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Sustainability and Adaptation

Master of Science | PG Diploma | PG Certificate

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Immerse yourself in examining the causes and urgency of climate change, what actions are needed on an international, national, local and individual level and – crucially – what solutions we have already, on our MSc in Sustainability and Adaptation.

This course uses the concepts of sustainability and adaptation transformation to frame an analysis of environmental and climate change policy and its implications for society. With a wide range of modules, the course offers a holistic view of sustainability.

Key areas of study

This is our broadest MSc, covering a wide variety of topics related to sustainability and adaptation.

Some of the topics you’ll study include:

  • Sustainability thinking and adaptation transformation planning
  • Acute resilience pathways for cities and communities
  • Environmental politics and social and economic systems
  • Sustainable design of buildings and environmentally responsive materials and resources
  • Transformational change
  • Risk and vulnerability assessment and adaptive capacity
  • Land use and food security
  • Restoration ecology, environmental assessments and ecosystem services, including waste and water
  • Energy provision and energy flows in buildings
Steve Cole CAT graduate

CAT Stories: Steve Cole

Steve graduated in 2019 and now runs his business Addasu, where he combines his academic research with extensive experience in new-build and renovation projects in the UK and Ghana, to offer informed, practical and appropriate training, advice, and retrofit and construction services.

Modules

When studying this course as an MSc you will need to study two introductory core modules, plus choose five optional taught modules before undertaking a dissertation. Depending on your pathway through the course, you will also complete the 15-credit Applied Research Design module in the year prior to starting your dissertation. Please click on the descriptions below for information about each module.

Core modules

Introduction to Sustainability and Adaptation

This introductory 15-credit core module starts in September and must be taken at the beginning of your course, no matter which route you take through your studies.

In this module, we will establish the overarching concepts and theoretical grounding in sustainability, resilience and transformational adaptation, contextualise the view of current environmental changes, and explore the interconnectedness of the factors involved with these changes.

There will be an in-depth look at the wider implications of transformational adaptation on social structures and sustainability issues, including land use, trade, resource management, energy provision, governance, health and economic systems through a critical exploration of the primary considerations related to sustainability and environmental change.

The module is followed either by our ‘Sustainability and Adaptation Concepts in Practice’ module or ‘Introduction to Sustainability in Energy Provision and Demand Management’ module starting in November, depending on your programme. 

This is a 15 credit module.

Read more about this module for courses awarded by the University of East London: EV7132 – Introduction to Sustainability and Adaptation (After September 2022)

What’s it like to study at CAT? Read more about the teaching and learning experience.

Sustainability and Adaptation Concepts in Practice 

This introductory 15-credit core module starts in November and must be taken following the ‘Introduction to Sustainability and Adaptation’ module which starts in September, at the very beginning of your course, no matter which route you take through your studies.

In this module, you will gain an understanding of transformational adaptation planning in practice through a facilitated self-reflective practical team exercise, and form a deep appreciation and holistic understanding of adaptation transformation planning strategies and processes.

You will develop the skills and knowledge needed to contextualise the discipline of transformational adaptation in relation to current environmental change and learn how to make informed decisions, despite the uncertainties that come with a changing climate.

This is a 15 credit module.

Read more about this module for courses awarded by the University of East London: EV7137 – Sustainability and Adaptation Concepts in Practice (After September 2022)

What’s it like to study at CAT? Read more about the teaching and learning experience.

Applied Research Design

This module, ‘Applied Research Design’, will support students in building knowledge, skills and literacy in research design and methodologies in relation to interventions, projects and applied research. It will also support students in developing a proposal for following either a conventional dissertation route or incorporating a design element within the dissertation. 

The module will typically include a study visit on-site at CAT, or equivalent by distance, as scheduled in the academic calendar. It will also deliver relevant research skills for students during their final year of taught modules through attending and watching research seminars.

The Applied Research Design module will include several opportunities for enquiry and problem-based group projects in the lead up to the dissertation module. 

All students will be required to carry out a teamwork-based project where they will gain experience in the research methods applied to their discipline and their use in real-world settings, through current live and applied projects. 

This is a 15 credit module.

Read more about this module for courses awarded by the University of East London: EV7125 – Applied Research Design (After September 2022)

Read more about the dissertation module for courses awarded by Liverpool John Moores University 7521CATSCI - Applied Research Design - LJMU

What’s it like to study at CAT? Read more about the teaching and learning experience.

MSc Dissertation

The dissertation involves designing, investigating, and presenting an extended and independently conceived piece of research on a topic of your choosing within a field of study relevant to your course. 

