MSc Climate Change and Environmental Policy – University of Leeds

by Ariana Magini

Course name: Climate Change and Environmental Policy MSc
Type of course: Postgraduate, Master of Science (MSc)
University: University of Leeds
Course Length: 12 months (full-time)
Location: Leeds, UK (currently online)
Language: English

Course Summary

Climate Change is a growing issue for environmental policy makers at international, national and sub-national levels, as well as for environmental managers and experts in public, private and non-profit making organisations. This degree provides you with a unique combination of training on the physical, social and policy aspects of climate change and on broader environmental policy and governance.

You will receive a solid foundation in the physical and social science of climate change and its impacts, including adaptation to, and mitigation of, climate change. You will also develop a critical understanding of the policy tools available to promote environmental protection.

This is a taught postgraduate, with the first two semesters consisting of lectures, seminars and assessed coursework. For the third semester, students undertake a self-directed research dissertation project on a topic of their choice and with a chosen academic supervisor.

This degree has a great range of optional module courses (although this list was restricted in 2020 due to COVID-19 changes). The three optional modules that I chose and highly recommend are: 

  1. Introduction to Ecological Economics
  2. Environmental Economics and Policy
  3. Critical Perspectives in Environment and Development


  1. What did you like most about the course? 

I thoroughly enjoyed the wide range of subjects covered in this degree and the critical analysis, “deep dive” into each subject. Not only does this degree cover the fundamentals, but it also presents the latest research and thinking. For example, for the Physical Climate Science module, I was impressed to receive the latest and behind-the-scenes information from Dr Chris Smith, a leading scientist and climate modeller for the IPCC. For the policy components of the modules, I was pleased that the content took a modern, intersectional approach, considering the social complexities of environmentalism. 

  1. What did you do before this course? Are there any specific requirements for being able to apply to and take this course? 

The entry requirements of this course are fairly broad – you will require a Bachelor degree with a 2:1 (Hons) in environmental, social science, management, economics or related subject. However, other applicants are considered on a case-by-case basis. There are also English language requirements. The coursework is very accessible and there is ample opportunity for academic assistance with your learning.

Before this course, I was working with the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi, Kenya and prior to that I completed my Honours and undergraduate degrees at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia, majoring in ecology and zoology.

  1. What sort of work are you doing (e.g. more group work/more individual work; more project-based work/more essay writing etc.)? 

The coursework includes a combination of individual and group work, although for my year, the majority was individual work due to the nature of pandemic online learning. The coursework also includes a mixture of assessment types – the physical science modules mostly include small research projects, while the policy and social sciences courses usually involve essays (including exam essays). Other assessment types include presentations, op-ed articles, rapid assessments, and cost-benefit analyses (depending on the modules that you choose).

  1. Is there anything you would change about the course? 

The main challenge that I faced was the disorganisation associated with transitioning the course into an online format. The coursework was spread across multiple online platforms to accommodate international students, and this made it quite difficult to navigate. As a result, one course unfortunately used old, outdated video recordings. Otherwise, the university was very proactive and accommodating in listening to our concerns, facilitated by course representatives, and made adjustments where possible. I might also add that despite the high calibre of lecturers, there is room for improved ethnic and female representation.

  1. Why did you choose this course over other courses you may have been considering?

I had a good impression of the University of Leeds, having worked with academics and professionals that had either studied there themselves or were currently working there. The Masters programme covered my areas of interest and I was attracted by the large diversity of available courses.

  1. What is life at this university like? 

Unfortunately, I have been unable to experience the true university life due to the pandemic. However, I experienced it a few years ago when visiting my friend there and it felt like a fun campus and town. Despite the absence of in-person classes, the university has made a concerted effort to bring social and supportive groups online, as well as research seminars. I have also been able to connect with my classmates online, outside of the classes.

  1. What are you planning on doing after you’ve graduated/what are you currently doing if you have graduated? 

I hope to move into a climate/environmental policy or project management position after I graduate, whether that be with government, an NGO or an international organisation. Given that my Masters finishes a few months before the UNFCCC COP26, pandemic-permitting, I hope to attend and participate in the event, preferably within a professional capacity.

  1. What are typical jobs graduates do after completing the course?

Graduates of this programme typically go on to work for the government, NGOs, environmental consultancies or continue research with a PhD. For example, I have been in contact with an alumni that is now working in energy policy with the UK government.

Ariana is a current Masters student and scholarship recipient at the University of Leeds (2020-2021). Originally from Australia, she completed her undergraduate Bachelor of Science in zoology and ecology, and Honours thesis in ecosystem restoration and policy, at the University of Queensland in Brisbane. After graduation, Ariana completed an internship at the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi, before continuing her work with the Global Peatlands Initiative as a consultant. She is passionate about ecosystem-level conservation and restoration as Nature-Based Solutions at the intersection of climate change mitigation, adaptation and biodiversity protection, and hopes to work at the science-policy interface.

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