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Combines environmental management skills with GIS skills. Students resident in UK & Ireland provided with free student copy of ESRI ArcGIS software.


Study Environmental Management and Geographic Information Systems at Ulster University in the United Kingdom.

The PgDip/MSc programme in Environmental Management and GIS aims to provide an advanced education in Environmental Management, with a strong emphasis on teaching the concepts and methods for analysing spatial environmental data which are encapsulated within Geographic Information Systems. The course aims to teach students the principles and practice of environmental management within the contexts of biodiversity management and the contribution of empirical and case study scientific research, as well as fostering advanced knowledge and skills in the manipulation and analysis of spatial environmental data.

The course runs every two years; the next intake is September 2017.

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About this course

In this section


The course runs every two years; the next intake is September 2017.

It aims to teach how environmental management tools, such as site conservation planning and environmental management systems, together with the data, tools and techniques of GIS, are applied in making knowledge-based decisions on managing the environment. This is considered in the context of environmental legislative/policy frameworks within which industry, government and voluntary bodies work.

Specific objectives are to:

  • Understand the importance of evidence -based approach to environmental policy and strategic decision-making
  • Apply quantitative techniques to assess the effects of environmental management
  • Apply structured planning principles to site biodiversity management and ecosystem restoration
  • Use GIS as a framework for collating, manipulating and managing spatial data relating to the environment
  • Undertake analysis and modeling of environmental problems using GIS approaches
  • Appreciate and address the impacts of scale and zoning on spatial data analysis

Students resident in the UK and Ireland will be provided with a student copy of Esri ArcGIS software free of charge.


Fully online - part-time by distance learning. You do not need to visit Ulster at any stage to successfully complete this course.

The Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) Environmental Management and GIS and the Master of Science (MSc) Environmental Management and GIS are linked courses. You must successfully complete the PgDip (120 credit points) before transferring to the MSc (a further 60 credit points), get the full MSc you complete 180 credit points in total.

The six taught modules which constitute the Postgraduate Diploma are taken over two years (4 semesters).

For the MSc an additional two semesters are required to complete the project module i.e. three years in total part-time. (6 semesters)

Start dates

  • September 2016
How to apply


Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

In this section

Year one

Principles of GIS

Year: 1

This module introduces the theory and practice of Geographic Information Systems, and is intended to provide an understanding of the breadth of potential GIS applications and to equip students with key concepts and skills relating to the input, management, manipulation, analysis and output of spatial data. Lecture-based teaching of key concepts is reinforced by linked practical exercises which allow students to develop competence in ESRI?s ArcGIS package. The module assumes no prior knowledge or experience of GIS.

Spatial Data Management

Year: 1

This module builds on the knowledge and practical skills gained in EGM711 to provide students with further experience in the acquisition, manipulation and analysis of spatial data. Methods for generating and collecting digital spatial data from primary and secondary sources are considered, and data processing, selection, integration and analysis extensively practiced. Lecture and practical sessions include digitising, geo-registration, GPS, accessing and using secondary sources, spatial join and overlay, network analysis and 3D modelling, and incorporate experience of a variety of large and small scale vector and raster datasets. The module also incorporates practice in statistical analysis and interpretation. Development of GIS software skills focuses on ArcGIS and extensions.

Biodiversity Management

Year: 1

Biodiversity managers make decisions based on understanding ecosystems and by applying ecological principles to achieve their objectives. This module covers key scientific topics, which are crucial for developing effective biodiversity management plans in different ecosystems. It exemplifies how ecological-social-economic factors interact to influence our ability to conserve and manage biodiversity.

Year two

Spatial Analysis

Year: 2

This module builds on the introductory material of EGM711 and EGM712, covering key concepts of spatial data analysis and modelling, and providing extensive practical experience of ESDA and spatial modelling within a GIS environment.

GIS for Environmental Management

Year: 2

This optional module examines the application of GIS to environmental management, modelling and impact assessment. It aims to enable students to appreciate the need for properly researched information to support strategic and operational environmental management decisions, and to be aware of the means by which such information can be obtained and evaluated.

Pollution Monitoring

Year: 2

This module provides the knowledge and skills necessary to monitor pollution of the environment. The topics included are: the key elements of the monitoring programmes for air, water and land; sample collection; chemical methods of analysis, including quality assurance; biological methods of analysis, including toxicity tests and bioassessment; use of environmental models; statistics, data analysis and assessing compliance and; critical loads. The student gains experience through lectures, supporting documents, directed reading and practicals.

Year three

Environmental Management Project

Year: 3

The professional environment manager often has to conduct, commission or evaluate research in order to develop practical solutions to environmental problems. This module focuses on environmental management research techniques. This module provides students with the opportunity to undertake a substantial piece of independent research in an area of particular interest to the student. The student will be assessed on their project plan, a literature review, a poster and a research paper.

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

In this section

Entry Requirements

Entry to the PgDip:
You must hold a degree in a science or other suitable discipline or demonstrate your ability to undertake the course through the accreditation of prior experiential learning.

Entry to the MSc:
You initially register for the Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) and if you complete the PgDip with an overall mark of 50% or higher can proceed to the MSc programme.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Teaching and learning assessment

Assessment is 100% by course work (no sessional examinations); a mixture of methods including practical reports, problem analysis, projects, literature reviews and essays, class tests, group work and a research project.

Students are able to use the University's extensive online resources of electronic journals, books and databases.

Careers & opportunities

In this section

Career options

The majority of students on the course are already working in industry or public services and taking the course has helped them to gain promotion and/or change careers as a result of their new skills.

Key skills which will be developed are:
Biodiversity management plans and site restoration design
Ecological monitoring
Environmental management systems
Research analysis and data interpretation techniques
Management, processing, analysis, interpretation and presentation of geo-spatial data
Operation and use of Geographic Information Systems

Professional recognition

Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES)

Accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES) for the purpose of eligibility to apply for associate membership.


How to apply

Start dates

  • September 2016

Fees and funding

In this section

Fees (total cost)

Important notice - fees information Tuition fees shown are for last years entry. Fees are correct at the time of publishing and may be subject to an annual increase. Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study. Read our Tuition Fees Payment Policy

Northern Ireland & EU:

Additional mandatory costs

Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel and normal living are a part of university life. 

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them in the online prospectus. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.

We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.

There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course. 

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees. 

Please contact the course team for more information.


Dr Paul McKenzie (Course Director)
School of Environmental Sciences
tel: +44 (0) 28 7012 4628

For admissions enquiries contact the Faculty Office:

T: +44 (0) 28 7012 4159