This is a degree aimed at those who want to engage critically, practically and creatively with global and local environmental problems through different disciplinary lenses. The course brings together theories, methods and insights from the social and environmental sciences and applies these to contemporary environmental issues, debates and controversies.
You are encouraged to take a range of social and natural science modules offered by the Department of Sociology, the Law School and Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC) and will have the opportunity to acquire the skills to navigate, interpret and combine these different ways of knowing the environment. There is a strong emphasis on participatory and engaged research, making insights count in engagement with communities and policymakers. Normally, you will take three core modules and three (or more – depending on their weighting) optional modules.
2:2 Hons degree (UK or equivalent) in a relevant social science or environment degree.
We may also consider non-standard applicants, please contact us for information.
If you have studied outside of the UK, we would advise you to check our list of international qualifications before submitting your application.
English Language Requirements
We may ask you to provide a recognised English language qualification, dependent upon your nationality and where you have studied previously.
We normally require an IELTS (Academic) Test with an overall score of at least 7.0, and a minimum of 6.0 in each element of the test. We also consider other English language qualifications.
If your score is below our requirements, you may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language programmes.
Contact: Admissions Team +44 (0) 1524 592032 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You will study a range of modules as part of your course, some examples of which are listed below.
As the final element in your Master's programme, the MA dissertation allows you to bring together and showcase the skills and knowledge you have acquired from other modules, and demonstrate your ability to carry out a substantial independent research project.
Provided a suitable supervisor is available, you can choose your own topic to investigate. Once you have chosen your topic, the Department will provide a supervisor that best matches your research interests. You will be assessed on your capacity to define your research topic, to articulate a coherent scheme for examining that topic, to gather the necessary information, and to analyse and present the information in a way which does justice to the topic you have chosen.
As preparation for your dissertation you will take part in several MA learning skills workshops.. These sessions are designed to help you develop your skills in reading, reviewing and writing, and in presenting your work in an environment which offers both support and constructive criticism.
Environment and Culture
Current debates over issues such as plastic and food waste, fracking, loss of biodiversity or climate justice – and the protest movements and campaigns that have arisen in response – provide tangible evidence that the relationship between society and the environment is a difficult and often controversial one. This module examines the role that sociology and social theory can play in helping us to understand that relationship better and explores the range of approaches that have been developed in environmental sociology. Studying the environment sociologically opens up a host of interconnected social, cultural and political issues. Whose knowledge counts? How can we handle unquantifiable risk? What role should technology play? And what about democracy, freedom, diversity and justice? Using lectures and seminar discussion, the module will lead you through the resources of sociology and social theory to enable you to think through these questions in relation to some of the most urgent environmental issues facing societies today.
Methods in Environment, Culture and Society
This module is designed to familiarise you with various ways of thinking about and analysing contemporary relations between science, technology and society. It draws upon a rich vein of theory and practice within science and technology studies (STS), an area of research that is particularly strong at Lancaster University.
You will be encouraged to ask sociologically-informed questions about the sciences and technologies that have become part of our everyday lives – including, for example, mobile phones, social media, cloud computing, genetic modification, human fertilisation techniques, air conditioning and technologies for electricity generation.
The module gives you the opportunity to understand how the different interpretive research methodologies used in STS – such as ethnography and participant observation, surveys, and analysis of social media – enable a researcher to ask important critical questions about science, technology, the environment and society.
Through case studies chosen by students on the module you will consider how we might engage as analysts – using which methods and practices? In what kinds of role? With what kind of limitations? And with what kinds of responsibility and accountability?
Capitalism and Crisis
In this module we consider a major theme in classical and contemporary sociology – capitalism and its crisis tendencies. Topics for debate will include: ? The history of capitalist development ? The nature of capitalism: its phases, varieties, and global articulation ? The nature of the contemporary crisis in capitalism, its periodisation and temporalities, differences in its dynamics across so-called varieties of capitalism, and its broader economic, political, and socio-cultural repercussions ? The question of whether capitalism is governable ? The relationship between racism, gender and capitalism ? Crisis management, and crises of crisis management
This module engages with a socio-cultural analysis of what has been called a ‘consumer society’, a society with increasing emphasis on marketisation, commercialisation and commodification. The module approaches a variety of topics that consumer society has intensified - such as promotional culture, advertising and branding - and students will have the opportunity to work with a range of conceptual resources to produce understandings of these issues and their impact on society. This module, therefore, offers you key resources with which to understand contemporary society and social change in a way which complements their other core and optional modules.
