Study an Environment MSc at Cranfield

Management of the natural environment is increasingly important in all sectors from business to public policy. This course will equip you to critically evaluate environmental issues and contribute to the management and decision making process in organisations of any size. Cranfield's reputation and links with employers create outstanding opportunities to secure career progression in this sector. Why study Environment at Cranfield? - hear from Tim Brewer.


  • Start dateFull-time: October. Part-time: October
  • DurationOne year full-time, two-three years part-time
  • DeliveryTaught modules 40%, group project 20% (dissertation for part-time students), individual thesis project 40%
  • QualificationMSc, PgDip, PgCert
  • Study typeFull-time / Part-time
  • CampusCranfield campus

Who is it for?

This course provides you with the necessary up-to-date knowledge and understanding of environmental issues, the ability to develop strategies in response, and business management skills to enable you to communicate and implement these strategies.

You will develop an understanding of sustainable development and the knowledge of related international, national and local government policies and frameworks, with particular emphasis on natural resources and the environment.

The Leading Corporate Sustainability module, which is shared with our internationally recognised School of Management, will outline the major sustainability challenges faced by businesses and explore how they can respond positively to them. It will engage students in gaining a better understanding of how corporate action can be best configured to promote responsible and sustainable business strategies.

This course will give you the opportunity to develop the capacity to undertake successful technical research projects using appropriate methods of critical analysis.

Your career

Successful students develop diverse and rewarding careers in environmental and business consultancies, manufacturing and service industries, the natural resources, public sector organisations such as environmental protection agencies, and non-governmental organisations. 

The international nature of the course means that career opportunities are not restricted to the UK. Cranfield graduates develop careers around the world.

Successful graduates have been able to pursue or enhance careers in a variety of key areas such as:
Corporate Sustainability Manager, Senior Sustainability Consultant, Head of Environmental Operations, Business/Research Consultant, Sustainability Project Manager, Environment Health & Safety Officer, HSEQ-coordinator, Product Stewardship Engineer, Research Engineer, Risk Analyst, National Project Coordinator

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 Masters 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.

Previous students have gone on to jobs within prestigious institutions including:
ASE Group, AVISO Consultancy, Bouygues Construction, Caterpillar, Confederation of European Paper Industries, Continental Landscapes Limited, Coriolis Energy, ENTPE  (France), Flag , Groupe de Bruges, Honeywell, HSSMI, Imerys, Interserve, JLL, KierWSP,  KPMG, Manhattan Atrium, Müller UK & Ireland Group , Oakdene Hollins Ltd, PwC, Samsung Electronics, Save-by-Solar Sweden AB, Unilever, United Nations Development Programme, University College London, Verascio Ltd, Virgin Media, VR Group  (Finland), Yorkshire Water.

Adam Faiers, alumnus and Director of Spedan Ltd, shares his experiences of Cranfield.

Why this course?

  • Employment prospects – our reputation and links with employers ensure outstanding opportunities to secure excellent positions
  • Excellence in teaching – In the last Teaching Quality Assessment our courses were rated as “excellent”. Eighty percent of the staff are members of the Registered Practitioners with the Higher Education Academy.
  • Track record – we have been providing Masters-level training for over 20 years.
  • Professional recognition – we regularly consult with senior representatives of key industries on questions of course and curriculum design to ensure that the programme continues to reflect the changing needs of the various sectors in which our students aim to work. This degree has been accredited by the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM).
  • Postgraduate level – Cranfield University is entirely postgraduate. Many of the students on the course have considerable professional experience.
  • Expert staff – The course is designed and delivered by experts in the field of environmental management.
  • Practical focus – We believe in giving you as much hands-on work as possible so that you are learning by doing.
Georg Eriksson

I have already started to develop my own business idea following the support of Cranfield and the content of my course.

Georg Eriksson, Environmental Management for Business MSc

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:

  • ADAS
  • Astrium Geo-information Services
  • Chartered Institute of Waste Management
  • Chartered Institute of Water and Environment Management
  • Cresswell Associates
  • Environment Agency
  • Enviros
  • Geospatial Insight
  • Health Protection Agency
  • Joint Research Centre, Ispra
  • Landscape Science Consultancy
  • Landscape Institute
  • National Trust
  • Natural England
  • Oakdene Hollins
  • P A Consulting
  • RSPB
  • WRG

Course details

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

Part-time students normally complete individual dissertations in place of the group project.

The taught programme comprises a structured sequence of modules, each containing a series of lectures and other classroom-based teaching, supplemented by practical work. The taught modules are assessed by assignments. Each module is taught over one week, usually followed by a week largely free of structured teaching to allow time for more independent learning and reflection.

