Environmental Management - 8623

Program Summary

Faculty: Faculty of Science


Campus: Sydney

Career: Postgraduate

Typical Duration: 2 Years  

Typical UOC Per Semester: 24

Min UOC Per Semester: 6

Max UOC Per Semester: 24

Min UOC For Award: 96


Master of Environmental Management

View program information for previous years

Program Description

The Master of Environmental Management is 1-2 year full-time program depending upon the grant of Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). It is normally taken as a 96 unit of credit program, over a minimum of 4 full-time sessions, or 8 part-time sessions. However, it can be taken as a 72 UOC (1.5 years full-time equivalent) or 48 UOC program (1 year full-time equivalent), subject to RPL.

The program offers students an interdisciplinary and applied set of courses which outline some of the main decision-making frameworks and tools for environmental management. The program also provides discipline-specific knowledge relevant to work in environmental professions. The program can be taken by environmental specialists and non-specialists from a wide range of disciplines and interests.

This program is articulated with the Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma of Environmental Management programs (see Articulation Rules below).

Program Objectives and Graduate Attributes

At the completion of the program students will:
  1. Have acquired advanced disciplinary knowledge and skills in environmental management and policy, and an ability to apply these in a range of contexts;
  2. Have developed an understanding of enquiry-based learning and be able to demonstrate analytical skills;
  3. Have developed advanced critical thinking and problem solving skills;
  4. Be able to communicate effectively to a range of audience, and be capable of independent and collaborative enquiry and working effectively with others.
  5. Have an awareness of international environmental issues.

Program Structure

Ordinarily, students must complete:
  1. Three compulsory 6UOC Core Courses (totalling 18 UOC)
  2. Four 6UOC Disciplinary Knowledge courses (totalling 24 UOC)
  3. Elective courses, to make up the total of 96 UOC overall. At least 2 IEST electives (totalling 12 UOC or more) must be taken.
Students who achieve a Distinction level (75%) average after their first four courses may seek approval from the Program Coordinator to replace some electives with an approved Internship Research Project (6 UOC), and/or a research project for those who are interested: Research project (24 UOC).

Disciplinary Knowledge

Students will bring very different knowledge bases to the program, and will need to fill different knowledge gaps to achieve the 'disciplinary knowledge' (DK) courses for which they cannot demonstrate sufficient background. For example, a student with a background in engineering will probably take DK courses in Ecology, Economics, Law and Social Science, while a student with a Social Science/Law background will probably take DK courses in Ecology, Economics, Engineering and Physical Science.

The courses to be taken will be determined following discussion of academic qualifications and experience with the program coordinator. Ordinarily, students will take four out of the six Disciplinary Knowledge courses.

Disciplinary Knowledge Courses
Note: Where students can demonstrate sufficient disciplinary background or experience they may, with the permission of the Program Coordinator, take fewer than four DK courses, and replace them with electives. Where students are completing the full 96 UOC program at UNSW, students may also opt to take more than 4 DK courses, if they lack sufficient disciplinary experience in the 6 areas.

The following three electives are also recommended introductory courses for students from non-cognate backgrounds:
Advanced Disciplinary/Interdisciplinary Courses:

Core Courses

Students must take the following three core courses:
Note: IEST5001 is normally to be taken at the start of the program, while IEST5003, a capstone course, should be taken later in the program, preferably the final semester.

Advanced Disciplinary Elective Courses:

A minimum of 30 UOC of Advanced Disciplinary electives must be taken. Students are eligible to take up to 54UOC of elective courses (including research electives where eligible). 12 UOC or more must be chosen from the list of advanced disciplinary electives offered by the Institute of Environmental Studies (with IEST code):
  • IEST5009 and 5010 (3 UOC each) Professional Competencies in Corporate Sustainability
Students may choose other electives offered outside the IES, from a pre-approved MEM elective list (some electives may need School approval) or as approved by the MEM Postgraduate Coordinator. For students who have not received advanced standing for their program and are completing the full 96 UOC at UNSW, electives may also include choosing from the following foundational recommended electives, depending upon your disciplinary background:

The list of approved MEM electives is as follows:

Academic Rules

See above.

