Rural Surveying and Rural Property Management MLE

Rural Surveying and 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 Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and allows graduates to proceed to the Assessment of Professional Competence and full professional membership of the RICS.

Key Facts

1 Year / 2 Years, 3 Months
Study Mode
Full Time / Part Time
Start Month
Learning Mode
On Campus Learning

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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.

Understanding of traditional land management (agriculture, forestry, sporting) and emerging and topical issues (environmental and conservation activities, tourism projects, planning issues, countryside access, diversification projects, steading conversions and renewable energy initiatives) is combined with an understanding of the business skills necessary for successful decision-making and rural business management.

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.

What You'll Study

The information below applies to the 1 year full time / 2 year, 3 months part time on campus learning MLE programme which runs in September. You will find information about other ways to study this programme in the next section on this page.

Semester 1

Compulsory Courses

Contemporary Environmental Challenges (GG5056)

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.

Forestry and Game Management (GG5047)

In relation to Forestry, which takes up the major part of this course, students study the planning and caring of trees and the management of woods for conservation purposes, commercial exploitation and recreational use. There are several field visits. Overview of the British forestry sector and examines classification of woodlands, tree identification, silvicultural systems and estate 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)

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.

Planning, Land & Environmental Law (GG5036)

The course provides a background to the role of the law in regulating the management and use of the countryside. As such there is an emphasis on planning law and the role of the planning system at national and local levels in terms of developmnet management and development plans. It also covers landscape and nature conservation, access legislation, community right to buy, EIA, tenancy agreements, agricultural holdings legislation, rent reviews and CPO powers.

Semester 2

Compulsory Courses

Valuation for Rural Surveyors (GG5538)

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.

Rural Business Management (GG5514)

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 wayleaves and servitudes are examined.

Rural Policy in Practice (GG5537)

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.

Research Methods (GG5516)

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 that students undertake over the summer. Topics studies 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.

Semester 3

Compulsory Courses

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
Case Study / Dissertation (GG5905)

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.

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, whole day, and longer field visits (for example, to Highland estates) for general experience and in relation to specific assessments. These regularly involve leading practitioners in the field.

Learning Methods

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


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 and Rural Property Management?

  • The only RICS accredited programme of its kind in Scotland, providing assurance of quality and relevance in the industry.
  • 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.
  • The programme includes visits to a wide range of highland and lowland estates for field visits and practical work. It includes a 6-day residential visit to the Scottish Highlands and a 3-day residential visit to estates and farms in central Scotland. 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.There are very close links with the Rural and Environmental Professional Groups within RICS.
  • Geography has a strong tradition at Aberdeen having been successfully taught here since the foundation of Marischal College in 1593 and established as a formal unit within the University in 1919.
  • The department, and its students, are at a distinct advantage being based in the north east of Scotland. The University is in close proximity to some of the most environmentally important and geographically varied landscapes in the whole of the UK, including the Cairngorms National Park.
  • Our research is organised into three broad research themes: Sustainable Development and Transformation, Earth Surface Processes , Palaeoecology. We draw from social, environmental and geosciences to address local and global sustainability challenges and the impact of rapid environmental change on contemporary surface processes.

In the 2014 REF results, we were:

  • 1st in Scotland - Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences (Geology and Geosciences)
  • 1st in Scotland for Impact - Geosciences
  • 5th in the UK for Architecture, Built Environment and Planning (Property and Transport) - Outstanding Performance

Fees and Funding

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

Fees and Funding Table for HOME, EU, RUK and International Students
Nationality Status Amount
Home / EU / RUK Students Tuition fee for main award £7,400
International Students Tuition fee for main award £16,100
  • 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.


View all funding options in our Funding Database.

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?


Our minimum entry requirement for this programme is a UK Honours degree (or an honours degree from a non-UK institution which is judged by the University to be of equivalent worth) at a 2:2 (lower second) class or above. Those who do not meet the academic requirement but have a minimum of 5 years relevant work experience will also be considered.

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 Physical Sciences 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
MSc Rural Surveying Field Trips

MSc Rural Surveying Field Trips

The programme includes trips to a wide range of highland and lowland estates for field visits and practical work. It includes a 6 day residential visit to the Scottish Highlands and a 3 day residential visit to estates and farms in central Scotland.


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/Smiths Gore 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).

Industry Links

Smiths Gore (now Savills) are an example of one organisation that have come in to present to the students on the programme, and recruit graduates into full-time roles.


This Degree is Accredited by

Our Experts

Programme Coordinator
Mr John Carnie

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

  • Fergus Thomson, Graduate Surveyor at

    Fergus Thomson

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


College of Physical Sciences Graduate School
University of Aberdeen
Fraser Noble Building
King's College

AB24 3UE
+44 (0)1224 272515
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