During the module you will demonstrate the ability to explore a relevant research topic in-depth, with appropriate research methodology, displaying creativity and skills in critical analysis. Students will submit a dissertation (18,000 words maximum) at the end of the module. For students interested in focusing on sustainable building or design, part of the dissertation could also involve a design element.

Before beginning the module, students will be required to have gained approval for a Research Proposal (RP) on a subject from within the study area of their Programme, in consultation with one or more members of the teaching team and as a result of group discussions around initial ideas. The RP will be developed during the core ‘Applied Research Design’ module, which will cover research philosophy, approaches, strategy, design methods and analysis techniques.

Teaching and learning take place through tutorial-supported work on the preparation of this major piece of academic discourse. After an initial seminar group meeting involving other students, tuition is mainly on an individual basis.

This is a 60 credit module.

Read more about this module for courses awarded by the University of East London: EV7101 – Dissertation Module UEL (After September 2022)

Read more about the dissertation module for courses awarded by Liverpool John Moores University 7520CATSCI - Dissertation LJMU

What’s it like to study at CAT? Read more about the teaching and learning experience.

Optional modules

Introduction to Politics and Economics of the Environment

This module introduces students to roles of power, policy, agency and economic structures that produce crises in the context of the environment, and our responses to these crises. 

Through a range of topics including political and economic tools for change, environmental justice and inequalities and environment and systems change across global, national, and local scale, you will study the theoretical underpinnings to understanding the importance of political and economic systems to transformational change. 

The module takes an interdisciplinary, critical approach to examine how unequal power relations have been constructed, and their environmental and societal consequences. It will consider the societal consequences of unsustainable governance of nature and the built environment. 

We will also draw on current and historic social and environmental debates and events to illustrate the application of a range of critical analytical approaches, such as political ecology, discourse, global political economics, and policy studies. 

This is a 15 credit module.

Read more about this module for courses awarded by the University of East London: EV7131 – Introduction to Politics and Economics of Environment (After September 2022)

Read more about this module for courses awarded by Liverpool John Moores University: 7502CATSCI - Introduction to Politics and Economics of the Environment LJMU

What’s it like to study at CAT? Read more about the teaching and learning experience.

Energy Flows in Buildings

In this module you will learn about the complex nature of the interrelationships that exist between occupant comfort, energy flows in buildings and energy efficient building design. By exploring this through theory and applying this in practice through expert-led practical workshops, you will be able to define how energy flows and energy efficient building design relates to adaptation and sustainability in the built environment.

You will develop a systematic, holistic, multidisciplinary and analytical approach to the critical appraisal of energy-efficient design, heat flows and provision of thermal comfort with respect to the demands of climate change adaptation and the principles of sustainability.

You will cover a range of topics, including thermal comfort, thermal mass, heat transfers through building fabric and determination of U values, ventilation, sunlight and solar gain, passive cooling, climate influences on design and future climate change considerations, the impact of moisture on building fabric, quantification of building performance, embodied energy and carbon of building materials and the societal benefits of energy efficient buildings. 

This is a 15 credit module. It is a recommended module for both Green Building and Sustainability in Energy Provision and Demand Management students, dependent on experience and prior knowledge. 

Read more about this module for courses awarded by the University of East London: EV7128 – Energy Flows in Buildings (After September 2022)

What’s it like to study at CAT? Read more about the teaching and learning experience.

Cities and Communities

This module will introduce students to the complexities of cities and communities and their local and global interconnections. You will examine how these conditions interact with the task to transform, reclaim, and reproduce the city and built environment amid global environmental change

The module will develop your knowledge of current research and discourse concerning adaptation planning and sustainability of cities and communities, and their place in current and future environmental contexts.

You will gain a thorough understanding of key elements, including infrastructures, maintenance issues, energy budgets, material flows, waste disposal, transportation and the social dynamics that underlie the development and management of communities and cities.

Following a critical assessment of the complex factors that influence the provision of sustainability and adaptation planning within urban and community focused environments, you will be able to recognise and rationalise the prospects for innovative research and practice for regeneration in the built environment.

This is a 15 credit module.

Read more about this module for courses awarded by the University of East London: EV7105 – Cities and Communities UEL (After September 2022)

Read more about this module for courses awarded by Liverpool John Moores University: 7504CATSCI - Cities and Communities LJMU

What’s it like to study at CAT? Read more about the teaching and learning experience.

Energy Provision

This module takes an in-depth look at energy provision from the perspective of transformational sustainable adaptation and takes a holistic approach to assessing energy technologies and systems situated within larger social and economic perspectives. 

