Land Reclamation and Restoration MSc/MTech/PgCert/PgDip


Land Reclamation and Restoration

Land reclamation and restoration MSc is designed to meet the increasing demands to manage and restore greenfield and brownfield sites to the amenity, natural habitat or agricultural use engendered by UK Government and EU directives. This course aims to provide the knowledge and skills required to bridge the gap between damaged land and fully restored ecosystems. It provides the skills to assess, plan and implement strategies needed to restore, reclaim and remediate damaged land in the public and corporate sectors.

Why this course is unique?

  • Course is designed to respond to the industry demands of highly-trained engineers and science based professionals able to implement appropriate, innovate and sustainable soil and land management strategies.
  • Hands-on practices and visits to relevant land reclamation and ecological restoration sites form a major part of the programme.
  • Close relations to industry, providing practical experience through group and individual projects in collaboration with relevant organisations.
  • Outstanding learning environment with an access to market leading geospatial technologies and fist-class soil research laboratories.
  • The part-time option will allow practitioners to enhance their professional development within their current employment.

Land Reclamation and Restoration MSc/MTech/PgCert/PgDip is accredited by:

 Institute of Agricultural Engineers (IAgrE)  Landscape Institute
 Iagre logo

landscape institute logo

Land reclamation and restoration MSc is suitable for ecology, science, geography and engineering graduates, or professionals from either a science or technical background.

Course overview

The course comprises eight taught modules, an integrated group project, and an individual thesis project. The modules include lectures and tutorials and are assessed through appropriate assignments or exams. There is an emphasis on analysis of real problems, with practical field work to reinforce learning. This provides the 'tools' required for the group and individual projects.

Group project

This project provides students with the opportunity to take responsibility for a commercially-orientated, consultancy-type project with a UK-based industrial partner, while working in teams under academic supervision. It involves survey design, data collection and analysis, and synthesis and presentation of results to the client.

The topic for the group project changes on an annual basis as appropriate. Previous groups projects have included:

  • 2014/15 - Valuing & enhancing carbon sequestration 2014 Coal Authority Integrated Group project: Funded by the Coal Authority

  • 2014/15 - Integrated Assessment of Quarry Restoration for Dene and Darlton, Derbyshire: Funded by Lafarge-Tarmac

  • 2012/13 -Towards a framework for evaluation of the ecosystem services provided by Coal Authority passive treatment schemes: Funded by the Coal Authority

  • 2012/13 – An integrated assessment of the Mancetter quarry restoration: Funded by Lafarge-Tarmac 

  • 2011/12 - Integrated Management Plan for Houghton Regis Chalk Pit  for Wildlife Trust of Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire

  • 2010/11 - Increasing the value of re-cycled products and ecological services of Naunton Quarry for Huntsmans Quarries Limited.

Individual Project

This project provides an opportunity to concentrate on a particular aspect of land reclamation and restoration. It also allows students to demonstrate their ability to research independently, to think and work in an original way, to contribute to knowledge, and to overcome genuine problems in this specialist area of land management. Many of the projects are supported by external organisations.


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


  • Principles of Sustainability
    Module LeaderDr Paul Burgess - Reader
    • 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.
  • Principles of Sustainability
    Module LeaderDr Paul Burgess - Reader
    • Moving from an “Empty World” to a “Full World”
    • The Ecosystem Service Approach (Millennium Ecosystem Assessment and UK National Ecosystem Assessment)
    • Ecosystem processes and succession; the role of energy; feedback systems; biodiversity and system restoration
    • Using an ecosystem approach: quantifying trade-offs and synergies; improving water and nutrient management, reducing greenhouse gases emissions, enhancing stability, resistance and resilience
    • Introduction to the circular economy: opportunities for businesses; opportunities for consumers
    • How design, manufacturing practice and management can contribute to a circular economy
    • Case study: trade-offs, synergies, and opportunities to enhance well-being and ecosystem service provision in terms of energy, food, feed and wood for a case study area.
    Intended learning outcomes

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

    • Critique the “ecosystem services”, “circular economy”, and “per capita energy use” approaches
    • Critique associated terms such as “human well-being”, “sustainability”, and “biodiversity”
    • Explain the role of energy and feed-back systems in natural systems
    • Explain how an ecosystem service approach can help society to identify and make decisions regarding the use of ecological resources, with a focus on biodiversity, greenhouse gases, nutrient loss, and water use.
    • Explain how we can enhance the stability, resistance and resilience of natural systems.
    • Explain how the “circular economy” provides commercial opportunities
    • Explain how industrial activities such as design and manufacturing can promote a circular economy
    • Use a per capita approach to explore the synergies between food, feed, wood, and renewable energy production to guide decision making and identify opportunities in the context of a case-study.
  • 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.
  • Soil Plant Environment Science
    Module LeaderDr Jacqueline Hannam - Senior Research Fellow in Pedology

