This multidisciplinary MSc programme aims to train you to recognise and understand the threats and conflicts in the environment today and appreciate the steps required to develop solutions. This programme is also available as an MRes option.

This programme is studied on campus.

The systematic approach of this MSc programme enables you to deal with all scales of the environment. Throughout your studies you will have various opportunities to participate in work outdoors and apply your theoretical and field work knowledge to real life situations. You will also gain experience using a range of tools for biological, chemical and physical measurement as well as models and data handling methods. Most importantly, at Aberdeen you will be part of a community that will help improve your knowledge and awareness of environmental science.

The MSc is aimed at graduates looking to specialise, enhance their skills & knowledge or retrain in environmental science and also academics and Government employees looking to further their career, develop industry contacts and remain at the forefront of environmental science.

Key Programme Information

At a Glance

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

Study Options

MRes 12 months or 24 months On Campus Learning Full Time or Part Time September

Please contact for more information about this programme.

MSc 12 months or 24 months On Campus Learning Full Time or Part Time September
Semester 1

Semester 1

The taught part of the MSc Environmental Science programme involves students taking eight courses over two terms. Course options are varied and normally chosen from those available within the environmental sciences timetable. However, other courses may be selected from those available through the School of Biological Sciences’ level 5 modular options.

Compulsory Courses

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.

View detailed information about this course

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.

View detailed information about this course

Applications of GIS (EV5403) - 7.5 Credit Points

Applications of GIS will provide you with the opportunities to become familiar with ArcGIS software and understand the application of GIS technologies to address environmental management and research questions.

· Provide increasingly important GIS skills on your CV

· Practical based course so you learn how to use GIS as well as getting the theory

· Range of real management and research examples used in environmental sciences

Guest speakers from relevant industry on application of GIS in their role

View detailed information about this course

Optional 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 and become 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 will help your writing in subsequent courses.

View detailed information about this course

Global Soil Geography (SS5008) - 15 Credit Points

Field based course that takes you across northeast Scotland exploring an ancient tropical rainforest, hill farming in action, survey techniques and soil formation.

A long tradition of soil science teaching at the University of Aberdeen assembled into lectures and field trips delivered by senior academics.

Your assessments are geared towards developing practical skills. This includes a field log book to teach survey techniques, a presentation on a particular soil that requires research akin to detective work, and a quiz on soil classification. An essay will also assessed.

View detailed information about this course

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.

View detailed information about this course

Semester 2

Semester 2

Compulsory Courses

Land use and the Changing Environment on Deeside (SS5806) - 7.5 Credit Points

An introduction to landscape and associated conflicts by using the Cairngorm National Park as the setting. Visits to sporting estates, forests (plantation and semi-natural), farms, river management, ski centres and national nature reserves are used to exemplify the complex relationships between semi-natural and management environments and the people that occupy and use them.

View detailed information about this course

Optional Courses

Remediation Technology (SS5500) - 15 Credit Points

A highly interactive course, that uses extensively e-learning platforms to enable students to better understand the assessment of contaminated land. Students will learn how to interpret and apply current risk assessment regulations and predict as well as model contaminant pathways. Students will gain valuable experience in using the latest computer software and incorporate real data in order to quantify risk. Very importantly, students will be able to forecast remediation options for a variety of situations and consider the implications and processes involved.

View detailed information about this course

Environmental Impact Assessment (EK5804) - 15 Credit Points

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) is a process for providing information about likely effects of certain human activities on ‘the environment’, and for identifying ways of minimising adverse effects and enhancing any positive effects.

Case studies, workshops and field visits are used to encourage participative learning related to components of the EIA process.

Oral presentations and written reports provide opportunities to develop your communication skills and to master the theory, policy and implementation elements to EIA.

Visiting speakers from the local area provide practitioner perspectives on the role of EIA in development decisions.

View detailed information about this course

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.

View detailed information about this course

Ecological & Environmental Modelling (BI5802) - 15 Credit Points

Introduction to techniques used in environmental and ecological modelling.

Main course materials are in four parts; model development, model construction, model evaluation and communicating modelling issues.

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 additional exercises on model construction and communication (20% each).

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

View detailed information about this course

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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Society and Environment (EV5516) - 15 Credit Points

You will be trained in broad environmental thinking required to understand the complex nature of contemporary environmental problems. The course aim is to work towards a sufficiently deep understanding of society's relationship with the environment to appraise and start to address so-called wicked problems.

The course follows a textbook to allow immersion in the author's ways of thinking. Key aspects of human-environment relationships will be developed through lectures and subsequent discussion. Also, you will engage in the co-production of knowledge by preparing and presenting worked out case studies themselves as starting point for debate on focal 'objects of concern'.

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Hydrocarbon Risk Assessment and Remediation (EV5515) - 15 Credit Points

Hydrocarbon contamination of land and water has developed into a major issues in the recent decades. This course will allow students to utilise risk assessment models to predict the risk that contaminated site have on both humans and the environment. You will explore how remediation techniques can be used to remediate sites that have recently been contaminated and those that have a long history of contamination.

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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 and society; these are explored through structured in-class activities that challenge you to consider problems and evidence from different perspectives.

· Guest lecturers from anthropology, human geography and philosophy increase your capacity for self-reflection and awareness of ethical and moral issues embedded in problems that are 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.

View detailed information about this course

Environmental Management Plan (EV5801) - 15 Credit Points

​One week of field work in a multiple use forest followed by five weeks of data analysis, practical tasks and writing provides training required to construct a management plan.

