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Economics for Natural Resource and Environmental Management MSc/PgDip/PgCert


The current emphasis on sustainable management across the globe is a consequence of a growing awareness of the impact of modern society on the environment. Such concerns are clearly evident in recent high profile studies such as the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

As a result, there is a pressing international need for people with the ability to apply economic principles and techniques to support decision making for the effective and efficient management of natural resources and the environment.

This course provides graduates with an understanding of the complex relationship between environmental issues and the impact of economic decision making. Students critically appraise alternative environmental measures and develop the ability to identify and recommend suitable solutions for effective environmental management.

  • Course overview

    The course comprises eight one-week assessed modules, an introductory module, a group project and an individual research project. Students undertaking the Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) complete eight modules, the introductory module and the group project. Postgraduate Certificate (PgCert) students complete six modules.

  • Group project

    The group project is an applied team based activity, in which students apply their knowledge of natural resource and environmental economics to address real-world problems. Success depends on the integration of various activities in relation to agreed objectives, deadlines and budgets. Students submit a project report and present their findings to representatives from the public sector and/or industry.

  • Individual project

    Students select an individual project in consultation with the Course Director. It provides students with the opportunity to develop and demonstrate independent research ability, working within agreed objectives, deadlines and budgets. Part-time students usually undertake their individual project at their place of work.

  • Modules

    The modules include lectures and tutorials, and are assessed through written examinations and assignments. These provide the knowledge of theory and techniques required for the group and individual projects.


    • Principles of Sustainability
      Module LeaderDr Paul Burgess - Senior Lecturer

      Sustainability is concerned with how society and businesses can best meet social and economic development objectives without compromising the future viability of natural and human systems. The 'Ecosystem service framework', popularised by the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, provides one method by which society can categorise the different benefits we obtain from processes such as energy transfer, climate regulation, soil formation, and carbon, water and nutrient cycling. The approach also emphasises the importance of biodiversity and the complexity of ecological feedback loops. The module also examines how economics, legislation and stakeholder engagement can help society and businesses make sustainable decisions. Methods for applying sustainability principles and the ecosystem service approach are illustrated through case studies.  

      • Definitions and models of sustainability, and the role of stability, resistance and resilience
      • Human well-being and ecosystem services; the development of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and the UK National Ecosystem Assessment
      • Ecosystem processes and services: energy transfer; climate; geomorphology and soil formation; carbon, nutrient and oxygen cycles; water supply and quality; the link between processes and services
      • The role of biodiversity, population regulation and dampening and amplifying feedback loops; the Gaia hypothesis
      • Approaches to address complex processes such as the role of economics, legislation and stakeholder engagement.  Methods for identifying appropriate stakeholders
      • Case studies of the application of the framework in practice: renewable energy, management of wetlands, and management of montane forests in Tanzania.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Critique the concept of sustainability
      • Explain the development and use of the Ecosystem Service Approach in the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment
      • Explain how human well-being depends on ecosystem processes and services
      • Explain the key ecosystem processes of energy transfer, climate regulation, soil formation, and carbon, oxygen, nutrient and water cycling
      • Critique the role of biodiversity, population levels and feedback loops in ecosystem service provision
      • Explain methods for describing sustainability including stability, resistance, and resilience
      • Explain how economics, legislation and stakeholder engagement can be used to help optimise resource use and allocation
      • Explain how the ecosystem service approach can be applied in practice.
    • Environmental Valuation

      In the search for methods that combine economic analysis and environmental assessments to achieve the goal of sustainable development, the measurement of environmental costs and benefits is an increasingly important element of the appraisal of policies and projects. This module explores economic concepts and techniques that can be used for the valuation of the environment, how these support decisions regarding the optimal allocation of resources and the design of policy interventions.

