Environment and Development MSc

Year of entry

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Start date
September 2023
Delivery type
On campus
12 months full time
Entry requirements
A bachelor degree with a 2:1 (hons) in social sciences such as (but not limited to) international development, geography, politics, sociology, environmental management, sustainability, in environmental science or in a related subject.
Full entry requirements
English language requirements
IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component
UK fees
£12,500 (total)
International fees
£26,000 (total)

Course overview

African farmer with cattle

Sustainable development and environmental management are two key challenges faced by the Global South. It’s a topical and fast-growing field — with a lot of opportunities to make a real difference in the world.

Our Environment and Development MSc will give you the platform to investigate the debates and challenges associated with international development and how to achieve environmentally, socially and economically sustainable solutions for the future.

As part of our Environment and Development MSc degree, you'll be provided with high-quality interdisciplinary training in the operations of the Global South, alongside teaching in environmental policy, political ecology and global inequalities.

Led by the Sustainability Research Institute, this Masters degree has a strong focus on sustainable development, bringing together a wide range of expertise from the School of Earth and Environment, School of Politics and International Studies and industry partners. You’ll also have the chance to meet and build your own links in industry through our connections with key players in environment and development worldwide.

Once you graduate, you’ll be fully equipped with the extensive knowledge, skills and practical experience sought after by both the public and private sectors to deliver solutions in critical areas like sustainable economic development and environmental conservation.

Why study at Leeds:

  • Learn the latest most pressing environmental challenges from the impactful research conducted across five world-leading research institutes right here in our School of Earth and Environment which feeds directly into the course.
  • Advance your knowledge and skills in key areas like global inequalities and development and environmental policy.
  • Tailor the course to suit your interests with industry-relevant optional modules in climate change, environmental economics, GIS and ecological economics.
  • Conduct your own significant individual dissertation project, taking advantage of our collaborative links with sustainability, environment and development organisations across the UK and internationally.
  • Develop your own links in industry, utilising our network of partners throughout the course with the potential to work with companies, UK-based charities, international development organisations, government departments and universities.
  • Experience expert practical and theoretical teaching delivered by a programme team made up of researchers covering the social sciences, economics, development studies, environmental management and conservation and the natural sciences from within the School of Earth and Environment and the School of Politics and International Studies.
  • Enhance your career prospects and join our successful alumni who have pursued careers in related positions, working for reputable corporations worldwide.
  • Join one of our societies, such as SusSoc, where you can meet like-minded people at events such as socials and sports.

Join our online taster courses

Our five-part series of courses will show you how environmental management policies are developed and help you understand the challenges surrounding their formulation. Join today on FutureLearn.

Course details

Watch our Masters talk

Dr. Jenny Hodbod talks about what it's like to study Environment and Development MSc at the University of Leeds.

Semester 1

In your first semester, you'll gain an advanced understanding of the core knowledge and skills in both sustainability and development-related themes such as environmental governance, development studies, environmental social science research methods and sustainable development. You'll be taught through lectures, seminars and interactive discussions, and will approach topics from different angles thanks to the interdisciplinary nature of academics from both the School of Earth and Environment and the School of Politics and International Studies.

As well as compulsory modules you'll also be able to specialise through optional modules in topics such as business or ecological economics.

Semester 2

In semester 2, you'll take the theoretical knowledge that you have gained from semester 1 and begin to build upon it. You'll apply this knowledge and skills to form a deeper, more specialised understanding of the challenges of environment and development and be able to apply it to real-world scenarios.

During this semester you'll also have the opportunity to connect with our partners in Tanzania, through a unique case-study context drawing on academic field-based research, local community and stakeholder perspectives. You'll develop a detailed understanding of the area and begin to understand how both theoretical concepts and real-world challenges intertwine, and the challenges that they face, based on our extensive long-term research in this area.

You'll have a little more flexibility in choosing optional modules, enabling you to develop specialised knowledge in topics such as climate change impacts and mitigation and ecological economics.

