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MRes Environmental Sustainability

Course overview

Start date

January 2018

September 2018

Subject area

Architecture, Computing and Engineering





On campus

Course summary

This new course offers the opportunity for a select group of students to undertake postgraduate study and research focused on specific and practical areas of environmental sustainability.

As one of this select group, you will be working on issues of particular concern to agencies, organisations or individuals who have turned to our Sustainability Research Institute (SRI) for solutions or advice.

The course is aimed at recent graduates who want to establish themselves in the environmental field, or working professionals who are looking to explore a specific issue in some depth and to do so as part of their continuing professional development.

A number of environmental undergraduate courses both in the UK and abroad continue to produce substantial numbers of graduates.

But many find when they seek employment that environmental organisations ask for evidence of experience in addressing real-life issues. This course addresses that requirement.

Our speciality areas are the conservation and management of wetlands, green infrastructure, invertebrate conservation, sustainability and recycling.

Contact us

If you have any questions, talk to a member of our Applicant Enquiries team on +44 (0) 20 8223 3333 or email

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Real-life projects

This new one-year course offers a select group of students the opportunity to work on bespoke, real-life projects for national and international organisations in the fields of conservation and the environment.


You will be working out of the internationally renowned Sustainability Research Institute, (SRI) based at the University of East London, for clients such as the Environment Agency, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Industry led modules

Your course modules will be personalised and tailored by our expert staff to fit in with the specific task you’ll be working on. It’s ideal for continuing professional development (CPD).

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What we're researching

The Sustainability Research Institute (SRI) has been established at UEL to research and develop the application of innovative eco-efficient technologies and processes. The focus is on changes in the physical infrastructure that benefit the environment and promote a carbon-neutral society.

Under the directorship of Darryl Newport, the Institute brings together UEL research and knowledge transfer programmes across a wide range of disciplines: architecture and the built environment, civil engineering, new materials technologies, GIS, pipeline technology, renewable energy, flood defence, environmental science and biodiversity conservation.

We put sustainability into action. For example, the Environmental Research Group, which forms part of the SRI, embraces research across a wide range of environmental issues, including peatland, insect and freshwater ecology, botany and ethnobotany, carbon budgeting, nature conservation, environmental quality, environmental forensic science, sustainability and quality of life, virtual environments and virtual learning.

Making a difference

UEL is one of the UK’s leading modern research universities. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), 17 per cent of our overall research submission was classified as ‘world-leading’ for its quality and impact – almost double our previous REF score. A further 45 per cent of our work was considered ‘internationally excellent’.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2.2 Honours in an environmentally-relevant subject

We would normally expect you to have Grade C in GCSE English and Maths. 


(Including European Union)

We accept a range of qualifications from across the world. Please see our country pages for information on specific entry requirements for your country.


In considering applicants we will look for evidence of a candidate’s ability and background knowledge in relation to the proposed field of study. On receipt of your application you will be assessed for suitability for entry to the programme and if acceptable will be sent a list of research projects to select from. You will be required to submit a short written justification for your project selection.  All applicants will be interviewed prior to confirming an offer of a place on the programme.

A written statement in support of your application of a maximum of 1,500 words outlining academic and professional background, career objectives and reasons for choosing the MRes Programme.

Overall IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 6.0 in Writing, Speaking, Reading and Listening (or recognised equivalent).

As an inclusive university we recognise that applicants who have been out of education for some time may not have the formal qualifications usually required for entry to a course. We welcome applications from those who can demonstrate their enthusiasm and commitment to study and have relevant life/work experience that equips them to succeed on the course. We will assess this from the information provided in your application (particularly your personal statement) and may ask you to attend an interview or submit a piece of work to help us decide on your eligibility for the course. Our pre-entry Information Advice and Guidance Team are able to provide further advice on entry requirements and suitability for study.

