Skip to main content

MSc Green Economy

Watch our video Book an Open Day
  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions, Part-Time

The development of a green economy, or an economy that is environmentally sustainable, has become a political and socio-economic imperative. Key drivers include the need to reduce carbon emissions to minimise the risk of climate change, overexploitation of resources and widespread environmental degradation, which is eroding the natural capital on which human wellbeing depends. The transition to a green economy represents a substantial challenge to society, particularly in the current era of rapid environmental and socio-economic change.

This green economy course seeks to provide the scientific understanding on which the transition to a green economy can be based, including the principles of environmental sustainability and the societal responses required to implement these in practice.

Find out more about this course with Programme Leader, Dr Elena Cantarello on the MSc Green Economy webinar.

Interested in studying this course part-time? Enquire now.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2018, January 2019, September 2019


Distance Learning


1 year full-time, or 2 years part-time

Required subjects:

Geography, ecology, environmental science, economics, psychology or sociology

Entry requirements:

A Bachelors Honours degree, 2:2 or equivalent in a required subject area and/or relevant comprehensive professional experience.

International entry requirements:

If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS 6.5 (Academic) or above. For more information see our full entry requirements.

Course details

You can take the core units of this course separately as individual continuing professional development units (CPDs). For more information click on the links below.

Core units

  • Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services: Examine the scientific principles for ecosystem services, how they link with ecosystem function and their relationships with biodiversity. Key ecosystem services that will be considered include food and water, regulating flood and disease control, cultural services such as spiritual, recreational, and cultural benefits, and nutrient cycling. You'll explore how ecosystem services production can be measured and mapped, the distribution of beneficiaries, different approaches to valuation and potential links with the green economy. Key emerging issues include potential trade-offs between ecosystem services and between ecosystem services and biodiversity.

  • Carbon Management: Increasing concern about the potential impacts of global climate change, attributable primarily to human activities, has placed the issue of carbon management at the top of the international policy agenda. You'll examine the science underpinning the process of climate change and how this might be addressed through adaptation and mitigation measures, based on an understanding of the global carbon cycle.

  • Environmental Law & Social Justice: Justice in a complex world, environmental policy and law decisions have implications for the environment and the people that live in and rely on it. In this unit we'll explore the legal and policy dynamics and the factors that influence environmental social justice outcomes in environmental policy debates, and identify how social justice considerations can be incorporated more effectively into environmental policy.

  • Frontiers of Sustainability Science: Sustainability science has emerged in recent years as a new scientific discipline, at the interface between environmental science and sustainable development. Key objectives include understanding of the dynamics of human-environment systems, easing the design, execution and evaluation of practical interventions that promote sustainability in particular places and contexts, and improving links between research, innovation, policy and management. You'll develop a detailed knowledge of sustainability science and advanced literature-based research, evaluation and reporting skills. You'll also learn to use your knowledge to solve problems.

  • Green technology & Renewable Energy: In the context of global climate change and the consequent need to phase out using fossil fuels, developing renewable energy sources has become one of the main drivers of the green economy. Green technology developments can also improve efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, while reducing the ecological footprint of human activities. However, such technologies can also have negative environmental impacts and become the focus of social concern. This unit examines environmental and social impacts of different technologies; to critically evaluate which approaches might truly be considered ‘green’. It will consider the main environmental, political and socio-economic drivers for the development of green technology, and examine how these challenges are being met through scientific and technological innovation.

  • Sustainable Development in Practice: Understand how the scientific principles for sustainable development can be executed in practice. You'll consider the international policy for sustainable development, and evaluate the extent to which policy targets and goals have been achieved to identify any lessons that might be learned. This will include considering how sustainability can be measured, for example through using indicators. The practical execution of sustainable development's principles will then be explored through a series of real-world case studies, relating to a variety of different locations and focusing on different economic sectors.

Option units

Please note that option units require minimum numbers in order to run and may change from year to year.

Choose one:

  • Research Project: An introduction to a range of academic skills essential for becoming a successful researcher in the modern research environment. You'll learn transferable skills in designing a research project, developing the right methodology, writing a research proposal, collecting and analysing data and presenting your work at conferences and in scientific journals. The unit combines a variety of learning and teaching methods including lectures, workshops, computer-based learning, practical activities and small group work.

  • Extended Professional Placement: The placement offers you a workplace experience for developing your vocational skills and applying the theory and knowledge gained from other elements of the course. You'll get an opportunity to gain individual professional experience through executing a practical project in a workplace environment. The placements could potentially be with any government, non-government or commercial organisation, and might typically include NGOs, government bodies, local councils, private companies, consultancies or community or research organisations.

Programme specification

​Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

Download the programme specification for MSc Green Economy.

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.

Placement opportunities

There is no requirement for a professional placement. However, the course has been designed so that it may be taken in conjunction with paid employment, for example by studying on a part-time basis. If you have been or are currently in employment you will be encouraged to draw on your professional practice during the course.

Rather than undertake a research project towards the production of a dissertation, you may prefer to undertake a work-based project, referred to as the Extended Professional Placement. You would then be required to produce a portfolio of activities describing the project work undertaken, as part of the placement. Typically this might be conducted over a period of several months.

Selection criteria

Background and experience

For MSc Green Economy we are looking for applicants who:

  • Are enthusiastic to learn about a wide range of issues relating to sustainable development and the development of a green economy
  • Are interested to apply the knowledge that they gain during the course to solving practical problems in the real world
  • Are prepared to engage actively in an online learning process, including interacting with staff and other students
  • Can demonstrate an academic interest in the multi-disciplinary science that underpins development of the green economy
  • Can demonstrate a practical interest in environmental issues.