    • Soil functions and ecosystem goods and services
    • Plant responses to solar radiation, temperature, drought and aeration stress
    • Water potential, flow and rates of movement and infiltration; water release characteristics
    • Soil texture, 3-phase soil model, bulk density, soil moisture content, porosity
    • Soil chemistry: pH, CEC, salinity and the carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles
    • Soil biology: diversity, and functional importance
    • Soil sampling and soil diversity in the field and landscape (LRR)
    • Agricultural soil management, diffuse pollution and soil erosion (EWM)
    • Land capability for agricultural production, inputs and yields (FCS)

    Intended learning outcomes

    On successful completion of this study the student should be able to….
    1. Describe the role of soil systems in the context of soil functions and ecosystem services
    2. Explain the principal responses of plants to solar radiation, temperature, drought and aeration stress.
    3. Quantify key soil physical properties (i.e. soil texture and structure, bulk density, porosity and volumetric and gravimetric water content)
    4. Explain the transport of water and gases through soil
    5. Assess the role and contribution of soils in nutrient cycling
    6. Describe the main classes of organisms in soil and their functional importance in soil systems.
    7. Evaluate the impact of land management on soil functions for agricultural production (FCS), water quality and regulation (EWM) and land restoration (LRR).

  • Soil Engineering, Contaminant and Nutrient Management
    Module LeaderDr Abdul Mouazen - Senior Lecturer in Agri & Environ Engine
    • Reasons for tillage and land management in land restoration and reclamation
    • Basics of soil mechanics: shear strength of soil & Mohr-Coulomb equation, effect of texture, moisture content and density on soil strength; Bearing capacity theory; Soil plasticity, Consistency and Atterberg limits
    • Mechanics, assessment and alleviation of soil compaction
    • Soil loosening - restoration: case study
    • Basic soil implement mechanics; choice of implements for particular operations
    • Microbiological, chemical and physical changes in soil during storage
    • Risk assessment and treatment of contaminated land (workshop)
    • Dynamics and management of soil carbon nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium and other nutrients in the context of effective land restoration and reclamation
    • Organic manures, properties and management; Risk assessments of wastes spread to land
    • Contaminant sources, loadings and impacts.
    Intended learning outcomes

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

    • Understand the principles of soil strength/failure and apply this to the physical management of soil
    • Understand issues of soil stability and plasticity
    • Quantify soil compaction and devise strategies to minimise compaction and/or rectify the problem
    • Describe the routes to soil physical and biological damage and devise strategies to minimise degradation and ecosystem disruption
    • Evaluate the dynamics of carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus as major nutrients in soils
    • Identify the pathways of contaminants in soils and their impacts to the ecosystem
    • Implement suitable strategies to reduce pollution in soils taking into account the associated risks
    • Identify organic wastes, their nutrient contents and risks associated with their application to land.
  • Land Engineering and Water Management
    Module LeaderDr Lynda Deeks - Research Fellow in Soil Science
    • Managing plant and soil water status through estimates of crop water requirements; development of field water budget.  Evapotranspiration, drainage, run off, seepage, soil water storage, and capillary rise
    • Crop responses to salinity and sodicity; management of saline and sodic soils; the leaching process
    • Hydrology; peak and catchment yield, design of run off
    • Hydraulics calculation of channel discharge capacity using Manning’s Equation (and others). The design of channels, waterways weirs, spillways, culverts and control structures
    • Slope stability; mechanisms of slope failure. The stability of shallow slope failures, Taylor’s stability numbers
    • Landscape design, land forming, earth moving and landscape modification. Top and sub soil management and vegetation establishment. Design of earth embankment storage dams
    • Concept of land capability and land quality, criteria used for assessing land capability and its classification. USDA scheme, Canadian Land
    • Inventory
    • Drainage; drainage machinery selection and performance, types of drainage problems and their recognition. Design for water table control: use of
    • Hooghoudt and Glover Dumm equations and the Ernst equation for sub irrigation design; the Miers approach; practical issues of drainage design: selection of materials, drainage maintenance, pipe surround, backfill and pipe sizing.
    Intended learning outcomes

