Taught course

Global Environmental Change and Policy

Heriot-Watt University · School of Life Sciences

Entry requirements

Masters (MSc) level entry applicants must have one of the following:

  • Minimum of 2:2 honours degree or equivalent in a related subject area, preferably in an Earth or Environmental Science or general science qualification. A more diverse UG/PG background will also be possible.
  • For postgraduate conversion courses, non-related degrees will be considered.
  • Corporate (or chartered) membership of relevant professional institutions will also be considered.
PG Diploma level entry applicants must have an ordinary degree in a related subject area and relevant post qualification industry experience.
Candidates who do not meet the above entry requirements or have no formal academic qualifications will be considered individually based on their CV and possibly interview. Admission via this route will be at the discretion of the Director of Recruitment.
English language requirements
If English is not your first language a minimum of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent is required with all elements passed at 6.0 or above. Please refer to English language requirements for further details.
Some applicants may be asked for alternative evidence in line with UKVI recognised English speaking countries. Applicants who have previously successfully completed courses delivered in the medium of English language may be considered and will be required to provide documentary evidence of this. Examples would be secondary school education or undergraduate degree. A minimum of at least one year of full time study (or equivalent) in the medium of English language will be required.
All evidence of English language needs to be dated within two years of the commencement of study.
We also offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your master's programme:
  • 20 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.0 with no skill lower than 4.5)
  • 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.0 with minimum of 5.0 in writing and no skill lower than 4.5)
  • 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.0)
  • 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.5)

Months of entry


Course content

The pace of change of our climate is staggering, with the climate system strongly influenced by numerous environmental and global feedback processes. Understanding these complex issues, as well as our role in these processes, is crucial to the development of mitigation and sustainability policies on global and local scales. Effective communication of this knowledge, whether in terms of climate literacy to the public or policy makers, is crucial to match our response to the pace of change.

The MSc in Global Environmental Change and Policy is designed to equip the next generation of Earth and Environmental scientists with the multidisciplinary skills needed to tackle the complex global issues associated with climate change, societal challenges and policy development.
The programme provides the highly integrated level of fundamental, applied and communication-based knowledge which is urgently needed to identify, characterise, and effectively find solutions to a range of challenges related to climate change.
From a basic understanding of how the planet works as a holistic unit to socio-economic interactions between business and the environment, including the ability to communicate this knowledge to a broad spectrum of academic researchers, policymakers and the public.
The programme has seven core courses in multidisciplinary topics, with the potential for students to widen their studies by choosing an optional course for further specialisation. Students will have the opportunity to perform their dissertation projects in collaboration (through co-supervision) with one of several world-leading Edinburgh based research organisations including:
  • British Geological Survey
  • Scottish Environmental Protection Agency
  • Scottish Parliament Information Centre
  • Edinburgh's Dynamic Earth
  • Natural Museum of Scotland
  • Scottish Natural Heritage
  • Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Dissertation projects may be field, or desk based and will be co-designed to address significant real-world issues aligned with the ongoing research projects undertaken at the Lyell Centre and in collaboration with the different research organisations.
Research projects will be co-designed with the aim of professional development of the students, including addressing skills gaps, gaining wider impact and recognition, or leading to a publishable output.

Fees and funding

See University website

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MSc
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Admissions Office