We welcome students who are keen to develop their intellectual skills by gaining a sound scientific understanding of the green economy and the process of sustainable development. This course is strongly interdisciplinary, and therefore we welcome candidates from a wide range of academic backgrounds and interests. We particularly encourage applications from people who are keen to broaden their education and who are interested in learning about a wide range of issues relating to the development of a green economy. Candidates should have a strong interest and commitment to the environment, but should be committed to deepening their knowledge of the scientific principles underpinning sustainability, and learning how these may be applied in practice.

A strong background in scientific subjects is not an essential requirement for this course, and candidates with a broad range of first degrees will be considered, including arts and humanities as well as scientific subjects. A key requirement is a commitment to learn about and integrate perspectives from a range of disciplines, including both social and environmental sciences, and the characteristics of social-ecological systems.

Above all, candidates should be keen to consider the real-world challenges to achieving sustainable development, and to critically examine the various options for the future that have been proposed.

Selection methods

We’ll be selecting the candidates for this course by looking at their applications – there are no interviews or additional selection activities. For that reason, make sure your application really stands out from the crowd, and leave us in no doubt as to why you should be joining BU.

For more information, take a look at our how to apply pages.

Full entry requirements

The normal requirements for embarking upon this course are:

  • A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:2 in a required subject.

  • For post-experience and professional qualifications, there may be additional entry requirements set by the association or institute that ultimately administers the qualification in question. The qualification description on the course information pages should tell you what these are but please get in touch with the Future Students Enquiry team if you are in doubt.

If you lack the formal academic qualifications needed to enter a postgraduate or post-experience degree, there are several alternative routes to follow. Some of these are based on experience. Contact the Future Students Enquiry team for more information.

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

  • IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component of writing, speaking, listening and reading, or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our postgraduate entry requirements page.


Upon completion of this course you will enjoy a wide range of career opportunities, as an increasing number of organisations are taking an active interest in the green economy. Not only will this course equip you with subject expertise, but you will have a practical understanding of how to apply that knowledge to make a difference to businesses. This will give you extra marketability in the professional arena, providing you with a route into a successful and rewarding career.

As a Green Economy graduate, you will be prepared to undertake roles such as: 

  • Green economy advisor
  • Carbon management advisor
  • Ecotourism operations advisor
  • Academic researcher. 

Industries worked in

  • Business
  • Renewable energy
  • Carbon management
  • Ecotourism
  • Academic research.

Further study

If you want to continue your studies after achieving your Master's, you can look into our range of doctoral programmes.

No hidden extras

As a student at BU we will provide many things to support you and there will also be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying at BU. The information below will help you understand our provision and what you need to budget for.

What you can expect from us

All of your teaching and assessments are included in your tuition fees, including, lectures/guest lectures and tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions and specialist teaching facilities. You will also have access to a wide range of support and services, many of these are included on the Next Steps insert enclosed with your offer letter.

  • One set of study-related consumables such as a memory stick/ DVD
  • Materials for laboratory and field-based teaching activity
  • Support for placements (UK or abroad) and fieldwork
  • A range of student services – advisors, help desks, counsellors, placement support and careers service
  • The Library – access to a wide range of electronic resources (databases, e-journals and e-books), print and multimedia collections, subject librarians and study spaces
  • IT labs (some open 24/7), wireless network, AV equipment to borrow
  • Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme
  • Disability and additional learning support
  • The BU Language Centre to help you develop/improve foreign or English language skills
  • 24 hours a day, 365 days a year security team.

Costs of living and other expenses you need to consider

  • Accommodation and living costs: view our price guide
  • Text books: remember that our award-winning library is stocked with a large range of text books for all courses, as well as online resources such as industry journals, free of charge
  • General stationery and other supplies such as print and presentation materials: the Students’ Union shops stock a wide range of stationery supplies on both campuses
  • Travel to, from and between BU campuses: our bus service operates in the local areas offering a subsidised travel rate; we also have a large number of secure bike storage compounds
  • SportBU membership: check out our student membership packages, sports events, varsity teams, information about our new facilities and more on the SportBU webpages
  • Fieldwork travel, outdoor wear and footwear (where applicable)
  • Telephone and travel costs incurred when undertaking interviews for coursework/securing placements.
  • A fee will be payable towards the cost of an Educational Psychology Assessment if this is required in connection with additional learning support. BU pays for approximately two-thirds of the cost of this assessment for UK students. For more details and current pricing please visit the Students section of the website.

Repeat Units

If you need to repeat one or more units during the course of your studies, you may be required to pay additional fees equivalent to one ninth of the tuition fee per 20 credit unit.

Financial help available from BU

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to students who are beginning their studies at BU. Our website also provides details on living costs, budgeting and paying your tuition fees.

Meet our staff

Dr Elena Cantarello is a lecturer in sustainability science with ten years experience in conducting research in forest landscapes. Elena has knowledge and experience in GIS and spatially explicit modelling tools (Landis-II), which she regularly employ in her research to explore vegetation dynamics and changes in ecosystem services in response to human impacts. Her particular interest is to contribute to solutions to environmental problems and to provide tools that inform environmental practice and policy implementation. Elena has worked in local, regional and international projects, collaborating with several academic institutions, government bodies and commercial partners in the UK, Mexico, Argentina, Chile, Kyrgyzstan and Italy. She has also undertaken regular and extensive fieldwork campaigns, particularly in the New Forest National Park. Since 2011 she has been involved in the development of the materials for the MSc in Green Economy and is now the programme leader as well as the unit leader of the units in carbon management and climate change, and green technologies and renewables.

Read more about the specialist interests of our Life & Environmental Sciences staff online, or register now to meet us!

Additional information

Simon Phelps

Career development

Read about career and development opportunities and discover how gaining industry experience could help you.

Purbeck House common room

International students

We have a strong international student community. Find all the practical advice and information you need here.