Yearbooks

Programme: MSc (Environmental Ecology) (Coursework)

Code Faculty Department
02250404 Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences Department: Zoology and Entomology
Credits Duration NQF level SAQA ID
Minimum duration of study: 2 years Total credits: 180 NQF level:  09 SAQA ID:  83935

Programme information

The Centre for Environmental Studies is a graduate school for multidisciplinary training and research focusing on the environment. Training aims to satisfy the need for environmental professionals for implementing current environmental legislation as well as industry-driven environmental management systems.

Coordinated by the Department of Zoology and Entomology.

The purpose of this focus area is to train environmental graduates who specialised in careers in the ecology of the environment, including conservation planning, environmental management and air quality management. On completion of the training, candidates should be conversant and be able to partake in, or render advice concerning, all aspects involved in the management of the ecological consequences of human existence. This includes a thorough grounding in ecosystem structure, composition and function, ecosystem services, notions of ecosystem health, the management of declining and small populations, captive propagation, control of invasive species, species and community restoration, conservation education, local communities and conservation, as well as aspects of biogeography and macro-ecology, conservation planning and monitoring, the structure, composition and function of biological communities, population and community variability.

Admission requirements

  1. Relevant BScHons degree with mathematics and statistics passed at first-year level or relevant four-year BSc degree with mathematics and statistics passed at first-year level
  2. A weighted average of at least 65% at honours or final-year level
  3. An admission examination may be required
  4. A CV with contactable references may be required

Note: Additional modules may be required in order to reach the desired standard

Other programme-specific information

One of the listed specialisation modules may be substituted with an elective module subject to the approval of the Director of the Centre. Choice of an elective is based on the academic background and/or anticipated career of the student but is expected to be relevant to either conservation biology or sustainable forestry management.

Promotion to next study year

The progress of all master's candidates is monitored biannually by the supervisor and the postgraduate coordinator. A candidate's study may be terminated if the progress is unsatisfactory or if the candidate is unable to finish his/her studies during the prescribed period.

Subject to exceptions approved by the Dean, on recommendation of the relevant head of department, and where applicable, a student may not enter for the master's examination in the same module more than twice.

Minimum credits: 180

Programme information:

Minimum credit:  180

Core credits:       120

Elective credits:    60

Core modules

  • Module content:

    Environmental philosophy and ethics, environmental ecology, environment, society and development, environmental economics, environmental management, critical resources management: water utilisation, air quality control, land-use planning: soil characteristics, biodiversity planning, critical resource management: determinism vs co-evolutionary environmental frameworks, research methodology and practice.

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  • Module content:

    Legislation for sustainable development within the framework of international agreements, the different acts affecting water quality and water use, the SEMAs within the NEMA framework, the NEMA EIA regulations, legislation pertaining to hazardous substances, interaction between mining development and NEMA, energy law, strategic environmental legislation, marine and coastal management.

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  • Module content:

    Place and role of trees in multifunctional rural landscapes.  Trees outside forests.  Multipurpose trees.  Trees and biodiversity.  Trees and environmental services.  Trees and sustainable development.  Domesticated forests.  Agroforestry (definition, classification, challenges and examples).  Multiple use of forests and trees.  Non-timber tree and forest products.  Domestication of multipurpose trees.  Forests and people.  Trees and agricultural production systems (yield, interactions, synergy, competition, pests and diseases).  Case-study examples from sub-Saharan Africa.

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  • Module content:

    The student needs to conduct a research project under the supervision of an academic member of staff associated with the Centre for Environmental Studies. This project needs to be of a sufficient quality to be publishable in the open scientific literature. The research report is examined as a manuscript for a suitable journal.

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Elective modules

  • Module content:

    The foundation of the module is the interrelations between societal and environmental dynamics. It deals with issues of social structure, culture, politics, education, migration, production, urbanisation, demographics and social institutions and how these impact upon the environment. Also dealt with is how the consequences of impacts, such as environmental change, in turn affect societies. Analysis of complex interrelationships between society and the environment, social-environmental linkages and multiplier effects are dealt with.