Semester 3

Taking all of the knowledge and skills that you have learnt in the previous two semesters your focus will now turn to your individual dissertation project. You'll produce an original piece of cutting-edge research on a topic of your choice, and will work closely with a member of staff as your dissertation supervisor.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

For more information and a full list of typical modules available on this course, please read Environment and Development MSc in the course catalogue

Year 1 compulsory modules

Module Name Credits
Global Inequalities and Development 30
Research Methods 15
Research Project 60
Climate and Environmental Policy and Governance 15
Critical Perspectives in Environment and Development 15

Year 1 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

Module Name Credits
GIS and Environment 15
Environmental Economics and Policy 15
Introduction to Sustainability 0
Tools and Techniques in Ecological Economics 15
Environment & Development International Field Course 30
Climate and Development 30

Want to find out more about your modules?

Take a look at the Environment and Development module descriptions for more detail on what you'll study.

Learning and teaching

You'll learn through teaching methods selected to help you develop subject-specific and transferable skills. This includes lectures, practical workshops, policy simulations, computer lab sessions, research seminars and project work (individual and group work).

Practical exercises focus on real-world scenarios and case studies to produce optimal solutions including familiarisation with state-of-the-art technical approaches, software and the regulatory regimes that companies and public sector organisations operate within.

The research-intensive environment of the School ensures that course material is both up-to-date and research-led – meaning that we train you to learn what questions to ask, how to read unfamiliar data and to ultimately tackle the big questions in the field so that you can become the leader of tomorrow.

You'll also learn the scientific and rational principles lying behind the practical approaches used in the world outside academia so that you are equipped to address the challenges of today and tomorrow.

You'll be assigned a personal tutor, who will maintain contact with you throughout the year and offer pastoral guidance. They will help you to settle into the university and clarify any procedures, as well as helping you prepare for employment upon graduation.

Our Virtual Learning Environment will help to support your studies: it’s a central place where you can find all the information and resources for the School, your programme and modules.

You can also benefit from support to develop your academic skills, within the curriculum and through online resources, workshops, one-to-one appointments and drop-in sessions.

Industry links

We have successful and productive links with many partners with different perspectives on sustainability, environment and development. You'll come into contact with our network of partners throughout the course.

In addition, staff members in the Sustainability Research Institute, Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Studies and the School of Politics and International Studies maintain their own network of contacts and your dissertation project provides you with an opportunity to build on these links.

We will also support and encourage you to develop your own links so that you can collaborate with institutions that might be beneficial for your future career progression.

In the past, students have worked with companies, UK-based charities, international development organisations, government departments and universities.

Through our long-term engagement with a field site in Tanzania, you'll also have the opportunity to link up with the people on the ground there in a unique case-study context, which enables you to look at the real world beyond just concepts.

Industry support for your dissertation

To help you set up your research dissertation, supervisors have excellent collaborative links with sustainability, environment and development organisations across the UK and internationally.

Recent students have worked with Brunei National Energy Research Institute, ASDA (food waste), Tullow Oil Company and The International Rice Research Institute. While other students have teamed up with ongoing research projects.

Programme team

The Programme Leader, Dr. Jenny Hodbod, is a Lecturer in Environment and Development in the School of Earth and Environment. An environmental social scientist, she integrates quantitative and qualitative methods into her research to explore resilience and equity in food systems, particularly in Ethiopia where she has worked for over ten years.

You'll also be taught by a world-leading team of researchers covering the social sciences, economics, development studies, environmental management and conservation and the natural sciences from within the School of Earth and Environment and the School of Politics and International Studies. Many are also members of research centres, such as:

Our team of experts are also active in national and international research and policy, such as the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, the World Commission on Protected Areas, The Economics of Land Degradation and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


Our aim is to get you to do the best possible work and we have a variety of assessments to showcase your skills and abilities. Assessments might include written exams, academic and professional written work and your final Masters dissertation project.


Entry requirements

A bachelor's degree with a 2:1 (hons) in social sciences such as (but not limited to) international development, geography, politics, sociology, environmental management, sustainability, in environmental science or in a related subject.

Applicants with a 2.2 will be considered on a case-by-case basis where applicants can demonstrate relevant work experience or aptitude in a relevant specialist field. Graduates from other disciplines and those with professional experience in the sector will also be considered.

