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Environmental Impact Assessment and Management


School of the Built Environment

The MSc programme is seeking accreditation by two professional bodies, namely 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 / January 2020

Teaching location

Headington Campus / Distance learning

Course length

  • Full time: MSc: 12 months
  • Part time: Distance learning only: up to 5 years

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

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). This encourages learning by allowing students to actively puzzle through problems adapted from complex real situations and case studies, and has been 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

Our approach to assessment aims for rigour, variety and the support of learning. Due to the problem solving nature of our teaching, there are no examinations on the programme, with coursework used in preference in order to promote a deeper approach to learning.

A variety of coursework types are used so that students can develop and practice different skills. Examples include: report writing, verbal presentations, essays, reflective work (journal entries and essays), quizzes to test knowledge and collaborative group assignments. All coursework is submitted online via the VLE.


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. 




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 2020/21: £8,000

Home/EU - distance learning fee: 2019/20: £3,900 2020/21: £4,000

International - full time: 2019/20: £14,000 2020/21: £14,700

International - distance learning fee: 2019/20: £6,080 2020/21: to be confirmed

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

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 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.


An equivalent English language qualification acceptable to the University.

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).

Distance-Learning study requires additional Faculty preparation - therefore this mode can sometimes close sooner than on-campus study.


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.


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

We work closely with our International Centre to help students whose first language is not English. All international students are registered on appropriate courses during the first semester so that they can develop their academic writing skills as required. They then have the opportunity to take extra classes to support dissertation writing in the second semester.

Continuous assessment and feedback are other means through which we support our students. The modules are designed so that our students have the opportunity to learn from the feedback that they receive in order to improve their academic performance.

You will be assigned an academic adviser who will help guide your academic development. In addition we provide specialist subject librarians to help you find the right material for your coursework and other learning support staff to ensure that you get the best out of your studies.

In addition to your academic advisor, you will have access to student support coordinators who are there to provide pastoral care.


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.