Postgraduate MSc/PgDip/PgCert

Ecologies of Cities

School of Science, Engineering and Environment





One year

Two year

Next enrolment

September 2020

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In a nutshell

Cities now house more than 50% of the global population and an ecological approach is needed to ensure planning and policy address environmental, social and economic concerns. In the future, urban decision-makers will need to rely on the complex applied technology to ensure the health of the organisms which live and adapt to the urban environment.

The burgeoning field of Urban Ecology seeks to understand and address crucial 21st-century issues relating to both humans and nature in the built environment. This pioneering MSc in Ecologies of Cities postgraduate degree has been extensively informed and developed from industry collaboration between the university’s academics and industrial partners involved in construction, urban planning, ecology, energy, architecture, and wellbeing. 

The course will challenge you to develop a 21st century understanding of the interrelationships between urban structure and habitats, and understand today’s urban environmental challenges – both globally, and in the UK. Content is drawn from the principles of ecological science and the complex processes occurring in continually developing urban spaces. It provides crucial interdisciplinary learning needed to start or progress an ecologically-focused career within the domains of urban planning and design, construction, architecture, and environmental management.

The course is relevant for architecture, construction and urban design professionals, and those with a background in environmental management and geography. It is also suitable if you are looking to advance your career in applied management of healthy, sustainable cities. The skillset you will develop will be highly relevant to future roles leading sustainability, governance and city resilience.

You will:
  • Learn alongside a world-class research community in a QS world top 100 centre for built environment study
  • Build a skill set to take advantage of career opportunities in the UK and abroad in urban ecology management
  • Choose from flexible study options that give you the opportunity to work and study at the same time
  • Examine urban planning, environmental management, sustainable construction, architecture and urban design
  • Debate with academics and guest lecturers and help shape knowledge in this emerging field of urban ecology
  • Benefit from field visits and real-world problem solving work from established partnerships in the built environment

students accepted

This is for you if...


You want to help make our urban environments more ecologically sustainable


You're looking to develop your career opportunities in urban planning, environmental management or urban design


You currently work in the built environment and want to expand your knowledge of urban ecology

Course details

All about the course

The Masters' award comprises eight 15 credit taught modules followed by a 60 credit dissertation module. The PgDip comprises eight 15 credit taught modules and the PgCert comprises four 15 credit taught modules. 

Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the course, module content includes elements from ecology, planning, economics, design, and the social sciences.


Urban Ecology of Cities (architecture, culture, design)

The module will challenge you to rehearse and then apply your understanding of urban ecology and design to specific urban conditions and sites. The module will act as a broad critical analysis of the contemporary social, economic and environmental challenges that shape UK's built environment and you will consider various strategies for forming new or regenerating existing urban territories. This module will immerse you in analysis of a complex urban project addressing the multiple scales, ecologies, infrastructure conditions, building types and material expressions.

Planning and Policies of Urban Environments

This module explores the role of planners and policy tools in enabling sustainability. We review best practice and how radical approaches have allowed cities to become more resilient. An example of this can be seen with Brighton and how planning policy there is being used to grow the local food movement. Workshops, lectures and practical classes, along with field trips and guest speakers, will be used to add to the discussions. Industry partners will also be heavily involved with this module, each of whom will bring a wealth of knowledge to the classroom discussions.

Urban Ecology of Cities (air, water, soil, climate)

This module will provide you with the opportunity to critically evaluate concepts, practical methodologies and complex issues relevant to an ecosystems approach to the Urban Ecology of Cities to include geology, geomorphology, climate, water, pollution and associated ecosystem services and dis-services. Through lectures you will develop an understanding of key multi-disciplinary issues at the forefront of the urban ecology of cities.

Urban Ecology in Cities (flora, fauna)

This module will provide you with the opportunity to critically evaluate concepts, practical methodologies and complex issues relevant to an ecosystems approach to the Urban Ecology in Cities (fauna and flora). Through lectures you will develop detailed knowledge and understanding of key issues related to development and conservation of communities of multi-disciplinary issues at the forefront of the urban ecology of cities.

Urban Energy Systems

Lectures will be delivered on a weekly basis and will explore and dissect current theory and practice on the generation, transitions, storage, supply, management and consumption of energy, including electric grid, gas distribution, hydrogen and urban heat networks, using specific examples at both city and building levels.

