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Ecologies of Cities


This course is a collaboration between the following schools:

  • School of the Built Environment
  • School of Environment & Life Sciences

Subject area - Built Environment

Start Date(s): September; January


One year full-time

Two years part-time

Fees 2018-19:

2019-20 fees will be displayed shortly.

Part-time - £1,332 per 30 credit module

UK - £7,992

International - £12,600

In Brief:

  • Equip yourself with the skill set required to take advantage of career opportunities in the UK and abroad in an emerging interdisciplinary field
  • Benefit from the expertise and networks of academic staff from two schools within the university - the School of the Built Environment and the School of Environment and Life Sciences
  • Flexible study options and intakes give you the opportunity to work and study at the same time, or study at a time that is right for you
  • Part-time study option
  • International students can apply

Course Summary

Urban Ecology is an emerging interdisciplinary field which seeks to understand and address crucial 21st century issues relating to both humans and nature in built environment settings. Course content is drawn from the principles of ecological science and the complex processes occurring in continually developing urban spaces.

Cities now house more than 50% of the global population and as such many now consider an ecological approach as fundamental to managing and developing urban environments. Urban futures require those involved in decision-making to incorporate planning and policy based processes, environmental, social and economic considerations, and an increasingly complex application of information technology to ensure the health of the organisms which live and adapt to the urban environment. This course will provide the kind of interdisciplinary learning required if you wish to enter into a career within the domains of urban planning and design, construction, architecture and environmental management.

Smart Cities Salford

Modules may include:

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 UKs 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.
You will develop a critical insight into the decision-making processes and key actors in the field of urban studies.  This module provides an advanced awareness of professional skills and tools for use in the field of planning; developing practical and theoretical knowledge in this area.  It also advances critical awareness and thinking around factors (population growth, resource use etc.) affecting urban environments.
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.
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.
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.  
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.  
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.
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.
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.

Entry Requirements

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.

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).

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.

Suitable For

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 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. The skillset you will develop will be highly relevant to future roles leading sustainability, governance and city resilience.

Fees 2019-20

Fees for entry in 2019 will be displayed shortly.

Fees 2018-19

Type of StudyFee
Part-time£1,332 per 30 credit module
Full-time International£12,600

Additional costs

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

Scholarships and Bursaries

For more information please see our funding section

NOTE: If you're an English-resident, or EU national, you may be eligible for a postgraduate loan of up to £10,280 to study a taught master's with us. Distance Learning September entry onto MSc Real Estate and Property Management is not eligible for the postgraduate loan.


This programme is characterised by a diverse range of teaching and learning activities ranging from lectures, seminars and tutorials to blended learning, use of the VLE and an array of audio-visually delivered material.  This will be supplemented by field-visits to sites of importance, and a blend of theoretical and practical work both independently and in groups.  Using real-life local and global examples, innovative teaching strategies will be employed.  

The teaching staff come from a range of backgrounds bringing a multitude of expertise and experience to the classroom.  You will have the opportunity to debate with academics and guest lecturers in a scholarly environment and help shape the acquisition of knowledge in this emerging subject area.  This also includes continuous supervision on research proposal and dissertation modules.

Assessments will be varied and relevant to the multi-disciplinary nature of the course providing you with a diverse skillset to carry forward into your future career.


  • Dissertation  
  • Written essays
  • Portfolios
  • Research paper
  • Audio recorded interview
  • Consultancy project
  • Presentation

Postgraduate Staff Profile

Dr Nick Davies

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.

Prof. Hisham Elkadi

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.

Prof. Oren Lieberman

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.

Dr Mike Hardman

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.

Prof. Philip James

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.

Prof. Will Swan

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.

Prof. Jason Underwood

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.


Career Prospects

This MSc will provide you with a set of skills that can be applied to several career paths including in urban planning, environmental management, sustainable construction, architecture and urban design.

Additionally if you are a professional currently working within the above industries  you will gain crucial understanding of urban ecology principles by completing this course, and will be able to apply this to your existing role, or use the skills developed to move into a more specific role in the industry (ie sustainability focused).

After completing this course you will be well placed to progress to doctoral level study in your field of interest.

Links with Industry

This course has been extensively informed from industry collaboration between the university’s academics and industrial partners involved in construction, urban planning, ecology, energy, architecture and wellbeing. In addition to sessions led by practitioners from these industries, you will benefit from field visits which form part of a number of modules and real-world problem solving work developed for and by colleagues in industry. From the latter you will be given actual experience in how to address key issues when working within this subject area, and will have the chance to meet and network with key stakeholders.

Further Study

The School of the Built Environment has an exciting and vibrant research community engaged in advanced research in the built environment, please see and for more information.

The School of Environment and Life Sciences has two main research centres, the Biomedical Research Centre (BRC) and the Ecosystems and Environment Research Centre (EERC).

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