Environmental Science, MRes or MSc

Environmental Science, MRes or MSc


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.

Study Information

Study Options

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

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.

Available Programmes of Study


Environmental Science

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

Environmental Science

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

Stage 1

Compulsory Courses

Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD5506)

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’.

Environmental Pollution (BI5301)

15 Credit Points

This course explores a range of daunting environmental pollution issues that confront today’s society, including persistent substances, water pollution, air pollution and climate change, as well as waste issues. Although pollution prevention is acknowledged, the course explores our approaches to monitoring and management of existing environmental pollution problems. The course’s cornerstone is pollution science, its understanding and use in policy making. This aspect is particularly emphasised during the practical classes and tutorials, which provide hands on experience and further insight into afore mentioned problems. The course also benefits from the input of guest speakers who provide access to the reality of various roles in tackling the environmental issues and important contact with practitioners.

Core Skills for Environmental Sciences (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.

Optional Courses

Students must select PL5001 or SS5008. They may also choose to take SS5305.

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 becoming 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 helps your writing in subsequent courses.

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.

Lectures focus on how soils form, how soils work, soil classification, soil as part of the environment, human impacts on soil, and the use of mapping and soil data to optimise the management of this fragile resource.

Your assessments are geared towards developing practical skills. This includes a presentation on a particular soil that requires research akin to detective work, a quiz on soil classification and a critical essay on a selected topic.

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 and climate change. You will learn a variety of processes that affect soil productivity, accompanied by practical sessions that will teach relevant analytical methods. Students are introduced to modelling of agricultural impacts on soils and the environment, particularly in relation to greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration, so that mitigation strategies can be assessed.

There are two practical sessions with assignments, a debate and a final exam.

Stage 2

Compulsory Courses

Applications of GIS (EV5517)

15 Credit Points

Lectures and structured workshops develop your knowledge of the principles and practice of geographic information systems, and familiarise you with ArcGIS software, enhancing your employability.

An individual investigation allows you to explore a specific application that you are interested in and demonstrate your proficiency with the software and your command of the conceptual underpinnings.

A flexible teaching and learning environment allows for individualised learning and enrichment for students with existing skills in GIS.

Land use and the Changing Environment (EV5803)

15 Credit Points

This course is a residential field course that takes place in the Cairngorm National Park. During this course will gain experience relating to the broad theme of environmental science. It is hoped that you will develop a greater understanding of the dynamics of the landscape and the interactions and conflicts between stakeholders. You will be focusing on issues associated with different land uses within the Cairngorms National Park and associated decisions which impact directly the environment. This will be done by a number of site visits to sporting estates, forests, farms, and national nature reserves.

Dates for this field course are 3rd April - 7th April 2023Assessments due 14th and 21st April 2023

Please note that the information provided is subject to change due to the ongoing Covid-19 government guidelines

Optional Courses

Students must also choose two or three courses from the following options:

  • EK5510 or SS5508
  • EK5804
  • EV5800 or EK5807
Ecology, Conservation and Society (EK5510)

15 Credit Points

This course looks at current theory and practice in the interface between ecology, conservation and society. We will explore diverse topics, including how ecology is changing, ecosystem services, evidence-based conservation, interdisciplinary approaches, citizen science, policy workshop, communicating science, decolonising ecology and conservation, stakeholder conflicts and data visualisation.

Sessions are composed of lectures and workshops from staff and guest speakers, and structured in-class activities, which will challenge you to consider problems and evidence from different perspectives. These will increase your capacity for self-reflection and awareness of ethical and moral issues embedded in problems 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.

Land Remediation (SS5508)

15 Credit Points

This highly interactive course explores the principles and practice of contaminated land assessment and remediation. It provides broad knowledge of underlying science, as well as practical skills related to the assessment of contamination sources, pathways and risks to human health. While the lectures introduce theoretical background and gradually build the expertise, the practical have been based on various assessment tools and develop practical knowledge and quantitative skills. The learning activities replicate tasks that one would encounter in environmental consultancy and provide valuable transferrable skills.

Environmental Impact Assessment (EK5804)

15 Credit Points

The course provides background information about the origins and development of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process, and its implementation in the UK and elsewhere. It also highlights the significance of impacts associated with selected developments addressed in detail in seminars. The lectures and seminars are supported by workshop sessions focusing on case studies and providing insights into the issues that arise during the EIA. The course also provides an opportunity to develop transferrable skills valued by employers, such as team-working, time-management, communication of science, and critical appraisal. Throughout the course you will work with genuine EIA materials utilised during different stages of the EIA process, to identify likely environmental effects, judge their significance, and propose how they should be assessed and mitigated.

Environmental Analysis (EV5800)

15 Credit Points

The mixture of applied science and theoretical work on this course 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.

Catchment Management (EK5807)

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.

Stage 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

The three-month individual Research Project can cover any area of environmental science and is undertaken under the supervision of a member of staff who is an expert in your chosen field. Many projects are also done in collaboration with an external organisation. The project provides opportunities for you to develop your abilities and skills, generate hypotheses and design ways of testing them and to analyse, report and discuss your findings. You will learn to take responsibility for implementing your own plans and modifying them as necessary. The project is written up in the style of a scientific paper manuscript or a consultancy report.

