Find a Degree Postgraduate Taught Programmes Environmental Science
MSc Environmental Science

Programme Details

This multidisciplinary MSc programme aims to train you to recognise and understand the threats and conflicts in the environment today and appreciate the steps required to develop solutions.

The systematic approach of this MSc programme enables you to deal with all scales of the environment. Throughout your studies you will have various opportunities to participate in work outdoors and apply your classroom and field work knowledge to real life situations.

You will also gain experience using a range of tools for biological, chemical and physical measurement as well as models and data handling methods. Most importantly, at Aberdeen you will be part of a community that will help improve your knowledge and awareness of environmental science.

The MSc is aimed at graduates looking to specialise, those looking to enhance their skills & knowledge or retrain in environmental science and academics and Government employees looking to further their career, develop industry contacts and remain at the forefront of the science.

MSc 12 months full-time or 24 months part-time | On-campus learning | September start

Why study this programme?

  • Aberdeen provides you with a unique learning environment that cannot be found elsewhere. You will carry out field work in various different locations, including the North Sea, the agricultural and forested areas of NE Scotland, National Nature reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
  • The University has several unique research field stations at your disposal including Oceanlab located on the Ythan Estuary, Cromarty Lighthouse in the Moray Firth, Bettyhill and Eynhallow in Orkney.
  • The University has an international reputation for excellence in inter-disciplinary research in terrestrial, aquatic and marine environments.
  • The programme is skills-based, meaning that as well as learning theory, you will also have the opportunity to gain experience of applying your knowledge to real life and environmental situations.
  • You will be taught by people who are internationally renowned researchers and experts in their field.
  • You will learn essential research skills that will better prepare you, should you choose to progress to PhD level.

Our Experts

The programme will be delivered by a multidisciplinary team of world renowned and vastly experienced researchers in environmental science with each course having its own specialised co-ordinator(s) as follows:

Contact Information


The taught part of our MSc Environmental Science programme involves students taking eight courses over two terms. Course options are varied and are usually chosen from those available within the environmental sciences timetable. However, other courses maybe chosen from those available through the School of Biological Sciences' level 5 modular options.

In addition, the MSc programme includes activities with external speakers, site visits, applied technique sessions and a residential field trip.

The final three months of the programme is dedicated to carrying out the research project. This is a detailed piece of work that provides training in technical skills, recording results and observations and analysing results. Longer projects are available for students seeking a more advanced programme.

Compulsory Courses

Core Skills for Environmental Sciences (Credits 15)

The course will provide the students with valuable skills required in developing their research and general study skills, essential for their progression during the MSc programme, as well as to the rest of their academic and professional careers. The course introduces basic statistical analysis, teaches data handling skills and exposes students to literature searching and reference styles. During the course, students will get experience in handling real-life, large data sets and will work together with the lecturer and demonstrators in analysing the data and presenting the results. Read full details in our course catalogue.

Environmental Pollution (15 Credits)

This course provides a foundation in understanding and managing environmental pollution. Divided into contaminated land, waste, air, freshwater and marine pollution, each week the subject, legislative and regulatory context, site investigation and appraisal, and management are introduced.

Guest speakers from industry join the course each week (from consultancy firms, regulators (including SEPA and councils) Marine Scotland and stakeholders (UK Oil and Gas) providing an understanding of the reality of the role and important contact with practioners. Each theme also has an associated practical element to provide hands on experience in techniques in environmental pollution, providing you with a grounding in the assessment and management of environmental pollutants. Read full details in our course catalogue.

Environmental Analysis (15 Credits)

The mixture of applied science and theoretical work places you in a valuable position for understanding the procedures and applications in modern environmental science. A number of laboratory classes allows you to familiarise yourself with the current analytical instrumentation in environmental science. The course uses examples of environmental issues allowing you to understand the problem, how the analysis was conducted and the implications of the results. The main assessment in this course is a practical write up that is written in the style of a scientific paper giving you an opportunity to perfect this style of writing. Read full details in our course catalogue.

Literature Review in Environmental Sciences (3 Credits)

This enables graduate students to formally begin their critical understanding of principles and practices as they move towards the project stage. Read full details in our course catalogue.

Land Use and the Changing Environment on Deeside (3 Credits)

An introduction to landscape and associated conflicts by using the Cairngorm National Park as the setting. Visits to sporting estates, forests (plantation and semi-natural), farms, river management, ski centres and national nature reserves are used to exemplify the complex relationships between semi-natural and management environments and the people that occupy and use them. Read full details in our course catalogue.

Soils for Food Secruity (15 Credits)

This advanced soil science course provides additional teaching of physical, chemical and biological properties of soils in the context of food security.  You will learn a variety of processes that affect soil productivity, accompanied by practical sessions that will teach relevant analytical methods.  The wide range of soil processes taught will be brought together at the end of the course to provide a working knowledge of agronomy, including the interactions between crops and specific chemical or physical properties of soils. Read the full details in our course catalogue.

Remediation Technology (15 Credits)

A highly interactive course, that uses extensively e-learning platforms to enable students to better understand the assessment of contaminated land. Students will learn how to interpret and apply current risk assessment regulations and predict as well as model contaminant pathways. Students will gain valuable experience in using the latest computer software and incorporate real data in order to quantify risk. Very importantly, students will be able to forecast remediation options for a variety of situations and consider the implications and processes involved.