You can speak to a member of our Applicant Enquiries team on +44 (0)20 8223 3333, Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm. Alternatively, you can visit our Information, Advice and Guidance centre. Please click here for details.

What you'll study

  • Critical Review and Synthesis (core)
  • Reading the Landscape (core)
  • Ecosystem Form and Function (core)
  • Dissertation (core)

How you'll be assessed

We will assess you in a variety of ways. These include formative coursework, reports, time-constrained analysis, presentations and research project work.

Course specification

How you'll learn

You will be working as a select group with top-class contacts and facilities, and with guidance from staff actively involved in environmental issues.

You will enjoy individual teaching tailored to the specific thesis topic, made possible by the small total intake on the course.

Each student in this group will have the opportunity to assist the SRI in taking responsibility, under supervision, for a specific piece of environmental research identified by a partner organisation.

We already have some very specific questions from some of our partner organisations. You could turn out to be the one to help answer one of them.

We will give you the time, the opportunity and the expertise to address the problem you have been set.

For example, Natural England is working on the sustainable management of lowland peatlands in Cumbria. It wants a number of issues looked at, including the potential for growing sphagnum, the bog moss that is the main constituent of peat. If you can grow this, we don’t need to dig up the bogs.

We also have a number of projects running in partnership with Buglife, involving invertebrate conservation. We have, for example, established a refuge colony for the streaked bombardier beetle on campus at the University of East London, one of its few remaining habitats in England.

We are currently engaged in a large EU-funded project focusing on making urban areas sustainable and more resilient to climate change.  At the moment we have two PhD students looking at issues associated with enhancing the biodiversity, thermal and water-retention capacity of green roofs – that is, vegetated roofs.

“Our staff expertise in problem-solving is well recognised nationally and internationally,” says Course Leader Richard Lindsay. “We produce solutions. Our projects range from small local issues to pan-European and even global questions, but now the work of the SRI is expanding beyond our current capacity. 

“In effect our objective is not to teach MRes students – it is to provide answers and solutions for partner organisations, but with our MRes course we provide students with the necessary training to enable them to show that they, too, can provide answers and solutions.”

What you'll learn

The Sustainability Research Institute, based in the School of Architecture, Computing and Engineering, undertakes research and knowledge transfer across a wide range of disciplines concerned with environmental sustainability, including architecture and the built environment.

Work is also carried out on civil engineering, new materials technologies, renewable energy, flood defence, biodiversity conservation, sustainable use and restoration of ecosystem services and wise use of wetlands.

You will be actively involved in the process of answering pressing research questions that have been raised by government environmental agencies, environmental NGOs or other concerned bodies.

This is a credit-based course leading towards a higher degree.

The course consists of four core modules, three of which are taught, with the final module consisting of independent research and a 10,000-word thesis.

It will take one year of full-time study. Part-time study is available, subject to the quality and circumstances of the applicant, with the core modules being completed in year one, then the third taught module and thesis module in the following year.

Interim PG Diploma and PG Certificate awards are also available.

Your future career

An MRes is a significant qualification that demonstrates the ability to plan and execute original and relevant critical thinking and research.

When you graduate from this course you will be able to provide potential employers with clear evidence of experience in dealing with real-life environmental issues.

The course is suitable for recent graduates wishing to extend their knowledge, skills and professional standing within the expanding field of environmental sustainability.

It offers the opportunity to demonstrate the ability to work effectively within a professional environment, and assists in establishing and developing a network of professional contacts within the field.

The course also suits established professionals who would like to develop their capacity for critical assessment of ongoing science and their knowledge in depth of a particular topic area.

For those students already in employment in the field of environmental sustainability, it is possible (indeed positively encouraged) that a particular aspect of work-based research can form the basis of the independent research project.

If you are already working in the subject area, the course offers you opportunity to enhance your career development.

It may also provide a formal framework for you to tackle in depth a specific area of interest in a way which would not normally arise within the day-to-day working environment.

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