Online course

Pollution and Environmental Control (online)

  • Qualification: Master of Science (MSc)
  • Duration: 12 months full-time or up to 60 months part-time
  • Next enrolment: September 2023
  • Fees: UK £12,350, International £15,350 (reduced from £20,350)
globe with grass on one side and pollution on the other


Help build a better future

Pollution is transforming our environment, distorting habitats and wiping out biodiversity. It’s a major contributor to the escalating global climate crisis, and threatens our way of life, our wellbeing and our safety.

As our environment evolves and human behaviour adapts, new challenges emerge, and we need a new generation of environmental scientists to tackle those challenges head on, and shift the trajectory of our planet.

Our online MSc in Pollution and Environmental Control will arm you with the multidisciplinary knowledge and wide-ranging practical skills to influence positive environmental change and help build a better future.

Key features

Study at an environmentally-conscious university

Get first-rate teaching at one of the top ten universities in the world for sustainable development (Times Higher Education Impact Rankings). 

Analyse real-life content

Focus on fundamental environmental issues that matter right now, and apply practical skills to important real-life problems.

Make it work for you

There’s no need to pause your career or relocate. Choose when and where you study, and fit your degree around your life.

Chloe Kilpatrick

The course gave me an opportunity to develop transferrable skills useful for pursuing a career in both academia and industry. I was able to learn about the impact humans are having on the environment and how to quantify this impact with measurement and modelling.

Chloe Kilpatrick
PhD Student, The University of Manchester

Chloe Kilpatrick

Key information

  • Delivery

    100% online learning

  • Duration

    12 months full-time, or up to 60 months part-time by semester

  • Enrolment date


  • Apply

    Find out how to apply and what documents to submit in the application and selection section

  • Workload

    Part-time: approx 20 hours per week
    Full-time: approx 40 hours per week

  • Academic team

    Dr Andrew Lowe, Lecturer and Course Director
    Dr Stephen Boult, Senior Lecturer
    Prof Paul Connolly, Professor in Atmospheric Physics
    Dr Jon Pittman, Senior Lecturer
    Dr James Allan, Reader and NCAS Research Scientist
    Prof David Topping, Professor of Digital Environment

Fees and funding

For the September 2023 academic year, tuition fees are £12,350 for UK students and £15,350 for international students (reduced from £20,350). International tuition fees are reduced for the first intake in September 2023 and January 2024.

We offer payment by instalments , so you can spread the cost of studying with us.

Find out more about fees and funding

Entry requirements

We require an Upper Second (2:1) Class Honours degree in a science subject (or the overseas equivalent).

If you do not have a 2:1, but have relevant work experience, you may be considered.

Find out more about entry requirements

Xueqing Wang

The knowledge and skills I acquired at The University of Manchester are very relevant to the requirements of my current position, and much of the work I am doing is based on modelling skills I developed during my time at the university.

Xueqing Wang
Graduate Hydraulic Modeller, Jacobs

Xueqing Wang

Contact us today

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Course overview

Who this course is for

Whether you’re working in the environment sector, or want to move in that direction, if you’re passionate about creating a greener future and have a background in science, this course is for you. We’ll help you build your specialist knowledge and develop the quantitative and qualitative skills required to manage pollution effectively, drawing on a multidisciplinary approach to new and existing environmental issues.

Designed in parallel with the established on-campus Pollution and Environmental Control MSc, this online version offers the same high-quality content and top-tier teaching, but with built-in flexibility to fit your studies into your current commitments. With the option to pay in instalments as well as various scholarships and bursaries on offer, this course is open to you, whatever your circumstances, wherever you are in the world.

If you’re ready to take the next step in your career and want to transform the future for your local and global community, you’re in the right place.

Padma Bharrathi Aravindhan

Data analysis, building and running hydraulic models, and mathematical and environmental modelling with result interpretation have paved the path to choose my career as a Sustainable Drainage Analyst at United Utilities.

Padma Bharrathi Aravindhan
Sustainable Drainage Analyst, United Utilities

Padma Bharrathi Aravindhan

What you will learn

  • Learn how to measure pollution, predict its mobility and recognise the quality of your measurements.
  • Address the effects of human activities on the biosphere, through the study of aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems.
  • Get to grips with the structure of the atmosphere, and how weather and air motions affect the spreading of pollution.
  • Become skilled at environmental modelling, focusing on water movement and pollution.
  • Use industry models to examine real-world problems with GIS and environmental data.

