Integrated Landscape Ecology MSc/PgCert/PgDip


Integrated Landscape Ecology

As a result of the National Ecosystem Assessment in the UK, there is new demand for land management professionals with quantitative and integrative landscape capabilities, who will be required to cover topics from ecosystem services, biodiversity and agriculture. Worldwide, 90% of ecosystems are managed by humans and now international attention is focusing on landscape level strategies to address the integration between biodiversity and natural capital for the provision of ecosystem services. 

As a response to these new market requirements Cranfield University believes an integrated landscape ecology approach is the way forward to understand the effects of landscape structure and dynamics on the conservation of biodiversity, provision of ecosystem services and sustainability of rural livelihoods. The use of new technological capabilities such as geospatial technologies and spatial models provide a strong quantitative and spatial background that combined with an integrated view of the environment will provide students with the opportunity to think across disciplines and offer integrated solutions to current environmental problems. The integrated view of the environment includes an understanding of ecological conservation and natural resource management issues in both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.

Course overview

The MSc course will be taught in three sections: taught modules (40%), a group project (20%), and an individual research project (40%). The taught modules are typically delivered in one-week blocks between October and February. The teaching methods include debates, practical sessions, field visits, lectures, seminars, and presentations. The Group Project is a group-based activity typically undertaken between February and April. The project is designed to integrate knowledge, understanding and skills from the taught modules in a real-life situation. For the individual research project, each student is allocated a supervisor. Guidance sessions are provided as to what is required from the thesis and oral presentation.

Group project

The group project provides students with the opportunity to take responsibility for a consultancy-type project, while working under academic supervision. Success is dependent on the integration of various activities and working within agreed objectives, deadlines and budgets. The themes of the group project will focus on a quantitative and integrative approach to think across disciplines and provide integrated solutions to current environmental problems.

Individual Project

Students select the individual project in consultation with the Course Tutor. The individual project provides students with the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to carry out independent research, think and work in an original way, contribute to knowledge, and overcome genuine problems in the environmental sector.


This comprises of eight modules, a group project and an individual project.


  • Aerial Photography and Digital Photogrammetry
    Module LeaderMr Tim Brewer - Senior Lecturer
    • Topographic maps and remote sensing images: map scale and content, image sources and interpretation methods, accuracy issues
    • Aerial photography in the context of other remote sensing systems
    • Physics of light: principles of recording the image
    • Stereoscopy and parallax
    • Geometry: scale variation, relief displacement, tilts
    • Geometry of vertical aerial photographs: geometry, co-ordinate axes, scale, measurement
    • Softcopy photogrammetry
    • Digital elevation models
    • Satellite photogrammetry
    • Air photo mosaics and orthophotos
    • Interpretation: principles and factors
    • Applied interpretation: geology, geomorphology, vegetation, soils, urban structures
    • Flight planning
    • API project management and implementation
    • Recent developments - digital aerial photographs, scanning existing photography.
    Intended learning outcomes

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

    • Summarise the geometry and spectral properties of vertical aerial photographs and evaluate their importance in the use of aerial photography for deriving mapping products
    • Apply the basic principles of softcopy photogrammetry to a range of remotely sensed datasets
    • Interpret aerial photographs in the context of the physical and human environments
    • Evaluate elevation data products derived from stereo image pairs and assess their use for a range of applications
    • Prepare orthophotography from standard frame aerial photography and assess the quality of the output.
  • GIS Fundamentals
    Module LeaderMr Tim Brewer - Senior Lecturer
    • GIS theory - data structures; data formats; data storage; data standards; spatial and non-spatial data; spatial querying; analysis techniques – reclassification, overlay, proximity, mensuration, visualisation, map algebra; hardware and software; system specification; projections; datums; spheriods
    • ArcGIS -overview of ArcGIS, ArcMap, ArcCatalog; ArcToolbox, Spatial Analyst.
    Intended learning outcomes