Structured practical sessions provide experience with spreadsheets, ArcGIS and other technical software and increases your confidence with data handling and analysis.

The main assignment in the form of a management plan allows you to develop your skills to a professional standard.

The mixture of science and management offers you a unique range of skills required by employers.

View detailed information about this course

Semester 3

Semester 3

A module underpinned by a research theme within the discipline of environmental science. This could be in a range of different areas of environmental science including; environmental monitoring, risk assessment, remediation, climate change, pollution mitigation, analytical development or modelling. It could be terrestrial, freshwater, marine or atmospheric in outlook.

Compulsory Courses

Projects can be field, laboratory or desk based, or indeed a combination of these. Students may undertake this in Aberdeen or from an alternative national or international base.

Project in Environmental Science (EV5902) - 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, technical note or consultancy report;

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

View detailed information about this course

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

The teaching of our MSc Environmental Science programme is mainly lecture based with self-directed learning and tutorials to support the lecture material. Many lectures are recorded and can be viewed again when required.

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. Some of the teaching methods employed include:

  • Outdoor field work
  • Access to industry experts
  • Insight into real-life situations

The dedicated research project you will undertake as part of the MSc provides training in technical skills, recording results and observations and analysing results. Longer projects are available for students seeking a more advanced programme.

Learning Methods

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

Assessment Methods

The degree programme is assessed on the basis of performance in the research project and continuous assessment of coursework.

Why Study Environmental Science?

  • Aberdeen provides you with a unique learning environment that cannot be found elsewhere. You will carry out field work in various different locations, including the North Sea, the agricultural and forested areas of NE Scotland, National Nature reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
  • 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 University has several unique research field stations at your disposal including Oceanlab located on the Ythan Estuary, Cromarty Lighthouse in the Moray Firth, Bettyhill and Eynhallow in Orkney.
  • The University has an international reputation for excellence in inter-disciplinary research in terrestrial, aquatic and marine environments.
  • The programme is skills-based, meaning that as well as learning theory, you will also have the opportunity to gain experience of applying your knowledge to real life and environmental situations.
  • You will be taught by people who are internationally renowned researchers and experts in their field.
  • You will learn essential research skills that will better prepare you, should you choose to progress to PhD level.
  • Award winning Climate Change research was carried out by the University's Professor Pete Smith winner of the British Ecological Society Marsh Award 2014.
  • Dr Jon Hillier and his team at the University developed the award winning ‘Cool Farm Tool’ a greenhouse calculator used by Unilever, Marks & Spencer’s, Costco and Heinz.

Entry Requirements

Prospective students should normally have, or expect to be awarded, a minimum of a lower second-class Honours degree (or equivalent) in a relevant subject, from a recognised university. Enquiries are welcomed from all prospective students, regardless of first degree subject, who can demonstrate an adequate level of competence and ability for postgraduate training.


In recent years students who have completed the programme successfully have come from backgrounds including biology, zoology, ecology, chemistry, physics, engineering, geology, geography, agriculture, psychology, and health sciences.

Interviews will be required for applicants with non-conventional qualifications.

Please check our International student pages for information about country-specific entry requirements.

English 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 Life Sciences and Medicine 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

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.

MRes 12 months or 24 months On Campus Learning Full Time or Part Time September

Please refer to our InfoHub Tuition Fees page for fee information for this programme, or contact

MSc 12 months or 24 months On Campus Learning Full Time or Part Time September

Fee Information

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU / RUK Students £7,400
Tuition Fee for 2017/18 Academic Year
International Students £16,100
Tuition Fee for 2017/18 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

Please click the links for full details and eligibility criteria.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.


Completing the MSc programme will give you the essential skills required to pursue a career in environmental science. You will be equipped with the knowledge, understanding and practical experience to take the necessary action in resolving environmental conflicts.

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

Many graduates pursue careers in the private sector to work for environmental and agricultural consultancies. Others move into Government associated work such as with the Scottish Government, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), or regulatory bodies like the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and the Environment Agency (EA). A proportion of graduates use the skills learned to continue in research either at universities or institutes.

Career Opportunities

  • Doctoral Researcher
  • Environmental Consultant
  • Research Associate

What our Alumni Say

  • Dr Nigel Turner
    Dr Nigel Turner, Project Engineer at

    Dr Nigel Turner

    Job Details
    Project Engineer
    The MSc Environmental Science provided me with a broad and comprehensive background in environmental science, biology and chemistry, which allowed for a range of potential career directions.

Our Experts

The programme will be delivered by a multidisciplinary team of world renowned and vastly experienced researchers in environmental science with each course having its own specialised co-ordinator(s).

Other Experts
Professor Graeme Paton
Professor Paul Hallett
Dr Yit Arn Teh
Dr Sarah Woodin
Programme Coordinator
Dr Gareth Norton
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.

Programme Overview

Professor Graeme Paton describes the key features of our multidisciplinary MSc programme

Watch video


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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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Sir Duncan Rice Library

Sir Duncan Rice Library

The University’s award winning Sir Duncan Rice Library is listed in the “Top 20 spellbinding University libraries in the World”. It contains over a million volumes, more than 300,000 e-books and 21,000 journals.

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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.

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Top in Scotland for Environmental Science

Source: National Student Survey 2016

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Contact Details

College of Life Sciences and Medicine Graduate School
University of Aberdeen
Polwarth Building
AB25 2ZD