Contemporary Debates in Global Social Theory
This module is an introduction to macro-sociological theory and those branches of contemporary sociology that attempt to deal with ‘the world’ as a whole. The aim is to critically interrogate the ways in which sociologists envision time, space, and ‘global relations’ between different parts of the world (modern/traditional, East/West, developed/developing, First World/Third World, North/South). Beginning with comparative and historical sociology, we consider how social theorists employ ‘big structures’ at a world scale, ‘grand narratives’ of epochal shifts, ‘large processes’ of global change, and ideas of the novelty of the contemporary period. The module focuses on understanding the relation between theory, methodology, and questions of power in research, including the critiques of sociology within postcolonial theory. Drawing on theories grounded in political and economic sociology as well as cultural and discursive approaches, we will critically reflect on Western Sociology's assumptions and exclusions, including the ways in which recent theories of globalisation, time-space compression and spatial mobility may reiterate Orientalist and colonial discourses.
Critical Debates in Media and Cultural Studies
This module introduces approaches to critical analysis of key forms of contemporary media and culture such as commodities, celebrities, platforms and different media forms and environments.
We will read and discuss recent and formative writings in cultural and media studies, allowing you to develop an understanding of key concepts such as subjectivity, platform, materiality, commodity, difference, value and power, and how they help us make sense of contemporary social life. You will also engage with analytical work on specific media platforms, products and practices, ranging from photographs and search engines to newspapers and reality TV.
Topics we may explore include:
concepts of culture in relation to images, commodities and brands
popular culture, audiences and media practices associated with celebrity
contemporary digital media cultures, and their circulation and consumption
embodiment, differences, politics and identities amidst media change
Critical Methods in Media and Cultural Studies
This module is designed to introduce you to contemporary methodological issues, key approaches, practical techniques, and case examples relating to the study of media and culture.
Many different methods are used in media and cultural studies, and that variety is reflected in this module. To explore research practice in this discipline, we look at textual and discourse analysis, visual analysis, ethnography and participatory approaches, but place a strong emphasis on engaging with issues of identity, differences, power and experience in the hyper-complex media and cultural environments that we live in.
To give you a taste of particular research methods and approaches, we draw on recent examples of media and cultural research done here at Lancaster, and encourage you to explore their theoretical and practical implications.
We aim to have a number of invited guest speakers on this module, and you will have the opportunity to discuss and critically evaluate different methodological approaches and learn how to draw on these approaches as a starting point for your own research. It is our aim that you acquire a good understanding of the key elements in planning and carrying out independent research projects.
The module is led by the Politics, Philosophy and Religion department with input from colleagues in Computing Science, Sociology and Criminology. We aim to foster interdisciplinary teaching and learning across social sciences and computing sciences. PPR491 Cybercrime is a core module on the MSc Cybersecurity degree and an optional module for PPR students MA students as well as those in Sociology and Law, so has been designed with you all in mind.
The module is block-taught across an intense two-week period, through lectures and seminar activities in Summer Term. There will be an hour for lunch each day, and several comfort breaks. Each lecture examines a specific issue relating to ‘cybercrime’. In week 23 you will present the final findings from your group task to the whole class.
In the group task you will learn how to use evidence-based methods to explore a cybercrime topic. We will show you how to do this on day 1. Sessions/topics are delivered by experts in their field, and there will be plenty of time for questions and debate.
