Environmental Science MSc

Environmental Science, MSc

Introduction

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.

Key Facts

Duration
1 Year / 2 Years
Study Mode
Full Time / Part Time
Start Month
September
Learning Mode
On Campus Learning

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Overview

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 theoretical 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, enhance their skills & knowledge or retrain in environmental science and also academics and Government employees looking to further their career, develop industry contacts and remain at the forefront of environmental science.

What You'll Study

The information below applies to the 1 year full time / 2 year part time on campus learning MSc programme which runs in September.

Semester 1

Introduction

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

Compulsory Courses

Environmental Pollution (BI5301)

Enables students to increase and enhance their understanding of atmospheric, aquatic and terrestrial environmental pollution issues;

Addresses the management, monitoring and control of environmental pollutants;

Allows students to engagement with stake holders from a number of different sectors;

Uses both qualitative and quantitative data to understand the impact of environmental pollutants.

Core Skills in Environmental Science (EV5006)

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.

Soils for Food Security (SS5305)

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.

Applications of GIS (EV5403)

Applications of GIS will provide you with the opportunities to become familiar with ArcGIS software and understand the application of GIS technologies to address environmental management and research questions.

· Provide increasingly important GIS skills on your CV

· Practical based course so you learn how to use GIS as well as getting the theory

· Range of real management and research examples used in environmental sciences

Guest speakers from relevant industry on application of GIS in their role

Optional Courses

Plant Ecology (PL5001)

Integrated lectures, field trips, data exercises and discussions provide a broad overview of theoretical plant ecology and its practical applications. You will participate in data collection in sand dune, heathland and woodland habitats and become familiar with a range of plant species. Key skills in vegetation survey, monitoring and research are taught. Class field data are used as the basis for understanding ecological processes and for learning vegetation analysis methods. You will practice writing skills in a data report and essay, supported by “clinics” and by individual help to students. Detailed feedback will help your writing in subsequent courses.

Global Soil Geography (SS5008)

Field based course that takes you across northeast Scotland exploring an ancient tropical rainforest, hill farming in action, survey techniques and soil formation.

A long tradition of soil science teaching at the University of Aberdeen assembled into lectures and field trips delivered by senior academics.

Your assessments are geared towards developing practical skills. This includes a field log book to teach survey techniques, a presentation on a particular soil that requires research akin to detective work, and a quiz on soil classification. An essay will also assessed.

Semester 2

Compulsory Courses

Environmental Analysis (EV5800)

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 report giving you an opportunity to perfect this style of writing.

Land use and the Changing Environment on Deeside (SS5806)

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.

Optional Courses

Remediation Technology (SS5500)

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 (EK5804)

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a process for providing information about likely effects of certain human activities on ‘the environment’, and for identifying ways of minimising adverse effects and enhancing any positive effects.

Case studies, workshops and field visits are used to encourage participative learning related to components of the EIA process.

Oral presentations and written reports provide opportunities to develop your communication skills and to master the theory, policy and implementation elements to EIA.

Visiting speakers from the local area provide practitioner perspectives on the role of EIA in development decisions.

Catchment Management (EK5511)

Field visits to examine river systems and forested catchments provide context and opportunities to discuss a diverse set of environmental management problems with professionals working in the field.

Practical sessions provide structured activities focused on the identification of freshwater invertebrates and applications of GIS approaches for analysing data to support catchment management planning.

You apply theoretical and practical knowledge to a case study, demonstrating your capacity to evaluate site specific data and to interpret relevant legislation and regulation.

Working individually and with a group you will write and present a management plan for a location of your choosing.

Ecological & Environmental Modelling (BI5802)

Introduction to techniques used in environmental and ecological modelling.

Main course materials are in four parts; model development, model construction, model evaluation and communicating modelling issues.

Hands-on practice is gained in model development and evaluation in two 4 hour computer classes.

Course assessment is based on the write up of the two computer sessions (30% each), and additional exercises on model construction and communication (20% each).

The course provides students with the key skills required for environmental and ecological modelling.

Semester 3

Introduction

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.

Compulsory Courses

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.