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

    • Estimate crop water requirements and soil water deficits in different environments
    • Calculate leaching requirements for saline and sodic soil conditions
    • Calculate run off and yield for catchment
    • Design channels/ waterways and simple hydraulic structures
    • Explain the concept of land capability and carry out land capability classification
    • Calculate the stability of slopes and design of simple support
    • Design, specify, handling soil and set out earthworks for landforming, landscaping and water storage
    • Design appropriate water table control systems for drainage and sub irrigation
    • Specify appropriate machinery and mechanisation for drainage installation and maintenance.
  • 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.
  • Soil Erosion Control for Catchment Management
    Module LeaderDr Robert Simmons - Senior Lecturer in Soil Erosion & Conservation
    • Runoff and sediment production in drainage basins; erosion processes - mechanics of raindrop splash, overland flow, rill flow, gully erosion; sediment delivery to water bodies; strategies for erosion control
    • Rainfall erosivity
    • Soil erodibility
    • Soil loss prediction: USLE; Modified MMF; SERAM-DST
    • Land use planning
    • Soil conservation planning integrating technical and consultation-based multi-stakeholder approaches
    • Soil erosion control by engineering structures (terraces and waterways), agronomic methods on arable and grassland, soil management, including conservation tillage techniques; agroforestry; gully erosion control.
    Intended learning outcomes

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

    • Understand the processes of soil erosion, and of sediment transport and deposition
    • Appreciate the environmental impacts of soil erosion, and the need for erosion control and soil conservation
    • Evaluate erosion risk in a catchment and identify potential sources and sinks of sediment
    • Make appropriate decisions on erosion control, based on a fundamental understanding of the processes
    • Select appropriate input parameter values to apply erosion models to predict current erosion status and evaluate different conservation measures
    • Design an erosion control strategy for an individual farm, taking account of its location within a catchment and socio-economic conditions
    • Gain experience of managing a soil conservation project, set by an external client, which requires, using problem solving techniques, writing a consultancy-style report and meeting deadlines set.
  • 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.


MSc 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: 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


The postgraduate level Land Reclamation and Restoration course integrates new scientific understanding of environmental processes with relevant engineering and management skills. These skills are then used to develop new, integrated land management solutions at relevant scales including field, city, catchment, national and global.

Graduates from this programme are highly sought after by government agencies, businesses, consultancies, and non-government organisations (NGOs).

Accreditation and partnerships

Land Reclamation and Restoration MSc/MTech/PgCert/PgDip is accredited by:

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
  • Tarmac
  • The Coal Authority

Your teaching team

Facilities and resources

The School of Energy, Environment and Agrifood operates facilities and associated equipment which are often unique to Cranfield. Students also benefit from our infrastructure which includes:

  • Cranfield Soil Laboratory
  • Soil Dynamics Laboratory
  • Off Road Dynamics Facility
  • Soil Erosion and Conservation Laboratory
  • Soil lane and bin.

These facilities and associated equipment support study in relation to:

  • Soil engineering
  • Soil, plant and water interactions
  • Soil physics and mechanics
  • Soil dynamics
  • Soil erosion and conservation
  • Ecosystem behaviour
  • Land resource planning
  • Remote sensing
  • Water
  • Land for field trials and research investigations
  • Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  • Soil chemistry
  • Soil biology.

Entry Requirements

A first or second class UK Honours degree in a relevant science, engineering or related discipline such as engineering, agriculture, environmental science or physical geography, or the international equivalent of these UK qualifications. Other relevant qualifications, together with significant experience, may be considered.

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

Further sources of funding for UK/EU students:

DARD Northern Ireland Postgraduate Studentships
Douglas Bomford Trust
Environmental Issues Award
Whitworth Scholarships Awards and Whitworth Senior Scholarships Awards
The NFU Mutual Charitable Trust Centenary Award

Further sources of funding for International students:

Ford Foundation International Fellowships Program (IFP)
S. H. A. Ziauddin Trust
Tropical Biology Association MSc scholarship

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 career opportunities in consultancy, research, education, public and private sector industry. Successful students go on to a wide-range of careers such as consulting engineers, conservationists, environmental and design planners/consultants, land and sustainability managers and advisors, researchers, and educationalists. 

Employers include statutory agencies and ministries, conservation trusts, environmental companies, international development organisations, land and natural resource management businesses, large agri-food companies, local authorities, non-government organisations (NGOs), and research organisations.

Our recent graduate career paths:

  • Soil Scientist: Wardell Armstrong, UK
  • Soil and Water Engineer: ADAS, UK:
  • Project Manager / Reclamation Specialist: SNC-Lavalin Inc., Canada
  • Assistant Restoration Managers (x3): Tarmac, UK
  • PhD Research Cranfield University (x3), UK
  • PhD Lancaster University (x2), UK
  • Research Assistant, Cranfield University, UK
  • Planning Officer: Maryland Department of Planning, Maryland, USA
  • Monitoring Officer: Listers Geotech, UK.

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!

Environment Resources