      • Techniques for non-market valuation: cost and income based approaches, demand estimation methods - expressed and revealed preference, choice modelling: examples of applications
      • Multi-criteria analysis
      • Environmental accounting for business
      • Environmental accounting at sector and national levels
      • Case study examples of application.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      After completing this module students should be able to:

      • Demonstrate an understanding and ability to apply different approaches and techniques to determining environmental value and demonstrate an understanding of the concepts of economic valuation and accounting
      • Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of methods to incorporate them into decision making techniques, especially extended cost benefit analysis, risk assessment and multi criteria analysis  
      • Critically appraise the contribution of economic valuation and economic mechanisms to environmental policy
      • Demonstrate an appreciation of the purpose and methods of environmental accounting at sector and national level.
    • Financial and Economic Appraisal for Environmental Management
      Module LeaderDr Paul Burgess - Senior Lecturer

      Cost-Benefit Analysis (CBA) is a decision-making process used to compare the comparative efficiency of competing projects over their lifetime.  Projects are judged in terms of their relative monetised net benefits, (total benefits minus total costs), including environmental impacts or enhancement; the project with the largest benefit:cost ratio is considered to deliver the most social benefits from the options under consideration.  This module explains the principles of CBA and students will acquire the knowledge and skills in the application of CBA to environmental projects.  

      • Pareto optimality in a market economy
      • The compensation principle and the social welfare function
      • Principles and practice of cost-benefit analysis
      • Financial appraisal
      • Extended cost-benefit analysis
      • Risk and uncertainty
      • Case study applications of cost-benefit analysis.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Demonstrate an understanding of and differences between equity and efficiency
      • Demonstrate an understanding of the role that equity and efficiency play in policy making and the trade-offs involved
      • Critically evaluate different measures of welfare changes with respect to the environment
      • Demonstrate a systematic understanding of cost-benefit analysis
      • Demonstrate an understanding of cost-benefit analysis through the application of the principles to an case study application.
    • Environmental Policy and Risk Governance

      A critical application of environmental risk management is in the development and appraisal of Policy in Central Government. Policies are developed to manage environmental risks and selection of policy options must be informed by risk based tools and techniques. Doing so demands a comprehension of the technical, organisational and human elements of governing environmental risks – that is, of the communication, analysis, management and delivery of sound risk governance. This module draws these themes together by introducing core concepts and then illustrating these concepts with case studies and finally application via a group exercise. Core lectures and supporting material are supported by a Master class in environmental risk management and policy development with time allowed for group discussion.

      • Risk governance
      • Problem definition
      • Environmental risk analysis and management
      • Implementation within organisations
      • Environmental policy development and appraisal
      • Policy instruments.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this study the student should be able to:

      • Define the technical, organisational and human features of good environmental risk governance
      • Compare and contrast environmental risk management techniques, selecting tools appropriate the character of the risk in question
      • Identify the requirements of risk management maturity and the pre-requisites of good corporate risk governance
      • Understand the environmental policy cycle of implementation and the basics of policy development and appraisal
      • Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the range of policy instruments, namely regulation, economic, voluntary and other measures
      • Understand the role of environmental risk management in policy development and appraisal
      • Apply their knowledge through a group exercise, developing and appraising policy options to manage environmental risk.
    • Energy Policy, Markets and Futures
      Module LeadersDr Andrew Gill - Senior Lecturer, Miss Fiona Lickorish - Head of IEHRF, Dr Ben Anthony - Reader in Energy Processes, Dr George Prpich - Lecturer in Risk Management

      This module analyses the range of policies used to achieve sustainable and secure energy supplies and the methods for assessing the performance of policy interventions. Recognising that market forces are increasingly relied upon as a policy tool to deliver energy solutions, this module reviews commodity market structures, energy economics, and financial instruments related to energy. The carbon market is also assessed, both as a policy instrument, as well as from the standpoint of a commodity evolving over time.

      • Energy policy theory and practice
      • Energy commodity market structure, carbon market structure
      • Financial markets, spot and futures markets
      • Financial instruments in energy markets
      • Price forecasting
      • Policy analysis and impact assessment.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this study the student should be able to:

      • Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of the purpose of energy policy
      • Demonstrate an understanding of the range of policy strategies and instruments
      • Demonstrate an understanding of the structure of energy and carbon markets
      • Demonstrate an understanding of the financial instruments traded within energy and carbon markets
      • Analyse methods used to forecast energy and carbon prices
      • Critically evaluate strategies for energy security and sustainability.
    • Environmental Econometrics
      Module LeaderDr Monica Rivas Casado - Lecturer in Applied Env Statistics

      To acquire knowledge and skills in quantitative methods of economic analysis to support decision making in natural resources and environmental management.

