Edinburgh’s MSc in Ecosystem Services focuses upon how the natural environment contributes to human well-being, using tools from ecology, economics, and other social sciences. The MSc equips students with interdisciplinary skills cited as 'most-wanted' in the environmental sector.
Simply put, ecosystem services are the goods, services and wellbeing we obtain from nature. Thinking about ecosystems in terms of how they contribute to human welfare is an idea that is gaining ground, and is the focus of a lot of exciting new interdisciplinary research. There is also strong policy relevance: policy makers and businesses are used to making decisions based on estimates of costs, benefits and risks, but often environmental issues are not thought of in this way. Instead we appeal to our instinct that nature is important and valuable in its own right. Although this approach has a lot of traction in certain circles, it hasn’t always proved to be a great way of balancing the monetary gains associated with degrading or destroying ecosystems against the loss of the services they provide. Ecosystem Services provide a lens through which these trade-offs can be evaluated, by bringing together ecosystem science with the social sciences and economics. Looking at environmental trade-offs through the lens of ecosystem services helps to illuminate them, and allows us to value things that often get overlooked. Sometimes this means applying a monetary value, but not always. In fact, there is now a rapidly developing set of methodologies for non-monetary valuation of nature.
This MSc takes an emphasis on developing skills and experience that will be of use outside academia. For instance, assessments are designed with a real world context, developing skills in writing clearly and concisely for a range of non-academic audiences (e.g. policy briefings, executive summaries). Your skills in analysing real data sets and specific areas will be developed through extensive real-world data collection and analysis activities. Throughout the programme you will practice skills that are in high demand from employers in environmental sectors, such as data collection and analysis, computer modelling, fieldwork and interdisciplinary analysis.
While the overall character of your degree program will vary with your choice of electives, all students will gain an overall knowledge on the theory and practice of Ecosystem Services, including:
• An understanding of key ecological principles underlying Ecosystem Services, and, processes, functionality and dynamics of ecosystems across a range of different biomes and scales;
• An appreciation of the diverse services that ecosystems provide to society, e.g. food, coastal protection, carbon capture, water security, through to aesthetic or cultural traditions;
• An ability to measure and communicate the values of ecosystem services through a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods and models;
• A detailed understanding of ecosystem services through specific courses on forests, fresh water and marine systems and specific areas such as ethics, economics, resource management and GIS. Examples may include: coursework in forestry, coastal marine, water, economics, environmental governance, and/or social and cultural traditions; and
• The ability to undertake interdisciplinary research, both independently and as part of a team and team-based project management.
"Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:
Entry requirements by country = http://www.ed.ac.uk/studying/international/postgraduate-entry All applicants must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of their English language ability:
an undergraduate or masters degree, that was taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country as defined by UK Visas and Immigration
UKVI list of majority English speaking countries
IELTS Academic: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)
TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)
PTE(A): total 67 (at least 56 in each of the ""Communicative Skills"" sections; the ""Enabling Skills"" sections are not considered)
CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)
Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components
Degrees taught and assessed in English must be no more than two and a half years old at the beginning of your degree programme. Language tests must be no more than two years old at the beginning of your degree programme.