation with practitioners to respond to the requirements of potential employers, particularly through the use of problem-based learning and coursework assignments that mirror industry requirements (e.g. the production and review of Environmental Statements for major development proposals). Such activities mean that students are well prepared to quickly make a positive contribution within the profession.

Careers

Previous graduates on our postgraduate courses in this field have gone on to develop careers such as:

  • Environmental consultancy and environmental planning practice e.g. working for companies such as WSP, Ramboll, AECOM, ERM, RPS Group, Savills Ltd, Amec Foster Wheeler, Golder Associates, Nicholas Pearson Associates, Pegasus Group, Waterman Group, Arcadis, Mott MacDonald, amongst many others
  • Environmental managers and EIA / Sustainability officers with regulatory agencies and government departments, both in the UK and internationally 
  • Environmental officers within industry e.g. the mining sector, power generation, automotive sector
  • Officers with regulatory and non-statutory bodies and NGOs 

Full-time students have the opportunity to make contact with our distance-learning students, who are typically in full-time employment in the field. All students are encouraged to become part of our virtual alumni network which is hosted on LinkedIn.

 

How Brookes supports postgraduate students

Supporting your learning

From academic advisers and support co-ordinators to specialist subject librarians and other learning support staff, we want to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

Research highlights

The School of the Built Environment has an impressive list of funders and clients covering UK and EU government, research funding councils and industry. Links with universities worldwide provide exciting opportunities for collaborative research, exchanges and overseas study. Key areas of expertise and scholarship in the school form the research groups listed below and comprise substantial research arms of the Oxford Institute for Sustainable Development (OISD).

Research areas and clusters

Impact Assessment Unit (IAU)

The IAU brings together one of the largest teams of expertise in this field worldwide. Through collaborative and interdisciplinary working, the IAU seeks to enhance the understanding globally of the wider sphere of impact appraisal theory and practice. It does this by conducting research, undertaking consultancy and providing knowledge exchange opportunities through professional development training. Our clients include, among others, the European Commission, UK Government/Agencies, local government and the commercial sector.

Infrastructure and energy continue to be a key focus as they are the essential components of a rapidly urbanising world. Assessing their environmental impact is vital to ensure a balance in the environmental, social and economic impacts of future urban environments to ensure there is equity and quality of life for all.

The IAU works closely with colleagues in the following research groups:

The School of the Built Environment has links with universities worldwide, including Canada, USA, Mexico, Brazil, Chile, South Africa, Ghana, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan, Taiwan, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Hungary, Poland and most EU member states. There are exciting opportunities for collaborative research, exchanges and study overseas.