Project in Environmental Science (EV5902)

Provides thorough training in managing all aspects of a research project from inception to delivery of a thesis in the format of a scientific manuscript, technical note or consultancy report;

It is an independent research project that can cover any area of environmental science, and which may be computer, laboratory, greenhouse, partner company or field based;

It may be done in the UK or internationally and requires close supervision and training through individual meetings and tuition with supervisor;

May use new technology and research or commercial deliverables to enhance the learning experience and skill base of the student.

We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

A range of teaching methods are used at Aberdeen to ensure that you are 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 when required.

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.

Learning Methods

  • Lectures
  • Tutorials
  • Field Work
  • Field Trips
  • Individual Projects

Assessment

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

Why Study Environmental Science?

  • 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.
  • We are ranked number 1 in the UK in terms of overall research excellence in the fields of earth systems and environmental sciences (REF 2014).
  • 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.
  • Award winning Climate Change research was carried out by the University's Professor Pete Smith winner of the British Ecological Society Marsh Award 2014.
  • Dr Jon Hillier and his team at the University developed the award winning ‘Cool Farm Tool’ a greenhouse calculator used by Unilever, Marks & Spencer’s, Costco and Heinz.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

For international students entering in 2017/18, the 2017/18 tuition fee rate will apply to all years of study.

Fees and Funding Table for HOME, EU, RUK and International Students
Nationality Status Amount
Home / EU / RUK Students Tuition fee for main award £4,500
International Students Tuition fee for main award £17,200
  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trip courses. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Funding

View all funding options in our Funding Database.

Programme Overview

Professor Graeme Paton describes the key features of our multidisciplinary MSc programme

Watch video

Entry Requirements

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. 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.

Qualifications

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.

Please check our International student pages for information about country-specific entry requirements.

Language Requirements

All students entering the University must provide evidence that they can use English well enough to study effectively at the University of Aberdeen.

Details of our English language entry requirements can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages. This programme requires that you meet the College of Life Sciences and Medicine Postgraduate Standard level of English proficiency.

If you have not achieved the required scores, the University of Aberdeen offers pre-sessional English courses. Further details are available on our Language Centre website.

Nationals of some English-speaking countries or those who hold degrees from some English-speaking countries may be exempt from this requirement. Details of countries recognised as English-speaking can be found on our English Language Requirements webpages.

Document Requirements

  • Degree Transcripta full transcript showing all the subjects you studied and the marks you have achieved in your degree(s) (original & official English translation)
  • Personal Statementa detailed personal statement explaining your motivation for this particular programme
  • Degree Certificatea degree certificate showing your qualifications
  • CVan up-to-date CV/Resumé

Facilities

  • Cruickshank Botanic Garden

    Cruickshank Botanic Garden

    The Cruickshank Botanic Garden is situated on our King's College campus. It is used to support both our teaching and research; existing to promote the diversity and importance of plants and their role in the natural world.

  • Sir Duncan Rice Library

    Sir Duncan Rice Library

    The University’s award winning Sir Duncan Rice Library is listed in the “Top 20 spellbinding University libraries in the World”. It contains over a million volumes, more than 300,000 e-books and 21,000 journals.

    Find out more
  • Laboratory Facilities

    Laboratory Facilities

    Our laboratory facilities include advanced analytical equipment to study soil chemical, physical and biological properties. Students have the opportunity to access state-of-the-art facilities such as mass spectroscopy, GC-MS and XRay CT imaging.

Careers

Completing the MSc programme will give you the essential 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.

On graduating 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 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.

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).

Other Experts
Professor Paul Hallett
Dr Yit Arn Teh
Professor David Johnson
Dr Sarah Woodin
Programme Coordinator
Professor Graeme Paton
Dr Gareth Norton
Dr Vasilis Louca

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

What our Alumni Say

  • Dr Nigel Turner, Project Engineer at

    Dr Nigel Turner

    Job Details
    Project Engineer
    Graduated
    The MSc Environmental Science provided me with a broad and comprehensive background in environmental science, biology and chemistry, which allowed for a range of potential career directions.

Top in Scotland for Environmental Science

Source: National Student Survey 2016

Find out more

Contact

Address
College of Life Sciences and Medicine Graduate School
University of Aberdeen
Polwarth Building
Foresterhill
Aberdeen

AB25 2ZD
Email
Phone
+44 (0)1224 437096
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