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  • Module content:

    Strategic environmental planning: introduction, objectives and principles; levels; South African overview; guidelines: national and international; strategy and management; structure, strategy and agency; South African guidelines; diagnostic tools; RESP analysis; strategic resource planning; applications, implementation and control; development and policy implementation; South African environmental policy; evaluation frameworks; portfolio analysis; competitive forces; alliances; business benefits; intangibles, survival and catalytic contributions; South African legislation and regulations.

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  • Module content:

    The need and purpose of land reform in South Africa and its contribution towards sustainable social-environmental interaction. An overview of the global variety of land tenure systems, and tenure reform programmes in other countries. Overview of previous systems of land tenure in South Africa. Land reform policy in South Africa: restitution, redistribution, and tenure reform. Critical assessment of progress in terms of land reform objectives. Evaluation of the contribution of the South African land reform programme towards creating sustainable environments.

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  • Module content:

    In this module students will be introduced to the various methods of modelling and assessing social impacts. Specific emphasis will be placed upon modelling societal-economic-environmental interactions, formulating stochastic and dynamic models of population-development-environment interactions, conducting research to determine possible impacts of environmental changes on communities and performing social impact surveys. Students will be introduced to both quantitative as well as qualitative methods of conducting social impacts assessments.

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  • Module content:

    The ISO framework, environmental risks and opportunities for companies, global environmental concerns, environmental legislation, identification of environmental impacts, environmental certification and auditing, follow-up activities, the Forestry Stewardship Council framework, chain of custody requirements, production standards, FSC reporting.
    (** additional costs involved for international UK certificate)

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  • Module content:

    Severity of waterborne disease, accurate risk analysis, emergence of pathogens resistant to disinfection, the use of indicator organisms, toxicity risks, viral and protozoal contamination, water borne diseases surveillance, epidemiology of water borne diseases, water quality standards and monitoring, education.

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  • Module content:

    Public access to information regarding water quality, water supply sustainability and public education, demand projections, water management efficiency systems approach to water management, watershed protection, drinking water treatment and distribution, wastewater collection and treatment, effects of deforestation and treatment, and complex water system developments, destruction of wetlands, effects of recreation, agriculture and aquaculture on eutrophication.

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  • Module content:

    Low technology water treatment options, sanitary engineering, high technology options, water disinfection methods, selection of treatment regimes, stormwater management.

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  • Module content:

    Structure and function of natural forests, species composition and diversity, disturbance processes and regimes, recovery (succession) concepts and theory, biodiversity in forest ecosystems, energy and nutrient flux in natural forest ecosystems. Resource assessment and planning.  Silvicultural systems and management of natural forests (and woodlands), natural regeneration and forest rehabilitation management for sustainability of natural forest ecosystems:  multiple use for timber and non-timber forest products, forest rehabilitation (invader plants, mining, degraded forests).

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Minimum credits: 180

Core modules

  • Module content:

    Environmental philosophy and ethics, environmental ecology, environment, society and development, environmental economics, environmental management, critical resources management: water utilisation, air quality control, land-use planning: soil characteristics, biodiversity planning, critical resource management: determinism vs co-evolutionary environmental frameworks, research methodology and practice.

    View more

  • Module content:

    Legislation for sustainable development within the framework of international agreements, the different acts affecting water quality and water use, the SEMAs within the NEMA framework, the NEMA EIA regulations, legislation pertaining to hazardous substances, interaction between mining development and NEMA, energy law, strategic environmental legislation, marine and coastal management.

