For students admitted in 2023-2024 and thereafter

Core Courses:

Introduction to ecology (3 credits)

This course deals with the ecological processes determining the distribution and abundance of organisms, and which in turn govern the structure and function of communities and ecosystems.  The focus of the course is on how an understanding of ecology is important for environmental management.  Together with lectures and student-centered learning, this course also incorporates a practical fieldwork component.

Environmental economics and analysis (3 credits)

The aim of this course is to equip students with the ability to undertake economic analyses of the environment. The course provides an introduction to economic concepts and principles and applies them to the analysis and management of environmental problems. The course covers the economic understanding of environmental problems (e.g. external costs and benefits, public goods, resource scarcity), economic instruments for environmental management (e.g. taxes, subsidies, tradable permits), methods for valuing environmental goods and services (market and non-market approaches), and economic tools for supporting decision-making (e.g. cost-benefit analysis). All topics will be illustrated with current environmental and policy issues to emphasize their relevance and applicability.

Sustainability, society and environmental management (3 credits)

This course begins with intellectual debates on the definitions, conceptions and different interpretations of the notion of sustainability. The course then moves on to explore and analyse the implementation of the sustainability principles and concepts at the macro- and the micro- levels, covering a wide range of issues from international agreements and campaigns to local projects and practice. This will be followed by a number of implementation tools and techniques including social innovation, community engagement and sustainability assessment. The course concludes with a series of real-life case investigations on innovative models to achieve sustainability in urban and rural contexts.

Environmental quality management (6 credits)

This course introduces students to the types, sources and effects of environmental pollution and some of the key principles and strategies used in combating pollution and managing environmental quality. Topics include water and air quality management, solid waste management and noise pollution control, with an emphasis on the situation in Hong Kong.

Research methods and report writing in environmental management (6 credits)

This course is intended both as preparation for the dissertation, or project course and as a general introduction to writing reports on environmental issues. Subjects covered include: research design, research methodology (quantitative and qualitative methods; basic data processing and analysis) and report writing. Other research skills such as avoiding plagiarism, literature search and review and giving oral presentations may also be taught.

Environmental policy (3 credits)

This course focuses on key aspects of environmental policy-making and policy-implementation processes, such as how policy agendas emerge and evolve, how environmental discourse shapes policy outputs; and how institutions affect the trajectories and outcomes of environmental policy measures. Making references to local, national and international cases of successful and not-so-successful policies that pertain to the sustainable development agenda, the course also examines the theories and praxis of policy transfer and policy convergence, as well as the perennial problematics of policy integration, policy learning and policy failure. 

Environmental law in Hong Kong (3 credits)

This course focuses on the statutory interpretation of the four principal Ordinances and subsidiary legislation dealing with pollution and environmental protection in Hong Kong; namely the Water Pollution Control Ordinance, the Air Pollution Control Ordinance, the Noise Control Ordinance and the Wild Animal Protection Ordinance. Some consideration will also be given to the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance, the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance and international conventions effecting the law. Students will study the nature of environmental offences, including the requirement for proving “mens rea” (intent) in order for certain offences to be successfully prosecuted. Students will also be introduced to the principles of judge made law (the Common Law) and will learn to read and interpret relevant case law in order to better understand the current sentencing policies towards environmental offenders, both locally and in other Common Law jurisdictions.

Environmental field studies (3 credits)

This is an experiential learning course.  This course aims to broaden students' horizon and knowledge base on key aspects of environmental management and nature conservation through a series of field studies and visits to local and/or overseas organizations.  Topics include, but not limited to, conservation and biodiversity management, waste and wastewater treatment processes, water treatment processes, and corporate environmental management in practices.  Field studies will be conducted in form of guided visits, field work, service learning and invited lectures or forums according to the topics involved.  Study trips outside Hong Kong such as Macau, Mainland China and Taiwan may be considered. Students are required to attend at least 6 sessions organized over the study period and may need to pay the participation fee of some local and/or non-local activities.

Ecological field studies (3 credits)

This is an experiential learning course.  This course aims to teach students with the field survey and study skills in biodiversity assessment through an intensive residential field course and some optional field trips.  Rapid biodiversity assessment methods and report writing skills will be taught. Students taking this course have to conduct hands on field surveys of common plant and animal groups in Hong Kong such as vascular plants, mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles and butterflies. Students completing this course shall be able to take part in ecological assessments.

Dissertation (15 credits)

The dissertation is an individual, independent research project carried out under the supervision of one or more faculty members. Students may propose their own topics and approach possible supervisors, or they may consider those topics suggested by faculty members. Normally, the student develops the research outline in collaboration with his or her Faculty advisor(s) and then collects data, carries out analysis and writes the report prior to the research colloquium where the student will present his/her work. The candidate shall make a formal presentation on the subject of his/her during the second semester of the teaching programme. Substantial work, in particular, data collection and analysis, is required in this course.

Prerequisite: Part-time students must obtain a Grade B+ or above in ENVM7015 Research methods and report writing in environmental management by May of the first study year. Full-time students must pass a qualification assessment in September/ October of the first study year.

