We regularly review and update our portfolio of courses to ensure that they meet the needs of industry now and in the future. As part of this review the decision has been made to withdraw the Land Reclamation and Restoration MSc from our Environment programme. Our remaining Environment courses, Environmental Engineering, Environmental Management for Business and Geographical Information Management, continue to provide you with the skills and experience to prepare you for a career within the sector.

To contact the Course Director for each of the other courses available, you can view their profile here;

Environmental Engineering - Dr Mark Pawlett

Environmental Management for Business - Dr Kenisha Garnett

Geographical Information Management - Dr Daniel Simms

Study for a Land Reclamation & Restoration MSc

Land is a vital resource and the deterioration or loss of the productive capacity of soils is a major global challenge for the 21st century. This course has been designed to meet the increasing demands to manage and restore degraded land as close as possible to its original status. Accredited by IAgrE and the Landscape Institute, this course will provide you with the knowledge and skills required to bridge the gap between damaged land and fully restored ecosystems. Cranfield offers a unique, postgraduate-only environment, with a teaching team with extensive experience of solving real world environmental challenges.


  • Start dateCourse withdrawn for 2020
  • DurationOne year full-time, two-three years part-time
  • DeliveryMSc taught modules (six core and two electives) and 40%, group project 20%, individual thesis 40%
  • QualificationMSc, PgDip, PgCert
  • Study typeFull-time / Part-time
  • CampusCranfield campus

Who is it for?

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

The course will provide you with the skills to assess, plan and implement strategies needed to restore, reclaim and remediate degraded land in order to support ecosystems' functions and services.

It is designed to respond to industry demands for highly-trained engineers and science professionals able to implement appropriate, innovative and sustainable soil and land management strategies. 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.

Your career

Hear from our three alumni who went on to work for Tarmac

On completion of this course, you will have career opportunities in consultancy, research, education, public and private sector industry.

Successful graduates have been able to pursue or enhance careers in a variety of key areas such as: Consultant Engineers, Conservationist, Environmental and Design Planners/Consultants, Land and Sustainability Managers and Advisors and Academic Researchers.

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

Previous students have gone on to jobs within prestigious institutions including:

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

Cranfield Careers Service

Our Careers Service can help you find the job you want after leaving Cranfield. We will work with you to identify suitable opportunities and support you in the job application process for up to three years after graduation. We have been providing master's-level training for over 20 years. Our strong reputation and links with potential employers provide you with outstanding opportunities to secure interesting jobs and develop successful careers. The increasing interest in sustainability and corporate and social responsibility has also enhanced the career prospects of our graduates.

 Hear from an alumnus: 

  • Alex Cooke - Alex studied her master's at Cranfield in 2012 and worked in industry before returning to us to study for her PhD.

Cranfield supports international students to work in the UK after graduation

I've had the best learning experience here with a beautiful and serene environment, excellent IT training sessions for different skills, career prospects awareness and lots of PC labs too. I hope to enjoy my year in Cranfield to the maximum while acquiring relevant skills along the way.

Thank you Cranfield!

The MSc programme is one of only a handful of reclamation-specific programmes around the world, and stood out for me because of Cranfield’s expertise in soil. With my industry background, I was also impressed by the practical approach of Cranfield’s course and the University’s strong industry links.

Cranfield actually is the only University in Europe offering a master’s degree in Land Reclamation and Restoration. Cranfield’s well known for their close collaboration with industry, and I was really attracted to the idea of solving real-world problems rather than writing more academic papers.

Why this course?

  • Learn how to integrate new scientific understanding of environmental processes with relevant engineering and management skills in order to develop new, integrated land management solutions at relevant scales including field, city, catchment, national and global.
  • Benefit from the hands-on activities and visits to relevant land reclamation and ecological restoration sites, which provide a significant component of the course.
  • Gain an in-depth understanding of principles that influence soil reclamation and restoration in an ecosystem context.
  • Access market leading geospatial technologies and state of the art soil and plant research laboratories associated with the Agri-Tech Innovation Centres.

Informed by industry

The Land Reclamation and Restoration MSc is closely aligned with industry to ensure that you are fully prepared for your new career, with our graduates highly sought after by government agencies, businesses, consultancies, and non-government organisations (NGOs).