Debates in Gender Research
This module introduces you to the practicalities and philosophies of doing interdisciplinary research in gender and women’s studies. You will learn to interpret, understand and explore the consequences of particular research methods. You will also be encouraged to critically consider the relationship between theories and methods in research. The module also provides scope for reflecting on the politics of knowledge, the ethics of research, and the relationship between disciplines and interdisciplinary fields such as gender and women’s studies. You will learn how some key conceptual frameworks within feminism (for example, sex and gender, body politics, sexual difference, queer theory) have been constructed over time through both research practices and theoretical arguments. This module will be useful as preparation for your own research later in the programme and particularly for your Master's dissertation.
Digital Audio Culture
In this module you will explore different aspects of digital audio and music cultures, in theory and in practice. The aim is to learn to think critically and creatively about the role that digital audio practices and technologies play in the current media landscape. The module contains both theoretical and practical components. You will engage in critical theoretical discussions on different aspects of digital audio culture. You will also have the opportunity to learn how to work with digital audio editing software and recording technologies. In the end, you will work together with group members to create a short podcast or audio documentary in which you reflect on a digital audio topic that you choose.
Environmental Aspects of Renewable Energy
This module covers the possible positive and negative effects that various forms of renewable energy have on the environment. You will develop a critical understanding of the key concepts of renewable energy, and the tools and techniques for assessing the environmental impact of renewable energy schemes. In particular, you will be able to assess the challenges facing the development and deployment of large renewable energy schemes and the uncertainties related to their environmental impact.
How have the principles of environmental law developed? How effective is the environmental law of England and Wales?
Law students and students from Lancaster Environment Centre study side by side on this module. This presents you with a rare interdisciplinary opportunity to share ideas and perspectives between lawyers and scientists. Together, we will explore the sources, principles and effectiveness of environmental law in England and Wales.
Within your studies you will investigate the efficacy and effect of environmental law. Topics analysed include: water pollution, the history of environmental law, green criminology and the protection of the countryside. The module then builds upon this critical analysis to explain how the aqueous, atmospheric and terraneous environments are protected by law.
Environmental law is typically taught by research-active academics who will introduce you to their research into green criminology, access to the countryside, market mechanisms and environmental protection. This research often informs their teaching and you can choose an essay based on these topics or develop your own question with the support of our lecturers.
Feminist Media and Cultural Studies
This module focuses on crucial feminist interventions in cultural production and cultural studies and introduces you to contemporary debates in feminist theory. You will have the opportunity to explore specific forms of activism, engagement and resistance that have identified hierarchies and challenged the ways in which these produce gendered, sexual, ethnic and racial identities and oppression.
We will examine a range of sources from popular culture, media, art, public culture and policy, enabling us to bring feminist cultural theory into dialogue with a range of media and other cultural productions and practices.
The particular focus and format of the module may change each year, allowing us to link to topical debates or events taking place in the wider community. Recently, for example, the module was run as a week-long summer school on Feminist Activism and involved film screenings, lectures, group work and discussions. It ran in parallel with a Manchester University Summer School on “Queer Arts as Activism”. The exact format of this module will be communicated at registration.
Food Security, Agriculture and Climate Change
The focus is to understand the component parts and the interdisciplinary basis of the global food system. To this end, students will examine challenges facing global agricultural production as a result of climate change. They will also gain an understanding of the shortage of key resources for food production and the subsequent issues that affect people’s access to food.
In addition to this, the module will demonstrate how basic plant physiology can inform both plant breeding and agronomy to increase the sustainability of agriculture. The factors impacting food safety and food quality (especially nutritive value) will also be explored.
Ultimately, students will develop a familiarity with several current/impending crises in global food security.
This module introduces students to the fundamental principles of GIS and remote sensing and explores how these complimentary technologies may be used to capture, manipulate, analyse and display different forms of spatially-referenced environmental data. This is a highly vocational module with lectures complimented by computer-based practicals (using state-of-the-art software such as ArcGIS Pro and ENVI) on related themes. At the end of the module students are required to complete a project in which a functioning analytical environmental information system is designed and implemented in order to solve a specific problem.
