The course

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



Marine planning, including spatial planning, is a fast developing discipline of global interest with excellent employment prospects. Ambition to create jobs and growth in the ‘Blue Economy’ is made real by new technologies giving access to the wealth of resources in the oceans and seas. New approaches are needed to govern the interactions among marine industries while maintaining the aspiration for healthy seas and the conservation of ecosystems. Adaptation to the effects of climate change adds to the importance of marine planning as an essential tool in marine management.

Orkney is a global centre for marine energy research and development. A unique concentration of marine expertise and activity provides students with unparalleled access to key participants in the sustainable development and planning of marine industries.

Read more in this guide to Studying in Orkney.

Course content

Detailed course guide

The MSc involves studying eight taught courses. If you can demonstrate that you have already mastered the subject, you may apply for an exemption from one of the taught courses and undertake a Design Project instead. The MSc programme is completed with a research dissertation equivalent to 4 taught courses.

Semester 1

A11MP Introduction to Marine Planning

Introduces students to the emerging policy and practice of marine planning (global and regional). It examines political, jurisdictional and rights issues in the introduction of economic activities into the marine commons (the ‘Blue Growth Agenda’). The framework of marine legislation is explained and methods of conflict resolution are explored. A series of international case studies will identify the various tools and techniques being used around the world to manage human activity and balance conservation interests with demands for economic growth.

A11OC Oceanography and Marine Ecology

Designed to give an understanding of the science of waves and tides, and how this affects efforts to exploit energy from these resources and to develop other maritime industries. Marine ecosystems are also studied and how these may be impacted by human activities and about the challenges and impacts associated with carrying out engineering operations in the marine environment.

A11ER Economics of Renewable Energy

Orkney is a world leading centre for the research and testing of marine renewables. The economics of the energy sector are studied in the context of the whole renewable energy sector, both marine and terrestrial, with particular focus on wave and tidal projects underway in the vicinity of the University.

A11DM Marine Resource Development

Examines the exploitation and use of marine resources (including oil and gas, fisheries, shipping, marine renewables, aquaculture and tourism), issues associated with development in the marine environment (including pollution and waste) and how these activities are regulated. You will learn about marine technologies in the Blue Economy and the challenges of developing and deploying technologies to exploit resources in the marine environment.

Semester 2

A11PK Environmental Policy and Risk

This course explores the legal and policy context of marine governance. You will gain an understanding of international law, particularly the Law of the Sea, property rights and how these relate to different energy resources. The course also looks at regulatory issues at the international, European and UK level, which affect how energy developments are taken forward, as well as risk assessment and management in the context of marine developments. A practical EIA exercise is undertaken.

A11GI GIS for Marine and Environmental Scientists

Geographic Information System mapping is a tool which is now widely used by both developers and regulators in the management and development of marine resources. Within the context of Marine Spatial Planning the use of GIS has rapidly become the standard means of collating and analysing spatial information regarding resource use. This course will explain the principles and provide hands-on experience of applying state of the art mapping software in project based case studies.

A11DA Development Appraisal

Looking at what happens when renewable energy technologies are deployed, this course examines development constraints and opportunities: policy and regulatory issues (including strategic environmental assessment, environmental impact assessment, landscape assessment, capacity issues and the planning system). It also looks at the financial aspects (valuation of capital asses, financing projects and the costs of generating electricity) and at project management.

A11VY Practical Marine Survey

A practical field study course into the methods and techniques of marine survey. The opportunity for dive study if suitably qualified.

Additional information

This MSc is based at our Orkney Campus. By studying in Orkney you will benefit from a number of activities including field trips, guest lectures and practical activities, which help to develop your skills and knowledge in your field of study, and offer opportunities to meet developers and others involved in the renewable energy industry.