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MSc in Environmental Decision Making

With this MSc course you can expand your knowledge of environmental decision making and develop the skills to participate in more effective, informed and creative environmental decision-making processes. It is the highest level of qualification within the environmental decision making (EDM) programme and enables you to build on your studies at postgraduate certificate and diploma levels with in-depth research of a topic that you choose yourself.

This MSc offers you the choice of a 'research' route or a 'professional' route to this qualification. If you are interested in a more business-oriented qualification, you can take the The MSc professional project (T847) and complete your qualification with a module from a short list of relevant options. If you prefer a rigorous research route, you can take the Research project (T802) where the production of a dissertation will develop your academic research skills, and can provide an excellent basis for future doctoral studies that may enhance your career further. Both routes help you to develop essential skills for successfully addressing environmental issues.

From local planning issues to global challenges of climate change and energy conservation, environmental decision making is becoming increasingly important to everyone. The environmental decision making (EDM) postgraduate programme was established to meet the challenges of environmental decision making in the context of a changing world. It is designed to meet the needs of specialists, managers and the public for postgraduate level environmental education.

Everyday concerns of environmental protection, natural resource management and rapidly changing environmental legislation and policy are considered in global and local contexts. The modules teach the skills you need to unpack the issues and participate creatively in the process of making environmental decisions, in all sectors of society.

The EDM programme is for people who are interested in designing, managing and participating in more effective environmental decision-making processes. Students on this programme are drawn from industry, commerce, local government, consultancies, non-governmental organisations and communities. They include people already involved in the decision-making process and those who wish to be - either personally or professionally. Whatever your background this programme will widen your knowledge of environmental decision making and develop your skills in making informed decisions about environmental issues, whether at work, in your community or at home.

This programme offers qualifications at postgraduate certificate, postgraduate diploma and MSc levels and includes an entry route for non-graduates.

Study Mode

Online Education, Distance Learning & External study modes available

Career relevance and employability

The EDM programme is for people who are concerned with designing and managing more effective decision-making processes that affect the environment. For example, if you are involved in setting up or responding to environmental or integrated management systems, planning new development projects or are trying to understand or manage sustainability.

Students on the EDM programme are drawn from industry, commerce, local government, consultancies, non-governmental organisations and communities. They include people already involved in decision-making processes and those who wish to be - both personally and professionally.

You can select modules that are most relevant to your interests and career aspirations as your study builds from postgraduate certificate through diploma to MSc.

The 'professional' route, where you take the MSc professional project as your final module is particularly suitable if you want to develop your career in industry, commerce, the public sector or the third sector. The 'research' route is more applicable if you intend to develop a career in research or go on to undertake study leading to a PhD or other research degree.

Whichever route you follow, this qualification will equip you with the skills and knowledge necessary to work in this expanding sector.

The course will equip you with the skills and knowledge necessary to work in this expanding sector.

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU's Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.


For this 180-credit masters degree, you require:

120 credits from the Postgraduate Diploma in Environmental Decision Making (D38)

And 60 credits from either the Research route or the Professional route below

Research route

Postgraduate compulsory module Credits Next start
Research project (T802)

This research course enables you to gain an MSc by building on the postgraduate diploma that you already hold. You'll develop and submit a dissertation.

See full description.

60 Oct

Professional route

Postgraduate compulsory module Credits Next start
The MSc professional project (T847)

This highly intensive research based course enables you to design, conduct, analyse and report on a research project of your own choosing.

See full description.

30 Nov

And 30 credits from the following optional modules

Postgraduate optional modules Credits Next start
Capacities for managing development (TU870)

This course provides development practitioners with a conceptual framework for analysing development management practice; and develops skills and capacities for analytical thinking and strategic action.

See full description.

30 May
Changing cities: urban transitions and decision making (D837) planned for presentation in November
Creativity, innovation and change (B822) (or version BZX822)

This interdisciplinary course is about managing innovation and change, sustaining a creative climate in your organisation, and promoting imaginative, flexible and practical thought and action.

See full description.

30 May FINAL
Environmental assessment and interpretation (T868) planned for presentation in May
Environmental responsibility: ethics, policy and action (TD866)

This course is about understanding and taking responsibility, individually and collectively, for policy and action relating to environmental dilemmas, from climate change to biodiversity loss.

See full description.

30 May
Managing for sustainability (T867) NEW

This course will increase your understanding of delivering and supporting sustainability management in your workplace or support your personal interest in this subject.

See full description.

30 May
Managing systemic change: inquiry, action and interaction (TU812)

Develop your understanding of systemic inquiry, systemic action research and social learning in order to extend your skills of project, programme and change management.

See full description.

30 Nov
Problem solving and improvement: quality and other approaches (T889)

This course focuses on the practical application and deeper understanding of many of the methods and techniques associated with modern quality management and systems thinking.

See full description.

30 May
Thinking strategically: systems tools for managing change (TU811)

Improve your management skills by exploring different approaches to engaging with complex situations and by developing your understanding of how cognitive processing shapes practice.

See full description.

30 May

Or, subject to the rules about excluded combinations, the discontinued modules B882, B889, D830, D831, T830, T834, T835, T861, T862, TXX861, TUXX870

Educational aims

This programme aims to:

  • provide masters-level study of environmental decision making and related issues
  • provide career and personal development for current and potential professional environmental specialists, as well as for others seeking to include environmental issues in their decision making
  • enable you to develop skills in environmental decision making that can be applied in organisations, businesses, communities and other areas of your life
  • enable you to develop the academic skills appropriate to independent postgraduate study of environmental issues.

Learning outcomes

The programme leading to this qualification provides achievable outcomes in the following four areas:

Knowledge and understanding

When you have completed this degree you will have knowledge and understanding of:

  • the concepts of environmental decision making, environmental management, sustainable development and other relevant key concepts
  • how perspectives, motivations and traditions affect environmental decision making and environmental responsibility
  • formal environmental decision making techniques including environmental risk assessment and management techniques incorporating the role of models, monitoring and auditing
  • research methods and techniques appropriate to defining, planning and carrying out a research project within the student's chosen specialist area.

Cognitive skills

When you have completed this degree you will be able to:

  • explore environmental issues systemically and systematically
  • critically analyse and evaluate information within an environmental context
  • distinguish between and critically examine factors influencing environmental decision making
  • identify appropriate stakeholders in an environmental decision-making situation and assess their relative influences.

Practical and/or professional skills

When you have completed this degree you will be able to:

  • use appropriate frameworks to investigate and analyse environmental issues
  • use appropriate techniques to support analysis and decision making
  • differentiate between and make appropriate use of evaluation and monitoring processes.

Key skills

When you have completed this degree you will be able to demonstrate the following skills:

  • effectively communicate in written form ideas and arguments on environmental decision making
  • advance own knowledge and understanding through independent learning and experience
  • work independently, reflecting on own actions and thoughts, and making effective use of constructive feedback
  • seek and interpret relevant information from appropriate sources and integrate the knowledge and skills derived into a coherent product
  • (and if T862 is studied) work with numerical data in the quantitative assessment of environmental decision-making situations
  • (and if TD866 is studied) construct arguments and make evaluative judgements with reference to ethical and policy questions on environmental issues.

Copyright Open University UK

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