Sustainability and Ecology*

Master of Science | PG Certificate | PG Diploma

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MSc in Sustainability and Ecology*

Great changes have occurred in human society in the past 200 years, but much of this has come at the expense of the natural systems and species that keep us all alive and healthy.

Even in remote environments, evidence of anthropogenic pollutants shows that nowhere remains unaffected.

Through the Sustainability and Ecology programme, gain a scientific understanding of the issues surrounding the protection and rehabilitation of nature whilst maintaining essential or useful ecosystem services.

Explore landscape management and local habitat management practices with a view to maximising environmental sustainability benefits. Critically evaluate the potential values and limitations of habitat restoration, rewilding, species reintroduction, biodiversity, conservation, health and nature, and urban green infrastructure.

CAT is situated in a UNESCO Biosphere, with easy access to a wide range of habitats, including woodlands, wetlands, high mountain pasture and woodland, heathland, riverine, coastal and transitional waters – many of which are represented at CAT itself.

CAT’s unique study experience combines hands-on practical learning with rigorous academic study and flexible study options.

*This course is created and delivered by CAT and is offered subject to validation by Liverpool John Moores University.

Key areas of study

Gain a broad and contextual understanding of global and local scale ecological sustainability and how it relates to:

  • Ongoing demands of modern society
  • The integrated nature of the systemic drivers of climate change and biodiversity loss
  • Ecological worldviews
  • Land use, biodiversity (species) needs for conservation and ecosystem service provision
  • The political and economic bases for sustainability in resource sourcing, use and management
  • Behaviour change relevant to delivering transformational environmental change

This course is created and is delivered by CAT and is validated by Liverpool John Moores University.

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Benefit from over 40 years’ sustainability experience

CAT’s world-leading eco-centre is a pioneer in researching and teaching practical solutions for sustainability, with over 40 years’ experience in low-impact building, energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable food production, natural resources management and more. Read more about the CAT location and facilities.

The taught eight-week modules offer an immersive learning experience through lectures, talks, seminars and workshops delivered by our expert in-house staff, with specialist insights from visiting lecturers from industry and academia.

Many modules are shared with our other postgraduate courses, providing you with a rich learning experience with your peers.

Flexible study options allow you to choose the level and mode of study that suits you, helping you fit your studies around other commitments. Full-time study at MSc level will allow you to complete the course in 18 months. This course can also be studied part-time and by distance.

Interested in studying this course? Join us for our next open day or contact us.

Entry Requirements

At CAT we celebrate and welcome diversity. Applicants require to the skill to begin study at postgraduate level plus a demonstrable interest in the subject. All applicants must have an adequate level of English language proficiency in order to be accepted onto one of our courses. For more detail visit the application page.

Fees and Funding

Please visit our Fees and Funding page to see the tuition fees, additional fees and also funding opportunities.

Core Modules

Adaptation and Sustainability: Concepts and Planning

This two-part 30-credit core module takes place in September and November and must be taken at the beginning of your course, no matter which route you take through your studies.

In part one, we will contextualise sustainability and transformational adaptation in view of current environmental changes, exploring the interconnectedness of the factors involved.

There will be an in-depth look at the wider implications of transformational adaptation on social structures, land use, trade, resource management, energy provision, governance, health and economic systems through a critical exploration of the primary considerations related to sustainability and environmental change.

In part two, you will experience transformational adaptation planning through a facilitated self-reflective practical team exercise, and form a deep appreciation and holistic understanding of adaptation transformation planning.

You will develop the skills and knowledge needed to assess risks and make informed decisions, despite the uncertainties that come with a changing climate.

Read more about this module for courses awarded by the University of East London: EV7102-Sustainability-and-Adaptation-Concepts-and-Planning-UEL.pdf

Read more about this module for courses awarded by Liverpool John Moores University: 7501CATSCI-Sustainability-and-Adaptation-Concepts-and-Planning-LJMU.pdf

Ecological Assessment

The aims of this module are to:

  1. Study and understand research based methods which have been developed to assess key concepts in sustainable ecology, such as biodiversity, carbon storage and nutrient status and forms of ecosystem functioning.
  2. Understand concepts of ecosystem health and functioning and carry out an assessment of habitat function, habitat quality and health.
  3. Practice the use of, and evaluate the value of, identification techniques for flora and fauna which focus on different taxonomic levels and morphological-functional groups.
  4. Show critical awareness of the value of local, national, international and traditional records of ecology, ecological health and ecological change and know how to access such records.
  5. Use multivariate data and expert knowledge to suggest management plans for ecosystems or habitats.

The syllabus comprises: ecological surveys, functional habitat mapping, definitions of ecosystem health and how this might be determined; recognising habitat values such as carbon retention, biodiversity, and regulating service; the value and availability of local, national and international data sets, value of citizen science, local and traditional environmental knowledge; management scenarios to maximise ecosystem health.

