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.
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.
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).
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:
- 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.
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.
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 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.'
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.
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