M.Sc. Integrated planning for rural development and environmental management

University of Lleida

Tuition fee:
  • € 1,800 / Year (EEA)
  • € 1,800 / Year (Non-EEA)
Start date: October  2015
Duration full-time: 24 months
  • English
  • Spanish
  • Catalan
Delivery mode: On Campus
Educational variant: Full-time

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The Master on Integrated Planning for Rural Development and Environmental Management provides a two-year programme for graduates who wish to specialize in the subject and professionals interested in updating their knowledge.

The training objective, regarding to professional orientation, is that pupils at the end of the studies acquire a high level specialization and some determined competences, that are the following: * understand the groundings that govern the behaviour of the physic, socio-economic, legal and institutional systems and subsystems;
* to familiarise themselves with the methods and techniques that can be applied to different stages of a rural planning project, to propose alternatives of use of soil in diverse conditions and that evaluate the coexistence of implantation of themselves, a direct experience in the resolution of specific problems, and capacity to work in multidisciplinary teams.

The training objective, regarding to the research part, is the critical application of knowledge, capacities and competences acquired in the first part, at the treatment of real problems related with the planning and environmental management of rural areas, through the realization of an original research work. In the first year participants follow the Postgraduate Specialization Course. Formal lectures are complemented by case studies, practices and field work.
In the second year, students who have successfully completed the first year develop an individual work of initiation to research or to professional activity on a chosen topic of the specialization, leading to a Master of Science Degree.

The working languages are English, French and Spanish. Lecturers can teach in any of the three languages. Simultaneous translation into Spanish is provided when lecturers speak English or French, therefore participants should prove knowledge of Spanish at the start of the course. From the beginning of July to the end of September IAMZ organizes an intensive course of Spanish for those who require it. Participants can answer the exams in Spanish, French or English. In the selection of candidates, knowledge of English and French is nevertheless valued, as part of the documentation distributed may be written in either of these languages.

The objectives of the first part of the Master programme (Postgraduate
Specialisation Course) are to:

* become acquainted with the bases that govern the behaviour of systems and their corresponding physical, socioeconomic, legal and institutional sub-systems;
* gain expertise in the methods and techniques that can be applied in the different stages of a rural planning project; (iii) propose alternative land uses under different conditions and assess the viability and appropriateness of their application;
* acquire direct experience in the solving of specific problems presented to experts involved in rural development programmes and in the management of the environment in the rural world;
* develop the skills to work in a multidisciplinary team.

Through the work carried out in the second part of the programme (Master Thesis), participants complete their training by making a critical application of the knowledge, methods and techniques acquired during the first year of specialization and develop their competence in:

* analysis of problems;
* definition of objectives;
* acquisition and treatment of data in compliance to a pre-established research protocol;
* analysis of results;
* elaboration of conclusions that may contribute to clarify and find a possible solution to problems.


Course Content

Training is organized in 5 sections (60 ECTS)

Section 1


This section introduces planning as the instrument linking human activities and territory. A review of rural evolution and development is made highlighting new trends and driving forces. The system approach is presented as the most appropriate framework to carry out integrated planning, paying special attention to temporal and spatial scales. Different methodologies used in land planning are addressed, finally presenting the work scheme adopted in the Course to elaborate applied planning projects.

Section 2


The section is devoted to making a general analysis of different aspects related to natural resources and especially to those relevant to the Mediterranean region. The evaluation of natural resources, their processes and interactions are analysed from the perspective of making compatible their use and conservation to guarantee their sustainability.

Landscape ecology is presented as a conceptual framework to be applied in rural planning, introducing theories and methods used in the spatial patterning of the dynamics of interacting ecosystems to understand the dynamic functioning of rural systems, their main constraints and the territory resilience. Agricultural production is addressed in a sustainability context, to assure the quality of
natural environments and the preservation of rural media. The last part of the
section focuses on biodiversity conservation and on the design and management strategies of protected areas.

Section 3


The section focuses on land use structural patterns and social organization in rural environments, considering their evolution in the last decades in developed and developing countries. The production model in rural environments is addressed, analysing the economic control of productions in a context of globalization. Tools for the economic evaluation of the environment and of natural resources are studied, introducing related environmental legislation. Finally, main policies affecting rural areas are considered, analysing their incidence in local, regional and international rural development.

Section 4


The section deals with methods and techniques needed to gather, analyse and process information used in planning projects, complementing the content of previously addressed sections from an applied perspective. Cartography analysis, socio-economic analysis, geographic information systems, applications of remote sensing in natural resource management and modelling are included. Special attention is paid to resource conservation and use, providing criteria and presenting methods to propose, assign and evaluate land use alternatives in a given territory, with the aim of contributing to rural development and ameliorating the quality of the environment.

Section 5


Throughout the Course participants form multidisciplinary groups to carry out, under the supervision of a tutor, an integrated planning project on a previously chosen area. The objective of the work is to provide participants with practical experience on how to design and implement a planning project of a particular area, applying knowledge acquired during the Course.

Carrying this work out enables participants to:

* gain practice in information retrieval and its selective treatment;
* learn to define and integrate the different components that interact in a system;
* apply the principles and methodology presented during the Course in each of the work phases;
* acquire experience in the analysis of situations and in decision-making;
* develop the skills for group work and multidisciplinary collaboration;
* acquire experience in the preparation of oral communications and their presentation in public.


Section 1 (4 ECTS)


Unit 1 - Dynamics of rural areas. New driving forces for rural development: comparative approach (0.5 ECTS),
Unit 2 - Planning a complex world: the systems approach. Spatial and temporal scales (0.5 ECTS),
Unit 3 - Rural planning methodologies and procedures (3 ECTS).

Section 2 (12 ECTS)


Unit 1 - Natural resources (5 ECTS),
Unit 2 - Landscape dynamics (2 ECTS),
Unit 3 - Components and processes of natural and agricultural production systems (3.5 ECTS),
Unit 4 - Conservation of species and areas (1.5 ECTS).

Section 3 (11 ECTS)


Unit 1 - Environmental economics and policies (6 ECTS),
Unit 2 - Social and economic structure in rural areas (3 ECTS),
Unit 3 - Rural economics and policies for integrated rural development (2 ECTS)

Section 4 (18 ECTS)


Unit 1 - Cartography analysis for rural planning (2 ECTS),
Unit 2 - Geographic information systems and digital database management (4 ECTS),
Unit 3 - Introduction to remote sensing and its application to natural resource management (2 ECTS),
Unit 4 - Land use allocation and environmental impact assessment (4.5 ECTS),
Unit 5 - Socio-economic statistical analysis (1 ECTS),
Unit 6 - Qualitative modelling, scenarios and system dynamics modelling (3 ECTS),
Unit 7 - Decision support systems and integrated spatial modelling (1.5 ECTS).

Section 5 (15 ECTS)



Entry Requirements

Participants must hold a university degree in agronomy, forestry science, biology, geography, environmental sciences, economics, landscape architecture or any related field. Sound knowledge of computers as a user, and some experience in using geographical information systems (GIS), is required.

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