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 January and September 2024 start dates. Apply Now.

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

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.

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 InfoHub Tuition Fees page.


Eligible self-funded international Masters students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship. Visit our Funding Database to find out more and see our full range of scholarships.

Why Study Planetary Sciences?

  • The MSc Planetary Science 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.
  • This is a cross-discipline programme, with a diverse range of topics of interest to students from a broad range of backgrounds – from geoscientists to physicists to chemists and biologists.
  • According to the latest industry survey, Size & Health of the UK Space Industry 2020, the UK space sector is growing rapidly. Scotland alone is now home to 173 space organisations, with 1,951 space companies in total supporting a total of 126,300 jobs across the UK supply chain.
  • 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 that will go to Mars in the forthcoming ExoMars mission.
  • This device is called HABIT (HabitAbility: Brines, Irradiation and Temperature) and will, among other things, produce liquid water on Mars, to support future exploration of the planet.
  • 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.
  • For students with a science background, the course 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


The UK space industry is booming. Findings from the latest ‘Size and Health of the UK Space Industry’ report reveal growth in jobs and income - with more than 3,000 jobs created as the space sector grows across the UK.

The Space Sector Skills Survey 2020 from the UK Space Agency showed that the recent 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.

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.

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

The Department of Planetary Science is focused on the study of Earth and planetary sciences and the development of instruments for Earth and planetary exploration. We are 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 that will go to Mars in 2022, in the ExoMars mission.

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. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

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