Environmental impact assessment (3 credits)

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is one of the most important contemporary instruments of environmental management.  Used widely around the world to identify the environment impacts of development projects as well as strategic plans and policies, EIA plays a key role in many regulatory systems for the environment.  This course reviews the development of different approaches to EIA, basic analytical principles, administrative and legal systems for EIA, assessments at the project and strategic levels (SEA), and case study applications in Hong Kong.

Project (9 credits)

This is a group project (2-3 students per group) to be carried out under the supervision of one or more teachers. The topic and content of the project will be agreed individually between students and the supervisor(s) which have to be endorsed by the respective course coordinator. Students may propose their own topics and approach potential supervisors, or they may consider those suggested by teachers. Apart from research projects, creative projects such as the production of field guides, books, websites, videos, apps about the environment, and action projects such as waste upcycling; biodiversity conservation, environmental education and public campaigns are encouraged.

Elective Courses:
Conservation biology and management (3 credits)

Conservation biology is the essential scientific element in biodiversity conservation.  The course will cover the basic principles and methods of conservation biology from a management perspective.  In reality, successful biodiversity conservation projects often require an integration of the welfare of local communities.  As such, practical examples from Hong Kong and elsewhere will be used as case studies to illustrate the importance of different elements in conserving the world’s biodiversity.

Environmental auditing and reporting (3 credits)

This course provides an introduction on the concepts of environmental management, auditing and reporting. Detailed explanation of the development, implementation and continuous improvement of an environmental management system (EMS) based on ISO14001:2015 standards will be covered. With the understanding on the key elements of an EMS, audit methodology and skills based on ISO19011:2011 would be introduced with focus on environmental audit. Process of carbon audit which is becoming important in environmental management by acting as a useful greenhouse gases measuring tool will also be explained. The function and importance of environmental reporting will be explained along with the contents of Global Reporting Initiative which is a guide for sustainability reporting.

Environmental health and risk assessment (3 credits)

Environmental Risk Assessments (ERAs) are a tool to determine the likelihood that contaminant releases, either past, current, or future, pose an unacceptable risk to human health or the environment. Currently, ERAs are required under various regulations in many developed countries so as to support decision-makers in risk characterization or the selection of cost-effective remedial clean-up. This course introduces the theory and practice of human and ecological risk assessments. Students completing the course will understand the concepts and principles of ERAs, risk management and risk communication as applied in practice; be able to select and apply the simpler tools to tackle risk issues; and appreciate the interpretations of risk and its role in environmental policy formulation and decision making.

Air and noise pollution control and management (3 credits)

This advanced course focuses on various technical aspects related to air and noise pollution control and their management issues. The topics include micrometeorology; air dispersion modelling; advanced air pollution control (e.g. process modification, energy audit and emission trading); case studies on control of emissions from stationary and mobile source; concept of sound propagation; basic principles of noise control; noise impact assessment and technical mitigation measures for construction, industrial, road traffic, railway and aircraft noise.

ENVM8014 Special topics in environmental management (3 credits)

The contents of this course will vary from year to year, depending on the availability of teachers and topics, and will be announced before course selection each year.  Hot topics in Hong Kong or overseas that are related to environmental management will be selected.  Examples of such topics could include urban tree management; slope greening; nature conservation versus development in rural Hong Kong and China, sustainable development movements.  With careful consideration of different needs of various stakeholders, various management options are reviewed and evaluated.

Directed studies in environmental management (6 credits)

This course provides an opportunity for students to study a topic of particular interest under the supervision of a teacher or an experienced environmental practitioner. The contents of this course will be agreed individually between the student and the supervisor which has to be endorsed by the course coordinator. Directed studies may include traditional research projects generating scientific paper or other study projects with creative outputs in environmental management such as audit reports; booklets; pamphlets; field guides; manuals; teaching modules and so on. The course was designed to allow a flexible approach in fixing the content and output of the directed studies.

Conservation and management of freshwater resources (3 credits)

The overall aim of this course is to introduce the global importance of freshwater resources to sustainable development of mankind. This course offers an introduction to the problems associated with human use of water and current patterns of water resource management, and explains how the characteristics of natural systems constrain sustainable use of water. Emphasis will be placed on examples of river and lake management that can indicate the reasons for success and failure of sustainable water resource use, with particular emphasis placed on regional examples. Students taking this course will gain an appreciation of the trade-offs inherent in water resource management, and the practices that can be adopted to conserve freshwater biodiversity in the complex context of maintaining human livelihoods.

Conservation and management of marine resources (3 credits)

The marine environment has been an important source of its fortunes but today suffers from a range of perturbations, from pollution and habitat destruction, to community loss and over-exploitation.  This course primarily deals with pressing issues of marine resource conservation and management in Hong Kong.  An overview of the current global situation of marine resources will be presented with an emphasis on the local situation.  The past and present exploitation of marine resources and human impacts on the marine ecosystem are addressed with a view to identifying problems and providing practical solutions.  Real cases are taken from Hong Kong as example to illustrate the crisis and its management options.  Various management options are reviewed and evaluated with careful consideration of different needs of various stakeholders.  The key topics of this course include marine pollution, habitat destruction, biological invasion, biodiversity conservation, fisheries, mariculture and harmful algal bloom.

