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.
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.
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.
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Changes to programmes