Environmental Impact Assessment (15 Credits)


Elective Courses

Links take you to our course catalogue in a new tab/window.

Research Project

Advanced Project (90 Credits)

For students that select to undertake the MRes Programme this reflects a higher credit bearing project with longer duration. The overall aims, objectives and assessment are the same as those described for the Project in Environmental Science. Read full details in our course catalogue.

Project in Environmental Science (60 Credits)

A module underpinned by a research theme within the discipline of environmental science. This could be in a range of different areas of environmental science including; environmental monitoring, risk assessment, remediation, climate change, pollution mitigation, analytical development or modelling. It could be terrestrial, freshwater, marine or atmospheric in outlook.

Projects can be field, laboratory or desk based, or indeed a combination of these. Students may undertake this in Aberdeen or from an alternative national or international base.

Supervision is by means of a designated supervisor with whom there should be frequent meetings. Assessment is by thesis which may take the form of a scientific manuscript or a consultancy report or a technical memoir- depending upon the nature of the project. There is consideration of project planning, experimental performance and critical interpretation in terms of the award of the final mark. Read full details in our course catalogue.

How You'll Learn

A range of teaching methods are used at Aberdeen to ensure that you’re able to learn in a way that suits your learning style and enables you to achieve the best possible outcome. Our class sizes are small and we have a low tutor to student ratio, meaning you will have the full support of your group tutors.

The teaching of our MSc Environmental Science programme is mainly lecture based with self-directed learning and tutorials to support the lecture material. Many lectures are recorded and can be viewed again whenever they are needed.

The MSc also provides students with ample opportunity to learn outside the classroom so you can apply both theory and practice to real life situations. Some of the teaching methods employed include:

  • Outdoor field work
  • Access to industry experts
  • Insight into real-life situations

The dedicated research project you will undertake as part of the MSc provides training in technical skills, recording results and observations and analysing results. Longer projects are available for students seeking a more advanced programme.


The degree programme is assessed on the basis of performance in the research project and continuous assessment of coursework.


Completing the MSc programme in Environmental Science at the University of Aberdeen will give you the essential research skills required to pursue a career in environmental science. You will be equipped with the knowledge, understanding and practical experience to take the necessary action in resolving environmental conflicts.

Studying at the University of Aberdeen will open up new career opportunities and help you build an invaluable network of contacts that will prove useful in establishing your career in environmental science.

On graduating from the programme, you will have several career options available to you, some of which include:

  • Further study (PhD)
  • Academic jobs in university settings, e.g. researcher
  • Careers in the environmental science industry in roles such as Environmental Consultant, Nature Conservation Officer, Water Quality Tester, and Eco-toxicologist

Many graduates from the Environmental Science programme pursue careers in the private sector to work for environmental and agricultural consultancies.  Others move into Government associated work such as with the Scottish Government, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), or regulatory bodies like the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Environment Agency (EA). A proportion of graduates use the skills learned to continue in research either at universities or institutes.

An MSc in Environmental Science from the University of Aberdeen will prove a rewarding platform towards a career in the environmental industry. Completion of the programme will show prospective employers that you have the practical research experience required to bring value to their organisation.

Prospective students should normally have, or expect to be awarded, a minimum of a lower second-class Honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject, from a recognised university.

Please check the In My Country pages to find out if your degree is equivalent.

Enquiries are welcomed from all prospective students, regardless of first degree subject, who can demonstrate an adequate level of competence and ability for postgraduate training. In recent years students who have completed the programme successfully have come from backgrounds including biology, zoology, ecology, chemistry, physics, engineering, geology, geography, agriculture, psychology, and health sciences.

Interviews will be required for applicants with non-conventional qualifications.

Document requirements

For this application we need at least:

  • An official full Bachelor degree transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) so far (original & official English translation)
  • Degree certificate (if you have already graduated)
  • Academic reference letter OR a reference letter from your employer (if you have 2+ years of work experience in an industry relevant to the programme)
  • Detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme
  • Ideally - current CV/resume

It is important when submitting an application that you ensure you have completed all the necessary sections and enclosed all the relevant documentation to ensure that your application can be processed as quickly as possible. Any missing document may result in delay.

English Language requirements

Even if you have been educated in the medium of English you must meet our English Language requirements (certain countries may be exempted from this requirement). Full details are available on our English language requirements webpages. This programme requires that you meet the 'Postgraduate Standard' level of English proficiency.

University of Aberdeen offers also pre-sessional English courses that when successfully completed will remove language conditions for studying at the University of Aberdeen. Further details are available on the Language Centre website.


Tuition Fee Rates 2016/17 - MSc Environmental Science

  • UK/EU students: £4,500
  • International students: £17,200

Further information about tuition fees and cost of living for both UK/EU and International students can be found on the Finance and Funding web pages.


  • New £4000 bursary for 2016/17

New £4000 bursary now available for our Environment and Biological MScs for 2016/17. Read full details here.

  • University of Aberdeen Alumni Discount Scheme

The University of Aberdeen is very pleased to offer a 20% discount on postgraduate tuition fees for all alumni who have graduated with a degree from the University of Aberdeen. More Information can be found here.

(Please note this cannot be claimed in conjunction with any other scholarship award)

Prospective students should visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.


Related Information

General Information

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