Course delivery

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

Group project

Group projects, which run between February and April, enable you to apply the knowledge, understanding and skills you have developed during the course modules into practice in a real-life situation while gaining transferable skills in project management, time management and written and oral communication.

Group projects are usually sponsored by industrial or public sector partners who provide particular problems linked to their businesses. Projects generally require the group to provide a solution to the operational problem. Potential future employers value this experience.

The group projects are across the MSc courses in the environment programme, giving the added benefit of gaining new insights, ways of thinking, experience and skills from students with other backgrounds.

During the project you will develop a range of skills including learning how to establish team member roles and responsibilities, project management, and delivering technical presentations. At the end of the project, all groups submit a written report and deliver a presentation to the industrial partner. This presentation provides the opportunity to develop interpersonal and presentation skills within a professional environment. The project is assessed through a written report and an oral presentation by the group. In addition, a poster exhibition provides the opportunity to develop presentation skills and effectively handle questions about complex issues in a professional manner.

Part-time students write a review of available information around a relevant topic including academic literature, presentation of ideas and analysis and the development of conclusions.

Recent group projects include:

  • Development of a sustainable food production system based on Forest Garden concept in Stratford-upon-Avon Sponsor (Forest of Hearts - Edible gardens for good)
  • Environmental, technical, socio-economic assessment of retrofitting external insulation on older university buildings (Cranfield University)
  • Food Waste Innovations: case study of small to medium sized businesses (IMAGE programme –European Regional Development Fund)
  • A Natural Capital Based Approach to Infrastructure Site Selection as Applied to Transport Routes and Housing Developments (Bedfordshire Local Nature Partnership)
  • Scenario planning for a circular future: Peterborough context (Opportunity Peterborough)
  • Assessing the environmental, technological and economic feasibility of potential reuse of tea waste (Unilever)
  • Data visualisation approaches in supporting 10-year investment planning decisions in East Anglian flood and coastal management (Anglian Water)
  • Development of full life cycle costs at National Grid for the UK gas distribution (National Grid).

Individual project

The individual research project component takes place between May and September for full-time students.

The individual research project allows you to delve deeper into a specific area of interest and further develops research and project management skills that:

  •  provide the ability to think and work in an original way
  • develop and test your ability to plan and carry out a piece of research
  • apply theoretical knowledge and critical thinking
  • contribute to knowledge
  • overcome genuine problems
  • communicate through a thesis and oral exam.

As our academic research is so closely related to industry and public sector organisations, it is very common for our partners to put forward real-world problems or areas of development as potential research topics.

For part-time students, it is common that their research projects are undertaken in collaboration with their place of work under academic supervision, given the approval of the Course Directors.

Recent individual projects:

  •  Developing a bespoke toolkit to analyse and communicate the environmental benefits of cardboard recycling [for a waste solutions company]
  • An economic valuation of the Thames Path National Trail
  • Developing supply chain sustainability in the construction industry through a knowledge sharing and benchmarking platform
  • An exploration of the relationship between small businesses and their resilience to extreme weather-related disruptions
  • Carbon footprint analysis of an integrated waste recovery plant
  • Sustainability key performance indicators for a media business
  • Smart homes, grids and cities. Solutions for overpopulated cities with internet of things and smart systems integration
  • Plausible future scenarios for the manufacture and consumption of convenience foods in urban India to 2030
  • Circular economy: potential for resilience or vulnerability? – A Malaysian case study
  • How can the fast-moving consumer goods sector help create a market for waste treatment by-products?
  • An environmental evaluation of urban mobility based on an LCA approach
  • Managing the adoption of circular economy in SME
  • Exploring social media and networks as a driver to promote sustainable behaviour: case analysis and policy implications
  • Evaluation of methods for sustainability assessments of new, emerging and/or renewable energy technologies
  • Exploration of WEEE regulations and the potential for additive manufacturing materials.



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 modules and (where applicable) some elective modules affiliated with this programme which ran in the academic year 2018–2019. There is no guarantee that these modules will run for 2019 entry. All modules are subject to change depending on your year of entry.

Course modules

Compulsory modules
All the modules in 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 a student 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.

Leading Corporate Sustainability

Module Leader
  • Dr Rosina Watson

    Global sustainability challenges are shaping the way business operates in the 21st century. Businesses are under increasing pressure from multiple stakeholders (for e.g. shareholders, customers, employees, society) to manage their positive and negative impacts with clear responsibility and strategic intent.  Leading firms are choosing to respond to these challenges by generating sustainable value propositions to ultimately drive competitive advantage. For many this has meant re-engaging at the level of purpose and re-addressing their role in wider society and for human well-being.

