Rural Surveying & Rural Property Management, MLE

Rural Surveying & Rural Property Management, MLE


Land Economy (Rural Surveying/Rural Property Management) is concerned with the management of land and its resources, rural businesses and their associated activities and interests.

This is the only masters programme of its kind in Scotland, accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and allows graduates to proceed to the Assessment of Professional Competence and full professional membership of the RICS.

Study 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

This programme provides a range of knowledge and skills e.g. land management, public policy, law, planning, economics, and valuation, integrated to meet the future challenges facing landowners and land managers. As a rural land and business manager the student/graduate is concerned not only with practical land management but also with the financial, legal, planning, and policy contexts within which decisions are made and business interests managed. Further information about the job opportunities for Rural Surveyors is available here.

Understanding of traditional land management (agriculture, forestry, sporting) and emerging and topical issues (environmental and conservation activities, tourism projects, countryside access, diversification and renewable energy initiatives) is combined with an understanding of the business skills necessary for successful decision-making and rural business management. Graduates will be ideally suited to contribute to driving energy transitions relating to land management, in particular wind, water, biomass and geothermal.

What You'll Study

Students studying full time will take four courses per semester for the first two semesters.

Students studying part time will take two courses per semester.

Both study routes will include a project/dissertation.

Stage 1

Note for part-time students: This route will take place over two years. Choose two courses out of the four available at each stage. The dissertation will be chosen during the second year.

Compulsory Courses

Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD5006)

This course, which is prescribed for all taught postgraduate students, is studied entirely online, takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks.

Topics include orientation overview, equality and diversity, health, safety and cyber security and how to make the most of your time at university in relation to careers and employability.

Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’.

Forestry and Game Management (GG5047)

15 Credit Points

In relation to Forestry, which takes up the major part of this course, students study the planning and management of woods for conservation purposes, timber production and recreational use. There are three field visits. The course includes an overview of the British forestry sector and examines classification of woodlands, tree identification, silvicultural systems and forest policy. Game management examines upland and lowland estates in terms of deer and grouse management together with salmon fishing and other related game interests.

Agricultural Principles and Practice (GG5048)

15 Credit Points

Students will gain a valuable introduction to all aspects of agricultural production systems and management. This includes land use for agriculture (crop production and animal husbandry), the management of the countryside, its economic significance, geographical spread and social significance. Visits to farms include projects on farm types and different systems, the importance of mixed farming and sustainable agriculture. Also covered is sustainable agri practices and grant schemes, CAP support system and annual cycle of operations.

Contemporary Environmental Challenges (GG5056)

15 Credit Points

This course will introduce students to contemporary environmental issues at various temporal and spatial scales, and will explore associated environmental management challenges. Students will learn about different conceptual and theoretical approaches to the study of environmental challenges and they will explore the key drivers of environmental challenges from local to global scales. Lecturers will draw on their own research experience and use case studies to illustrate many of these issues.

Rural and Environmental Policy and Law (GG5071)

15 Credit Points

The course provides an understanding of the role of policy and the law in regulating the use, management, development, planning, acquisition and transfer of land and natural resources. It covers legislation for environmental protection, conservation and designations, at Scottish, UK and international levels. The course also examines access legislation, community right to buy and community-based planning, agricultural holdings, rent reviews and powers regarding compulsory purchase of land. Part of the course is dedicated to a teamwork module to build student skills in communication and engagement, planning and managing work in terms.

Stage 2

Compulsory Courses

Rural Business Management (GG5514)

15 Credit Points

Students learn about the inputs and outputs in both physical and financial terms for the main landed activities on rural estates, including setting and preparing management objectives and plans. Field visits examine the financial interactions of rural estate enterprises and the development of specific areas of an estate: eg diversification. Preparation and analysis of financial accounts and forward financial planning together with basic taxation and the granting of way leaves and servitudes are examined.

Research Methods (GG5516)

15 Credit Points

Students are introduced to relevant research methods for the analysis of rural, land, property, and environmental resources. The course is the fundamental building block for the substantive dissertation or partnership project that students undertake over the summer. Topics studied in detail include strategy formulation for effective literature review, various methodological approaches, the selection of appropriate methods for carrying out specified research exercises and the production of feasible research proposals and programmes of work.

Rural Policy in Practice (GG5537)

15 Credit Points

The course examines rural policy, land use and socio-economic issues associated with the countryside at local and national scales. Issues include land management, tourism, diversification, planning, conservation etc.

The substantive element is a field trip to the Highlands or Lake District where projects will be studied with visits to various estates and key stakeholder agencies. Students identify research topics and undertake research on policy topics in groups and individually. Formal teaching includes lecture and seminars.

Valuation for Rural Surveyors (GG5538)

15 Credit Points

This course introduces students to the concepts of land and property valuation as defined by the RICS and develops a specialised knowledge of rural land and property valuation. This covers the principles and practices of agricultural valuation along with sporting estates and rural housing. Students will be able to produce rural land valuations in a professional context. There will be a focus on the formal processes and procedures adopted in the UK in the approach to the valuation of property and an awareness of the various purposes for which valuations are required.

Stage 3

Compulsory Courses

MLE students will take GG905. PgDip students will take GG5904 (Diploma Case Study). Previous project examples include:

  • Tourism diversification in lowland farms
  • Land owners perception of land reform in Scotland
  • Red deer management in Scotland
  • Assessing the publically perceived value of peat bogs
Dissertation (Srd and Mle) (GG5905)

60 Credit Points

The dissertation provides students with the opportunity to select, design, conduct and report a detailed investigation of a topic pertaining to rural land management and which is studied in depth over the summer following best practice research methodology. The aim is to demonstrate an in-depth understanding of a particular rural topic, including the academic background, relevant policy and the roles played by various actors and agencies. The research is conducted in an academically robust and ethically sensitive manner.