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

    • Describe the functional components of a GIS
    • Define system specifications including projections, data and process modelling
    • Organise, using appropriate data structures, geographic data within a GIS
    • Analyse data and prepare digital databases using GIS software
    • Summarise, using maps and tables, the results of GIS based analyses.
  • Land Resource Planning
    Module LeaderMr Tim Brewer - Senior Lecturer
    • Planning process: plan development, EU & UK planning context, general legal framework
    • Function and application of planning designations: conservation, grant aid, change of use, preservation
    • Land classification systems: Land capability classification, land suitability classification, Agricultural Land Classification, parametric methods, landscape assessment
    • Erosion survey and risk assessment
    • Incorporating a modelling approach: soil erosion modelling
    • Catchment management at landscape scale
    • Resource optimisation methods to inform planning options.
    Intended learning outcomes

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

    • Assess the planning context (including the legal framework) within which land planning will operate
    • Design surveys to address land planning issues
    • Practise techniques designed to provide data for land planning
    • Evaluate classification systems to identify appropriateness for issues of interest
    • Formulate land planning recommendations, adopting standard practice
    • Select optimum use of resources within the context of landscape management
    • Demonstrate teamwork to fulfil assignment objectives and practice oral presentation (as part of the module).
  • Image Processing and Analysis
    • The remote sensing process: data management and planning
    • Physics of light: principles of recording the image, plant, soil and water spectral properties in the optical wavelengths, influence of plant structure, moisture content, phenology and growth cycle on reflectance patterns, effect of organic matter, mineral content, texture and moisture content on soil reflectance
    • Satellite image processing: digital image enhancement and classification, indices
    • Geometric correction: map projections, selection of ground control points, transform equations, resampling methods (nearest neighbour, bilinear interpolation, cubic convolution, sinc x)
    • Image enhancement: contrast stretching (linear, bilinear, Gaussian, histogram equalisation and manual), digital filtering in the spatial domain (low-pass, high-pass, high-boost, median and directional)    
    • Classification: density slice, box classification, maximum likelihood and minimum distance algorithms. Supervised and unsupervised training techniques
    • Spectral coincident plots and decision tree classification
    • Advanced image processing techniques: principal component analysis and formation of Eigen images. Band arithmetic. Masking. De-correlation stretch 
    • Current classification methods.
    Intended learning outcomes

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

    • Identify a wide range of image processing techniques
    • Explain the purpose of each process and the underlying mathematical principles
    • Select appropriate image processing sequences to achieve predetermined objectives
    • Operate and manage an image processing system
    • Integrate image processing techniques into applications of remote sensing.
  • Aquatic Ecosystems in the Landscape
    Module LeaderDr Andrew Gill - Senior Lecturer
    • Fundamentals of lentic (still water) and lotic (running water) ecosystems
    • Aquatic ecosystem elements within the landscape (e.g. rivers, lakes, floodplains)
    • Spatial scale in aquatic systems
    • Temporal scale in aquatic systems
    • Methods to quantify aquatic systems and their attributes (e.g. river hydromorphology; lake community structure)
    • Human influences on lentic and lotic ecosystems
    • Field sampling techniques and design of survey/monitoring programmes for aquatic ecosystem status.
    Intended learning outcomes

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

    • Explain the key elements of aquatic ecosystems in the landscape
    • Understand the linkage between biological, chemical and hydro-morphological attributes of a water body
    • Discuss the ecological and hydromorphological processes that determine the ecological status of a water body
    • Understand how spatial and temporal scale influence aquatic ecosystem connectivity in the landscape
    • Explain how aquatic organism occurrence, distribution and movement are determined by the aquatic landscape
    • Select the appropriate methods to determine ecological attributes at the relevant scales.
  • Landscape Ecology
    • Introduction to landscape ecology
    • Landscape elements (eg. mosaics, corridor and patches)
    • Ordination methods and indices (eg. diversity indices) and landscape metrics (eg. spatial pattern metrics)
    • Landscape fragmentation, connectivity, scale and hierarchy
    • Species population and sampling, National vegetation classification
    • Introduction to point pattern analysis: pedometrics
    • Resource survey classification and land use assessment
    • Biodiversity, criteria for assessing conservation importance and conservation law.
    Intended learning outcomes

