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Educational aims

This programme aims to:

  • provide masters-level study of environmental decision making and related issues
  • provide career and personal development for current and potential professional environmental specialists, as well as for others seeking to include environmental issues in their decision making
  • enable you to develop skills in environmental decision making that can be applied in organisations, businesses, communities and other areas of your life
  • enable you to develop the academic skills appropriate to independent postgraduate study of environmental issues.

Learning outcomes

The programme leading to this qualification provides achievable outcomes in the following four areas:

Knowledge and understanding

When you have completed this degree you will have knowledge and understanding of:

  • the concepts of environmental decision making, environmental management, sustainable development and other relevant key concepts
  • how perspectives, motivations and traditions affect environmental decision making and environmental responsibility
  • formal environmental decision making techniques including environmental risk assessment and management techniques incorporating the role of models, monitoring and auditing
  • research methods and techniques appropriate to defining, planning and carrying out a research project within the student’s chosen specialist area.

Cognitive skills

When you have completed this degree you will be able to:

  • explore environmental issues systemically and systematically
  • critically analyse and evaluate information within an environmental context
  • distinguish between and critically examine factors influencing environmental decision making
  • identify appropriate stakeholders in an environmental decision-making situation and assess their relative influences.

Practical and/or professional skills

When you have completed this degree you will be able to:

  • use appropriate frameworks to investigate and analyse environmental issues
  • use appropriate techniques to support analysis and decision making
  • differentiate between and make appropriate use of evaluation and monitoring processes.

Key skills

When you have completed this degree you will be able to demonstrate the following skills:

  • effectively communicate in written form ideas and arguments on environmental decision making
  • advance own knowledge and understanding through independent learning and experience
  • work independently, reflecting on own actions and thoughts, and making effective use of constructive feedback
  • seek and interpret relevant information from appropriate sources and integrate the knowledge and skills derived into a coherent product
  • (and if T862 is studied) work with numerical data in the quantitative assessment of environmental decision-making situations
  • (and if TD866 is studied) construct arguments and make evaluative judgements with reference to ethical and policy questions on environmental issues.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

Knowledge and understanding are gained from module texts, associated readings, DVDs, web-based resources, assignments and computer forums, Core module texts are designed to guide you through concepts and practical examples. You can assess your own progress and understanding by using the in-text questions and exercises within each module.

Formal assessment of the taught modules is by way of continuous assessment in the form of the assignments (which are submitted electronically) and by an end-of-module examination or project.

Cognitive skills and processes are assessed in the assignments of the various modules. Assignments develop your skills in interpreting data, solving problems and formulating solutions. They will test your ability to analyse and evaluate situations and demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of environmental decision making. Your understanding and skills are reinforced by support from tutors in the form of feedback based on your assignment answers.

Your tutors are selected for their knowledge of the subject areas and experience in its practical application. They support your learning by phone, email, letter, fax, or online forum.


Communication skills are developed throughout by the OU’s distance-teaching methods. You are required to communicate with your tutor and you are also encouraged to participate with other students and tutors using electronic conferencing to discuss both module specific issues and related topics of wider interest. The final module requires you to identify and develop your own area of study.

Learning how to learn

This is an important part of all OU study as there is a strong emphasis on helping you to develop as an independent learner. Some of the assignments give you opportunity to demonstrate your ability to study autonomously. Using the self-assessment questions in the course text, you can assess your progress and ask for help if needed. You are encouraged to reflect on the response to your assignments in order to improve your understanding and performance in future assessments. You will work independently on a substantial piece of work, providing novel solutions to technical problems or exploring theoretical issues at the forefront of environmental decision making.