Master of Arts in Geography and Environmental Studies


The Geography and Environmental Studies Program at Bahir Dar University has undergone developmental stages that range from the status of embedded department to a full-fledged one. Before 1973 E.C., Geography had been embedded in the Social Science department when the various disciplines taught in the Academy of Pedagogy were grouped under Pedagogy, Social Science and Natural Science departments. In 1973 E.C, a syllabus was designed and Geography became an independent department from then onwards in this university and it is one of the oldest departments in the then Bahir Dar Teachers College.

Throughout its long history the Geography and Environmental Studies Program at Bahir Dar University has trained a number of students in various programs at undergraduate level: Regular, Extension, summer and, currently, Distance programs. The training has been at different levels at different times. From 1973 to 1988 E.C, for instance, the program used to train at a diploma level. As a teacher training department it has trained several teachers for the second cycle primary and secondary schools of Ethiopia. From 1989 E.C, onwards, however, the program has been training both in diploma, which is limited to extension program, and B. Ed degree in all programs. Since the 2003 academic year, it has embarked a post graduate program in GIS and has developed Master of Arts in Geography and Environmental Studies program at the beginning of the second semester of 2007 academic year. Besides its regular program the MA program has been running evening and summer. Among the potential specialty areas of postgraduate studies in geography and environmental studies at Bahir Dar University, currently the Faculty is prepared to begin in two specialty areas; one in “Environmental Management” and the second in the field of “Population Studies”. Both of the programs would be carried out as fulltime regular programme. 

Currently, by realizing the growing need of qualified professionals in Environmental Management, the program has prepared itself to address the increasing demand for professionals who can conduct research in various issues by employing various spatial technologies. To attain this objective the program has already established this regular curriculum by using its long-year experience. Thus, the program will produce high-level professionals at MA level who will use their knowledge and skills to solve environmental problems that are faced by the Ethiopian society at present. Therefore, this document is prepared as Environmental Management curriculum.


Environmental problems are becoming among the most critical development problems of mankind in the world, which threatens the entire human civilization and all livelihoods. The global environmental problems like global warming, diminishing of biodiversity, and growing shortages in freshwater supplies, air pollution, and accumulation of green-house gases are sample examples. The expansion of urban environment has also become more complex and challenging recently. Various developing countries, to which Ethiopia belongs, are particularly facing innumerable environmental problems due to environmental degradation, fast population growth and lack of knowledge as well as appropriately skilled personnel.

The government of Ethiopia has launched the transformation and growth plan in order to enhance the economic development of the nations in the coming five years. The plan is dealing with intensification of agricultural activities and promoting the nations to industrial one. The Nationwide effort to develop the economy and the transformation of the society obviously demands a lot of qualified manpower at higher levels. Most posts in the different sectors of the economy at different levels are staffed by less qualified personnel. None of Universities of Ethiopia has been offering Master of Arts degree in Environmental Management currently but only very few courses by joining with other disciplines like Geography and Environmental Studies, Agriculture, Environmental Science and Development studies only in few Universities. There is still a lot of gap in the training capacity of the universities and hence the demand for such a highly qualified human power by the different sectors in the country.

For successful implementation of sustainable Environmental management, however, a holistic understanding of the natural processes and their link with social-economic-technological-institutional/political arena is needed and hence a relevant training program at graduate level is absolutely necessary. Environmental Management program is, therefore, needed to address the holistic nature of environmental management issues at global, continental and national levels particularly in Ethiopia applying Geographic Information System (GIS) including Remote Sensing (RS) technologies emerged as the main tools of spatial analysis and graphical presentation in geographical and Environmental problem. 

The program of Geography and environmental Studies is trying to use this dynamic situation in preparing young, conscious and environmentally friendly man power that can halt the damage of the environment for the existing and coming generations. Hence, this new curriculum as part of major reforms taking place at Bahir Dar University in the light of the changing and challenging environmental, economic and social problems as noted hereinbefore. Therefore, it has now embarked this MA program, at least, to partially contribute in meeting the demands of such qualified professionals to our region and the country at large. The purpose of this MA program is to provide students with a scientific understanding of our environment, environmental science, ecological and social systems that can be applied in management or a policy context.

