This programme will bridge the interface between two important disciplines: Environmental Science and Ecology. It aims to help you develop the knowledge and practical skills required to tackle important environmental issues by applying appropriate ecological theory.

This programme is studied on campus.

The line that separates ecological and environmental sciences has become less distinct in recent years due to the increased demand for interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary work. This programme will give you an understanding of both these disciplines, as well as allowing you to integrate knowledge across these disciplines.

By taking this degree, you will be equipped with relevant skills in environmental policy, legislation, risk assessment models, environmental analytical instrumentation, understanding the use and implementation of environmental models, placing ecology within the landscape, looking at ecological niches and exploring how ecology impacts society.

These skills will make you an ideal candidate for positions within both the environmental science and ecological science sectors such as consultancies, regulators and NGOs. Furthermore, you will develop key research skills preparing you for a PhD and career in ecological and environmental research.

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Key Programme Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
12 months or 24 months
Study Mode
Full Time or Part Time
Start Month

What You'll Study

Semester 1

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses

Plant Ecology (PL5001) - 15 Credit Points

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 becoming 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 helps your writing in subsequent courses.

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Core Skills in Environmental Science (EV5006) - 15 Credit Points

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.

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Environmental Pollution (BI5301) - 15 Credit Points

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.

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Optional Courses

Soils for Food Security (SS5305) - 15 Credit Points

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.

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Semester 2

Semester 2

Compulsory Courses

Applications of GIS (15 credit points)

This course will give you an understanding of fundamental concepts in geographical information systems (GIS), an appreciation of the ways in which GIS can be used in ecology and environmental science, and practical skills in using ArcGIS software to answer questions and solve problems in a spatial context. The course is designed to broaden your portfolio of research skills and enhance your employability. Most of the activity involves practicing on a range of real-world examples from research in terrestrial and marine ecosystems, before choosing a case study and devising your own questions to demonstrate your command of the conceptual underpinnings and proficiency with the software.

The course catalogue will be updated with this information shortly.

Ecological & Environmental Modelling (BI5802) - 15 Credit Points

Introduction to techniques used in environmental and ecological modelling.

Main course materials are in three parts; model development, model evaluation and model communication.

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 an exercise on model communication (20%). The last 20% of the course marks are given for a reflective log completed on the course materials.

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

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Land use and the Changing Environment on Deeside (SS5806)
Catchment Management (EK5511) - 15 Credit Points

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.

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Ecology, Conservation and Society (EK5510) - 15 Credit Points

Six themes that reflect current theory and practice in the interface between ecology, conservation and society are explored through structured in-class activities challenging you to consider problems and evidence from different perspectives.

Case studies drawn from different disciplinary perspectives (e.g., anthropology, economics, human geography, philosophy) increase capacity for self-reflection and awareness of ethical and moral issues embedded in problems often framed as ecological.

Four short discussion essays are required; you will get detailed feedback for improving your writing skills.

Weekly student-led discussions allow you to develop your capacity for attentive exchange, informed argument and reasoning, and skills in facilitating discussion.

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Optional Courses

Environmental Analysis (EV5800) - 15 Credit Points

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.

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Semester 3

Semester 3

Compulsory Courses

Project in Environmental and Ecological Sciences (EV5905) - 60 Credit Points

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;

It is an independent research project that can cover any area of environmental and ecological 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.

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Course Availability

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 wide 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 student to tutor ratio, meaning you will have the full support of your group tutors.

Our great diversity in teaching methods is coupled by the use of latest digital technology to ensure course content is accessible to all students through a wide range of electronic formats.

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. The majority of courses regularly extend activities and learning to outdoor field work, visits by industry experts and insights into real-life situations and problem-solving. The MSc programme includes, without additional cost, a one week residential field course (at Ballater, Aberdeenshire) plus several day-long field trips from Aberdeen.

The dedicated research project you will undertake as part of your MSc provides training in study design, technical skills, recording results and observations and analysing results. Great flexibility is available in project selection; projects can be chosen from a list of developed by the students themselves in collaboration with supervisors. Projects can be field, lab and/or computer based and flexible to fit the student’s interests, aspirations and skill set.

Learning Methods

  • Field Trips
  • Field Work
  • Group Projects
  • Individual Projects
  • Lab Work
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Workshops

Assessment Methods

The programme is assessed entirely by continuous assessment. There are no exams. The assessments have been developed to provide training in key transferable skills. For example, presentations, paper reviews, graphical abstracts and reports. Additional assessments for more applied courses includes a management plan. The final assessment is your project report submitted in the form of a manuscript.

Why Study Environmental and Ecological Sciences?

  • Aberdeen provides you with a unique learning environment with unrivalled access to coastal, mountain and freshwater habitats for both fieldwork and recreation.
  • The University has a long tradition and excellent reputation for teaching and research in Environmental and Ecological sciences and is home to one of the largest and most vibrant groups of academics in this subject area in Britain.
  • You will be taught by scientists who are internationally renowned researchers and experts in their field, and who are actively involved in the application of ecological research to environmental management.
  • 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 programme is skills-based, meaning that as well as learning theory you will be continually applying that knowledge to real world tasks and situations.
  • Award winning Climate Change research was carried out by the University’s Professor Pete Smith winner of the British Ecological Society Marsh Award 2014. He has also just been awarded the 2017 Philippe Duchaufour medal from the European Geosciences Union for his globally-recognised services to soil biogeochemistry. Prof Smith is actively involved with the teaching of our MSc Environmental and Ecological Sciences programme and supervises several MSc projects every year.
  • Your project will become a key feature of your CV and is often a first step to further research or a job. In helping you develop your project we enable you to link in to our vast network of colleagues and organisations within the academic, non-governmental, government and industrial sectors.

Entry Requirements


The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.

A minimum of a UK 2.2 honours degree (or non-UK equivalent) in a biological, environmental or physical science, geography, or other relevant subject. We also consider applicants with degrees in other disciplines who are clearly motivated by the programme and have some relevant work experience.

Please enter your country to view country-specific entry requirements.

English Language Requirements

To study for a Postgraduate Taught degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.5 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0


OVERALL - 90 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 62 with: Listening - 51; Reading - 51; Speaking - 51; Writing - 54

Cambridge English Advanced & Proficiency:

OVERALL - 176 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Document Requirements

You will be required to supply the following documentation with your application as proof you meet the entry requirements of this degree programme.

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

Fees and Funding

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

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU / RUK Students £7,800
Tuition Fees for 2018/19 Academic Year
International Students £16,900
Tuition Fees for 2018/19 Academic Year

Additional Fees

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. 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 Opportunities

The following options are available to support your studies. Please click the links for full details and eligibility criteria.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.


The programme focuses on providing training in state-of-the-art methods that will be invaluable both for careers in academic research and outside of academia. This programme brings together a range of courses that will equip you with the knowledge and skills suited for the environmental sector.

In addition to acquiring discipline-specific skills, the course work activities within our programme are designed to provide you with ample opportunity to develop generic skills required by employers including critical thinking, time management, problem-solving, team work, presenting work both as written reports and as oral presentations.

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

Our Experts

Programme Coordinator
Dr Vasilis Louca

Information About Staff Changes

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.

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Top in Scotland for Environmental Science

Source: National Student Survey 2016


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Our plant growth facilities include controlled environmental growth chambers and glasshouses for teaching and experimental work.

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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.

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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.

Research Impact

Professor Pete Smith and his team conduct research that underpins international climate policy around greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture.

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Get in Touch

Contact Details

Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
AB24 3FX