    This module outlines the major sustainability challenges and explores the capabilities organisations require need to respond positively to them. It will engage students in gaining a better understanding of how corporate action can be best configured to promote responsible and sustainable business strategies. In doing so, it will demand management students (as future business managers and leaders) to reflect on the long-standing debate about whether or not ‘the business of business, is still business?

    Watch video: An introduction to the Leading Corporate Sustainability module

    Leading Corporate Sustainability

    The content is organised around the sustainability management ‘compass’ below:

    Leading Corporate Sustainability

    The course content is structured as follows:

    Part 1: Setting the context

    Context setting

    • What is managing corporate sustainability?
    • Social and environmental trends

    The role of business

    • What is the role of business?
    • Challenges and opportunities for business

    Exploring possible futures

    • Playing ‘The Game of Life 2050;’ an interactive future sustainable scenario board game

    Part 2: Developing the capabilities

    • Creating a vision
    • Formulating and implementing strategy
    • Innovating
    • Working with stakeholders
    • Collaborating
    • Valuing
    • Leading

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

  1. Identify global environmental and social trends and relate how these present both challenges and opportunities to business
  2. Explain why businesses need to respond to these challenges and opportunities and assess the capabilities they require to do so
  3. Classify the potential stakeholder groups businesses can work with to develop and implement their sustainability strategies and compare collaboration approaches
  4. Consider the role of personal leadership in an organization’s values, strategic direction and ability to execute its sustainability strategy
  5. Critically assess the content and reporting of businesses’ sustainability strategies
  6. Design and recommend a sustainability-oriented innovation for a selected business.

Economic Valuation and Appraisal

Module Leader
  • Dr Anil Graves
    Financial (or investment) appraisal is a decision making process used by institutions and individuals to compare the efficiency of competing projects.  Economic appraisal (or social cost-benefit analysis) is the process of identifying, measuring, and comparing the societal costs of an investment project or programme.  Projects can be 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 financial and economic appraisal and students will acquire the knowledge and skills in the application of such appraisals.
    • Welfare economics and pareto-efficiency; compensation principle and the role of equity.
    • Market failures and the role of cost benefit analysis
    • Principles and practice of financial and economic appraisal
    • Case study application for an afforestation project in a spreadsheet environment
    • Efficient provision of environmental goods and services.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

  • Explain how economic efficiency and equity can be assessed and used in financial and economic appraisal
  • Critically evaluate different financial and economic appraisal metrics such as benefit: cost ratio, net present value, equivalent annual value, and internal rate of return.
  • Critically evaluate the choice of an appropriate discount rate
  • Undertake a financial and an economic appraisal in a spreadsheet environment
  • Use techniques such as sensitivity analysis and Monte Carlo simulation.

Evaluating Environmental Sustainability

Module Leader
  • Dr Adrian Williams

    Several methods exist to assess the environmental sustainability and impacts of products, services, businesses, projects, policies and economic systems. Each was conceived and developed for specific environmental objectives (see indicative content). A sustainability manager or sustainability consultant must be able to assess critically each of these methods and identify their strengths and weaknesses, and hence to choose which method to adopt when faced with the need to address an environmental issue.

    • Life cycle assessment including carbon footprint and water footprint
    • Ecological footprint
    • Environment impact assessment

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

  • Evaluate the main methods used in sustainability assessments and reports,
  • Identify the appropriate methods to assess the environmental issues for specific products, services, systems or policies,
  • Critically interpret sustainability claims of products, services and policies on the basis of the environmental assessment methods used.

Environmental Policy and Risk Governance

Module Leader
  • Dr Simon Jude

    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 and developing environmental policy. 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 are supported by multiple case studies, a workshop and module assignment. 

    • 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 module a student should be able to:

  • Define the technical, organisational and human features of effective environmental risk governance.
  • Explain the environmental policy cycle of implementation and the basics of policy development and appraisal.
  • Critically analyse different types of policy instruments, including regulation, economic, voluntary and other measures.
  • Identify the appropriate policy instruments to use in different contexts.
  • Compare and contrast environmental risk management techniques, selecting tools appropriate to the character of the risk in question.
  • Identify the requirements of risk management maturity and the pre-requisites of good corporate risk governance.

Environmental Innovation

Module Leader
  • Professor Jim Harris

    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 environmental net gain or transition to a low carbon economy. These are then set in practical contexts such as innovation in manufacturing, ecological restoration or low-carbon living.