Admission Requirements

Incoming master’s students are expected to comply with the general rules and regulations for admission to the Graduate Program of Bahir Dar University, to have BA/B.ed/ B.Sc. in Geography or Geography and Environmental Studies or Geography and Environmental Management, Environmental Science, Agriculture or any related discipline from accredited university/college. Applicants who have BA/B.ed/B.Sc Degree related fields that go with Environmental Management such as natural resource management; development studies and economics can also be considered. The applicants must be those who have taken/capable/interested in GIS and Statistical Methods. 

And Sh|e also pass an entrance examination. Selection for admission into the MA Program in Environmental Management is made on the basis of the candidate’s performance in the entrance examination, letters of recommendation, and the undergraduate performance measured in terms of Cumulative Grade Point Average (CGPA) equal to 2.00 and above.

Duration of Study

The curriculum extends for one and half academic year of full-time coursework and one year for thesis writing as specified in section 10. Extending the duration beyond two years requires the permission of the Program graduate council (PGC) and Graduate School. The program requires extensive laboratory sessions and many other field exposures, field excursion to various part of the country. Furthermore, to write the MA thesis students need to conduct field survey. Therefore, students are expected to complete the program at the level of expectation. 

Degree Nomenclature

Students completing the graduate program of the Environmental Management will be awarded Master of Arts Degree in Environmental Management የማስተርአርትዲግሪበአካባቢእንክብካቤ፣አያያዝናአጠባበቅ

Course Breakdown

The MA program is both module-based and research-based program. The module is done based on the Guideline for Modularization to Ethiopian Higher Education Institutions Organized by Higher Education Strategy Center (HESC), Ministry of Education, June 2012, which suggested the naming of the ECTS (European Credit Accumulation and Transfer System) to be Ethiopian Credit Transfer and Accumulation System (EtCTS) based on the following assumptions.


In calculating ECTS and students’ workload, the number of academic weeks considered are 32 which are different from that of Europe.  


The total study hour students are supposed to engage in academics is suggested as 50 hours per a week which is not common in all European countries.


In the case of Ethiopia, the team suggested 1 EtCTS is equal to 27 study hours where there are variations ranging from 25 to 30 hours among European countries in this regard.

Hence, for these reasons, it is better to adapt ECTS to EtCTS.

 Students pursuing the Masters of Environmental Management (MEM) degree complete courses in three modules. Module execution shall be covered in three semester’s duration. The MA thesis research shall be completed in two semesters, of the program.  Every student will be required to take both two of core and one General module. These are  

1. Environmental Management (15 CP or 9 credits)

2. Climate and Natural Resources Management (25 CP or 15 credits)

3. Research Tools of Environmental Management (23CP or 14 credits)


Environmental Management (15 CP)

These courses provide a common understanding of concepts, principles, and tools that all Master of Environmental Management (MEM) students must learn to excel as professional environmental managers. The major courses are

1. Integrated Environmental Resources management 5 CP ( )

2. Environmental Management system and development 5 CP ( )

3. Environmental Impact Assessment 5CP ( )

 Climate and Natural Resources Management (25 CP)

In this module courses explore major resources of the environment with the social, economic, political, and scientific interrelationships of some of today’s most pressing environmental issues. These team-taught courses build on the environmental management module courses by illustrating how practices, methodologies, and perspectives from multiple disciplines must be integrated to provide holistic answers to the challenges posed by environmental problems. The Climate and Natural Resources Management module have the following courses

1. Climate Change and Society 5CP (

2. Landscape Ecology 5 CP ( )

3. Land Evaluation and Land Use Planning 5CP ( )

4. Integrated Watershed Management 5CP ( )

5. Biodiversity Conservation and Management 5CP ( )

 Research Tools of Environmental Management (23 CP)

MEM students will take courses of Research Tools of Environmental Management module in their second year study at in the first and second semester. Most of these offerings build on, and draw from, knowledge acquired in the environmental, and climate and Natural resources Management courses. These team-taught courses build on the environmental management module courses by illustrating how practices, methodologies, and perspectives from multiple disciplines must be integrated to provide holistic answers to the challenges posed by environmental problems and helps in doing research to solve environmental problems. These courses of this module includes the following

1. Advanced Research Methodology 5CP ( i.e. 2 lecture +1lab)

2. Application of GIS and RS for Environmental Management 5CP ( i.e. 2 lecture +1la)

3. Seminars on Contemporary Ethiopian Environmental Issues 3CP (

4. MA Thesis 10 CP (