Urban planning and environmental management (3 credits)

This course lays down the challenges of achieving environmental sustainability in cities. It highlights the important role of urban planning and its related tools and instruments in managing development pressure, mitigating environmental impacts, conserving ecological sensitive areas and achieving the society’s overall resilience. The course begins with an introduction to the fundamental functions and processes of planning. Illustrated with real-life case studies, the course then critically reviews the effectiveness of a series of planning tools, such as land use zonings land use zonings, conservation trusts, partnership schemes, in resolving climate change and sustainability conflicts in both urban and rural contexts. The course adopts the Problem-based Learning (PBL) approach where students will take lead and debate on selected current environmental affairs such as planning and development on private land with high conservation value, planning for facilities with environmental nuisances, design and planning for inclusive open space and rural revitalisation for sustainable communities.

Corporate sustainability (3 credits)

Corporate sustainability focuses on the business sector’s role and contribution to achieving sustainability. In recent years, the expectations of business to act sustainably have increased. The scope has extended from contributing to the social welfare of the society through philanthropic contributions or avoiding environmental degradation to a new business approach that creates long term value for both the business and society as a whole, by their managing of risks deriving from economic, environmental and social developments, and through the creation of opportunities. The course examines the commonly used tools in corporate sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR), including reporting, environmental, health & safety, corporate community investment and clean production. It reviews the business relationships with the environment and society expressed in the concepts of sustainable production and consumption. The course also emphasizes the importance of learning about current practice in the business sector, and therefore case studies will be used.

Green buildings and energy management (3 credits)

One of the ways to tackle global climate change is to significantly enhance energy efficiency especially in buildings. This course will introduce the global trends in the green building movement with focuses on current energy management in new and existing buildings in Hong Kong e.g. BEAM Plus. With a focus on practical knowledge and experiences in energy management in buildings, this course will introduce various aspects of energy efficiency including laws and codes; assessment tools; methods to analyse energy uses in different types of buildings and practical energy conservation measures. Starting from the Academic Year 2020-21, this course is accredited by Hong Kong Green Building Council Limited (HKGBC) and BEAM Society Limited (BSL). Under this accreditation scheme, part of the course contents will be the BEAM Affiliate Training which will be delivered in video format. Also, there will be a BEAM Affiliate examination organized by BSL and arranged by HKU. The student upon passing the examination of the course and completing the MSc(EnvMan) programme will be eligible to register as a BEAM Affiliate at HKGBC.


Environmental management intership (6 credits)

This course provides an opportunity for students to undertake an internship in environmental management in universities, NGOs or commercial companies under the supervision of an experienced Environmental Practitioner or Faculty member. The student needs to work for at least 160 hours for the internship employer on either the first, second or summer semester. During the internship, the student needs to conduct a desktop study on a topic related to the internship job duties, which should be endorsed by the course coordinator. The written report for the internship shall contain a fully referenced report for the desk top study and some sharing and reflection of the internship experiences.

Recommendations for specialization in various streams by selecting relevant elective courses

If students would like to follow a specialized scope of study in the MSc Programme in Environmental Management, they may select one of the four recommended streams as shown below:

I. Biodiversity Conservation and Management
  ENVM7003 Introduction to Ecology (3 credits) ^
ENVM8003 Conservation Biology and Management (3 credits)
ENVM8006 Environmental Impact Assessment (3 credits) ^
ENVM8016 Conservation and Management of Freshwater Resources (3 credits)
ENVM8017 Conservation and Management of Marine Resources (3 credits)
ENVM8020 Green Buildings and Energy Management (3 credits)

II. Methods and Techniques in Environmental Management
  ENVM7012 Environmental Economics and Analysis (3 credits) ^
ENVM8006 Environmental Impact Assessment (3 credits) ^
ENVM8011 Environmental Auditing and Reporting (3 credits)
ENVM8012 Environmental Health and Risk Assessment (3 credits)
ENVM8018 Urban Planning and Environmental Management (3 credits)
ENVM8020 Green Buildings and Energy Management (3 credits)

III. Pollution Management and Control
  ENVM7014 Environmental Quality Management (6 credits) ^
ENVM8006 Environmental Impact Assessment (3 credits) ^
ENVM8012 Environmental Health and Risk Assessment (3 credits)
ENVM8013 Air and Noise Pollution Control and Management (3 credits)

IV. Thematic Approaches to Environmental Management
  ENVM8014 Special Topics in Environmental Management (3 credits)
ENVM8015 Directed studies in environmental management (6 credits)
ENVM8018 Urban Planning and Environmental Management (3 credits)
ENVM8019 Corporate Sustainability (3 credits)

^ Core courses