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

    • Explain the key elements of a landscape
    • Discuss the importance of scale in landscape ecology related questions
    • Design strategies to quantify spatial patterns, spatial structures, and species at the relevant scales
    • Select the appropriate quantitative methods to test spatial hypotheses, solve problems, inform monitoring programs, and interpret the findings in the context of conservation priorities and conservation law
    • Evaluate monitoring data to guide decision making in ecosystem management.
  • Environmental Resource Survey
    Module LeaderDr Ronald Corstanje - Senior Lecturer in Environmental Informatics
    • Introduction to geographical resource survey. Why, when, where and how? Understanding constraints
    • Survey strategies for environmental resources: census with thematic mapping, ground sampling, sampling with property mapping, integrated ground sampling and property mapping
    • Development of classification schemes – user requirements, data availability, class definitions
    • Sampling and rapid estimates for plant communities, water and soil quality – biomass, cover and species assessment, count plot methods, plotless sample technique, soil and water survey techniques
    • Assessment of existing data quality and use in survey design
    • Statistical design and analysis for environmental resource surveys: area frames, point samples, bulk samples, area samples, sampling at global scales, multi-scale sampling
    • Quality assessment of environmental data – accuracy measures, effect of bias, quality measures and statistics, error and uncertainty sources and measures
    • Introduction to interpolation methods, generating maps from point survey data
    • Integration data sources and types (data fusion) and statistical models with survey data (model data fusion) to increase survey cost effectiveness
    • Review of example surveys.
  • Ecological Restoration
    Module LeaderProfessor Jim Harris - Professor of Environmental Technology
    • The principles of ecological restoration
    • Abiotic and biotic controls on community composition
    • Practical techniques for effective habitat creation and restoration
    • Habitat management for faunal conservation
    • Effects of changes in climate and land use on conservation practices
    • Habitat case studies; for example wetland, grassland, woodland, heathland, riparian buffer strips
    • Contaminated land and remediation technologies
    • Contaminated land issues and market size
    • Monitoring and modelling contaminants
    • Hazard appraisal and risk assessment
    • Importance of scale for reconstruction of habitats.
    Intended learning outcomes

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

    • Understand the principles underlying restoration ecology and ecological restoration in local, national and global contexts
    • Identify the environmental and biological controls on plant community composition and ecosystem structure
    • Describe the mechanisms underlying natural successional patterns in vegetation communities, as well as human-induced changes in habitat-type
    • Evaluate suitable technologies for the remediation of different types of contaminated land
    • Relate habitat management to ecosystem function
    • At different scales, plan ecosystem creation or restoration based on the biotic and abiotic context of the area
    • Design and assess the feasibility and appropriateness of a habitat restoration scheme.


Taught modules MSc 40%, PgDip 66.6%. Group project (dissertation for part-time students) MSc 20%, PgDip 33.3%. Individual project MSc 40%.

Start date, duration and location

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

Duration: Full-time MSc - one year, Part-time MSc - up to three years, Full-time PgCert - one year, Part-time PgCert - two years, Full-time PgDip - one year, Part-time PgDip - two years

Teaching location: Cranfield


Cranfield has been successfully delivering environmental management courses since 1976. Currently the focus of this MSc is unique in the United Kingdom and with the knowledge we have, we are in a unique position to offer an MSc with an exceptional and distinctive brand as well as a novel and attractive course to the environmental sector. 

Cranfield University has a very strong worldwide reputation in the delivery of applied science. The Department of Environmental Science and Technology, with over 150 academics, has world-class teaching, research and consultancy facilities that deliver integrated solutions to the environmental sector not only in the United Kingdom and Europe, but worldwide. There are 25 places available.

Accreditation and partnerships

This course is accredited by the Landscape Institute (LI) and the Institution of Agricultural Engineers (IAgrE).

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

Your teaching team

You will be taught by a vibrant group of internationally renowned research and academic staff with strong geospatial capabilities, solid ecological and natural resources backgrounds and an integrated vision of sustainability that meets the new market demands both at the national and international level.

Facilities and resources

We have state-of-the-art facilities in geospatial technologies with the latest software, well-trained staff, and strong technical support to deliver our teaching and research. Additionally we have soils facilities and map libraries that are unique in the world.