  • The teaching team are heavily involved in research and development, enabling you to benefit from real-world case studies throughout the course.
  • Participate in application focused, industrially relevant individual, and group projects focused on your personal interests and career aspirations.
  • Accreditation by the Institution of Agricultural Engineers (IAgrE) and Landscape Institute ensures that the course meets current professional standards.

Our regular consultations with leading organisations on questions of course and curriculum design to ensure that the programme continues to reflect the changing needs employers. These organisations include:

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

Course details

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.

Course delivery

MSc taught modules (six core and two electives) and 40%, group project 20%, individual thesis 40%

Group project

This project provides you 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. This provides experience equivalent to a real-life working environment aiming to provide a solution to a problem faced by industry in an integrated approach drawing upon mixed expertise across various disciplines. 

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

Individual project

This project provides an opportunity to concentrate on a particular aspect of land reclamation and restoration. It also allows you to demonstrate your 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.


Keeping our courses up-to-date and current requires constant innovation and change. The modules we offer reflect the needs of business and industry and the research interests of our staff and, as a result, may change or be withdrawn due to research developments, legislation changes or for a variety of other reasons. Changes may also be designed to improve the student learning experience or to respond to feedback from students, external examiners, accreditation bodies and industrial advisory panels.

To give you a taster, we have listed the compulsory and elective (where applicable) modules which are currently affiliated with this course. All modules are indicative only, and may be subject to change for your year of entry.

Course modules

Compulsory modules
All the modules in the following list need to be taken as part of this course.

GIS Fundamentals

Module Leader
  • Tim Brewer

    GIS is an important technology for handling geographic data and has a wide application for studies of the environment. GIS is widely used in many courses, modules, and group and personal projects.  This module therefore provides the opportunity to develop GIS skills that will be of use within your course and in later employment.

    • 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 you should 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 Systems

Module Leader
  • Dr Jacqueline Hannam
    Food security, environmental protection and landscape restoration depend upon effective management of soil, plant and water interactions in the environment.  This module will focus on a fundamental understanding of the science of soil systems and how decisions in land management affect the soil functions related to food production and land restoration.
    • Soil functions, ecosystem goods and services.
    • Plant responses to solar radiation, temperature, drought and aeration stress.
    • Soil texture, bulk density, soil moisture t, porosity and structure.
    • Soil chemistry: Nutrients, pH, CEC, salinity and the carbon, nitrogen and phosphorus cycles.
    • Soil organisms: diversity and functional importance.
    • Soil sampling and soil diversity in the field and landscape (LRR).
    • Soil-based concepts of ecological restoration and principles of Agricultural Land Classification (LRR).
    • Land capability for agricultural production, inputs and yields (FFS).
    • Innovations for agricultural production (FFS).

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  • Describe the role of soil systems in the context of soil functions and ecosystem services.
  • Explain the principal responses of plants to the climatic environment.
  • Quantify key soil physical properties.
  • Assess the role and contribution of soils in nutrient availability and cycling.
  • Describe the functional role of soil biology in soil systems.
  • Evaluate the impact of soil management and agricultural innovation in agricultural production (FFS).
  • Create a soil assessment in the context of land restoration (LRR).

Soil Engineering, Contaminant and Nutrient Management


    Land restoration and reclamation practices in relation to improving soil structural conditions for optimal crop growth and prevention of soil resource losses must be grounded on an understanding of principles from soil science, bio-science and engineering. In addition, effective land restoration and reclamation must also consider the theoretical and practical principles underlying the successful management of soil organic carbon and the application of nutrients and organic manures to land.

    • Reasons for tillage and soil management in land restoration and reclamation.
    • Basics of soil mechanics: shear strength of soil & Mohr-Coulomb equation, effect of texture, moisture content and bulk density on soil strength; Soil plasticity, Consistency and Atterberg limits.
    • Defining and assessing soil structure. Mechanics, assessment and alleviation of soil compaction.
    • Soil Bio-EngineeringMicrobiological, chemical and physical changes in soil during storage.
    • Risk assessment and treatment of contaminated land.
    • Contaminated land and remediation technologies.
    • 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.
    • Principles of Phytoremediation.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  • Quantify soil strength and slope failure and apply this to the physical management of soil.
  • Assess soil stability and plasticity.
  • Quantify soil compaction and advise 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 suitable technologies for the remediation of different types of contaminated land.
  • 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.

