Planetary Sciences, MSc

Planetary Sciences, MSc


This programme is designed to provide students from any academic background an informed understanding of planetary atmospheres and landforms, space environment, remote sensing, data analysis, astrobiology and space systems engineering and instrumentation, giving you a springboard for a career in the rapidly expanding space sector.

This course has both January and September start dates.

This programme is also available to study online.

Eligible self-funded international Masters students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Visit our Funding Database to find out more.

Study Information

Study Options

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

We live in a time of unprecedented investment and collaboration in space exploration led by the ‘big six’ space agencies – NASA, ESA, Roscosmos, CNSA, ISRO and JAXA – and an ever-growing list of national space agencies and private companies such as SpaceX, Virgin Galactic and Blue Origin, who are keen to compete in the rapidly expanding spaceflight sector.

The ambitious plans for the following decades include sending humans back to the moon, establishing a colony on Marrs, searching for life near Saturn, sending missions to probe the metalcore of a dead planet, and exploring the hidden ocean on Jupiter's moon Europa.

These plans pose significant scientific and technological challenges that can only be overcome through an interdisciplinary approach. That is why this programme draws on the diverse expertise of the planetary sciences team at the University of Aberdeen to provide you with a detailed understanding of the pioneering research and technological developments that will guide the future development of space exploration.

You will study the Earth and other objects of the solar system such as the Moon, Mars and exoplanets, to understand the critical steps of formation of these objects, including the physics of atmospheres, magnetic fields, geomorphology of the surface, isotopic differentiation and the formation of habitable environments. As you delve deeper into these topics you will also develop the key technical research skills needed for deep space exploration such as remote sensing, spectroscopy, and instrument design.

Our aim is to educate and train a new generation of geologists, physicists, chemists, biologists and engineers of all disciplines. The interdisciplinary training included in this programme will provide you with the skills to tackle other problems outside of space exploration, such as instrument design, geology, microbiology and environmental sciences, planetary sciences and data analysis in remote sensing.

Available Programmes of Study


Planetary Sciences

Qualification Duration Learning Mode Study Mode Start Month Location  
MSc 12 months or 24 months On Campus Learning Full Time or Part Time September Aberdeen More
MSc 12 months or 24 months On Campus Learning Full Time or Part Time January Aberdeen More

Programme Fees

Fee information
Fee category Cost
EU / International students £22,000
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year
UK £10,000
Tuition Fees for 2024/25 Academic Year

We will endeavour to make all course options available. However, these may be subject to change - see our Student Terms and Conditions page.

Fee Information

Additional Fee Information

  • Fees for individual programmes can be viewed in the Programmes section above.
  • 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 Tuition Fees page.


Self-funded international students enrolling on postgraduate taught (PGT) programmes will receive one of our Aberdeen Global Scholarships, ranging from £3,000 to £8,000, depending on your domicile country. Learn more about the Aberdeen Global Scholarships here.

To see our full range of scholarships, visit our Funding Database.

How You'll Study

Learning Methods

  • Group Projects
  • Individual Projects
  • Lab Work
  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Workshops

Why Study Planetary Sciences?

  • The MSc Planetary Sciences is a fascinating and diverse programme. You will study planets, moons, and planetary systems and the technology that helps us understand the processes that form them
  • The interdisciplinary nature of this programme means that it is suitable for students from across the sciences, including geology, biology, physics, and engineering planetary science, building new STEM skills based on its interdisciplinary nature
  • Findings from the UK Space Agency reveal that as of 2022, year-on-year growth of the UK space sector outpaces the wider economy by 5%
  • The ‘Size and Health of the UK Space Industry 2022’ report reveals a steady growth in sector employment, with positive year-on-year growth annually since the 2011/12 year
  • The Department of Planetary Science is part of current and future missions to Mars.  We have an instrument on the NASA Curiosity rover on Mars, we are co-investigators in the ESA Trace Gas Orbiter, and we have developed an instrument, HABIT (HabitAbility: Brines, Irradiation and Temperature) that will go to Mars in the forthcoming ExoMars mission.
  • For students with a science background, the programme will provide the needed spacecraft design and engineering exposure. At the same time, for the engineers, it will encourage an appreciation for space science and research, and the supporting technologies for robotic and human space exploration and instrumentation.
  • As the programme teaches key transferable skills and knowledge including instrument design, geology, microbiology and environmental sciences, planetary sciences and data analysis in remote sensing, it is also a suitable programme for students interested in a wider set of careers, outside of planetary science research.