Qian Zhang

This programme equipped me with not only ground environmental knowledge but many abilities for personal development, such as data analysis, academic writing, critical thinking, as well as project management.

Qian Zhang
PhD Student, The University of Manchester

Qian Zhang

Where and when you will study

Wherever you are in the world, you can benefit from internationally-renowned teaching at The University of Manchester – the 28th best university in the world according to the latest QS World University Rankings, 2023 – right from your desk.

This course is designed specifically for people who want to study while keeping up with existing work, family or social commitments. There’s no need to relocate, and no reason to pause your career, with flexible online content and part-time options.

You’ll study through a virtual learning environment (VLE), accessing a series of recorded lectures, instructor-led labs and computer practicals, as well as online course content including videos and reading materials, whenever it’s convenient for you. This is complemented by engaging online discussion boards, real-time tutorials and regular opportunities to chat online with your tutor.

We’ve also made it possible for online students to attend field trips virtually, accessing site information and field data online with video and audio guides to support you.

How it will benefit your career

  • The on-campus version of this course has 45 years of success behind it, giving your degree the prestige to stand out.
  • Sought-after specialist knowledge and advanced qualitative and quantitative skills will empower you to influence change.
  • Real-life scenario work and virtual field trips will prepare you to hit the ground running and lead in a new role.
  • A global network of like-minded professionals will support your development and broaden your horizons.
  • Our multidisciplinary approach will give you a broad range of tools to draw upon, enabling you to think differently and find innovative solutions.

Edward Yeamans

The course provided me with a range of technical skills that have been transferable towards an environmental consultant position and has also helped me to discover the key environmental area I wanted to peruse professionally — Flood Risk Research/ Consultancy.

Edward Yeamans
Graduate Water Consultant at AECOM

Edward Yeamans

Course units

  • 1. Measuring and Predicting 1 (15 credits)

    In this unit, you’ll build a foundation of general skills relating to measuring and predicting pollutant mobility and transformation.


    Learn why measurement is meaningful – through statistical significance, sampling methods and analytical techniques – and appreciate when and why prediction is required.


    Understand general techniques of prediction based on comparison of measurements, relationships and models, and develop an understanding of the processes and vocabulary surrounding models.


    A one-day virtual field trip and an introduction to the department’s analytical facilities will give you practical training and reinforce theoretical concepts.

  • 2. Measuring and Predicting 2 (15 credits)

    Following on from Measuring and Predicting 1, you’ll focus on the use of models to make predictions and aid the interpretation of measurements.


    Get an introduction to the use of models in the environmental sciences, drawing on examples from current scientific literature. Discuss the merits and limitations of various approaches.


    A series of lectures and practical sessions will showcase different models, and a combination of baseline simulations and sensitivity tests will help explain relevant computational models. You’ll benefit from hands-on experience with different models, interpreting their output, and focusing on how they relate to the real world.

  • 3. Human Impacts on the Biosphere (15 credits)

    Understand how human activities cause change and damage to the biosphere through key topics including the environmental impact of resource extraction and use, agriculture and air pollution from road transport, and the effect of urbanisation on water resources.


    Assess mitigation and management strategies such as monitoring and remediation (including bioremediation) and start using methods and approaches – from molecular to community level – to assess and predict human impact on ecosystems.

  • 4. Pollution Management in Practice 1 (15 credits)

    Using urban environment case studies and industry-standard software, develop advanced skills in environmental modelling and project management to support a simulated real-life science or consultancy project.


    Build detailed knowledge and advanced modelling skills relating to topics such as flood prevention and mitigation in cities, flood risk impacts on mountain settlements, and water resource planning for future development.


    Workshop sessions will focus on project planning, monitoring and reporting. Benefit from the opportunity to bring all your modelling knowledge together and present your solutions as a briefing note and video presentation.

  • 5. Pollutant Mobility and Transformation (15 credits)

    Understand the scope of pollution and its wider context, and the connections between natural processes and pollution. Get to grips with the concept of misplaced materials and misplaced people, and discuss particular types of pollution.


