University of Edinburgh

College of Science and Engineering

Sustainable Plant Health


Old College

South Bridge

Edinburgh, Scotland EH8 9YL

United Kingdom

Program Information

Degrees Offered:

Sustainable Plant Health

Format: Campus

Program Description:

With the global human population set to rise to over nine billion by 2050, and our trees facing new plant threats, we urgently need sustainable solutions that will allow us to increase the global food supply while preserving the integrity of agricultural and non-agricultural ecosystems.

Food production has tripled in the last forty years, but one billion people still go hungry every year. On average 30% of all food produced is wasted in the pathway from 'field to fork'. With the global human population set to rise from seven to over nine billion by 2050, we urgently need sustainable solutions that will allow us to increase the global food supply while preserving the integrity of agricultural and non-agricultural ecosystems.

Our trees and forests face new plant health threats which in turn threaten areas of great natural beauty and diversity, and affect both rural and urban landscapes. Our unique MSc Sustainable Plant Health will give you the opportunity to develop your understanding of the vital role of plant health, applying your skills by conducting laboratory and field studies.

This programme is primarily aimed at graduates wishing to pursue a career in plant protection in agriculture, horticulture, forestry or urban settings, and also careers in policy development and implementation, plant health inspection, academic and industrial research, consultancy and conservation management, and private industry.

The full time 12 month programme involves two semesters of classes followed by an individual research project. The curriculum consists of two core and four elective taught courses, followed by a period of individual dissertation project work. Field trips will also form a crucial part of this course.

Core courses:

  • Forensic Plant Health: lectures, lab classes and field visits providing a foundation in plant health investigation
  • Plant Health in a Global Context: lectures and visits providing a global context for exploring plant health issues
  • Dissertation 
  • Students with little background in plant health biology will take the elective course on the Fundamentals of Plant Health

Option courses allow students to tailor the degree programme according to their interests and include:

  • Applications in Ecological Economics
  • Atmospheric Quality and Global Change 
  • Case Studies in Sustainable Development
  • Climate Change and Corporate Strategy 
  • Ecosystem Services 1: Ecosystem Dynamics and Functions 
  • Ecosystem Services 2: Ecosystem Values and Management 
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Foundations in Ecological Economics 
  • Frameworks to Assess Food Security 
  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability 
  • Integrated Resource Management 
  • Integrated Resource Planning 
  • Interrelationships in Food Systems 
  • Land Use/Environmental Interactions 
  • Principles of Environmental Sustainability 
  • Soil Protection and Management 
  • Soil Science Concepts and Application
  • Sustainability of Food Production
  • Understanding Environment and Development

Career Opportunities

Plant health scientists are employed in a range of vocations: environmental consultancy, research, overseas development, agriculture, horticulture, forestry, urban planning, policy development, plant inspection and management. Long term career prospects are strong as agricultural scientists will continue to be needed to balance increased output with protection and preservation of ecosystems.

Our graduates will gain particularly valuable skills due to our programme's unique approach looking at impacts across ecosystems. They also benefit from the applied nature of the course allowing them to use their practical skills in a range of field trip environments with expert supervision.


Contact the school for information

International Student Requirements:

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.

Facts & Figures

Financial Aid: Yes

International Financial Aid: Yes

# of Credits Required: 180

In State Tuition (per year): 10,200

Out State Tuition (per year): 22,500

Classification: Higher Education Institution (Not Carnegie Classified)

Locale: Midsize City