Students will explore the technological aspects, functioning and practical considerations of different technologies for reducing energy demand and providing more energy via sustainable sources. You will also investigate resource potential (and limitation), maintenance needs, associated carbon emissions and the environmental impacts of the available renewable energy technologies.

You will also develop a critical appreciation of the balance of energy generation and energy use reduction requirements and how energy distribution constraints, storage, supply and demand management, efficiency improvements, market drivers, planning processes, governmental policy and financial support mechanisms can affect the uptake of sustainable energy technologies. 

This is a 15 credit module.

Read more about this module for courses awarded by the University of East London: EV7108 – Energy Provision UEL (After September 2022)

Read more about this module for courses awarded by Liverpool John Moores University 7505CATSCI - Energy Provision LJMU

What’s it like to study at CAT? Read more about the teaching and learning experience.

Ecosystems and Ecosystems Services

This module gives you an appreciation of the key roles played by species, populations and healthy ecosystems in the provision of essential tangible and intangible services to human society, as well as the need to ensure ecological integrity on appropriate scales. It will provide you with an understanding of the role of ecosystem services in sustainability and conservation.

During the module, you’ll explore the environmental impacts of sourcing, managing and disposing of material and water resources, the case for minimisation, wise use and reuse where appropriate, in order to function within resource, ecological and societal constraints, and the lessons to be learned from nature in resource design and processing. 

You will also study the varied impacts of land use on environmental quality, biodiversity and ecosystem service provision, including industrial, domestic and agricultural wastes and their management. You will be able to recognise the inherent lack of sustainability in modern, centralised food production and the necessity for ecologically-designed agriculture.

This is a 15 credit module.

Read more about this module for courses awarded by the University of East London: EV7127 – Ecosystems and Ecosystem Services (After September 2022)

What’s it like to study at CAT? Read more about the teaching and learning experience.

Sustainable Materials in the Built Environment

This module involves a systematic evaluation of the environmental impacts and the wider social and health implications of building materials, looking at the use, performance and usability of different materials.

You will gain a thorough appreciation of how environmentally sustainable materials offer creative opportunities for the use and development of high quality, healthy, effective, and long-lasting products that can enhance rather than damage ecosystems. You will learn about the advantages and disadvantages of different materials, and look at how to use sustainable options in the most effective ways.

We explore issues around the availability, cost, physical properties, construction methods and general perceptions of environmentally responsive materials, looking at ease of use, mainstream acceptance, design limitations, logistical considerations and economic viability.

Students joining us on-site for the study visit will get hands-on experience with sustainable building materials in this highly practical module, working with rammed earth, cob, hemp and lime, timber and straw bales.

This is a 15 credit module.

Read more about this module for courses awarded by the University of East London: EV7110 – Sustainable Materials in the Built Environment UEL (After September 2022)

Read more about this module for courses awarded by Liverpool John Moores University 7507CATSCI - Sustainable Materials in the Built Environment LJMU (637 downloads)

What’s it like to study at CAT? Read more about the teaching and learning experience.

 

Food Production and Consumption

This module takes an in-depth look at global and local trends in food production, diet and health, and the impact of food production on the environment, including climate change.

We explore how food can be produced sustainably, looking at the role of consumer behaviour, economics, technology and legislation.
You will study the complex interplay between global and local food markets, vertical integration of agriculture, consumer diets and health, ‘food sovereignty’, the impact of machinery and transportation, economics, labour and environmental externalities on the sustainable production of food.

You will critically evaluate how current markets, policies and consumer behaviour could be transformed to ensure greater sustainability in food production and resource use.

This is a 15 credit module.

Read more about this module for courses awarded by the University of East London: EV7129 – Food Production and Consumption (After September 2022)

Read more about the dissertation module for courses awarded by Liverpool John Moores University 7503CATSCI - Food Production and Consumption LJMU

What’s it like to study at CAT? Read more about the teaching and learning experience.

Communicating Transformational Social Change

This module will examine the role of communication and engagement strategies in relation to public perceptions of risk and supporting behaviour change towards a more sustainable society. 

You will also look at the many modern communication strategies available for addressing current environmental challenges while increasing your ability to foster behavioural change towards sustainability and transformational adaptation.

This module will comprise a series of lectures, supported by interactive seminars and workshops. Lectures will draw on a broad variety of theoretical and applied topics, with frequent use of interdisciplinary case studies throughout. Workshop sessions will be used to develop group work and analytical skills.

This module is assessed via a communication of social change intervention (3,000 words equivalence) in which students can adopt any appropriate written or visual communication strategy, such as a video, blog, audio recording or report as part of their submission.

