Key Facts

Course Title: Environmental Politics
Course type: MA, MRes
Mode of Study:Full Time or Part Time
Contact Details:Kathryn Ainsworth
Website: Go to School homepage
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
Subject Area: Politics and International Relations


wind farm Environmental problems are indisputably a part of the contemporary political landscape. Societies across the globe increasingly confront innumerable and often inter-related environmental challenges ranging from climate change and loss of biodiversity to local conflicts about land-use. Each of these challenges has political, economic, cultural and ethical dimensions; each provides an opportunity to rethink longstanding debates and opens up new fields of political enquiry.

SPIRE’s Masters in Environmental Politics has run since 1996 and is taught by some of the most prominent figures in the field. The course is designed for people who wish to understand and analyse the wide range of political and policy questions thrown up by increasingly complicated environmental problems.  It has attracted students from all over the UK, the EU and the world. The international mix of students and staff adds greatly to the nature of discussion and learning.

Keele University has an unrivalled reputation for its work in Environmental Politics, with internationally recognised experts in various fields of social science environmental research particularly in the fields of sociology, political theory, economics, international relations, environmental ethics and public policy.  Our interdisciplinary approach, together with a large and active research community on environmental issues within Keele, contributes to a thriving intellectual culture of which you can expect to be a part as an Environmental Politics student.

The course is taught over a 12 month period (September-September; January-January). It is available as a full-time and/or part-time mode of study. Students completing the course have gone on to a variety of careers in the public, private and voluntary sectors.

Aims of the Course

The aim of the MA/MRes in Environmental Politics is to provide you with an intensive period of study in which to learn about environmental politics and policy in a systematic and critical manner.  It aims to provide you with a foundation in the theoretical and practical dimensions of this challenging, interdisciplinary field.

In addition to your core modules for the MA/MRes, we recommend that you take our Dimensions of Environmental Politics module, which introduces five key fields of political inquiry in relation to the environment.  It looks at: green political theory; the political sociology of the environment; the environment and public policy; environment and political economy; and international environmental politics. Your other chosen elective modules and your dissertation project give a broad scope in which to pursue specific environmental topics of your own choosing.

Entry Requirements

Prospective students should have a first or good second-class honours degree, or its equivalent. This first degree should be in Politics or International Relations, or any other social science subject (e.g. Law or Sociology), or a humanities subject (e.g. History, Philosophy, English, or Modern languages).

Where English is not a first language, proof of English language competence will be required (IELTS 6.0 or equivalent, with a minimum of 5.5 in each sub-test).

Course Content

Completion of the MA requires 180 credits, obtained through 15-credit modules and a 60-credit dissertation of 15,000 words. This degree is part of the overarching pathway structure for postgraduate environment degrees at Keele. Students will be eligible to undertake environment-related modules from both SPIRE and the School of Physical and Geographical Sciences.

SPIRE Modules include

  • Dimensions of Environmental Politics (Recommended)
  • Environmental Diplomacy
  • EU and the Global Commons
  • Green Political Theory
  • Environmental Decision-making in the UK
  • US Environmental Politics and Policy
  • Climate Change: Governance, Power and Society 

  • Dissertation: 15,000-word dissertation on any aspect of climate change politics, to be agreed with supervisory staff. Students may be able to undertake relevant fieldwork to research the work of an organisation working in the field of climate change.

Teaching and Assessment

Postgraduate teaching and learning generally takes place in a combination of large seminars and smaller discussion groups.  Our academics typically lead the sessions, encouraging discussion between all students. Sometimes students will give presentations, either individually or in groups.

There is a strong emphasis on independent learning and students are expected to work on their own to produce their essays and dissertation. Most modules are assessed by a diverse range of coursework (e.g., essays, critiques, reports, presentations), though some modules may also be assessed by seminar contributions and/or written exams. Students take three modules in each semester. The taught modules are completed by May, leaving the summer months for students to write their dissertation.

Additional Costs


world map SPIRE is a thoroughly international school, and is particularly welcoming to international students, as well as providing plenty of opportunities for home students to broaden their horizons.

We have staff with educational backgrounds in a wide variety of countries, such as Sweden, Canada, Bulgaria, Italy, Austria, Romania, and Turkey, who present their research all around the world. Students have the opportunity to hear visiting lecturers from various different countries, arranged through our ERASMUS partnerships.

International students will join established international communities at Keele, and will find plenty of support mechanisms in place to help them make the transition to study in the UK (see the ‘International Applicants’ button above).

We have one scholarship available for 2015 for a student  from a developing Commonwealth country accepted on to one of the following programmes: Human Rights, Globalisation & Justice / Gender, Sexuality & Human Rights / Environmental Sustainability & Green Technology / Environmental Politics / Diplomatic Studies / Global Security.

The Shared Scholarship is jointly funded by the Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC) and Keele University.  The Commission will pay your tuition fees and airfares to and from the UK, which Keele University will arrange for you once you have been granted the scholarship.

Keele University will provide you with a maintenance award (accommodation fees for a single room on campus will be deducted from this).

Candidates are expected to hold a first degree at either first class or upper second class level, and must have met the English Language requirements of the course in question.

Candidates are required to return home immediately on conclusion of their course and they must sign an undertaking that they are nationals of a developing Commonwealth country;  are permanently domiciled in a developing Commonwealth country; and are not at present living or studying in a developed country, and must not have undertaken studies lasting one year or more in a developed country.

Applications for the scholarship must be received using the Electronic Application System (EAS)