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Professional Doctorate in Ecological Economics (MSc)


About This Professional Doctorate

Course Description

Ecological Economics focuses on how to make sustainability and environmental management work in practice by applying economic principles.

This programme is run in collaboration with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). Graduates with postgraduate training in this area are in greater demand than ever before in business, industry and government.

This programme is affiliated with the University's Global Environment & Society Academy.

Programme structure

You will learn through lectures, group work, informal group discussion and individual study, as well as the spring study tour. After two semesters of taught courses, you will begin work on your individual dissertations. You will be able to choose from a wide selection of option courses to suit individual interests and career goals.

You will learn through lectures, group work, informal group discussion and individual study, as well as the spring study tour. After two semesters of taught courses, you will begin work on your individual dissertations. You will be able to choose from a wide selection of option courses to suit individual interests and career goals.

Compulsory courses typically will be:

  • Foundations in Ecological Economics
  • Applications in Ecological Economics
  • Ecological Economics Field Methods in Research and Practice
  • Dissertation

Option courses previously available include:

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

  • Principles of Environmental Sustainability
  • Marine Systems and Policies
  • Understanding Environment and Development
  • The Ecology of Ecosystem Services
  • Political Ecology
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Waste Reduction and Recycling
  • Participation in Policy and Planning
  • Water Resource Management
  • Forests and Environment
  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability
  • Principles of GIS
  • Energy & Society I; Key Themes and Issues
  • Atmospheric Quality and Global Change
  • Introduction To Spatial Analysis
  • Climate Change and Corporate Strategy
  • Frameworks to Assess Food Security
  • Soil Protection and Management
  • Encountering Cities
  • Development: Principles and Practices
  • Further Spatial Analysis
  • Sustainability of Food Production
  • Interrelationships in Food Systems
  • Case Studies in Sustainable Development
  • Introduction to Environmental Modelling
  • Marine Infrastructure and Environmental Change
  • Ecosystem Service Values

^Courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change

Field trip

To experience and understand conflict between ecosystem conservation and human development needs at ground level, this programme typically includes a unique 7-10-day study tour, usually overseas and in the developing world (previous destinations have included South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania).

Career opportunities

Being able to identify ecological economic problems, and apply economic principles and methods to solve these problems is increasingly valued by employers.

Our graduates are working in a variety of sectors, including environmental consultancies; international and governmental agencies; NGOs; financial institutions; multinationals; environmental education and research.

Additionally around a quarter of our masters students go on to doctoral research programmes.

Student experience

Would you like to know what it’s really like to study at the School of GeoSciences?

Visit our student experience blog where you can find articles, advice, videos and ask current students your questions.


Visit the Ecological Economics (MSc) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Tillem Burlace

Nationality: Australian/Dutch

Profile: Experience in environment and climate change policy and programs, including nearly four years working as an economist and policy adviser with the Victorian Government (Australia) and one year working with a Vietnamese civil society organisation on sustainable forest management, climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction.

I had the opportunity to work with Australia's Victorian Government developing climate change policy and helping to develop and implement an offset program for native vegetation. To broaden my understanding in this field, and to satisfy my desire to apply my skills more directly, I spent 12 months in Hanoi working with a Vietnamese civil society organisation. My primary role was to work with local communities to help them adapt and become more resilient to the changing climate - in particular, to more frequent and severe natural disasters. I also participated in a number of Vietnamese networks working to address climate change and develop the UN REDD+ (reduction in emissions in deforestation and forest degradation) pilot in Vietnam, and helped my organisation coordinate the Vietnamese non-government organisations’ Forest Law, Enforcement, Governance and Trade (FLEGT) network.

I decided to return to study because of my desire to spend time in an environment where I can learn and be mentored by experts with experience in my field who will challenge my approach and help me to focus in more detail on developing solutions to some of the issues I have come across. My deep desire to concentrate on the technical aspects of developing environmental policy led me to the decision to go back to university to study in more detail the economic mechanisms to create the right incentives for environmental and climate protection.

I believe that ecological economics offers a way to balance competing social, economic and environmental demands. Through environmental assessments, innovative cost-benefit analysis and by considering policy tools such as market-based instruments, it is possible to reveal the true trade-offs of our actions, helping to change the decision-making equation. I believe that by fully accounting for environmental costs and benefits we can create a system with the correct incentives where people are driven to do the right thing.


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Entry Requirements

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent. We may also consider a UK 2:2 honours degree, or its international equivalent, with appropriate work experience. All applicants must also meet our English language requirements.


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