This module will comprise a series of practicals, supported by lecturers and interactive seminars. Practicals will be based in local habitats for onsite learners. Distance learners will be set practical tasks of habitat evaluation for sites local to them and/or be provided with example datasets and information. Lectures will draw on a wide variety of theoretical and applied topics with a wide use of case studies throughout.

This module is assessed via:
80%  Coursework: Report (2400 words)
20% Coursework: Presentation (600 words equivalent)

This is a 15 credit module.

The full module description will be released on validation from Liverpool John Moores University.

Restoration Ecology

The aims of this module are to:

  1. Study the role of ecosystems in sustainability with a focus on their role in biogeochemical cycling, as a sink for carbon and for providing other ecosystem functions.
  2. Investigate methods of restoration of habitats, including at landscape and global scales.
  3. Appreciate methods of setting restoration goals and assessing the success of restoration projects.
  4. Analyse the theoretical science and practical implications of species reintroductions, rewilding and invasive species control.
  5. Examine the value of policy, community involvement and public support, health and wellbeing, in habitat restoration and management.

The syllabus comprises: ecosystem change over time and space, biodiversity and connectedness, stabilization wedges, land sparing v land sharing debate;  the science behind rewilding, reintroduction and management of invasive species, phytoremediation and restoration of peri-urban spaces; the role of communities, impact of restoration on communities and economies, and the impact of national and international legislation.

This module will comprise a series of lectures, supported by interactive seminars and in-depth analysis of real-life potential restoration projects. Lectures will draw on a wide variety of theoretical and applied topics with a wide use of case studies throughout. Practicals based in local habitats for onsite learners and similarly directed field or desk based investigations for distance-learners.

This module is assessed via:

60% Coursework: Management report (1800 words)
40% Coursework: Essay (1200 words)

This is a 15 credit module.

The full module description will be released on validation from Liverpool John Moores University.

MSc Dissertation

The dissertation involves designing, investigating, and presenting an extended and independently conceived piece of research on a topic of your choosing within a field of study relevant to your course.

This will help you to develop skills in: research methods; data collection and analysis; interpreting results in relation to existing knowledge; self-reflection on research processes; subject-based practical skills; evaluating methodologies; analysis; conclusions; and relevance.

Teaching and learning is by tutorial-supported work on the preparation of this major item of academic discourse. After an initial seminar group meeting involving other students, tuition is mainly on an individual basis.

This is a 60 credit module.

Read more about the dissertation module for courses awarded by the University of East London:  EV7101-Dissertation-Module-UEL.pdf

Read more about the dissertation module for courses awarded by Liverpool John Moores University 7500CATSCI-Dissertation-LJMU.pdf

What’s it like to study at CAT? Read more about the teaching and learning experience.

Optional Modules

Environmental Politics and Economics

The aim of this module is to develop an informed understanding of the complexity of political and economic opinions, perspectives, constraints and interactions that influence environmental policy and action, from international to local levels.

You will investigate how these factors affect attitudes towards, and actions related to, environmental change, sustainability and transformational adaptation planning and policy.

A mixture of lectures, seminar sessions and debates will provide a thorough understanding of historical political and economic transformations in order that you can critically and systematically appraise the influences on and potential outcomes of the transformations required to deliver sustainability and adaptation.

You will develop a discerning and detailed knowledge of the complexities, interrelationships and interactions that exist between politics, economics and other social sciences so that you can contextualise them with reference to environmental sustainability and adaptation planning.

This is a 15 credit module.

Read more about this module for courses awarded by the University of East London: EV7104-Environmental-Politics-and-Economics-1-UEL.pdf

Read more about this module for courses awarded by Liverpool John Moores University 7502CATSCI-Environmental-Politics-and-Economics-LJMU.pdf

What’s it like to study at CAT? Read more about the teaching and learning experience.

Food Production and Consumption

This module takes an in-depth look at global and local trends in food production, trends in diet and health, and the impact of food production on the environment including climate change.

We explore how food can be produced sustainably, looking at the role of consumer behaviour, economics, technology and legislation.
You will study the complex interplay between global and local food markets, vertical integration of agriculture, consumer diets and health, ‘food sovereignty’, the impact of machinery and transportation, economics, labour and environmental externalities on the sustainable production of food.

You will critically evaluate how current markets, policies and consumer behaviour could be transformed to ensure greater sustainability in food production and resource use.

This is a 15 credit module.

Find out more about this module: 7503CATSCI-Food-Production-and-Consumption-LJMU.pdf

What’s it like to study at CAT? Read more about the teaching and learning experience.

Cities and Communities

This module helps develop your knowledge of current research and discourse concerning adaptation planning and sustainability of cities and communities, and their place in current and future environmental contexts.

You will develop a thorough understanding of key elements, infrastructures, maintenance issues, energy budgets, material flows, waste disposal, transportation, and the social dynamics that underlie the development and management of communities and cities.

Following a critical assessment of the complex factors that influence the provision of sustainability and adaptation planning within urban and community focused environments, you will be able to recognise and rationalise the prospects for innovative research and practice for city and community regeneration in the built environment.

This is a 15 credit module.