We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For more information, please contact the Admissions Team.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English

International students who do not meet the English language requirements for this programme may be able to study our postgraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.

This pre-sessional course is designed with a progression route to your degree programme and you’ll learn academic English in the context of your subject area. To find out more, read Language for Science (6 weeks) and Language for Science: General Science (10 weeks)

We also offer online pre-sessionals alongside our on-campus pre-sessionals. Find out more about our six week online pre-sessional.

You can also study pre-sessionals for longer periods – read about our postgraduate pre-sessional English courses.

How to apply

Application deadlines

We operate a staged admissions process for this course with selection deadlines throughout the year.

Please read our Staged Admissions page for full details, including application deadlines and what to include with your application.

The ‘Apply’ link at the top of this page takes you to information on applying for taught programmes and to the University's online application system.

If you're unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Admissions Policy 2025

This course is taught by

School of Earth and Environment

Contact us

School of Earth and Environment Postgraduate Admissions Team

Email: apply-masters@see.leeds.ac.uk


UK: £12,500 (total)

International: £26,000 (total)

Read more about paying fees and charges.

For fees information for international taught postgraduate students, read Masters fees.

Additional cost information

Travel, accommodation and subsistence costs associated with compulsory field trips are covered by the university.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There may be help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government.  Find out more at Masters funding overview.

Career opportunities

Studying our Environment and Development MSc will give you a holistic and in-depth understanding of some of the greatest challenges faced globally — alongside a skill set that is sought after by employers and highly transferable across a range of careers. The types of opportunities open to you with a specialism in the environment and development field will no doubt be rewarding, with the potential to take you all over the world.

We typically find that graduates assume, or continue careers, in sustainability, environmental management or development practice. Our alumni work in the research, public and private sectors and within local, national and international institutions.

This course is ideal if you want to continue your undergraduate studies, are looking for a career change, or if you’re keen to enhance your skill set that’ll help you progress in your career in industry or academia.

Plus, University of Leeds students are among the top 10 most targeted by top employers according to The Graduate Market 2023, High Fliers Research, meaning our graduates are highly sought after by some of the most reputable companies in the field.

Our graduates have secured positions including:

  • Consultant, Ramboll
  • Senior Ecologist, Department of National Parks and Wildlife
  • Global Ambassador, Raleigh International
  • Environmental Advisor, London Mining PLC , Sierra Leone
  • Consultant, Sustainability Consultancy — Canada
  • Advisor on Agricultural Pollution, Natural England
  • Global Programme Manager, Renewable World
  • Sustainability Consultant - BREEAM, EDCM Consulting
  • Senior Research Officer, Climate Change Third World Network
  • Policy Officer, Endangered Landscapes Programme
  • Civil Servant, DEFRA
  • Field Environment Advisor, Tullow Oil Kenya

Careers support

At Leeds, we help you to prepare for your future from day one — that’s one of the reasons our graduates are so sought after by employers. The University’s Career Centre is one of the largest in the country, providing a wide range of resources to ensure you are prepared to take your next steps after graduation and get you where you want to be.

  • Dedicated Employability Officer — gain quality advice, guidance and information to help you choose a career path. From CV and cover letter writing to supporting you with job applications, our School’s dedicated Employability Enhancement Officer is on hand to help maximise your capabilities through a process of personal development and career planning.
  • Employability and networking events — we run a full range of events, including the School of Earth and Environment Careers Fair, with employers who are actively recruiting for roles and a dedicated Industry Recruitment Day, giving you the opportunity to network with industry sponsors. 
  • MyCareer system — during your course and after you graduate, you’ll have access to a dedicated careers portal where you can book appointments with our team, get information on careers and see job vacancies and upcoming events.
  • Opportunities at Leeds — there are plenty of exciting opportunities offered by our Leeds University Union, including volunteering and over 300 clubs and societies to get involved in.

Find out more at the careers website.

Student profile: Kolade Victor Otokiti

Studying Environment and Development at Leeds offers unparalleled and unique approaches to addressing a wide variety of emerging socio-economic concerns and complex environmental challenges.
Find out more about Kolade Victor Otokiti's time at Leeds