Taking a broad look at geological hazards, this module will cover everything from contemporary events to those that have shaped the Earth over geological time. The module explores in depth the fundamental processes involved in these events and how and to what extent such events can be predicted. Case histories of national and international disasters will be used to illustrate these hazards, and the inherent risks and potential mitigation measures will be discussed.
A demonstration and elaboration of the geological processes responsible for the occurrence, recurrence and magnitude of hazards will be given. Students will also learn to apply and report on the methods of prediction and mitigation strategies of geological hazards, and will apply simple prediction scenarios of geological hazard occurrence using geological datasets.To this end, students will develop skills in integrating sparse quantitative measurements and qualitative observations in order to derive interpretations from relevant datasets.
The module underscores far-reaching concepts such as using the past to inform the future and environmental risk. It will ultimately develop a sense of human-place in the geological world, promoting an understanding of how the geological world impacts human society, and what can be done to limit that impact.
Students will learn about the planning that goes into, and the ecological principles underlying, habitat management.
There will be a series of excursions to sites of conservation interest, led by external contributors and experts within the Department. Workshops will train students in habitat management techniques and planning, and students will write a conservation management plan for a particular site.
Students will be able to describe how the principles underlying the management of habitats for conservation can be applied in a range of habitat types, and will be able to construct a standard conservation management plan.
They will also develop skills in identifying, abstracting and synthesising information, and report writing.
International Environmental Law
Our world is facing an ever-increasing number of global environmental challenges. This engaging module examines the international legal response to those challenges.
We will delve into the socio-economic, political and scientific implications of environmental problems. As we do so, we will assess the impact of those implications on law and policy-making.
The module focuses on a number of contemporary environmental problems: climate change, marine pollution, the protection of international watercourses, fisheries and biodiversity, and the relationship between trade and the environment. You will assess the strengths and inadequacies of the law in regulating each of these issues.
We also typically cover topics such as:
- fundamental concepts and principles of international environmental law
- sustainable development and the precautionary principle
- how international environmental law operates (law-making, environmental governance and institutional structure)
- compliance with environmental rules and standards
You will be taught by academics in the field many of whom are active researchers. Typically, research within the teaching team informs this module.
International Human Rights Law
How do international laws protect, govern and shape your human rights?
This module provides an overview of the various rights that are protected through international instruments: civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
You will also be given a general introduction to regional and universal systems for human rights protection and promotion. This will focus on the UN human rights system but you will be encouraged to take a comparative view of regional human rights protection systems.
You will have the opportunity to gain a substantive and procedural knowledge of human rights through the international system. And you’ll engage with some key debates in this legal arena, such as the development of human rights and the human rights obligations of non-state actors.
To get the most from this module, you will have some knowledge of general international law and have a law or social science background.
Our Law School is home to research-active academics, you will have the chance to benefit from some of their expertise as many teach on areas closely aligned with their own research interests.
Making Research Count: Engaging with Quantitative Data
This module aims to develop students’ understanding of the ways in which social phenomena are conceptualised, defined and measured. The module will be a mix of lectures, seminars, and computer-based labs where students will get to play with real data. You will access data, explore data sets, generate and modify variables, frequency counts, cross tabulation, produce tables, bar charts and scattergrams, and test relationships between variables.
Modelling Environmental Processes
This module provides an introduction to basic principles and approaches to computer-aided modelling of environmental processes with applications to real environmental problems such as catchment modelling, pollutant dispersal in rivers and estuaries and population dynamics. Emphasis is placed on the use of computer-based methods and practical examples and you will be introduced to general aspects of environmental systems modelling.
Perspectives on Environment and Development
The aim of this module is to provide students with a theoretical foundation for the study of development and the environment from a geographical perspective. Students will focus on understanding the ways in which scholars have brought together development theory alongside the analysis of nature-society relations in the developing world.
This module provides students with a critical understanding of the evolution of contemporary development discourses and new ways of thinking about the relationship between environment and development. Key topics of discussion include theories of development, indigenous knowledge and development, biotechnology and food security, and the political economy of natural resources.