Entry Requirements

Space exploration requires technological expertise and innovation, but also an understanding of the commercial, political and legal aspects of space agencies and the wider space industry. That is why the MSc Planetary Sciences is open to students from any academic background.


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

2:1 (upper second class) UK Honours degree, or an Honours degree from a non-UK institution which is judged by the University to be of equivalent worth, in any discipline.

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 - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced, C2 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. If you have not yet completed your current programme of study, then you can still apply and you can provide your Degree Certificate at a later date.

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

Aberdeen Global Scholarship

Eligible self-funded post graduate taught (PGT) students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Explore our Global Scholarships, including eligibility details, on our dedicated page.

Aberdeen Global Scholarships


The UK space industry is booming. Findings from the UK Space Agency reveal that as of 2022, year-on-year growth of the UK space sector outpaces the wider economy by 5%. This follows the positive year-on-year growth in sector employment seen annually since the 2011/12 year (‘Size and Health of the UK Space Industry 2022’)

The growth in the space industry has, however, placed stress on skills supply, i.e. the growth in the number of people with the required skills has not kept pace with growth in demand.

Employers need graduates with technical skills, supported by qualifications at the post-graduate level, which is what this programme is designed to provide. This degree will prepare you for a career in the space industry, as well as careers outside of planetary science research.

Career Opportunities

  • Environmental Consultant
  • Environmental Data Coordinator
  • Exploration Geologist
  • Graduate Scientist
  • Junior Lecturer
  • Planetary Geologist
  • Policy Advisor
  • Researcher

HABIT - Japanese Mission to Mars

Professor Javier Martin-Torres tells us more about the HABIT instrument that the University of Aberdeen's Planetary Sciences department have developed.

Image for useful fact about this Subject

Funding awarded to develop Martian chamber

The Planetary Sciences team was awarded £320,000 by the UK Space Agency to create a unique chamber simulating Mars’ environment. Aberdeen is one of just 7 UK universities to be awarded this funding.

Read the full story here

What our Alumni Say

Rachel Brown

Rachel Brown

Rachel Brown

Job Details
Group Environmental Data-Coordinator at Subsea 7
Graduated 2022

The support from the planetary sciences team helped grow my confidence in tackling new areas of research with conviction and trust in my own knowledge. Most importantly, what I took away from this course is that I can venture into a completely alien subject and even if I don't know the answer, I now know how to find it.

Louis Steele

Louis Steele

Louis Steele

Job Details
Graduate Scientist
Graduated 2022

I would definitely recommend this programme; it has massively broadened not just my scientific understanding of our Solar System and the near-Earth environment, but also how we can explore it and sustainably use it for our benefit. This course offers a broad range of skills that would make it a great step towards either further studies (including continuation into a PhD) or a career within a space-related (or indeed any scientific) sector.

Adam Corbett

Adam Corbett

Adam Corbett

Job Details
Research Assistant and PhD Student
Graduated 2023

I would recommend this course to any student whose interests lie in the study of space and planetary systems. The broad variety of topics that are taught during this course will encourage you to deepen your knowledge of a specific topic of your choosing, while simultaneously inviting you to pursue new and exciting areas in planetary science. Since graduating, I have secured a position at Okayama University in Japan, and am currently working on my PhD.

Our Experts

You’ll learn from teaching staff who are involved in the Planetary Protection Boards of NASA and ESA, and the Mars Sample Return Scientific Advisory Team.

We are one of seven universities in the UK that have been funded to work towards international space science and exploration projects. Our team is currently collaborating with Oxford Nanopore Technologies on pioneering Space DNA Sequencing and is also deeply engaged in planetary sciences and astrobiology.

Other Experts
Dr Shaktiman Singh
Dr Miracle Israel Nazarious
Dr Juan Antonio Ramirez Luque
Dr Malcolm Hole
Dr Alex Brasier
Dr Thasshwin Mathanlal
Programme Coordinator
Professor Javier Martin-Torres

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. However, these may be subject to change - see our Student Terms and Conditions page.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

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