Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research

MSc Environmental Social Science


Convenor: Chris Rootes

Sunflowers in front of a background of dirty smokestacks Aims
The Environmental Social Science programme seeks to provide students with an understanding of the perspectives and contributions of social science to the understanding, interpretation and resolution of environmental issues.

It draws upon expertise from several departments in the Social Science Faculty, and the contributions of teachers who are internationally acknowledged to be leaders in their special fields, to provide a broad multi-disciplinary perspective accessible to students from a wide range of academic backgrounds.

The MSc degree aims to develop your knowledge and understanding of environmental issues from a social science perspective. It also provides an introduction to social science research methods. It is suitable if you want to work in any of several areas relevant to the environment, whether in research, policy or professional practice. A number of past students have found that the course gave them the knowledge and the confidence to make successful changes of career. The MSc programme is also a good preparation for further academic research on environmental topics.

The programme draws students with a wide variety of previous experience. Past students have had first degrees in disciplines as varied as anthropology, biology, chemistry, economics, business management, environmental sciences, history, journalism, law, political science, and sociology, and all have successfully mastered the course material. As is the case with most programmes at Kent , the student intake is generally cosmopolitan. Students have come from countries as diverse as Belgium, Bulgaria, Chile, Cyprus , Germany , Greece , India , Indonesia, Ireland, Japan, Korea, Nigeria, South Africa, Slovenia, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand, Trinidad, Turkey and the USA , as well as the UK . They have gone on to pursue careers in a variety of fields, most notably research, environmental law, teaching, community development, environmental education, advocacy and work for environmental NGOs in various parts of the world.

The Programme

This degree is assessed by coursework and dissertation and takes one year (full-time) or two years (part-time). It is designed to help you develop your interest in environmental issues by following systematic courses, but it also provides you with the opportunity to write a 12-15,000 word dissertation on a relevant topic of your choice.

You will take a total of six one-term taught modules:

Two compulsory modules:

SA806    Social Science Perspectives on Environmental Issues
SO833    Design of Social research
SO998    Dissertation

Four modules from a wide range of options including (indicative list):

LW831    European and National Environmental Law: Alternative Strategies
LW837    Conservation and Natural Resources Law
LW838    Land Development Law
LW841    International Trade Law and the Environment
LW852    European Community Environmental Law and Policy
SA803    Politics and Sociology of the Environment
SE831    Environmental Anthropology
SE832    Ethnobiological Knowledge Systems
SO822    Social & Political Movements
SO832    Critical Social Research: Truth, Ethics and Power

The dissertation gives you the opportunity to make a more specialized study of a particular topic of special interest to you, and first hand research is encouraged. Students who reach a pass standard in the coursework modules and who do not wish to write a dissertation may be awarded the Postgraduate Diploma.

The programme is assessed by coursework and the dissertation.


The faculty

Chris Rootes, Professor of Environmental Politics and Political Sociology (programme convenor)

Rosaleen Duffy, Professor of the Politics of Conservation

William Howarth, Professor of Environmental Law

As the programme is modular, other teachers are drawn from several Schools and disciplines within the Faculty of Social Sciences – notably the Schools of: Social Policy, Sociology & Social Research; Anthropology & Conservation; Law; Politics & International Relations.

Entry requirements

Applicants should have a first degree, attaining a 2.1 or equivalent in a social science discipline and must satisfy the University’s minimum English language entry requirements, full details can be found here.

Additionally, applicants to the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research are required to have one of the following English qualifications at the stated level, from a qualification taken within the last two years:

IELTS Pearson
7.0 IELTS (with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)* 68 including 65 in each subject

Still unsure if this is for you?

Ten reasons to choose us

  1. Flexible programme. With many optional modules to choose from, you can tailor the programme to cater to your particular interests, whether they be in anthropology, conservation, law, politics and international relations, or sociology.
  2. International perspectives. You will be taught by professors who are leaders in international networks in their areas, and whose teaching is informed by leading-edge research.
  3.  Supportive teaching. Teachers and staff are enthusiastic, highly engaged with contemporary discussion and debate in their subject areas, encouraging and friendly, enabling students to perform with confidence. 
  1. A truly international learning environment. You will learn with and from students from a wide variety of countries.
  1. A leading UK Economic and Social Research Centre in Postgraduate Training, part of the ESRC’s network of UK Doctoral Training Centres, a strategic initiative designed to foster innovation in the UK’s social science community.
  2. A top ranking UK Social Science research centre, we are able to offer access to our highly competitive MA and PhD scholarships. Click here for more information.
  3. Excellent pastoral care. We have a dedicated Postgraduate office which provides a highly efficient service for all postgraduate students and our academic staff are friendly, approachable and deeply invested in the learning environment of our students.
  4. Regular research and advanced training seminars give students opportunities to hear, engage and network with speakers in their research areas.
  5. An attractive and spacious campus overlooking the historic city of Canterbury, with the cosmopolitan buzz of London only 56 minutes away by train.
  6. Great facilities including sports centres, theatre and cinema, clubs and societies, bars, cafes and night clubs, helping to ensure that your student experience with us is enjoyable as well as intellectually stimulating and productive.



Telephone: +44(0)1227 823072 Fax: +44(0)1227 827005 or email us

SSPSSR, Faculty of Social Sciences, Cornwallis North East, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NF

Last Updated: 07/10/2014