Programme Fees

Fee information
Fee category Cost
EU / International students £27,000
Tuition Fees for 2023/24 Academic Year
Home / RUK £12,154
Tuition Fees for 2023/24 Academic Year
MSc 12 months On Campus Learning Full Time January Aberdeen More

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.

Funding Opportunities

  • NEO Energy Postgraduate Scholarship - Energy firm NEO Energy is offering two scholarships worth £20k each for Home/UK students commencing an energy-related postgraduate degree, including our MSc Environmental Science, in September 2023. The application deadline is 30th April 2023.
  • The James Henry Scott Scholarship – Funded by The Swire Charitable Trust, the scholarship covers full international postgraduate tuition fees of £27k plus a maintenance award of £5k. Candidates must be from Mainland China or Hong Kong commencing MSc Environmental Science or MSc Environmental Management or MSc Environmental Pollution and Remediation in September 2023. The application deadline is 1st June 2023.


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

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

Our great diversity in teaching methods is coupled by the use of latest digital technology to ensure course content is accessible to all students through a wide range of electronic formats.

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. The majority of courses regularly extend activities and learning to outdoor field work, visits by industry experts and insights into real-life situations and problem-solving. The MSc programme includes, without additional cost, a one week residential field course (at Ballater, Aberdeenshire) plus several day-long field trips from Aberdeen.

The dedicated research project you will undertake as part of your MSc provides training in study design, technical skills, recording results and observations and analysing results. Great flexibility is available in project selection; projects can be chosen from a list of developed by the students themselves in collaboration with supervisors. Projects can be field, lab and/or computer based and flexible to fit the student’s interests, aspirations and skill set.

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.
  • 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.

What Our Students Say

Ama Abrafi Acheampong

Ama Abrafi Acheampong

Ama Abrafi Acheampong

“I love the fact that lecturers are very helpful and they do their best to make learning very easy. The practicality of some of the courses is also something I find quite helpful."

Entry Requirements


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


A UK 2:1 honours degree (or international equivalent), in a biological, environmental or physical science, geography, or other relevant subject is required.


Minimum entry requirement for this programme is a degree in a biological, environmental or physical science, geography, or other relevant discipline at 2:1 (upper second class) UK Honours level, or an Honours degree from a non-UK institution which is judged by the University to be of equivalent worth. Candidates with at least a 2:1 or equivalent in other disciplines may be considered if they can demonstrate relevant experience and motivation.

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


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

Industry Links

University of Aberdeen environmental scientists work closely with colleagues in research institutions all over the world and have active involvement with local, national and international governmental & non-governmental organisations including:

  • Scottish Natural Heritage
  • Scottish Environment Protection Agency
  • Marine Scotland Science
  • Royal Society for the Protection of Birds
  • British Trust for Ornithology
  • Forestry Commission and Forest Research
  • International Council for the Exploration of the Sea


Both the MSc Environmental Science and MSc Environmental Management are IEMA approved programmes. This means graduates from these programmes automatically qualify for GradIEMA professional status – showing you are part of the next generation of leaders in sustainability. You can also fast-track an application to PIEMA (Practitioner Status) once you have gained enough experience to complete a work-based competence assessment. IEMA Student Membership is also free on approved programmes, underpinning your studies with an invaluable toolkit of resources.

This degree holds accreditation from

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REF 2021

We are ranked in the top quartile for Research Power in Earth Systems and Environmental Sciences in the latest Research Excellence Framework

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Queen's Anniversary Prize

This prestigious award was granted to the University for our world-leading research and education in Soil Science promoting the control of greenhouse gas emissions and sustainable food production.

Nature on our Doorstep

Current and former students tell us why they choose to study biological and environmental sciences at Aberdeen

What our Alumni Say

Etienne Fang

Etienne Fang

Etienne Fang

Graduated 2020

My most enjoyable experience while studying here in Scotland had to be working and gaining first-hand experience with my peers on field trips around Aberdeenshire. The University is in the perfect location for studying and exploring being between the River Dee and the River Don, the coast, and the gorgeous northeast of Scotland. I loved making lifelong friends by working in teams, and tackling the science behind each topic presented throughout my MSc journey.

Shi Heliang

Shi Heliang

Shi Heliang

Job Details
Capitalization Manager
Graduated 2018

During my studies at the University of Aberdeen, I was impressed with the way the School organised our learning programme, class teaching and field trips. I got the chance to learn in a tangible way whilst having the opportunity to travel to different parts of Scotland and enjoy its spectacular landscapes. The University of Aberdeen is full of brilliant people and places. Use every chance you get to make connections, explore every corner of the city, you will cherish it in the future.

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 Sarah Woodin
Dr Lenka Mbadugha
Professor Pete Smith
Dr Gareth Norton
Dr Philip Smith
Programme Coordinator
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.


Image for Cruickshank Botanic Garden
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.

Image for Sir Duncan Rice Library
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.

Find out more
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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.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

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