Sustainable Mountain Development MSc

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What is special about this course?

If you want to make a real difference towards the sustainability of mountain regions, this postgraduate course in Sustainable Mountain Development is for you. It has global recognition as a key activity of the UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Mountain Development.

You will access the latest thinking on complex mountain issues by studying modules with a focus on advanced theory and practice relating to environmental, social, economic and professional development. By the end of your studies, you will be equipped with the practical skills and knowledge to help you understand and manage the real challenges faced by people living in mountainous areas today.

The course is part time; you will study all modules online with support from experts at the Centre for Mountain Studies, based at Perth College UHI, and around the university network. This allows you to fit your studies around your personal and professional commitments. If you are not able to complete the full MSc, you can exit with a PgCert by completing the 3 core modules or a PgDip by also completing 3 optional modules.

There are also two stand-alone CPD modules, water management (starts September) and deer management, (starts end of January).

The MSc Sustainable Mountain Development can be studied online from anywhere in the world.

Special features

  • Develop key scientific and policy skills
  • Learn from experts in the field of sustainable mountain development at the Centre for Mountain Studies, including  Professor Martin Price, holder of the UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Mountain Development
  • Study individual modules for personal or professional development, or work towards the PgCert, PgDip or full Masters degree
  • Study online, part-time to suit your lifestyle, from within the UK or internationally 

Entry requirements

  • Honours degree or ordinary degree in a relevant subject
  • Postgraduate diploma or professional qualification in a relevant subject
  • Other qualifications will be considered if accompanied by a minimum of three years' relevant professional experience


*Funding support notice*

Postgraduate Loans (SAAS) (Scottish domiciled and EU students)

Loans for tuition fees are available from SAAS for eligible Scotland domiciled and EU students, and loans for living costs for eligible Scottish students.


Access routes


Core modules are:

  • Environmental and social issues in mountain areas
  • Sustainable development
  • Policy analysis


Optional modules, from which you must choose three, include:

  • Biodiversity management
  • Developing communities
  • Developing potential through placement
  • Local economic development
  • Communities and nature
  • Research methods and techniques
  • Sustainable deer management*
  • Sustainable land use and renewable energy
  • Sustainable tourism
  • Water management**
  • An elective from any of the university's masters programmes

* available as a stand-alone CPD module for January start

** available as a stand-alone CPD module for September start


To achieve the award of MSc Sustainable Mountain Development you must complete a 15,000 word research dissertation on a topic of your own choice

How will I study my course?

Coronavirus (COVID-19) update

As your course was designed to be fully online and has run successfully for a number of years in this way, we can confirm that there will be no change to how the course will be delivered next year. You will study through supported online learning using the university's virtual learning environment. You will also have an online induction at the start of the course and will be able to meet your fellow students, lecturers and personal academic tutor through video conferencing.
  • You will study through supported online learning using the university's virtual learning environment (VLE)
  • Part-time
  • Students on this programme currently have the opportunity to attend the Integrated Land Use Conference
  • Assessment methods include evaluation of your online postings on the university's virtual learning environment (VLE) discussion board, assignments, presentations, plans and a 15,000 dissertation
  • You will be supported by the Centre for Mountain Studies, Perth College UHI.  For more information on the centre, the course, or CPD modules, please contact or +44 (0)1738 877761
  • If possible, you are strongly encouraged to attend a two-day induction in Scotland at the start of your course.  However, if this is not possible, online/phone induction can be arranged

How long will my course last?

  • Part-time (structured): 2 years @ 10-12 hours per week per module
  • Part-time (unstructured): 6 years @ 10-12 hours per week per module

Number of hours per week indicates the total number of hours you should dedicate to the course. This includes time online to view weekly lectures and other online materials, to participate in module discussion boards, and your own time spent on individual study and research.

Where can I study my course?

  • Perth College UHI

Start date

  • September


Fees payable for this online postgraduate course depend on your assessed fee status:

2020-21Scottish (SC) and EU (EU)*Rest of UK (RUKO ) and EU (EUO**) International (INTO)**
Per module (20 credits) £560 £650 £980
Postgraduate certificate (3 modules, 60 credits) £1,680 £1,950 £2,940
Postgraduate diploma (6 modules, 120 credits) £3,360 £3,900 £5,880
Masters degree (6 modules + dissertation) £5,000 £5,850 £8,820
2019-20Scottish (SC) and EU (EU)*Rest of UK (RUKO ) and EU (EUO**) International (INTO)**
Per module (20 credits) £560 £650 £960
Postgraduate certificate (3 modules, 60 credits) £1,680 £1,950 £2,880
Postgraduate diploma (6 modules, 120 credits) £3,360 £3,900 £5,760
Masters degree (60 modules + dissertation) £5,000 £5,850 £8,640

*EU students with a term-time address in Scotland.

** EU or international students studying from their own country.

Fees are payable in advance each academic year unless otherwise agreed.

This course is not open to international students requiring Student Route visa sponsorship to study in the UK


From 2017, eligible Scotland domiciled students studying full time for any taught postgraduate course up to full Masters level can access loans up to 10,000 from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS). This comprises a tuition fee loan up to £5,500 and a non-income assessed living cost loan of £4,500. EU students studying full time can apply for a tuition fee loan up to £5500.

Part-time students undertaking any taught postgraduate course over two years up to Masters level who meet the residency eligibility can apply for a for a tuition fee loan up to £2,750 per year.

Full details can be found on the SAAS website. Applications for loans open in April.

Students from the rest of the UK who meet the eligibility requirements may be able to apply for a loan from the Student Loan Company

External scholarships and financial support may be available. Contact Perth College UHI for more information.

What can I do on completion of my course?

On successful completion of the MSc Sustainable Mountain Development, you will be equipped to pursue or further develop a career in a number of different spheres in mountain management, such as:

  • Management positions in the public sector or non-governmental organisations
  • Working in mountain areas in the UK, Europe or further afield
  • Work with voluntary groups, conservation bodies or the private sector
  • Research

Is there more information available online?

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What our students, graduates and staff say

I wanted to integrate my BSc in Environmental Geoscience and Biology with more social and research-based study. I’ve gained irreplaceable knowledge in a number of fields including mountain-based economy, environment and population-specific issues, policy development and sustainable development.

I would recommend this university to anyone. It is an affordable, effective learning facility that has granted me so much in my years of study. The lecturers and programme leaders continue to amaze me with their efforts and publications. I have been so impressed with my experience here.

Christine studied our MSc Sustainable Mountain Development online from Canada while running her own consultancy business.

Apply for Sustainable Mountain Development MSc

I want to start in Aug/Sep 2021

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands. We operate a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of gender, age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.