Taught course

Ecosystem Services

University of Edinburgh · School of Geosciences

Entry requirements

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a relevant subject in the natural sciences (such as botany, zoology, ecology, biodiversity, geology, biology, geography, environmental studies, hydrology, conservation) or the social sciences (such as anthropology, political science, economics, development, resource use) or in another relevant subject.. See http://www.ed.ac.uk/international/countryfor international equivalents. All applicants must also meet our English language requirements.

Months of entry


Course content

Understanding how the natural environment contributes to human well-being

Programme description

Studying how ecosystems benefit humanity and how we use and manage them, this programme assesses the trade-offs involved in our use of the environment.

This is a rapidly developing area, involving both natural and social sciences, and an increasingly common approach to environmental policy-making and management in government agencies and businesses.

On this programme you will study the complex relationships between ecosystem functions and how humanity uses and values ecosystems.

An essential element of this masters programme is a field trip, which takes place in the spring, giving you insights into methods and approaches that will be useful for your dissertation work. The destination will be a coastal marine-mountain region, typically in southern Europe.

Programme structure

The programme has been designed with a focus on building up skills that are in particularly short supply in the environmental sector. The full-time programme is divided into two semesters of taught courses, followed by a field trip at Easter before the dissertation period over the summer. We are happy to accommodate different working patterns for part-time students, including a half day a week schedule for three-year part time study.

Compulsory courses typically include*:

  • Ecosystem Services 1: Dynamics and Functions
  • Analysing the Environment
  • Ecosystem Services 2: Values and Management
  • Analysing the Environment Study Tour
  • Research Project in Ecosystem Services
  • Dissertation

Option courses:

In consultation with the Programme Director, you will choose from a range of option courses*. We particularly recommend:

  • Environmental Geochemistry
  • Foundations in Ecological Economics
  • Frameworks to Assess Food Security
  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability
  • Integrated Resource Management
  • Principles of Environmental Sustainability
  • Principles of Geographical Information Science
  • Encountering Cities
  • Fundamentals for Remote Sensing
  • Soil Protection and Management
  • Values and the Environment
  • Marine Systems and Policies
  • Research Skills in the Social Sciences: Data Collection
  • Understanding Environment and Development
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Forests and Environment
  • Hyperspectral Remote Sensing
  • Integrated Resource Planning
  • Introduction to Radar Remote Sensing
  • Land Use/Environmental Interactions
  • Participation in Policy and Planning
  • Political Ecology
  • Soil Science Concepts and Application
  • Sustainability of Food Production
  • Water Resource Management
  • Waste Reduction and Recycling
  • Energy & Society
  • Novel Strategies for Carbon Storage in Soil
  • Applications in Ecological Economics
  • Research Design

*Please note: courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change each year.

Field trip

The programme typically includes a spring field trip will develop students’ practical experience and skills.

Career opportunities UK research councils cite the skills gained on this MSc as those ‘most wanted’ in the environmental sector. As demand for sound evidence of ecosystem services increases, so does demand for graduates who can translate complex science into policy and business opportunities.

We have strong links with businesses and key industry players who want to make use of these skills. Committed to helping you meet prospective employers and network with those active in the field, we organise careers events, and encourage dissertations conducted in partnership with external organisations.


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Information for international students


Fees and funding

Fully Funded Scottish Funding Council Highly Skilled Workforce Scholarships available to eligible students for this Programme. Further details...

For additional information about funding opportunities visit our GeoSciences Scholarships webpage

Or visit the University's Scholarships and Student Finance Office.

Qualification and course duration


full time
12 months
part time
24, 36 months

Course contact details

Programme Secretary Susie Crocker
+44 (0)131 651 7126