Read more about this module for courses awarded by the University of East London: EV7105-Cities-and-Communities-UEL.pdf

Read more about this module for courses awarded by Liverpool John Moores University: 7504CATSCI-Land-and-Resource-Management-in-Cities-LJMU.pdf

Ecosystem Services: Land Use, Water and Waste Management

This module gives you an appreciation of the key roles played by species, populations and healthy ecosystems in the provision of essential tangible and intangible services to human society, as well as the need to ensure ecological integrity on appropriate scales.
It provides you with an understanding of the overriding roles of climate change and industrial expansion in imposing progressive change in ecosystem and resource management, and the imperative for sustainable adaptation.

We explore the environmental impacts of sourcing, management and disposal of material and water resources, the case for minimisation, wise use and reuse where appropriate in order to function within resource, ecological and societal constraints, and the lessons to be learned from nature in resource design and processing.

It will enable you to comprehend the varied impacts of land use on environmental quality, biodiversity and ecosystem service provision, including industrial, domestic and agricultural wastes and their management; and to recognise the inherent lack of sustainability in modern, centralised food production and the necessity for ecologically-designed agriculture.

This is a 15 credit module.

Read more about this module for courses awarded by the University of East London: EV7103-EcoSystem-Services-Land-Use-Water-and-Waste-Management-UEL.pdf

Read more about this module for courses awardedby Liverpool John Moores University 7506CATSCI Ecosystem Services Land use and Waste Management LJMU.pdf

What’s it like to study at CAT? Read more about the teaching and learning experience.

Sustainable Materials in the Built Environment

This module involves a systematic evaluation of the environmental impacts and the wider social and health implications of building materials, looking at the use, performance and usability of different materials.

You will gain a thorough appreciation of how environmentally sustainable materials offer creative opportunities for the use and development of high quality, healthy, effective, and long lasting products that can enhance rather than damage ecosystems.

You will learn about the advantages and disadvantages of different materials, and look at how to use sustainable options in the most effective ways.

We explore issues around the availability, cost, physical properties, construction methods and general perceptions of environmentally responsive materials, looking at ease of use, mainstream acceptance, design limitations, logistical considerations, and economic viability.
Students joining us on-site for the study week get hands-on experience with sustainable building materials in this highly practical module, working with rammed earth, cob, hemp and lime, timber and straw bales.

This is a 15 credit module.

Read more about this module for courses awarded by the University of East London: EV7110-Sustainable-Materials-in-the-Built-Environment-UEL.pdf (57 downloads)

Read more about this module for courses awarded by Liverpool John Moores University 7507CATSCI-Sustainable-Materials-in-the-Built-Environment-LJMU.pdf (43 downloads)

What’s it like to study at CAT? Read more about the teaching and learning experience.

 

Applied Project

This project is designed to deepen your knowledge and understanding of a specialist subject within your chosen field of study.

It involves you in analysing complex evidence generated through the Applied Project, and in developing critical responses to existing theoretical discourses, methodologies or practices within your chosen subject.

This is a practical student-led project and report that will include statistical analyses of ongoing projects. It may take the form of, for example, a case study scenario exercise or a design, fabrication, experimentation and testing exercise.

This is a 15 credit module.

Read more about this module for courses awarded by the University of East London: EV7111-Applied-Project-1-UEL.pdf

Read more about this module for courses awarded by Liverpool John Moores University 7508CATSCI-Applied-Project-LJMU.pdf

Work-based Project

Based on a project that you are undertaking in practice, for example in your workplace or community, this module allows you to deepen your knowledge and understanding of a specialist subject within your chosen field of study.

You will undertake analysis of complex evidence and develop critical responses to existing theoretical discourses, methodologies or practices within the chosen specialist area.

This is a 15 credit module.

Read more about this module for courses awarded by the University of East London: EV7112-Work-based-Project-1-UEL.pdf

Read more about this module for courses awarded by Liverpool John Moores University 7509CATSCI-Work-based-Project-LJMU.pdf

The Science of Sustainable Food Production

In this module we study the biogeography of crops and the importance of geographical climate, soil and water resources; and also the science behind GMOs, energy crops and different approaches to growing food, including organic agriculture, conventional agriculture, permaculture, agroforestry and agroecology, looking at the current and potential use of different systems.

You will use data to analyse the environmental impacts of different food production methods on greenhouse gas emissions, carbon sequestration, soil health, biodiversity, and ecosystem services.

You will develop an appreciation of the key scientific advances, debates and uncertainties in the science of sustainable food production.

This is a 15 credit module.

Find out more about this module: 7510CATSCI-The-Science-of-Sustainable-Food-Production-LJMU.pdf

What’s it like to study at CAT? Read more about the teaching and learning experience.

Open Days

Graduate School open days offer an authentic flavour of what it’s like to learn on our postgraduate sustainability courses. Informative and inspiring, there’s time to chat with current students and our lecturers to find out if studying with CAT is right for you.

Express your interest

Applications will be open shortly once the course has been validated. But please contact us so that we can keep you up-to-date.