Urban Futures and Information in the Built Environment

This module will provide you with a platform to engage in and explore the future of our urban environments and incorporates lectures, seminars and tutorials. In addition, you will have the opportunity to debate with academics in the emerging areas of smart cities, big data, the internet of things and how this integrates into the ecology of our current and future cities, in order to build collective understanding on some of the crucial issues.

Architecture and Wellbeing

This module will provide you with an understanding of how the physical environments of healthcare settings impact on wellbeing, and how to communicate best practice across different professions. As the demands for innovation in healthcare and architecture grow, and new improved clinical outcomes are needed, conventional practices must be challenged. This module has been developed to ‘sow the seed’ for the new practices that are required to drive innovation for the healthcare and wellbeing facilities, processes, and modes of delivery of tomorrow. As we seek to close the wellbeing gap, new design and engineering practices and new clinical practices will be forged in new relationships between those that design and engineer healthcare facilities, and those who innovate in the delivery of clinical services.

Research Methods for Ecologies of Cities

During this module you will engage in quality research planning at postgraduate level; apply an established process of research to produce a research proposal that will result in an eventual dissertation on a specific research topic related to the programme of study; and appraise ethical approaches when conducting research, completing the ethical approval process in accordance with university requirements.

Ecologies of Cities Dissertation

Through the dissertation module you will engage with empirical, theoretical or doctrinal research (based on evidence present in the literature) or constructive research (aimed at solving a real-life problem), or other type of recognised research approach. A range of learning and teaching approaches are therefore provided to support you in developing a research proposal and in completing your dissertation. You will be allocated a supervisor who will support you in terms of research direction, project planning and completion. You will have the opportunity to participate in structured research methods classes, either face-to-face or online. Online support is provided by via internet conferencing software, which permits live and archived access. Materials are provided via Blackboard.

Please note that it may not be possible to deliver the full list of options every year as this will depend on factors such as how many students choose a particular option. Exact modules may also vary in order to keep content current. When accepting your offer of a place to study on this programme, you should be aware that not all optional modules will be running each year. Your tutor will be able to advise you as to the available options on or before the start of the programme. Whilst the University tries to ensure that you are able to undertake your preferred options, it cannot guarantee this.

What will I be doing?


Teaching and learning is delivered via lectures, tutorial and seminar groups, with a strong focus on guided self-learning. You will benefit from high-quality teaching materials, text books and software. This will be supplemented by field-visits to sites of importance, and a blend of theoretical and practical work applied both independently and in groups.

Alongside direct interaction, we also use web-based learning support packages (materials databases, discussion boards etc.). You can also stream classes via our Virtual Learning Environment, either to participate live or watch on demand.


Taught modules are assessed using assignments, portfolios, written essays, recorded interviews, consultancy projects, and presentations. The final project is assessed through a dissertation and presentation.

School of Science, Engineering and Environment.

From cyber security to biomedicine to architecture, our expanding suite of multidisciplinary courses shapes the next generation of scientists, engineers, consultants and conservationists. Through advanced research, we’re pioneering robotics and AI, smart environments and the appliance of data. With a team of over 200 dedicated academic, technical and administrative staff, you’ll experience a supportive, professional environment where you can realise your potential.


Energy House

Salford is home to the unique Energy House – the only fully climate controlled research facility in the world. Built in 2011, this full-scale two-bedroom terraced house is inside an environmental chamber that can replicate almost any weather conditions. It is fully furnished and packed with a vast array of sensors that can monitor a wide range of variables.

Think Lab

Think Lab is our futuristic research environment. It leads the development of advanced technology platforms for smart city applications, collaborative engineering, industry collaborations, simulation and gaming applications, and interactive training and learning.  

Postgraduate Staff Profile


Nick has been a researcher and lecturer for eleven years in diverse areas including urban ecology, urban mobility, sustainable communities, active travel and sustainable tourism. He has conducted consultancy work for the European Commission and European Parliament, the World Health Authority, many local and national government organisations, the National Trust and Sustrans; and is currently developing the emergent area of urban ecology at Salford.


Professor Elkadi is the Head of the School of the Built Environment (SoBE). He has established a sound research network on both national and international levels in the subject of urban ecology. He led the art and architecture theme in an EU FP6 Network of Excellence, and works on other national and international grants related to regeneration of mid cities, and urban ecology. One of his main objectives is to build more capacity for engagement with both the community and professional bodies in the field of architecture and built environment.


