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PgCert/PgDip/MSc   |   Part-time   |   Distance Learning

This innovative course combines teaching of Environmental Management techniques with skills in Geographic Information Systems (GIS).

The School of Geography and Environmental Sciences (Ulster University) has proudly embarked on a long-distance journey to provide every person from every part of the world with the latest and most comprehensive flexible Postgraduate courses to address environmental issues over the past two decades. 

The course aims to teach how environmental management and spatial data handling tools are applied in making knowledge-based decisions on managing the environment. The course provides relevant Modules on environmental impact assessment, site conservation planning, environmental management systems, ecological monitoring and GIS. It is considered in the context of environmental legislative/policy frameworks within which industry, government and voluntary bodies work.

Most of the course materials, student support and general study guidance and resources are provided via an e-learning platform called Blackboard. Students download digital versions of their teaching materials (e.g., lectures, documents, podcasts, practical instructions) each week and work through them at their own convenience. Coursework is also submitted via Blackboard. Unlike a traditional classroom environment, students studying online use communication mechanisms such as discussion boards, email or video-conference tools to interact with staff and other students, and are not required to attend the campus at any time during the course (though they are welcome to visit the university to use its facilities or meet with staff).

Specific objectives are to enable students to:

 · Understand the importance of an evidence-based approach to environmental policy and strategic decision-making.

 · Apply quantitative techniques to assess the effects of environmental management

 · Use GIS as a framework for collating, manipulating and analysing spatial data relating to the environment.

 · Produce environmental impact statements and advise on implementing environmental management systems.

 · Apply structured planning principles to site biodiversity management and ecosystem restoration.

 · Monitor pollution and assess its environmental effects.

It aims to satisfy an industrial and public sector demand for science-qualified environmental management personnel who can analyse environmental issues and propose viable solutions in conservation, agriculture, forestry, industry and countryside planning.


There is a possibility to study on two distinct pathways within the course: Pathway 1 giving a 75/25 split (more Environmental Management modules) and Pathway 2 a 50/50 split:

>> September 2023 Intake

>> January 2024 Intake

With successful completion of these modules, students are eligible for a Postgraduate Diploma in Environmental Management with GIS or can study for a Masters. Should you need additional flexibility, it is also possible to take the course as a series of stand-alone modules and build up to the PGDip over a more extended period.
Module Descriptions 
EGM801 – Biodiversity Management
Biodiversity managers make decisions based on understanding ecosystems and by applying ecological principles to achieve their objectives. This module covers key scientific topics, which are crucial for developing effective biodiversity management plans in different ecosystems. It exemplifies how ecological-social-economic factors interact to influence our ability to conserve and manage biodiversity.

EGM804 – Environmental Impact Assessment
This module introduces the concepts and requirements of environmental impact assessment, the methodology of planning and carrying out an environmental audit and the use of environmental management systems.
EGM821 – Pollution Monitoring
This module provides the knowledge and skills necessary to monitor pollution of the environment. The topics included are: the key elements of the monitoring programmes for air, water and land; sample collection; chemical methods of analysis, including quality assurance; biological methods of analysis, including toxicity tests and bioassessment; use of environmental models; statistics, data analysis and assessing compliance and; critical loads. The student gains experience through lectures, supporting documents, directed reading and practicals.
EGM711 – Principles of GIS
This module introduces the theory and practice of Geographic Information Systems, and is intended to provide an understanding of the breadth of potential GIS applications and to equip students with the key concepts and skills required relating to the input, management, manipulation, analysis and output of spatial data. Lecture-based teaching of key concepts is reinforced by linked practical exercises which allow students to develop competence in ESRI's ArcGIS package. The module assumes no prior knowledge or experience of GIS.
EGM712- Spatial Data Management
This module builds on the knowledge and practical skills gained in EGM711 to provide students with further experience in the acquisition, manipulation and analysis of spatial data. Methods for generating and collecting digital spatial data from primary and secondary sources are considered, and data processing, selection, integration and analysis extensively practiced. Lecture and practical sessions include digitising, geo-registration, GPS, accessing and using secondary sources, spatial join and overlay, network analysis and 3D modelling, and incorporate experience of a variety of large and small scale vector and raster datasets. The module also incorporates practice in statistical analysis and interpretation. Development of GIS software skills focuses on ArcGIS and extensions.

EGM713 - Introduction to Remote Sensing

This module offers students the opportunity to study the principles and applications of remote sensing and image analysis and to explore links between remote sensing and GIS. Students will become familiar with theoretical foundations of remote sensing and will develop technical skills through a series of software-based practical exercises and assignments using ERDAS Imagine.

EGM714 – GIS in Business & Society
This module investigates the GI industry from the perspective of the GI professional, the GI customer/user and the various functions and processes behind the successful implementation of GIS in real world scenarios. The module aims to give students a firm understanding of GIS in the commercial world, an appreciation of the economic and social value of spatial data and the importance of decision-based techniques in spatial analysis within GIS applications. The module assumes no prior knowledge or experience of GIS.
EGM715 – Web-Based GIS
This module examines the role of programming within the GI industry. It aims to enable students to appreciate the need for programming skills that can be used to customise and develop applications. A range of programming skills is introduced which equip the student with knowledge of the potential and scope of programming within various applications.
EGM716 – Spatial Analysis
This module builds on the introductory material of EGM711 and EGM712, covering key concepts of spatial data analysis and modelling, and providing extensive practical experience of ESDA and spatial modelling within a GIS environment.
EGM721 – GIS for Environmental Management
This optional module examines the application of GIS to environmental management, modelling and impact assessment. It aims to enable students to appreciate the need for properly researched information to support strategic and operational environmental management decisions, and to be aware of the means by which such information can be obtained and evaluated.
Our next intake on to the course is in September 2023, with the first Module (Environmental Data Analysis) beginning on Monday September 25th 2023.

We will have another intake in January 2024 with the term beginning on Monday January 29th

You should apply by the end of August if you wish to start the course in September, or the end of December for a January start If you want to submit a late application, please contact us first to check availability of places.


Fees for students from the UK, NI & ROI (2023/24 entry) are £6,719.40 for the Masters; if you only wish to study for the PG Dip, the fees are £4,479.60 (or £2,239.80 for the PG Cert). 

Fees for International students (2023/24 entry) are £15,840 for the Masters; if you only wish to study for the PG Dip, the fees are £10,560 (or £5,280 for the PG Cert)

Fees can be paid by instalments. Further details of fees, instalment plans and discounts for Ulster alumni can be found at

Some students may be eligible for a government postgraduate loan (these are applicable to distance learning as well as on-campus courses and can be used for full-time or part-time study). Further information is available  and   

Applying for the course

You can apply online at . Please ensure that you include full details of qualifications and work or other relevant experience. 
Further information

If you have any additional queries relating to the course, please contact our postgraduate administrator Niamh McInerney ( or the Course Director: Prof. Andrew Cooper (

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