Admission Requirements

The entry requirement for the MEM is one of the following:
  • A Bachelor’s degree with a weighted average mark (WAM) of 65. The Bachelor’s degree can be in any discipline;
  • A Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma in Environmental Management with a WAM greater than 65;
  • An Honour’s degree at a recognised or reputable university;
  • A Bachelor’s degree with a WAM of 50-65 plus approximately five years professional experience in a relevant field which includes:-environmental officer, planner and similar in local government; environmental consulting, contamination assessment, geotechnical consulting, environmental health assessment and EIA; environmental operations management (e.g. maintaining or auditing an environmental management system); environmental project officer/manager, natural resource management officer/manager or similar for state or federal government or for catchment authorities; corporate environmental and/or energy monitoring, reporting and evaluation/auditing; corporate sustainability reporting; project management with an environmental focus; building sustainability or energy efficiency assessment; environmental outreach, extension or education (usually government or catchment management); research assistant or associate on environmental themes; or, NGO or international organisation environmental campaign managers.
Applicants with other relevant qualifications and experience not listed may apply for admission to this program as follows. This is in accordance with UNSW Policy and Procedure on Recognition of Prior Learning. Applicants will need to demonstrate that they have achieved the same knowledge and skills (learning outcomes) through their formal or informal learning as the qualifications listed for entry for this program. This may be evidenced by qualification certificates, records of assessment activities relating to course or program learning outcomes, examples of experience from the workplace, community, or other context which demonstrate relevant skills, knowledge or competencies, membership (or eligibility for membership) of professional organisations which require attainment of certain qualifications, or testimonials of skills, knowledge or competencies from workplace supervisors. Any relevant documentation should be attached to the application and will be considered by the Academic Coordinator for the Program.

Those that apply for the MEM from a cognate field and/or apply with an Honours degree may be able to apply for credit based on ROPL as outlined below. Those that enter the MEM program from a non-cognate Bachelor or other degree will only be eligible for credit where it is directly relevant to environmental management.

Recognition for Prior Learning / Advanced Standing

Students with a Bachelor degree in environmental science, environmental management, environmental studies or other ‘environmental’ program in a number of fields such as science, social sciences and humanities, economics, or law, are eligible for 24 UOC of advanced standing in the program and will only be required to complete 72 UOC of courses. Advanced standing will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the Program Coordinator.

Students with an Honours degree (AQF Level 8) in environmental science, environmental management, environmental studies or other ‘environmental’ program in a number of fields such as science, social sciences and humanities, economics, or law, may be eligible for up to 48 UOC of advanced standing. These students will then need to complete 48 UOC of courses to complete the program which includes 18 UOC core courses, and 30 UOC of advanced disciplinary electives (which must include at least 12UOC of IEST courses). However, where students cannot demonstrate that they have a sufficiently broad understanding of at least four of the disciplinary knowledge areas described above, they will need to complete additional disciplinary knowledge courses as determined by the Program Coordinator. Advanced standing will be determined on a case-by-case basis by the Program Coordinator.

Students who enter the program with a Graduate Diploma or higher qualification in environmental science, environmental management, environmental studies or other ‘environmental’ program, may be eligible for up to 48 UOC of advanced standing as determined on a case-by-case basis by the Program Coordinator.

Students who enter the MEM from a non-cognate degree, but have studied some environmental electives at a senior level in their undergraduate program, may be eligible for up to 24 UOC of credit as determined by the Program Coordinator.


Students who have completed the requirements for the Graduate Certificate or Diploma in Environmental Management (programs 5499 and 7339) with a credit average are eligible for admission to the Masters of Environmental Management with full credit for courses already completed.

Students who wish to exit the Masters program early may nominate to transfer to and graduate from the Graduate Certificate or Graduate Diploma provided the requirements for the program have been met.


MEM alumni are working in prominent environmental positions in government, NGOs, the private sector, and consultancies. Students completing 24 UOC of project work in the program may also consider applying for Masters by Research or PhD programs.


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