MSc Sustainability and Water Security

General information

Training in theory and critical analysis along with practical skills to facilitate the transformations needed to deliver secure low carbon futures.

Sustainability has emerged as one of the defining issues of the 21st century. Achieving enduring and fairer societies requires viable economies, sound science and good governance.  This course provides training in theory and critical analysis along with the practical skills to facilitate the transformations needed to deliver secure low carbon futures.

The MSc in Sustainability is being introduced in recognition of the grand challenges of water, food, energy and health security facing the planet. The portfolio of environmental disciplines is exceptionally strong in the University as are its traditions of cross-disciplinary collaboration and cooperation.

Along with the flagship MSc in Sustainability, there are three specialised pathways:  

  • MSc in Sustainability and Water Security
  • MSc in Sustainability and the Green Economy
  • MSc in Sustainability: Climate Change and Low Carbon Futures

The University of Dundee includes both the Centre for Energy, Petroleum and Mineral Law Policy and the Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science (under the auspices of UNESCO) both of which have long standing international reputations. Specialist high-level speakers sourced from international organisations are invited to present throughout the year, these sessions provide a vital opportunity for students to become connected with industry so continued communication is encouraged after the events.

CECHR similarly have an extended programme of guest lectures and speakers and through xcechr there are multiple events bringing Masters and PhD students together by a common interest in environmental change research. Examples of the activities that result include Student-Supervisor-Seminar-Series, ‘change-maker workshops’ and a national show-case ‘Facing the Future’ Symposium.

How you will be taught: The course is taught as a collection of 20 credit modules amounting to a total of 180 Masters (SHE M, SCQF 11) credits.  The delivery style and assessment requirements for each module varies as we believe a diversity of practice provides strength. Nevertheless all modules combine a mixture of formal lecture, small group seminar, practical/field classes and individual tutorials depending on need and the particular learning objectives of each module.  The study load corresponds to one third in each of the first two teaching semesters and one third for independent study for the dissertation the summer recess.

Compulsory core modules

  • Principles of Sustainability (GE51026)
  • Research Training and Project Planning (GE51011)
  • Transformation for Sustainability (GE52031)
  • Independent Research Project (GE50001)

Optional modules

  • Legal framework for water resource management (UN50002)
  • Freshwater, Wetlands and Ecosystem Services: Science and Society (UN50012)
  • Quantitative Methods (GE51013)
  • International Law of Water Resources (UN50001)
  • Politics of the Environment and Climate Change (CP52061)
  • Governance and Regulation of Water Services (UN50003)
  • Qualitative Methods (GE52030)
  • Research in practice (placement) (GE52030)
Learning outcome:

Knowledge and Understanding:

  • Achieve a critical understanding of key sustainability principles and perspectives informing actions in pursuit of sustainable development, inclusive of environment, economy and equity considerations;
  • Demonstrate knowledge of approaches to evaluating and measuring sustainability;
  • Apply different concepts of transformation and change to enable individual and societal shifts towards more sustainable practices;
  • Each of the four named MSc in Sustainability pathways (Water Security; Living with Climate Change, Low Carbon Futures and the Green Economy) features additional thematic modules complemented by a cognate independent research project.


  • Ability to analyse, evaluate and critically review theory and policy debates relating to sustainability;
  • Ability to draw on international perspectives and examples of best practice in relation to methods of evaluation and assessment of sustainability;
  • Ability to design and plan interventions for creating change to promote greater sustainability across different scales;
  • Design and undertake a substantial independent research project to address significant areas of theory and/or practice.


  • Critique and synthesis theory and evidence drawing on a variety of sources;
  • Ability to communicate evidenced based reports relevant to a range of stakeholders, including policy makers;
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team tackling complex environmental problems to tight deadlines;
  • Ability to design and evaluate transformative change leading to improved sustainability strategies, processes and plans

Transferrable skills, including building arguments, synthesis, reflexivity and making presentations.

Careers: The environmental sector is one of the key growth areas in the global economy and in UK terms is comparable in size to the pharmaceutical and aerospace sectors combined. An MSc in Sustainability is designed to equip our graduates to take up a wide range of careers in policy, practical management, training and research across a spectrum of organisations from local to international and within the public and private sectors.

  • International Agencies and NGOs
  • Civil Service
  • Governmental environmental and conservation agencies (e.g. SNH, SEPA, EA)
  • Environmental management and policy sectors (private and public sector)
  • Environmental consultancy
  • Management consultancy
  • Public affairs
  • Built environment sustainability
  • Local planning authorities
  • Research and development
  • Preparation for PhD research
Contact Person: Professor Ioan Fazey (


The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0522 - Conservation and environmental management", "0421 - Marine and maritime law", "0312 - Policy and governance


Venue: University of Dundee
Dundee, United Kingdom



The fees you pay will depend on your fee status. Your fee status is determined by us using the information you provide on your application.

Find out more about the fee status here

Fee statusFees for students starting 2017/18

  • Scottish and EU students: £5,950 per year of study
  • Rest of UK students: £5,950 per year of study
  • Overseas students (non-EU): £15,950 per year of study

  • Academic requirements: A good Honours degree, equivalent to UK standards, preferably at Upper Second Class or above.
  • English Language Requirements: Overall IELTS score of 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 for each component

Who should study this course: This course is suitable for a wide range of graduates from;

  • environmental backgrounds (e.g. geography, planning, environmental studies) looking to upskill and achieve a deeper understanding
  • natural science graduates (e.g. chemistry, maths) and engineers looking to develop a more rounded understanding of environmental issues, especially in relation to regulation and policy
  • arts and social science students wishing to use their social, economic and political perspectives to take on the challenges associated with complex environmental systems and their management.

Application Procedure:

Apply using the online application system, UKPASS. First of all you have to register and then you can create your application online. You do not have to complete the application all at once, you can save your details and return to it at a later date. As part of your application you will also have the following supporting documents:

UK/EU applicants
- Scanned copy of your University Degree Certificate
- Scanned copy of your transcript/mark-sheet (in English)
- References 

International applicants
- Scanned copy of your University Degree Certificate
- Scanned copy of your transcript/mark-sheet (in English)
- English Language proficiency certificate
- References

Application Deadlines:  there is no formal closing date for UK/EU students. For international applicants, due to visa processing times, applications after 15th July (September start) and after 15th November (January start) will not be accepted.


Academic level: Master


Assessment follows a variety of styles including individual essays and practical assignments along with formal written examinations; to group exercises and peer group assessment – this is particularly important where oral presentations are involved.  The independent research project (dissertation) is an excellent opportunity for a candidate to achieve deep insight into a topic of their own choice. Masters level dissertations can be very diverse, and include formal hypothesis-led research projects; theory or literature-based projects; case-study assessment and advanced professional practice evaluations. Choice of dissertations is negotiated between the student and his or her academic supervisor.

In terms of overall assessment the 180 credits for the MSc comprises 120 credits obtained from modules (6 x 20 credit modules) and 60 credits from the independent research project.

Qualification: Master of Science

Occupations (not validated):
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