Professor Lieberman has taught at university level – undergraduate, postgraduate and MPhil and PhD supervision – since 1989. He has developed a wide-ranging practice: as an architect, teacher, exhibitor, initiator and curator of events and symposia as well as exhibitions, and as a writer and publisher, across Europe and beyond. He is developing the research areas of critical engagement with 'smart' cities, and in the relationships between material/constructed places and health and well-being.


Mike is a Lecturer in Geography and Environmental Management (GEM) with expertise in planning. The subject of his doctorate was guerrilla gardening: using ethnographic methods to analyse the actions of those who illegally colonised land in cities. His core research focus is around food security, particularly attempts to introduce agricultural activity into cities. He has published widely in this area, and is currently developing an MSc in Sustainability.


Professor James, an expert in ecosystem ecology and urban ecology has published work relating to research conducted in Europe, Africa, and Asia. His interdisciplinary approach to research has led to invitations to take part in diverse research projects such as creating ecological frameworks for cities and rural areas, examining the ecosystem services associated with saltmarshes, the treescape of cities and towns, and large landscapes such as the 77km2 of the Irwell Catchment; charting the sustainable development of Shanghai, China; and understanding the legacy of an international eye care programmes in Ghana. What links all of these is the concept of systems – a concept central to ecology and one that is useful in many of areas of our lives.


Will leads the Applied Buildings and Energy Research Group (ABERG) at the University of Salford, which he established in 2011. ABERG is home to the Salford Energy House, a whole test house within an environmental chamber, which has undertaken ground-breaking work on retrofit and controls. He has a background in industry-focused research, previously being sustainability and performance measurement lead at the Centre for Construction innovation before establishing ABERG, as a multi-disciplinary research group.


Jason’s background is a combination of civil/structural engineering and construction ICT with over twenty years research experience in the area of concurrent engineering, integrated and collaborative computing in construction, product and building information modelling, digital built environments, collaborative working and behaviours, and organisational e-readiness towards delivering strategic value from ICT investment through involvement in both UK and EU funded research projects, on which he has published extensively.

Employment and stats

What about after uni?


If you're looking to build a career in urban ecology and sustainability, this postgraduate degree will provide you with a set of skills that can be applied to several career paths. If you're already working in the built environment, you'll gain crucial understanding of urban ecology principles that you can apply this to your current role, or use your new skills to move into a more sustainability-focused role.

Further study

After completing this course, you'll be well-placed to progress to doctoral level study. Our Centre for Urban Processes, Resilient Infrastructures and Sustainable (Built) Environments (UPRISE) works across a range of subject areas to identify how we might design, deliver and experience cities differently, considering issues that impact at both the local and global level. We currently offer research opportunities in applied buildings and energy, digital built environments, disaster resilience, infrastructure and smart urban futures.

A taste of what you could become

An urban planner

An ecology consultant

An environmental manager

A sustainability project manager

An urban designer

And more...

Career Links

This course has been extensively informed by collaboration between the university’s academics and industrial partners from the built environment. You will benefit from field visits, practitioner-led lectures and real-world problem-solving work developed for and by industry.  You will receive actual practical experience and have the opportunity chance to network with key stakeholders.


What you need to know

English language requirements

International students must provide evidence of proficiency in English - IELTS 6.5 with no band below 6.0 or an equivalent qualification are proof of this.

Standard Entry

Undergraduate degree

You must have a minimum of a second class honours degree in a BSc/BA qualification in a relevant subject area, such as environmental management, environmental science, ecology, geography, construction management, architecture, planning or urban studies.

Alternative Entry

Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL)

We welcome applications from students who may not have formal/traditional entry criteria but who have relevant experience or the ability to pursue the course successfully.

The Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) process could help you to make your work and life experience count. The APL process can be used for entry onto courses or to give you exemptions from parts of your course.

Two forms of APL may be used for entry: the Accreditation of Prior Certificated Learning (APCL) or the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (APEL).

How much?

Type of study Year Fees
Full-time home/EU 2020/21 £8,460per year
Full-time international 2020/21 £13,320per year
Part-time 2020/21 £1410 (UK/EU) per module, £2220 (INTERNATIONAL) per module
Additional costs

You should consider further costs which may include books, stationery, printing, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits.

 Scholarships for international students 2020/21

If you are a high-achieving international student, you may be eligible for one of our international scholarships worth up to £5,000. Our international scholarships include the Salford International Excellence Scholarship and the Built Environment Postgraduate Silver Award. 

To find out more information, visit our International Scholarships page.

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Enrolment dates

September 2020