This is a 15 credit module.

Read more about this module for courses awarded by the University of East London: EV7126 – Communicating Transformational Social Change (After September 2022)

Read more about this module for courses awarded by Liverpool John Moores University  7515CATSCI Communicating Transformational Social Change

What’s it like to study at CAT? Read more about the teaching and learning experience.

Restoration Ecology

In this module, you will study the role of ecosystems in sustainability, with a focus on their role providing ecosystem functions. You will investigate methods of restoration of habitats, including at landscape and global scales, while also understanding restoration goals and assessing the success of restoration projects.  

There will be an in-depth look at ecosystem change over time and space, biodiversity and connectedness, stabilisation wedges, land sparing vs land sharing debate; the science behind rewilding, management of invasive species, theoretical science and practical reintroduction methods, phytoremediation and restoration of peri-urban spaces, the role of communities, impact of habitat restoration on communities and economies and the impact of national and international legislation.

This module will comprise a series of lectures, supported by interactive seminars and in-depth analysis of proposed restoration projects. Lectures will draw on a wide variety of theoretical and applied topics, with wide use of case studies throughout. Practicals will be based in local habitats for on-site learners and there will be similarly directed field or desk-based investigations for distance learners. 

This is a 15 credit module.

Read more about this module for courses awarded by the University of East London: EV7136 – Restoration Ecology (After September 2022)

Read more about this module for courses awarded by Liverpool John Moores University  7513CATSCI Restoration Ecology

What’s it like to study at CAT? Read more about the teaching and learning experience.

International Zero CO2 Energy

In this module, we will analyse existing energy-related CO2 emissions in a global context and form a critical appreciation of Minority World and Majority World energy demand, provision and resource availability, and the interconnectedness between these systems. 

Through lectures, seminars, practical workshops, presentations, demonstrations, discussions and tutorials you will be studying the environmental and social impacts of energy provision, as experienced across international and interregional boundaries. This will include analysing and developing scenarios of future global energy provision and demand in short, medium and long-term contexts. 

You will also consider justice, ethics and responsibilities in global energy provision, including the role of states, corporations and the third sector in energy provision transitions. 

This is a 15 credit module.

Read more about this module for courses awarded by the University of East London: EV7130 – International Zero CO2 Energy (After September 2022)

What’s it like to study at CAT? Read more about the teaching and learning experience.

Our timetable of module dates changes year on year. You can view our most recent version of the Timetable, Programme Specifications, Course Handbooks and Current Student Information on our Current Students page.

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Fees and funding

The cost of studying one of our full MSc courses is £7,310 for Home Students or £8,720 for Overseas students. Please visit our Fees and Funding page to see the tuition fees for other study levels, additional fees and funding opportunities.
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Entry requirements

We ask for a Bachelor’s degree or knowledge and skills equivalent to degree standard.

IELTS 6.5 (or equivalent) is required for applicants whose first language is not English.

Why study at CAT?

Benefit from over 40 years’ sustainability experience

CAT is a world-leading eco centre and a pioneer in researching and teaching practical solutions for sustainability, with nearly 50 years’ experience in low-impact building, energy efficiency, renewable energy, sustainable food production, natural resource management and more.

Immersive or distance learning

Students can decide whether they want to study a module on-site or via distance learning.

Our taught modules offer an immersive learning experience through lectures, talks, seminars and workshops delivered by our expert in-house staff, with specialist insights from visiting lecturers from industry and academia. Practical sessions during on-site study visits at CAT, allow you to get hands-on with sustainable building materials, ecological assessments and energy efficiency. 

Many modules are shared with our other postgraduate courses, providing you with a rich learning experience. Our teaching resources are available through Microsoft Teams for students taking the module by distance learning and on-site, creating a space for students to interact and share ideas and expertise, adding to the immersive learning environment

Flexible study options

Courses can also be studied full or part-time, and our course structure allows you to choose the mode and level of study that suits you, helping you fit your studies around your life and existing commitments.

Full-time study at MSc level will allow you to complete the course in 18 months. Part-time study at MSc level will allow you to complete the course over a recommended three years.

Interested in studying this course? Join us for our next open day, contact us for more information or apply today.

This course is created and delivered by CAT and is validated by the University of East London.

          

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Apply now

Our MSc courses application deadline for September 2022 entry has now passed although some of our MSc courses still have some limited spaces and will be considered on a first-come first-served basis.

We will be opening applications for September 2023 in late summer. If you have further questions or need support with your application then do get in touch.