    Learn about important concentration gradients that drive pollution, as well as methods to measure and predict their impact, quantified through consideration of organic and metal pollution.


    Understand physical mobility as a result of diffusion and dispersion, and how to quantify it through water, sediment, groundwater, stream water and atmosphere.


    Apply your knowledge during a virtual field trip, with the opportunity to make measurements, predict outcomes and validate your predictions.

  • 6. Pollution Management in Practice 2 (15 credits)

    Develop mathematical models to understand a simple environmental system, learn about data collection and examine environmental monitoring methods for water movement studies.


    Use different techniques to analyse the natural processes of surface water runoff and groundwater, as well as the movement of water in rivers and on floodplains. Understand the importance of reservoirs and water transport, release and movement in urban areas.


    Apply models using industry-standard software, learn to interpret output, and evaluate performance and parameters through sensitivity analysis to solve real-world problems.

  • 7. Environmental Monitoring and Modelling (15 credits)

    Select appropriate techniques for measuring environmental data and apply industry-standard software for hydraulic, river, water resource and glacier runoff modelling in a range of climatic zones.


    Examine various measurement and modelling approaches and get hands-on experience with data analysis using GIS, applying models and interpreting model output.


    Use different models to explore flood hydrology and the mechanism of flooding, including techniques to collect and analyse hydrometric data. Examine catchment flow dynamics using 1D and 2D numerical modelling.


    Become familiar with climate change models, predicted impacts and global future megatrends, including population growth, urbanisation, climate change and the effect of these on society.

  • 8. Environmental MSc Tutorial (15 credits)

    Look at issues to consider when preparing for a research project, and how to apply these to your individual project.


    A draft research proposal presentation and report prepare you for your official research proposal presentation and research project report at the end of your course.

  • Project (60 credits)

    Independently undertake a research project, supervised by a member of our internationally-acclaimed research team.


    Our research expertise spans a range of pollution and environmental control topics in relation to water, air, soil and ecosystems, as well as more general environmental hazards and global climate change. Our department was placed in the UK top six by the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, and our standing creates a thriving research environment for our MSc students.

Course structure

The MSc in Pollution and Environmental Control (online) consists of 180 credits, including 120 credits of taught units and 60 credits of individual research, and begins in September.

The online version of the course was designed to offer flexibility in its structure, to fit around different lifestyles and a range of commitments, so the course can be structured in various ways, depending on your specific needs:

Full-time: Study all course units across three semesters, and get your MSc in just 12 months.

Part-time by semester: Take a selection of course unit(s) for one complete semester. After that, take a break for one or more semesters before continuing with more units.

To be awarded the MSc, you must complete all units and the dissertation project (180 credits) within 60 months.

Course learning aims

Knowledge and understanding

  • Explain the mechanisms by which pollution arises and is transmitted into the environment.
  • Define pollution and general approaches to its control, and use knowledge of dispersion and diffusion in predictive models of pollution.
  • Analyse and quantify the impact of pollution and resource utilisation on humans and the environment.  
  • Critique key research questions and examine and differentiate methodologies applied to pollution emission, mobility, transformation and damage. 
  • Apply mathematical models to describe simple environmental systems and investigate the problems they can help solve.
  • Use a range of qualitative and quantitative research methods and tools for research and be able to appraise the research process.
  • Evaluate policy instruments used to control resource use and waste generation and disposal to mitigate environmental impact.  

Intellectual skills

  • Understand the relationship between theory and its application to specific research environments and questions.
  • Analyse and synthesise environmental model output from different data formats and present results. Describe assumptions of different modelling approaches in environmental sciences.
  • Utilise a multidisciplinary approach, apply rigour to evidence-based problem solving and integrate knowledge to form a logical argument.   

Practical skills

  • Make measurements and critique the quality of those made by others.
  • Collect and record qualitative and quantitative data.
  • Select appropriate techniques for measurement and analysis of gases, aerosols, fluids, and solids by applying knowledge of how instruments work.
  • Evaluate the use of field and laboratory studies in understanding and solving environmental problems arising from human activities.

Professional transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Communicate effectively using a range of formats, and argue a case effectively.
  • Perform laboratory and fieldwork ethically and safely, demonstrating an awareness of the importance of risk assessment.
  • Demonstrate the interpersonal skills required of effective team members.
  • Operate independently, direct your own learning and manage your time.