    View more

  • Module content:

    Place and role of trees in multifunctional rural landscapes.  Trees outside forests.  Multipurpose trees.  Trees and biodiversity.  Trees and environmental services.  Trees and sustainable development.  Domesticated forests.  Agroforestry (definition, classification, challenges and examples).  Multiple use of forests and trees.  Non-timber tree and forest products.  Domestication of multipurpose trees.  Forests and people.  Trees and agricultural production systems (yield, interactions, synergy, competition, pests and diseases).  Case-study examples from sub-Saharan Africa.

    View more

  • Module content:

    The student needs to conduct a research project under the supervision of an academic member of staff associated with the Centre for Environmental Studies. This project needs to be of a sufficient quality to be publishable in the open scientific literature. The research report is examined as a manuscript for a suitable journal.

    View more

Elective modules

  • Module content:

    The foundation of the module is the interrelations between societal and environmental dynamics. It deals with issues of social structure, culture, politics, education, migration, production, urbanisation, demographics and social institutions and how these impact upon the environment. Also dealt with is how the consequences of impacts, such as environmental change, in turn affect societies. Analysis of complex interrelationships between society and the environment, social-environmental linkages and multiplier effects are dealt with.

    View more

  • Module content:

    Strategic environmental planning: introduction, objectives and principles; levels; South African overview; guidelines: national and international; strategy and management; structure, strategy and agency; South African guidelines; diagnostic tools; RESP analysis; strategic resource planning; applications, implementation and control; development and policy implementation; South African environmental policy; evaluation frameworks; portfolio analysis; competitive forces; alliances; business benefits; intangibles, survival and catalytic contributions; South African legislation and regulations.

    View more

  • Module content:

    The need and purpose of land reform in South Africa and its contribution towards sustainable social-environmental interaction. An overview of the global variety of land tenure systems, and tenure reform programmes in other countries. Overview of previous systems of land tenure in South Africa. Land reform policy in South Africa: restitution, redistribution, and tenure reform. Critical assessment of progress in terms of land reform objectives. Evaluation of the contribution of the South African land reform programme towards creating sustainable environments.

    View more

  • Module content:

    In this module students will be introduced to the various methods of modelling and assessing social impacts. Specific emphasis will be placed upon modelling societal-economic-environmental interactions, formulating stochastic and dynamic models of population-development-environment interactions, conducting research to determine possible impacts of environmental changes on communities and performing social impact surveys. Students will be introduced to both quantitative as well as qualitative methods of conducting social impacts assessments.

    View more

  • Module content:

    The ISO framework, environmental risks and opportunities for companies, global environmental concerns, environmental legislation, identification of environmental impacts, environmental certification and auditing, follow-up activities, the Forestry Stewardship Council framework, chain of custody requirements, production standards, FSC reporting.
    (** additional costs involved for international UK certificate)

    View more

  • Module content:

    Severity of waterborne disease, accurate risk analysis, emergence of pathogens resistant to disinfection, the use of indicator organisms, toxicity risks, viral and protozoal contamination, water borne diseases surveillance, epidemiology of water borne diseases, water quality standards and monitoring, education.

    View more

  • Module content:

    Public access to information regarding water quality, water supply sustainability and public education, demand projections, water management efficiency systems approach to water management, watershed protection, drinking water treatment and distribution, wastewater collection and treatment, effects of deforestation and treatment, and complex water system developments, destruction of wetlands, effects of recreation, agriculture and aquaculture on eutrophication.

    View more

  • Module content:

    Low technology water treatment options, sanitary engineering, high technology options, water disinfection methods, selection of treatment regimes, stormwater management.

    View more

  • Module content:

    Structure and function of natural forests, species composition and diversity, disturbance processes and regimes, recovery (succession) concepts and theory, biodiversity in forest ecosystems, energy and nutrient flux in natural forest ecosystems. Resource assessment and planning.  Silvicultural systems and management of natural forests (and woodlands), natural regeneration and forest rehabilitation management for sustainability of natural forest ecosystems:  multiple use for timber and non-timber forest products, forest rehabilitation (invader plants, mining, degraded forests).

    View more


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