The course

Full-time, Part-time, Per course
Course type
Entry date



Climate change is recognised as having potentially huge impacts on the environment and on society. The study of the causes and impacts of climate change and the measures required to mitigate the impacts and adapt is complex. It is essential that scientists, engineers and environmental decision-makers understand the fundamentals of the causes, impacts and management measures involved in dealing with such important issues.

Course content

   Detailed course guide

The MSc programme offers one core course to introduce climate change causes and impacts (Semester 1) and reviews the possible mitigation and adaptation measures in a second (Semester 2). The programme structure allows for three optional and relevant courses each semester from amongst the University's postgraduate syllabus so that a 'tailored' programme can be constructed.

Core courses

  • Climate Change, Sustainability and Adaptation and
  • GIS for Marine and Environmental Scientists.
  • Research Project (MSc only)

For potential optional courses please refer to the course/subject areas available and listed in other School MSc programmes, specifically those of the School of Engineering and Physical Sciences, School of Mathematical and Computer Sciences, and School of Energy, Geoscience, Infrastructure and Society. Advice will be given on the most appropriate courses available from the different Schools of the University in topics ranging across scientific, engineering, economics and management courses.



Below are just a few examples of the wide breadth of employment or PhD positions our recent graduates have secured:

  • Natalia González Guido (2012) Was an Environmental manager with Ferrovial and is now working as an Environmental Scientist with responsibilities for outreach and public engagement "Responsible Learn & Green" with AECOC in Barcelona.
  • Brian (Ben) McGonagle (2012) initially worked for the Irish Government in the Climate Change Unit of the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and is now Sustainability Development Office at Southwest College, Omagh, County Tyrone. Follow Ben on LinkedIn
  • Amy Spall (2013) is now an environmental supervisor/specialist with Exclis Inc.
  • David Cooper (2011) following on from working with the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) as an Associate Microbiologist, David now works in SEPA's Environmental Quality department.
  • David Stirling (2012) has secured a PhD studentship working on Marine Protected Areas at the University of Aberdeen.
  • Ciara Clarke (2012) has secured a position as energy efficiency advisor within the north east Energy Saving Scotland advice centre in Aberdeen.
  • Jordan Grigor (2011) has secured a PhD studentship at the Université Laval in Quebec, Canada, in Arctic Marine Ecology. Follow Jordan's blog or follow him on Twitter. You can also listen to Jordan recounting his experience during his MSc here at Heriot-Watt
  • Megan Jones (2011), is now working as Operations Officer at the Edinburgh Office of Scottish Natural Heritage.

You can find more examples and discuss the programme and the effect it has had on their careers with current students and alumni at our dedicated Facebook site.

Entry requirements

For MSc level entry, candidates must hold a First or Second Class Honours Degree or equivalent qualification from a British or approved overseas university, preferably in a Geography, Civil Engineering, Economics or other discipline.

For Diploma level entry candidates must hold a degree, preferably at Honours level in an appropriate subject as defined above. Equivalent qualifications will be considered on an individual basis; please enquire if you have any doubts.

Recognition of Prior Learning

Heriot-Watt University is committed to providing opportunities to applicants who have a wide range of prior experiences through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Prior learning at postgraduate level is normally recognised to gain exemption from individual courses within a programme based on an existing academic qualification. Note that the prior learning must have been rated at the level of the courses for which RPL is sought, yet credits from an award already held by an applicant can only contribute to a higher award in the same discipline, e.g. from PG Diploma to MSc. If you believe that you qualify for RPL, please contact the Learning & Teaching Support Team via, who will guide you through the RPL application procedure.

The school will only consider students' requests for RPL at the time of application for their programme of study.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language a minimum of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent is required with all elements passed at 6.0 or above. We offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your masters programme:

  • 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no more than one skill at 4.5);
  • 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with minimum of 5.0 in all skills);
  • 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with minimum of 5.5 in reading & writing and minimum of 5.0 in speaking & listening)

Fees and funding

Tuition fees for 2017 entry (by residency status)
Status* Full-time Part-time Per course
Scotland / Non-UK EU £7960 £3980 £995
England / Northern Ireland / Wales £7960 £3980 £995
Overseas £19580 £9790 £2447.50

* If you are unsure which category you fall in to, you should complete a fee status enquiry form, which allows us to assess your fees.

** Fee per course

Scholarships and bursaries

We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.

View our full range of postgraduate taught scholarships.