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MSc Arboriculture and Urban Forestry On Line

About the course

The course is delivered at University Centre Myerscough and awarded by the University of Central Lancashire. This on-line MSc Arboriculture and Urban Forestry, awarded from the University of Central Lancashire, is a ground-breaking course with an international profile. The course recognises the multidisciplinary approach needed to design, maintain and manage trees as part of green infrastructure projects. The course is designed for professionals who wish to engage further with an understanding of urban trees, their management, and sustainable ways forward for our urban forests.

The course encourages debate and critical evaluation of practices and innovative research within arboriculture and urban forestry, taking both a scientific and industry viewpoint on current practice. We look at the current issues in delivering good tree care and healthy urban forests – because trees and urban green space contribute so much to the liveability of our urban areas and yet they are often neglected as a topic or seen only as a secondary resource in urban areas.

Importantly, the course requires its students to take a critical and evaluative stance on urban forestry, allowing them to develop further their skills and knowledge within this discipline and to be able to develop their professional opinion on key matters that affect trees in our townscapes. Academic standards on this course are high, such that MSc student research projects are frequently to a standard suitable for publication in relevant academic journals.

Please note that this course may run as a roll-on, roll-off programme, so new students may start with either ‘Year 1’ or ‘Year 2’ modules, depending upon their year of entry.

Course modules

Year 1

Research Methodology and Design

This module engages students with the essential personal, organisational, management, theoretical and statistical skills needed to carry out research work at the Postgraduate Level. Students explore research philosophies, the research process and experimental design, and then look to apply these in a professional context. Students will also develop their skills in advanced data organisation, presentation, dissemination of research and problem solving.

Tree Physiology under Abiotic and Biotic Stresses

Many cities have recently undertaken basic assessments of the benefits of their urban forests. The science behind these assessments is scrutinised in this module, with study of the causes of stress to urban trees, from pests and pathogens to storms and climate change. Stressed trees give far fewer benefits to urban areas, so a practitioner’s recognition of stress symptoms and ability to prescribe solutions to improve a tree’s physiological performance are emphasised in this module.

Tree Risk Management

Having mature trees in urban areas necessarily comes with some risks to person and property which practitioners have a duty to manage. This module engages students with the latest scientific research relating to assessing the structure of trees, the risks from trees and methods of risk mitigation. Students evaluate current practices and identify potential innovations in this strongly debated area of urban forest practice.

Year 2

The Science of Tree Production and Establishment

One cannot have a sustainable urban forest without establishing a new generation of trees. In the light of scientific advances in the areas of tree production and establishment, this module casts a critical eye not just over current practice but also the bigger issues that may affect provision of new tree planting, particularly focussing on biosecurity and climate change as threats to our next generation of urban trees.

Trees and Urban Planning

The balance between the competing needs for urban development and for the creation or preservation of urban greenery is a key area of study in this module focussed on planning policy and legislation in relation to urban forestry. Students will develop their professional opinions on tree protection legislation, current planning policy and how urban areas can be designed to incorporate sufficient green infrastructure.

Urban Forestry and Green Infrastructure

The critical importance of green infrastructure (GI), and urban trees as a subset of GI, is emphasised in this module that investigates the history of urban forestry, considers the component parts of urban forests, evaluates tree and urban forest strategies and debates current trends and innovations in urban greening and urban forest assessment.

Year 3

Masters Dissertation

This research project is a triple module and students, working with their appointed supervisors, design and conduct a substantial piece of independent research relating to trees. Undertaking this research refines students’ skills in project planning, project management, critical thinking and the communication of science. Students can choose to write either a traditional thesis or submit an academic paper and associated article. Students of this MSc course are strongly encouraged to undertake research that addresses a significant issue in arboriculture and urban forestry and to produce work to the standard needed to be published in an academic journal.

Entry requirements & additional information

Entry requirements

Applications are sought from individuals possessing a minimum of Lower Second Class (2.2) Honours Degree (or equivalent) in a related discipline.

Candidates not possessing an Honours Degree at the above grade but with relevant professional qualifications and experience will be welcomed. All non-standard applicants may be interviewed to assess suitability for the course.

Career experience plus evidence of study skills may also be considered. Consideration will be given to non-traditional qualifications and relevant work experience. Applicants are encouraged to produce evidence of their potential to benefit from the course. Applicants who believe they may be eligible for Accreditation of Prior Experience/Learning (APE/L) for certain modules will be considered on an individual basis.

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to have an English qualification to IELTS 6.5 or equivalent.

All offers may be subject to successful interview.

Learning and assessment

Learning Environment:

Learning activities on the course are diverse, including audio lectures, critical reviews of relevant academic papers, video presentations and a moderated discussion board as well as tutors’ notes and related publications.


Students will engage in a variety of relevant professional assessments, including the production of written reports, oral presentations and dissemination of information via webpages and research posters and writing an academic account of a research project.

Additional Information:

On-line students will be given access to talks by guest speakers via the Myerscough College virtual learning environment.

What work experience can I get?

There is no formal industry placement on this course. Typical applicants are already employed or engaged with the arboricultural industry.


On successful completion of the course, students may apply for Doctorate (PhD) in a related discipline.


This course programme immerses its students in a critical evaluation of the arboricultural and urban forestry industry, challenging existing knowledge and emphasising critical thinking skills that enable postgraduates to secure management and consultancy posts. Such posts may be within private consultancy practices, management roles within tree care companies or working as part of a larger institution or governmental body. Professionalism, independent thinking and innovation are emphasised throughout the course to prepare students for the demands of these positions. Students may also gain the opportunity to progress into teaching and scientific research positions.

Examples of possible careers include:

Arboricultural, Urban Forestry and Green Space Consultant

Arboricultural Contracts Manager

Local Authority Tree Officer

Environmental Advisor

Lecturer and Researcher

Professional accreditations

This course is accredited by the Institute of Chartered Foresters. Students completing this MSc course programme are accredited 6 points towards Chartered Arboriculturist/Forester status.

Special requirements

Students will be advised on what IT requirements are needed for studying this course online.