    • 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 in context
    • Clusters, technology road-maps and the development of sustainable technologies.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

  • Explain the limitations of selected theories of technological change, e.g. linear, induced, path-dependent, and evolutionary
  • Critically summarise the key trade-offs that occur in achieving technological change and economic development alongside environmental protection
  • Discuss and present a summary of examples of technological change developed to achieve transition, e.g., to a low carbon economy
  • Explain technology options and policy initiatives to stimulate transitions, e.g. to a low carbon economy using examples
  • Concisely justify a proposal for an environmentally beneficial initiative.

Environmental Management in Practice

Module Leader
  • Dr Gill Drew

    The purpose of this module is to introduce students to the practical issues associated with implementing Environmental Management Systems (EMS) into organisations.  This requires a thorough understanding of the concept of an EMS, as well as the most commonly used frameworks, namely the ISO 14000 series of standards.  In addition, knowledge of the potential barriers and pitfalls during implementation and the practical measures that can be implemented is provided.

    • Introduction to the International Standards associated with EMS
    • Environmental legislation and voluntary standards
    • Developing the business case for EMS
    • Barriers to implementation of EMS
    • Waste technology and prevention measures
    • Energy technology and monitoring
    • Water use and technology.
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

  • Understand and critique the ISO standards.
  • Differentiate between voluntary requirements and legal or regulatory requirements of EMS
  • Evaluate the likely environmental aspects of an organisation, in terms of energy, waste, water and pollution, and the appropriate control mechanisms.
  • Design and implement an audit strategy to check compliance of an EMS with the ISO 14001 standard.  

Risk Communication and Perception

Module Leader
  • Dr Simon Jude

    The aim of this module to develop an appreciation of the importance of individual and group attitudes towards the perception of risk and how this may influence views, conduct and actions in the face of a range of risks including the development of communication methods to disseminate information about risk(s) to a range of audiences and how to determine its effectiveness. 

    • What is meant by the perception of risk and how it varies with context
    • Attitudes towards risk based on psychological, cultural and other dimensions
    • The role of various societal groups (the media, NGOs, etc) in risk issues
    • Models of the amplification and attenuation of risk
    • Understanding the “fright factors” in risk perception and the development of trust
    • Horizon scanning and scenario building tools for communicating future risk to individuals and organisations
    • Communicating risk messages to individuals, groups and society at large and errors in communication
Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module a student should be able to:

  • Describe the “non-science” influences in risk assessment and management using sociological and psychological theories relating to risk perception, attitudes and communication;
  • Identify and describe drivers that may influence individual or group perceptions and attitudes towards risk in specific scenarios;
  • Participate in the discourse on the roles in society of different stakeholders (e.g. the media, NGOs, academics, government) with respect to risk assessment issues and to be able to describe to others why they have the beliefs they hold
  • Demonstrate skills in listening to concerns from different individuals/groups towards risks and the ability to enter into dialogue with such groups
  • Communicate clearly to a range of audiences the impacts of future risks drawing upon the concepts of horizon scanning and using foresight tools, demonstrating the underlying principles and tensions within such techniques
  • Develop effective means of communication to suit specific or general situations and how to demonstrate its effectiveness, and critique methods based on theories and evidence.

Teaching team

You will be taught by a combination of University academics and external experts who are practitioners in the subjects they deliver. Cranfield University has established itself internationally in a range of environmental disciplines and sustainable development. As such, teaching staff are uniquely placed to deliver this important course.

Invited lecturers include: Paul Stevens – Managing Director at Aviso Ltd and Adam Faiers – Spedan Ltd


This degree has been accredited by the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) and the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment.

Accreditation provides you with the assurance that the course has been independently assessed as meeting professional standards.

You will receive free student membership of both institutions whilst on the course, giving you access to a wealth of knowledge and resources to support your studies, including webinars, publications, networks and much more.

Once you have successfully completed our Environmental Management for Business MSc, you can then gain access to the GradIEMA professional membership, or apply to transfer to graduate membership of CIWEM with the transfer fee waived for the first year after graduation.

Membership of these institutions is a great way to start your career in environment and sustainability, and will help your CV/resumée stand out.

CIWEM logo 

IEMA accreditation logo

How to apply

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

Mathilde Manueco

“My Cranfield degree was known among professionals in my company, and recognised as a quality degree. My Cranfield degree complemented my engineering knowledge with a more strategic and business oriented point of view; I use this knowledge everyday.”

Mathilde Manueco, Auditeur Senior, Sustainability Services, KPMG France