Core course

Recommended pre-course reading

Pre-course reading recommendations are provided below to help you prepare in advance of arriving on the MSc Environmental Technology course in October.  You DO NOT have to read all of them, since some subject areas are likely to be very familiar to you already, depending on your first degree/background.  The books suggested are intended to provide an overview, or a simple introduction to basic principles in key disciplines. 

So, if you have never done any environmental policy before, then it makes sense to read the policy book(s); similarly if you have never done any statistics or ecology before then read one of the simple statistics or ecology introductory books.  All of these books are relatively low cost to acquire and often available as e-books as well (e.g. in the region of £10-20).  The likelihood is that you are only likely to need to acquire 2-3 pre-course books to read, unless you have done no natural or social science subjects before.  Links to the publishers are provided, but you may be able to find them at lower cost elsewhere.

Natural World Module


Tony Juniper (2019), The Ecology Book: big ideas simply explained, DK publishers, Paperback RRP e-book £6.99


Aulay MacKenzie, Andy S. Ball and Sonia Virdee (2001) BIOS Instant Notes in Ecology (2nd edition), CRC Press/Taylor and Francis, RRP £21.99 Paperback.

Statistics/quantitative skills

Rowntree, D (2018) Statistics without Tears: An Introduction for Non-Mathematicians, Penguin Paperback, RRP £9.99.


Spiegelhalter, D (2019) The Art of Statistics. Learning from Data. Pelican, RRP: £16.99

Human World Module

Environmental Policy

Carolyn Snell and Gary Haq (2014) The short guide to environmental policy, Policy Press, £11.99 from the publishers.

Environmental Economics

Stephen Smith (2011) Environmental Economics: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, £8.99 from the publishers.

Environmental Law

Elizabeth Fisher Environmental Law: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press, £8.99 from the publishers.

Human/Nature Interface Module

No pre-course reading, but the following will be useful for ongoing reference throughout the Core Course:

Jeff Waage, Chris Yap (eds.) (2015) Thinking Beyond Sectors for Sustainable Development, Ubiquity Press, free to download (Creative Commons license)

Becoming an Independent Learner Module

No pre-course reading required

Required reading – classic core texts

A number of key books that were critical agenda setters of their day and along with a recent review book set out the historical context to the environmental and sustainability challenges we are faced with now.  The Core Course will enable you to update and critique these seminal works to provide you with a thorough understanding of the causes of environmental problems and the scope for potential solutions.

You are expected to have read these essential texts (there are copies in the library) by the end of the Core Course because they will provide you with a solid foundation for understanding of the key issues and especially provide context and background for integrating material and thinking in an interdisciplinary way:-

  • Rachel Carson (1962), ‘Silent Spring’, Houghton, Mifflin, USA
  • Donella H. Meadows, Dennis L. Meadows, Jorgen Randers and William W. Behrens III, (1972), ‘Limits to Growth’, New York: New American Library (report to the Club of Rome) (the original rather than the 2002 update) available online
  • World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) (1987), ‘Our Common Future’, (aka Brundtland Report), United Nations/Oxford University Press.
  • Jeremy L. Caradonna (2016) Sustainability: A History, ISBN: 9780190614478 (paperback, £14.99)

Other than the four ‘required’ classic texts above, there are no 'must have' books for the Core Course, since so much depends on an individual student's background. Decisions on which books, if any, to purchase are best left until you have had a chance to look at them. Recommended reference texts and specific directed learning for each module (e.g. selected chapters, articles) will all be available in the library and/or as e-books or online via the library Leganto system.