Landscape Ecology

Module Leader
  • Professor Ronald Corstanje

    “Landscape ecology emphasizes the interactions between spatial patterns and ecological processes, that is, the causes and consequences of spatial heterogeneity in a range of scales” (Turner et al. 2001). Landscape ecology provides a foundational framework for problem solving, decision making and planning in land restoration, ecological conservation and natural resources management. It covers topics related to structure, function and change, and it provides the necessary tools to select the appropriate methods to test spatial hypothesis and solve problems at multiple scales. This module is designed to introduce you to a variety of tools that measure and quantify landscape components at different scales, and to understand them in the context of their field of expertise priorities and regulations.


    • Introduction to landscape ecology
    • Landscape elements (e.g. mosaics, corridor and patches)
    • Landscape metrics (e.g. spatial pattern metrics)
    • Landscape fragmentation, connectivity, scale and hierarchy
    • Species population and sampling, and National vegetation classification
    • Introduction to point pattern analysis: Ripley’s K Function
    • Spatial aggregation

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should 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.

Ecological Restoration

Module Leader
  • Professor Jim Harris
    Successful ecological restoration and rehabilitation requires an integrated understanding of the ecological parameters of a site, together with the physical, chemical, and biotic factors that may influence desired outcomes. However, restoration objectives also need appreciation of the historical context of the site, as well as possible social considerations that may limit the desired outcomes. In short ecological restoration is frequently ‘the art of balancing the possible’. This module covers the breadth of considerations required for ecological restoration and gives you the opportunity to undertake analysis of management planning at both site and landscape scales.
    • 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.
    • Importance of scale for reconstruction of habitats.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  • Discuss 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.
  • 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.  

Soil Erosion Control: Principles and Practices

Module Leader
  • Dr Robert Simmons

    The control of water pollution and sedimentation needs to be based on the correct identification of source areas of sediment, a knowledge of the processes by which water and sediment are moved over the land surface, and an understanding of how these processes are affected by the physical environment and socio-economic factors.  Soil conservation can be achieved through within-field and catchment management by targeting erosion control measures at critical locations in the landscape, producing appropriate designs and gaining the support of interested groups and organisations for their implementation.

    • Definitions and agents of water and wind erosion
    • On and offsite consequences ad impacts of erosion
    • Erosion processes: Detachment, entrainment, transport and deposition
    • Rainfall erosivity
    • Soil erodibility
    • Slope and landcover/management factors affecting erosion
    • Role of grass roots for erosion control
    • Soil compaction and role in runoff generation
    • Socio-economic, regulatory and policy contexts of soil erosion control
    • Soil conservation approaches including, soil management, agronomic measures, waterway design, cover crops and terraces
    • Soil conservation planning integrating technical and consultation-based multi-stakeholder approaches. 
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  • Describe the processes of soil erosion, and of sediment transport and deposition.
  • Define the environmental impacts of soil erosion, and the need for erosion control and soil conservation.
  • Evaluate erosion risk at a field and catchment scale and identify potential sources and sinks of sediment.
  • Make appropriate decisions on selection of soil conservation approaches to control erosion, based on a fundamental understanding of erosion 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.
  • Manage a soil conservation project, set by an external client, which requires, using problem solving techniques, writing a consultancy-style report and meeting deadlines set. 

Elective modules
A selection of modules from the following list need to be taken as part of this course

Principles of Sustainability

Module Leader
  • Dr Paul Burgess

    Human population growth and increased resource use per capita is placing unsustainable demands on the global ecosystem. This module explores sustainability using three approaches. The “Ecosystem Service” approach provides a framework for society to address key environmental issues such as food production, greenhouse gas emissions, biodiversity loss, and water use.  The “Circular Economy” approach refers to the development of “restorative” industrial systems that are grounded on the lessons of non-linear, feedback-rich ecosystems.  The third approach is to explore the nexus between renewable energy, food, and other ecosystem services using per capita energy and food consumption. This module introduces and critiques the three approaches and examines their application to resolve real-world problems and create commercial opportunities.

    • 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 you should 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.