Entry Requirements

Suitable for graduates who wish to work in areas related to natural resources management including agriculture, conservation, biodiversity and the integration of natural processes in the landscape. The part-time option allows practitioners to extend their professional development within their current employment. A first or second class UK Honours degree or equivalent; in a science or engineering subject. Candidates with other qualifications will be considered according to experience.

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 

Pearson PTE Academic - 65

Cambridge English Scale - 180

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 is 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 must ensure they can meet the English language requirements set out by UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) and we recommend booking a IELTS for UKVI test.


Home EU Student Fees

MSc Full-time - £9,000

MSc Part-time - £1,500 *

PgDip Full-time - £7,200

PgDip Part-time - £1,500 *

PgCert Full-time - £3,600

PgCert Part-time - £1,500 *

Overseas Fees

MSc Full-time - £17,500

MSc Part-time - £17,500 **

PgDip Full-time - £14,000

PgDip Part-time - £14,000 **

PgCert Full-time - £7,000

PgCert Part-time - £10,800 **


The annual registration fee is quoted above. An additional fee of £1,300 per module is also payable.


Students will be offered the option of paying the full fee up front, or to pay in four equal instalments at six month intervals (i.e. the full fee to be paid over the first two years of their registration). 

Fee notes:

  • The fees outlined apply to all students whose initial date of registration falls on or between 1 August 2016 and 31 July 2017.
  • All students pay the tuition fee set by the University for the full duration of their registration period agreed at their initial registration.
  • A deposit may be payable, depending on your course.
  • Additional fees for extensions to the agreed registration period may be charged and can be found below.
  • 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 Isle of Man) pay Overseas fees.


To help students in finding and securing appropriate funding we have created a funding finder where you can search for suitable sources of funding by filtering the results to suit your needs. Visit the funding finder.

Prestige Scholarship

The Prestige Scholarship provides funding of up to £11,000 to cover up to £9k fees and a potential contribution to living expenses. This scholarship has been designed to attract exceptional candidates to Cranfield University so we welcome applications from UK or EU graduates with a first-class honours undergraduate degree. Prestige Scholarships are available for all MSc courses in the Energy, Environment and Agrifood themes.

Merit MSc Bursary

The Merit MSc Bursary provides funding of up to £5,000 towards tuition fees. Applicants should be UK or EU graduates with a first class honours, 2:1 honours or in exceptional circumstances 2:2 honours undergraduate degree in a relevant subject. Merit MSc Bursaries are available for all MSc courses in the Energy, Environment and Agrifood themes.

International MSc Bursary

The International MSc Bursary provides funding of up to £5,000 towards tuition fees. Applicants should be from outside the EU with a first class honours or upper second class honours undergraduate degree or equivalent in a relevant subject. International MSc Bursaries are available for all MSc courses in the Energy, Environment and Agrifood themes.

Cranfield Postgraduate Loan Scheme (CPLS)

The Cranfield Postgraduate Loan Scheme (CPLS) is a funding programme providing affordable tuition fee and maintenance loans for full-time UK/EU students studying technology-based MSc courses.

Conacyt (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia)

Cranfield offers competitive scholarships for Mexican students in conjunction with Conacyt (Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnologia) in science, technology and engineering.

Commonwealth Shared Scholarship Scheme

Students from developing countries who would not otherwise be able to study in the UK can apply for Commonwealth Shared Scholarships for Master’s study, jointly supported by UK universities.

Marshal Papworth Scholarships

Marshal Papworth provide opportunities for students from developing countries to gain the agricultural and horticultural skills needed to achieve a sustainable future for themselves and their communities

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 exciting career possibilities in the UK and overseas with government and international organisations working in the areas of conservation of biodiversity, provision of ecosystem services, natural resource management and sustainability of rural livelihoods. This course also provides an ideal grounding for research positions and PhD programmes.

The Cranfield Experience - A Student Perspective

What is the postgraduate student experience like at Cranfield University? What is it like to do an Environment programme MSc at Cranfield? Some of our students made this video to help answer such questions. Enjoy!

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