Ultimately, this module will enhance student’s academic skills to develop reasoned arguments through the analysis, interpretation and critical appraisal of complex evidence, with a module designed to deepen student’s understanding between theory and practice.
Theories of practice are widely discussed in contemporary social theory and introduce new possibilities for overcoming classic distinctions (individual: social, agency: structure, mind: body) in dualistic thinking in sociology. Developed and applied in many disciplines, practice theories provides critical insights into current global issues including environmental sustainability and health. Normally taught in a week-long intensive format, this module is delivered by the Practice Theory group at Lancaster and is open to visiting, international MA and PhD students. It normally blends lectures and short provocative talks with in-class exercises and student reading and writing groups to introduce you to a new take on important sociological topics such as power, time, materiality, social reproduction and variation, and method. The aim of the course is to give you opportunities to undertake theoretical and conceptual training in theories of social practice and develop an understanding of the ramifications of adopting a practice theory approach that might be applied to future investigations across a range of substantive areas from management to education, sustainability and energy to health.
Research Projects in Practice: From Design to Dissemination
This module provides first-hand experience of organising and undertaking a group research project on a subject of your own choosing. You will work through processes of research design and strategy, developing research questions, planning and carrying out fieldwork and analysis, and presenting and evaluating research. Working together in small groups, you will produce a research proposal, a journal article based on your project, and an oral presentation of your work. You are also encouraged to keep a research diary of the process. This will provide the basis for an individual reflective essay to be submitted after the module has finished. Although the module is essentially practical, it also provides an opportunity to learn about generic issues involved in doing social research and about the contemporary context of research policy and funding.
This module explores key theoretical, methodological, and ethical issues in researching migration, migrants’ experience, and the effect of migration on origin and receiving societies. Through the use of case studies, you will have the opportunity to examine, in-depth, several topics in contemporary migration research, and related methodological and ethical considerations. Topics covered may include: are we living in an 'age of migration'?; how do we define 'migrant' and why does it matter?; borders; citizenship; migration as a reproductive justice issue; ethical considerations when researching migration; the use of qualitative and quantitative methods in researching migration; and more.
Social and Cultural Theory
This is a module about social theory with emphasis on the nature of its object, “the social” and the methodological issues related to this investigation. The module aims to critically examine the ways in which different social theoretical perspectives approach their objects, and to consider the consequences of these differences. The focus will be on the newer social theories. We will be dealing with one theory and one theorist each week. Among the theorists are: Pierre Bourdieu, Zygmunt Bauman, Eve Chiapello, Bruno Latour, Gilles Deleuze, Slavoj Žižek, Jacques Rancière and Giorgio Agamben.
The Philosophies of Social Research
This short course is an introduction to philosophical issues arising from and involved in methods and techniques of social research. The course will be taught in a traditional manner of lectures and related seminars with associated reading. Since it is intended to serve as an introduction to philosophical issues in social research, the course will concentrate on setting out and discussing the major lineaments of the philosophical bases and justifications of quantitative and qualitative methodologies. Of necessity some selection will have to take place but this will be guided very much by anticipations of the research methods to be discussed in following and related modules. The relatively short period of the course requires teaching methods which can cover a great deal of ground fairly quickly yet effectively; hence, the combination of lecture and seminar, and individual presentations. The module uses the classes for FASS507 (Introduction to the Philosophy of Social Science).
The Rights of Peoples
National and ethnic tensions lie at the heart of many contemporary international conflicts. But what are the rights of peoples, national minorities and indigenous peoples under international law?
Our Rights of Peoples module takes an in-depth look at this key question and encourages you to critically explore the idea of a national identity and relations between groups within states.
Typically, you will examine:
- questions of statehood
- the borders of states
- their form of government
- the allocation of resources
- protection of the environment
A combination of independent reading and seminars with research-active lawyers and academics will provide you with the opportunity to gain a sound grasp of this legal area.
Wildlife Monitoring Techniques
Students will gain knowledge of identification, sampling and monitoring methods for some key taxa and an understanding of how these methods may be used in a wider context, e.g. local, national and international contexts of different types of survey.