Aerial Photography and Digital Photogrammetry

Module Leader
  • Tim Brewer

    Deriving digital elevation models and ortho imagery is an important application of remote sensing data for many areas of spatial work. This module introduces you to techniques for the extraction of topographic information from remotely sensed data using digital photogrammetry techniques. Image interpretation is also a vital skill required in many image based mapping projects. The concepts and techniques of image interpretation will also be introduced and practised.


  • Topographic maps and remote sensing images: map scale and content, image sources and interpretation methods, accuracy issues. 
  • Aerial imagery 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 imagery: geometry, co-ordinate axes, scale, measurement. 
  • Digital photogrammetry.  Digital elevation models.  Structure from Motion.
  • 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 - UAV imagery, scanning existing photography.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  • Explain the geometry and spectral properties of vertical aerial photographs.
  • Explain the basic principles of digital photogrammetry.
  • Use aerial photographs in the interpretation of the physical and human environments.
  • Extract elevation data from stereo pairs.
  • Derive orthophotography from standard frame aerial photography.

Land Engineering and Water Management

Module Leader
  • Dr Lynda Deeks

    Improvement of land quality and the reclamation of degraded land are needed to ensure the sustainable delivery of ecosystem goods and services. Landscapes can be engineered to deliver these services by application of a base understanding of fundamental environmental properties and interrelationships of soil, vegetation and water. This understanding is grounded in basic soil physics, hydrology, hydraulics, geotechnics and agronomy. Land managers and engineers can design and implement appropriate land, water and vegetation management through interventions such as drainage, soil conservation, slope stabilisation and irrigation. This understanding and skills set are also the basis for management of projects involving land forming, reclamation, restoration and protection, which require selection, design, engineering and maintenance of appropriate structures.

    • Managing plant and soil water status through estimates of crop water requirements; development of field water budget. Evapotranspiration, drainage, runoff, seepage, soil water storage, and capillary rise.
    • Concept of land capability and land quality, criteria used for assessing land capability and its classification. USDA scheme, Canadian Land Inventory.
    • Slope stability; mechanisms of slope failure. The stability of shallow slope failures, Taylor’s stability numbers.
    • Slope stabilisation principles and processes.
    • Landscape design, land forming, earth moving and landscape modification. Top and sub soil management and vegetation establishment. Design of earth embankment storage dams.
    • Hydrology; peak and catchment yield, design of runoff.
    • Hydraulics calculation of channel discharge capacity using Manning‟s Equation (and others). The design of channels, waterways weirs, spillways, culverts and control structures.
    • 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.
    • Managing plant and soil water status through estimates of crop water requirements; development of field water budget. Evapotranspiration, drainage, runoff, seepage, soil water storage, and capillary rise.
    • Crop responses to salinity and sodicity; management of saline and sodic soils; the leaching process.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  • Explain the concept of land capability and carry out land capability classification.
  • Calculate the stability of slopes and design of simple support and stabilisation processes.
  • Undertake an erosion survey and risk assessment.
  • Design earthworks for landforming, landscaping and water storage.
  • Calculate runoff and yield for catchment.
  • Design channels/ waterways and simple hydraulic structures.
  • Design appropriate water table control systems for drainage and sub irrigation.
  • Calculate irrigation requirements for crops and soil water deficits in different environments.

Land Resource Planning

Module Leader
  • Tim Brewer

    Land planning and its "human dimension" are fundamental aspects of managing the physical and human environments.  Knowledge of and correct application of land planning methodologies and solutions is vital for sustainable management of what are often limited resources.  Management of the landscape requires evaluation of potentially many options. Constraints and opportunities are provided by the physical and human environment, and this module will highlight different methods that can be used to provide land resource planners with the data required to formulate sustainable plans. Often a range of options are possible and techniques to select optimum solutions will be covered.

    • Planning context for land resource planning.
    • Ecosystem services as part of land resource planning.
    • 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.
    • Resource optimisation methods to inform planning options.
    • Horizon scanning for future land resource planning.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module you should be able to:

  • Assess the planning context within which land planning will operate.
  • Design surveys to address land planning issues.
  • Practice 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 exercise objectives and practice oral presentation (as part of the module).


The MSc of this course is accredited by Institution of Agricultural Engineers (IAgrE) and Landscape Institute.

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