MRes Environment & Development

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Comments about MRes Environment & Development - At the institution - London - Greater London

  • Objectives
    To provide foundation-level competency in the research skills and knowledge to enable students to go on to a PhD. This degree is recognised by the ESRC, so students completing it are eligible to hold ESRC +3 studentships to fund their PhD research.
  • Entry requirements
    people with a 2:1 first degree, or overseas equivalent. We will consider other degree subjects. Part-time students welcomed.
  • Academic title
    MRes Environment & Development
  • Course description
    Programme description

    - In-depth research training in development issues to prepare graduates for PhD study or research with development organisations.
    - The programme is taught by members of staff who have first hand experience of environmental and developmental issues in the world's poor countries.
    - Much of the teaching on the programme is interactive, with students participating regularly in classroom discussions.

    This programme encourages a critical appraisal of paradigms generated in 'advanced' economies from the viewpoint of the world's 'developing' countries as an essential foundation to carry out PhD research on environment and development in the developing world.

    It comprises a dissertation (Pilot Research Study) and four compulsory interdisciplinary modules on Applied Social Science:
    Research Design & Project; Qualitative Research Methods; Quantitative Research Methods; Theory & Methodologies of the Social Sciences.

    The course alse entails a compulsory module on Development & Environmentalism in the 'South' plus one further module chosen from among: Agricultural & Environmental Issues in Sub-Saharan Africa;Environment, Livelihoods and Development in the 'South';
    Environmental Politics as Cultural Politics; Environmental Remote Sensing and GIS; Techniques for Managing Environmental Change;Tourism & Development; Urbanization in Sub-Saharan Africa; Water Resources & Water Policy.

    Please note that not all options run in any given year.

    Programme format and assessment

    Continuous module assessment. Students must complete a compulsory dissertation and a half module unit on research methods.

    Programme modules for MRes Environment & Development 

    Development and Environmentalism in the 'South'
    (Core Module)
    This module examines the way that the environment is understood within the context of development, focusing on the global South. It explores the importance of the environment and natural resources to the development process, and the legacy of colonialism and underdevelopment in framing environmental problems. Finally the module considers recent shifts in the debates surrounding development and the environment initiated under both economic restructuring ( the so-called Washington Consensus) since the 1980s, and the increasing attention to global environmental problems, including biodiversity and climate change.

    Theory and Methodologies of the Social Sciences (Core Module)
    Through seminar discussions, students will consider a range of philosophical approaches to the social sciences, from positivism and empiricism, to hermenuetics, marxism, and post-structuralism, and discuss the relationship between theoretical debates in particular disciplines to those within the wider social sciences. Each seminar will begin with student-led discussion of readings and then end with a more formal presentation from the instructor to introduce the material for the coming week.

    Agricultural & Environmental Issues in Sub-Saharan Africa
    This module enables students to understand the complexities of agriculture in Africas different ecological zones, also have some understanding of how and why images of agriculture vary with the scale of analysis. At a regional/national scale: understand the major influences on the character of agriculture in Africa, in particular the physical environment, historical factors and contemporary attempts to bring about development. At a local scale: be aware of some of the ways in which smallholder farmers, both men and women, interact with the environment in forest, savanna and sahel

    Environment, Livelihoods and Development in the South
    This module starts with a focus on meanings, approaches, and debates resolving around sustainable livelihoods and development from various perspectives. Thematic exemplars will involve in-depth coverage of current issues, such as fair trade, agrarian change, and natural resources management. There will also be focus on discourses of participation and community in development as it pertains to macro- and micro-level implications. This will be linked to broader debates about gendered livelihoods and gender-development debates. The module will involve in-class discussions, based on assigned readings that students are expected to read, as well as documentary analyses linked to the practical coursework assessment

    Environmental Politics as Cultural Politics
    The course allows students to explore the multiple and contested Nature(s) and identify how these contestations are encountered in politics and policy. The significance of everyday practices in shaping cultural understandings of places and their populations are drawn out through both historical and contemporary readings of Nature. These readings are inherently political. Through the analysis of multi-media information including academic texts, policy documentation, art and film, the question of a stable and shared national identity with one type of nature is put under question. Seminar discussions expose to critical examination the interaction between constructions and experiences of different natures and socio-cultural and political structures.

    Environmental Remote Sensing
    The module enables students to understand the information content of optical, thermal and radar remotely sensed data and to be able to identify the appropriate type of data for use in different environmental investigations. Students will learn to understand and apply various data calibration, processing and analyses techniques to maximize the interpretation of remotely sensed imagery. They will search, order and import various types of remote sensing data into appropriate software packages, and will be able to identify, obtain, calibrate, process and interpret data from sensors such as the Advanced Very High Resolution Radiometer and/or Landsat Thematic Mapper to illustrate examples of environmental change phenomena.

    Techniques for Managing Environmental Change at the Earth's surface
    The module enables students to have contact and presentations from a number of personnel directly involved in environmental management in the commercial world. It gives students an understanding of the interdisciplinary processes involved in environmental management, enabling students to design management solutions to a number of environmental problems. It enables students to present the results of an environmental management investigation both orally and in a written report.

    Tourism and Development
    After charting the growth and development of tourism at a global level and also within countries of the South, the module adopts an analytical approach, examining the impact of power relations and risk on tourism development at different scales in developing countries. It examines the different roles played by different interest groups in the industry and the inter-relationship between these groups. It analyses the advantages and disadvantages of tourism on economies of the South and examines possible ways of bringing theory and practice in tourism together in the pursuit of socio-economic development.

    Urbanisation in Sub-Saharan Africa: Livelihoods and Patterns of Growth
    This module enables students to evaluate the way in which globalization (in the form mainly of structural adjustment programmes) has influenced African cities and contemporary livelihoods and economic strategies (employment, incomes, food and shelter) for the majority of Africa's urban population, the urban poor. Assessing urban growth patterns in this region and its periodization and the changing nature of rural-urban migration and linkages over time. The constraints on planning and servicing imposed by extreme resource constraints and the privatization encouraged by structural adjustment are evaluated. The module also explores the specificities of the urban experience in southern African countries with their legacies of institutionalised and racially-based influx control.

    Water Resources and Water Policy
    This module provides an interdisciplinary introduction to the recent history of water resource allocation and management especially in Asia, Africa and the Middle East. Priority will be given to outlining a conceptual framework identifying the relevant underlying ecological, economic and sociological principles relevant in the evaluation and management of water resources. The conceptual framework will also show the link between these underlying principles and environmental and economic policies. The roles of the institutions and technologies through which such policies can be implemented will also be analysed and exemplified. 


    One year FT, two years PT, September to September.

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