Teaching and learning

Using content and materials for the on-campus version of this course, this version is delivered entirely online through a  virtual learning environment (VLE). It features a combination of delivery methods so you can work at your own pace and fit your study around existing commitments.

Online lectures, instructor-led online labs and computer practicals are supplemented with videos and reading lists that can be worked through at your own pace. Real-life connection complements this offer, with discussion forums, Q&A sessions and group tutorials.

Wherever you are in the world, you’ll benefit from field study, with virtual field trips available online, including site information, field data and online audio and video guides to help you engage with the visit.

Library services

As a student with The University of Manchester, you will have full use of our extensive library services, including access to e-books and research journals.

You’ll be assigned a dedicated study support advisor who will be your first point of contact for study-related questions and help with your virtual learning environment (VLE).

Admissions information

From your initial expression of interest right through to graduation, you’ll receive all the support you need. We will guide you through the enrolment process and help with subject assistance, administrative logistics and fee options, online learning skills, workload management and special circumstances. 

Entry requirements

Academic entry qualification overview

We require an Upper Second (2:1) Class Honours degree in a science subject (or the overseas equivalent).

If you do not have a 2:1, but have relevant work experience, you may be considered.

English language

If you are not from, or did not graduate from a majority English speaking country , we will also require proof of your English language ability. If you already have an English language qualification, please include your certificate with your application.

We accept:

  • IELTS academic test score of 6.5 overall, with no component score below 6.0, or equivalent. Discover more about English language requirements .
English language test validity
Some English Language test results are only valid for two years. Your English Language test report must be valid on the start date of the course.

Application and selection

How to apply

Apply online

Applying to the on-campus course: If you would like to study this course full-time in Manchester, you can apply to the on campus course by vising MSc Pollution and Environmental Control course page.

Advice to applicants

To speed up the application process, please submit the following documents with your online application form:

1. Copies of official degree certificates and transcripts of your previous study, showing the subjects taken and grades obtained. If these documents are in languages other than English, please provide official translations in addition to your official certificates and transcripts.

2. English language score report (if applicable) or alternative evidence to demonstrate your English language competency.

3. A copy of your CV detailing your full work experience.

4. Personal statement of up to 500 words, addressing the following questions:

  • What attracts you to this course?
  • What do you hope to gain from this course and how will it help you achieve your goals?

5. As part of the application process, you will be asked to provide contact details for one referee, professional or academic. The University will contact your referee directly after you submit your application and direct them to complete our online reference form.

Scholarships and bursaries

Postgraduate loans (UK/EU)

If you're an English or EU student living in the UK, you may be eligible for a loan.

Manchester Master's Bursary (UK)

We're committed to helping students access further education.

Equity and Merit Scholarships

If you're joining us from Uganda, Ethiopia, Rwanda or Tanzania, you can apply for this scholarship.

Global Futures Scholarship

To be eligible, you must be domiciled in one of these countries .

Funding for students with disabilities

If you have a disability, we can help you apply for relevant funding.

Explore more funding opportunities  

Fees and funding

For the September 2023 academic year, tuition fees are £12,350 for UK students and £15,350 for international students (reduced from £20,350). International tuition fees are reduced for the first intake in September 2023.

We offer payment by instalments , so you can spread the cost of studying with us.

Employer funding

If you are looking to secure funding from your employer, we can help you build a business case or talk to your employer directly. Contact us on to arrange a consultation. 

Additional cost information

Policy on additional costs

All students should normally be able to complete their programme of study without incurring additional study costs over and above the tuition fee for that programme. Any unavoidable additional compulsory costs totalling more than 1% of the annual home undergraduate fee per annum, regardless of whether the programme in question is undergraduate or postgraduate taught, will be made clear to you at the point of application. Further information can be found in the University's Policy on additional costs incurred by students on undergraduate and postgraduate taught programmes (PDF document, 91KB).

Regulated by the Office for Students

The University of Manchester is regulated by the Office for Students (OfS). The OfS aims to help students succeed in Higher Education by ensuring they receive excellent information and guidance, get high quality education that prepares them for the future and by protecting their interests. More information can be found at the OfS website.

You can find regulations and policies relating to student life at The University of Manchester, including our Degree Regulations and Complaints Procedure, on our regulations website.