      • Introduction to quantitative methods for economic analysis applied to natural resource and environmental management: describing, explaining and predicting
      • Data management procedures
      • Modelling and testing relationships: parametric and non parametric methods, regression analysis and multivariate techniques
      • Spatial interpretation of results using Geographical Information Systems
      • Implementation of the learned theory to real cases studies on travel cost and hedonic pricing.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Demonstrate a systematic understanding of and apply the methods of data management for econometric analysis
      • Critically evaluate the contribution and suitability of econometric methods for natural resource and environmental management, including the advantages and limitations of alternative methods
      • Use major types of econometric techniques to support decision making in natural resource and environmental management, using appropriate software.
    • Natural Resource Economics
      Module LeaderDr Anil Graves - Senior Lecturer - Land Use Systems

      The module uses economic theory to explore the relationship between the stocks of natural capital and the flows of services that emanate from them. Economic models are used to analyse current resource management challenges, distinguishing between renewable and non-renewable resources. The module is delivered mainly through case studies focussing on major types of natural resources. This module integrates strongly with those dealing with welfare economics and policy.  

      • Introduction: sustainable development, natural capital and ecosystems services
      • Theoretical frameworks for economically optimal use of non-renewable and renewable resources
      • Theory into practice: Economic dimensions of the management of natural resources: land and soils, energy, minerals, water, biodiversity, marine fisheries, forestry
      • Implications for natural resource and environmental policy.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of this module the student will be able to:

      • Demonstrate a conceptual understanding of stocks and flows applied to natural resources and related ecosystems and the role of economic theory in resource allocation decisions
      • Demonstrate a systematic understanding of and apply methods of economic analysis to support practical decision making for the management of natural resources, consistent with the concept of sustainable development.
    • Technology, Environment and Society
      Module LeaderDr Philip Longhurst - Senior Lecturer in Environmental Technology

      While technological change is seen as the root cause of many environmental problems, it is simultaneously viewed as the means of solving such problems. This module explores technological change as part of positive sum strategies put forward by ecological modernisers. Theories of technological change are reviewed such as evolutionary, path dependent and long wave and used to formulate technology policy to achieve transition to a low carbon economy.

      • Ecological Modernisation, definition, key aspects, objectives and methodology
      • Development of associated policy frameworks, market failure, the role of governments, policies and mechanisms to address this
      • Innovation: Technology Development, transfer, adoption and diffusion
      • Innovation and sustainability, utility which process offers in this context, drivers and barriers
      • Integrated Sustainable Technology Assessment
      • Clusters and the development of sustainable technologies: Renewable energy.
      Intended Learning Outcomes

      On successful completion of the module the student will be able to:

      • Understand Ecological Modernisation and key aspects and challenges of its application
      • Identify and understand theories of technological change, eg. linear, induced, pathdendent, evolutionary
      • Appreciate the role of technlogical change in economic development, environmental protection and transitions to ecological modernisation
      • Understand the role of technological change in achieving transition to a low carbon economy
      • Identify technology policy to stimulate transitions, eg. to a low carbon economy.
  • Assessment

    Taught modules 40%, group project 20% (dissertation for part-time students), individual thesis project 40%.

  • Start date, duration and location

    Start date: Full-time: October. Part-time: throughout the year.

    Duration: One year full-time, two-three years part-time.