The module will have five sections, each delivered with one or two lectures and including a field component on campus or away. It will also include the analysis of quantitative data.
Those who take this module will be taught to identify some taxonomic groups to appropriate levels (species, genus, etc.) and will devise appropriate sampling regimes to derive population estimates or indices for population monitoring. They will also use other monitoring techniques that may be appropriate for recording behaviour and quantifying biodiversity.
Wildlife Population Ecology
This module explains what wildlife population ecology entails and how it can be studied. It will explore the factors influencing population growth and involves quantifying the reproduction, survival, birth and death rate of various animals and plants.
One of the ways this exploration will be done is through completing a presentation which synthesises a quantitative aspect of wildlife population ecology. Through this, students will demonstrate an ability to use disparate literature sources and to present a coherent story of applied or theoretical interest.
They will come to appreciate how individual life history decisions determine population level processes, and will learn to resolve applied ecological problems using basic biological information.
They will also demonstrate knowledge of other basic population concepts, such as density-dependence, trade-offs, competition, predation, parasitism, etc. Another aspect will involve learning the fundamentals of population models, such as the Logistic and Lotka-Voltera models, and appreciating the use of population models in applied ecology.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, but changes may be necessary, for example as a result of student feedback, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes, and new research. Not all optional modules are available every year.
Fees and Funding
We set our fees on an annual basis and the 2024/25 entry fees have not yet been set.
There may be extra costs related to your course for items such as books, stationery, printing, photocopying, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits. Following graduation, you may need to pay a subscription to a professional body for some chosen careers.
Specific additional costs for studying at Lancaster are listed below.
Lancaster is proud to be one of only a handful of UK universities to have a collegiate system. Every student belongs to a college, and all students pay a small College Membership Fee which supports the running of college events and activities.
For students starting in 2023, the fee is £40 for undergraduates and research students and £15 for students on one-year courses. Fees for students starting in 2024 have not yet been set.
Computer equipment and internet access
To support your studies, you will also require access to a computer, along with reliable internet access. You will be able to access a range of software and services from a Windows, Mac, Chromebook or Linux device. For certain degree programmes, you may need a specific device, or we may provide you with a laptop and appropriate software - details of which will be available on relevant programme pages. A dedicated IT support helpdesk is available in the event of any problems.
The University provides limited financial support to assist students who do not have the required IT equipment or broadband support in place.
Application fees and tuition fee deposits
For most taught postgraduate applications there is a non-refundable application fee of £40. We cannot consider applications until this fee has been paid, as advised on our online secure payment system. There is no application fee for postgraduate research applications.
For some of our courses you will need to pay a deposit to accept your offer and secure your place. We will let you know in your offer letter if a deposit is required and you will be given a deadline date when this is due to be paid.
Fees in subsequent years
If you are studying on a programme of more than one year’s duration, the tuition fees for subsequent years of your programme are likely to increase each year. Read more about fees in subsequent years.
Scholarships and Bursaries
Details of our scholarships and bursaries for 2024-entry study are not yet available, but you can use our opportunities for 2023-entry applicants as guidance.
Check our current list of scholarships and bursaries.
The information on this site relates primarily to 2023/2024 entry to the University and every effort has been taken to ensure the information is correct at the time of publication.
The University will use all reasonable effort to deliver the courses as described, but the University reserves the right to make changes to advertised courses. In exceptional circumstances that are beyond the University’s reasonable control (Force Majeure Events), we may need to amend the programmes and provision advertised. In this event, the University will take reasonable steps to minimise the disruption to your studies. If a course is withdrawn or if there are any fundamental changes to your course, we will give you reasonable notice and you will be entitled to request that you are considered for an alternative course or withdraw your application. You are advised to revisit our website for up-to-date course information before you submit your application.
More information on limits to the University’s liability can be found in our legal information.
Our Students’ Charter
We believe in the importance of a strong and productive partnership between our students and staff. In order to ensure your time at Lancaster is a positive experience we have worked with the Students’ Union to articulate this relationship and the standards to which the University and its students aspire. View our Charter and other policies.