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

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

Additional Fee Information

  • 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

  • Aberdeen Global Scholarship: Eligible self-funded international Masters students will receive the Aberdeen Global Scholarship.
  • Shell U.K. Limited is offering three scholarships covering tuition fees for students starting a Masters programme aligned with the Centre for Energy Transition (CET) commencing in September 2024. Find out more.

Visit our Funding Database to find out more and see our full range of scholarships.


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.

How You'll Study

Highly qualified and motivated staff will teach you, including staff with considerable practical experience. A variety of teaching and assessment methods are used. All courses involve lectures, seminars and project work although the relative balance varies as you progress through the programme. Courses typically involve two or three hours of lectures. There are half-day and whole day (for example, to farms and Highland estates) and a 5 day residential field visit (to the Cairngorms) for general experience and in relation to specific assessments. These regularly involve leading practitioners in the field.

Learning Methods

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

Assessment Methods

Courses are assessed via coursework and formal examinations. There are two diets of examinations: December and May, normally four courses examined at each diet. As you progress greater emphasis is placed on the application of knowledge and skills, project work increases and examinations are fewer. Projects focus on local estates, rural businesses, and farms and are designed to incorporate the types of task expected in the workplace.

Why Study Rural Surveying & Rural Property Management?

  • The Master of Land Economy is the only RICS accredited masters programme of its kind in Scotland, providing assurance of quality and relevance in the industry. We maintain close links with the Rural and Environmental Professional Groups within RICS.
  • In the past 2 years over 75% of our students are offered a job contract less than 6 months in to the programme. These include employment with all the main national rural surveying firms.
  • Teaching staff come from a range of backgrounds, from professional Rural Practitioners to individuals with experience of rural planning and property, agriculture, rural tourism, valuation, planning, environmental projects and diversification. Teaching staff held roles such as president of the Central Association of Agricultural Valuers (CAAV), and head planner in Aberdeen City Council’s planning department.
  • The programme includes visits to a wide range of highland and lowland estates for field visits and practical work. It includes a 5-day residential visit to the Scottish Highlands. Employers want graduates with the right practical skills and knowledge and we believe taking your learning out in to the field, literally, is one of the best ways to achieve this.
  • The teaching team and student cohort each year form a very strong and positive working relationship. You will be studying with like-minded people who have a passion for sustainability and rural management.
  • Part-time study is available to suit the needs of those already working.

Entry Requirements

Motivation and understanding of this degree is an important factor in securing admission. Your personal statement/statement of purpose should focus on providing answers to the following questions:

  • What practical experience/background do you have in rural land management and rural surveying?
  • What specific aspects of rural land management are you interested in?
  • Why do you want to study at the University of Aberdeen?
  • How do you see a qualification in Land Economy helping your future career?
  • Where would you like to work?


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

2:2 (lower 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.

Those who do not meet the academic requirement but have a minimum of 5 years relevant work experience will also be considered.

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.

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

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 programme is designed for graduates from any discipline and is the only programme of its kind in Scotland, accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Graduates therefore have the option of entering a career in chartered surveying (Rural or Environmental Professional Groups) having already made progress towards their APC. Career options include areas such as land agency, estate management, countryside management, and rural policy and development. Diploma and Masters graduates in Rural Surveying are particularly highly sought-after by the leading land agency firms throughout the UK: Strutt and Parker, Bidwells and Savills to name but a few. Many of these firms visit the Department as part of their annual recruitment strategy. Other graduates have secured employment with landed estates (Buccleuch Estates, Moray Estates, Strathmore Estates, Dunecht Estates), conservation bodies (SNH, RSPB) and public authorities (National Parks, Local Authorities).

Grow Your Future

The Grow Your Future website provides information about the profession of rural surveying, including different job roles, and information on salaries and benefits.

Career Opportunities

  • Commercial Surveyor
  • Graduate Land Manager
  • Graduate Surveyor
  • Rural Surveyor

Industry Links

Savills (formerly Smiths Gore), Bidwells and Davidson & Robertson are examples of organisations that have come in to present to the students on the programme, and recruit graduates into full-time roles.


This degree holds accreditation from

What our Alumni Say

Frances Mills

Frances Mills

Frances Mills

Job Details
Head of Marketing and Media, Highlands Rewilding Ltd
Graduated 2022

I wanted to get a good grounding in how Scotland's land and coastline is managed, as well as into the emerging natural capital markets and rural surveying techniques...though this course is particularly suited to those looking for a career in Rural Surveying, I found the breadth of topics studied, alongside the informative site visits and expert speaker programme to be very valuable in grounding me in Scotland's land management. This has set me up well for a career within this broad sector.

Find out more

Fergus Thomson

Fergus Thomson

Fergus Thomson

Job Details
Associate Director, Rettie & Co
Graduated 2013

The MLE course is a well-respected and renowned course and the only one available in Scotland.

Find out more

Katy Dickson

Katy Dickson

Katy Dickson

Job Details
Head of Policy
Graduated 2009

As the only Scottish RICS accredited postgraduate course at the time, Aberdeen was the natural choice. The MLE provided a good overview of the issues I would come across as a rural surveyor. It provided me with the first step on the journey to my career as a chartered rural surveyor which led to my move into rural policy. My advice to current students would be to make the most of your time as a student, to gain as much experience as possible and meet people working in a variety of fields.

Our Experts

Programme Coordinator
Dr Katrin Prager

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.


Image for Master of Land Economy Field Trips
Master of Land Economy Field Trips

Master of Land Economy Field Trips

The programme includes visits to a wide range of highland and lowland estates for field visits and practical work. It includes a 5-day residential visit to the Scottish Highlands.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

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