    Teaching location: Cranfield

  • Informed by industry

    Our courses are designed to meet the training needs of industry and have a strong input from experts in their sector. These include:

    • P A Consulting
    • Joint Research Centre, Ispra
    • Adas
    • Cresswell Associates
    • Chartered Institute of Waste Management
    • Geospatial Insight
    • Oakdene Hollins
    • Golder
    • Astrium Geo-information Services
    • Unilever
    • Landscape Science Consultancy
    • WRc PLC
    • FWAG
    • RSPB
    • ERM
    • GIGL
    • WRG
    • Environment Agency
    • Chartered Institute of Water and Environment Management
    • Enviros
    • Health Protection Agency
    • Neales Waste
    • Natural England
    • National Trust
    • Trucost
    • SLR Consulting
    • Highview Power Storage
    • Nomura Code Securities

    Students who have excelled have their performances recognised through course awards. The awards are provided by high profile organisations and individuals, and are often sponsored by our industrial partners. Awards are presented on Graduation Day. View the 2014 Prize Winners booklet.

  • Your teaching team

    You will be taught by a wide-range of experts from the academic staff at Cranfield as well as professional economists from the public and private sectors. To ensure the programme is aligned to industry needs, the course is directed by its own Industrial Advisory Committee.
    Dr Monica Rivas Casado
    Dr Anil Graves
    Dr Paul Burgess
    Dr Phil Longhurst

  • Entry Requirements

    Candidates must possess, or be expected to achieve, a 1st or 2nd class UK Honours degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline. Other relevant qualifications, together with significant experience, may be considered. Suitable for graduates with natural, physical, engineering science and business-related degrees keen to align their careers toward natural resource and environmental economics, or graduates with a degree in economics seeking to develop a specialist knowledge of natural resource and environmental economics.

    English language

    If you are an international student you will need to provide evidence that you have achieved a satisfactory test result in an English qualification.  The minimum standard expected from a number of accepted courses are as follows:

    IELTS - 6.5

    TOEFL - 92 (Important: this test is not currently accepted by the UK Home Office for Tier 4 (General) visa applications)

    TOEIC - 800 (Important: this test is not currently accepted by the UK Home Office for Tier 4 (General) visa applications)

    Pearson PTE Academic - 65

    Cambridge English: Advanced - C

    Cambridge English: Proficiency - C

    In addition to these minimum scores you are also expected to achieve a balanced score across all elements of the test.  We reserve the right to reject any test score if any one element of the test score if too low.

    We can only accept tests taken within two years of your registration date (with the exception of Cambridge English tests which have no expiry date).

    Students requiring a Tier 4 (General) visa will also need to meet the UKBA Tier 4 General Visa English language requirements.  The UK Home Office are not currently accepting TOEFL or TOEIC tests for Tier 4 (General) visa applications. Other restrictions from the UK Home Office may apply from time to time and we will advise applicants of these restrictions where appropriate.

  • Fees

    Home/EU student

    MSc Full-time - £6,800


    The annual registration fee is quoted above. An additional fee of £1,080 per module is also payable.

    MSc Part-time - £1,070 *

    PgDip Full-time - £5,000

    PgDip Part-time - £1,070 *

    PgCert Full-time - £2,500

    PgCert Part-time - £1,070 *

    Overseas student

    MSc Full-time - £16,250

    MSc Part-time - £8,500

    PgDip Full-time - £12,000

    PgDip Part-time - £6,250

    PgCert Full-time - £6,000

    PgCert Part-time - £4,500

    Fee notes:

    • Fees are payable annually for each year of study unless otherwise indicated.
    • The fees outlined here apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2014 and 31 July 2015 and the University reserves the right to amend fees without notice.
    • All students pay the annual tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
    • Additional fees for extensions to registration may be charged.
    • Fee eligibility at the Home/EU rate is determined with reference to UK Government regulations. As a guiding principle, EU nationals (including UK) who are ordinarily resident in the EU pay Home/EU tuition fees, all other students (including those from the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man) pay international fees.
  • Funding

    Funding opportunities exist, including industrial sponsorship, School bursaries and a number of general external schemes.  For the majority of part-time students sponsorship is organised by their employers. We recommend you discuss this with your company in the first instance.

  • Application process

    Online application form. UK students are normally expected to attend an interview and financial support is best discussed at that time. Overseas and EU students may be interviewed by telephone.

  • Career opportunities

    Takes you on to a wide-range of careers as professional economists in the public and private sectors.

  • Shannon Anderson

    Shannon Anderson praises the positive effect the course has had on her career, with its assistance in helping to find a job within the environmental sector