The course

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


Entry dates

This study programme has two entry points, September and January. If you are interested in applying, and would like to start in January 2021, this option will be available to new applicants and existing offer holders from mid-July.

Tropical Coral Reef Course

Tropical Coral Reefs: Monitoring and Management (A11CR) is an optional course available to all students on any of our PGT Marine programmes. It involves a two week field trip where students are given the opportunity to explore the marine environment whilst learning different techniques for surveying and monitoring coral reefs. See this short film from the 2016/17 course.


From its years of academic research and industrial consultancy experience as one of the main UK Marine Technology Centres, the University recognises the need for an interdisciplinary approach to both the development and the protection of ocean resources.

In these times of rapid global change, it is essential that scientists and environmental decision-makers understand the fundamentals of the technologies involved in different development options, whilst engineers should be encouraged to adopt an understanding of the environmental, socio-economic and political aspects of any proposed project.

This programme covers all of the above areas and its structure is sufficiently flexible to meet the wide variations in background of entrants - and their respective individual career plans. A major aim of the programme is to provide students with training in holistic approaches to addressing and solving environmental problems and we strive to maintain a mix of entrants from different disciplines, from UK, EU and overseas, and from both recent graduates as well as entrants with industrial experience. This mix has previously proven extremely useful in widening the horizons of the individual class members.

Topics covered

The programme has courses that aim to cover topics corresponding to priority areas of NERC's science strategy, particularly in the marine sustainability and climate change area of Marine Science and Technology (i.e. impacts of exploitation, role of biodiversity, water quality, climate change measures). In addition, also covered within several modules are the general priority areas of Biodiversity, Environmental Risks and Hazards, Natural Resource Management, Pollution and Waste, and, as described above, all with an emphasis on an interdisciplinary approach.

In addition, the general priority areas of Biodiversity, Environmental Risks and Hazards, Natural Resource Management, Pollution and Waste are also covered with an emphasis on an interdisciplinary approach. The aim of other training, such as collaborating with colleagues from other disciplines in teamwork exercises and generic and transferable skills included in the programme, provides a good grounding for graduates to go into relevant employment and further study.

Programme duration

The duration of the MSc is 12 months, starting in September, finishing in August. It consists of eight courses, split into two semesters (four courses per semester). The masters research project is conducted at the end of the second semester, with a final submission date in August. Graduation for Masters students normally takes place in November.

See our current and future session dates.

Course content

Core (Mandatory) courses

  • Marine Resources and Sustainability
  • Marine Ecotoxicology
  • Applied Research Design and Analysis
  • Marine Environmental Monitoring
  • Climate Change: Mitigation and Adaptation Measures
  • GIS: Geographic Information System for Marine & Environmental Scientists
  • Research Project (MSc only)

Research projects

The research project will normally take place over the summer months after completion of the taught component of the programme. Topics for projects should be discussed with staff with a view to agreeing a title and theme for the project at the beginning of Semester 2. Students will be assigned to a supervisor within the University. Where the research project is undertaken outside the University another joint supervisor, where relevant, may be assigned from the outside organisation. Background reading and research should start once the title and theme of the project has been agreed with the supervisor and practical work can normally commence in mid-April at the end of the final taught course examinations.


Each taught programme will be assessed by a written examination and continuous means (e.g. course essays and desk studies). Award of the Master of Science degree will depend also on the satisfactory completion of the research project on which a dissertation will be submitted. The dissertation shall represent ONE THIRD of the total assessment (i.e. equivalent to weighting of FOUR taught courses). Students must gain at least 50% average on the taught elements and 50% on the dissertation to qualify for the award of a MSc. At the discretion of the examiners, a student may be allowed to re-submit a dissertation that was deemed to be unsatisfactory. Only ONE such re-submission will be allowed. A student who fails the dissertation or does not progress to project stage because of unsatisfactory taught programme marks or is offered and fails a resit in the August exam diet, may be awarded a Diploma.

Recent publications resulting from MSc research projects (student co-authors high-lighted):

  • Kampouris, T . E., Porter, J. S., Sanderson, W. S. (2019) Callinectes sapidus Rathbun, 1896 (Brachyura: Portunidae): An assessment on its diet and foraging behaviour, Thermaikos Gulf, NW Aegean Sea, Greece: Evidence for ecological and economic impacts. Crustacean research 48:23-37.
  • Gore, M., Abels, L., Wasik, S., Saddler, L., Ormond, R., 2018. Are close-following and breaching behaviours by basking sharks at aggregation sites related to courtship? , 1-13.
  • Brash, J. M., Cook, R. L., Mackenzie, C. L. and Sanderson, W. G. (2017). The demographics and morphometries of biogenic reefs: important considerations in conservation management. 1-10.
  • Blumenröder, J., Sechet, P., Kokonnen, J. and Hartl, M. G. J. (2017). Microplastic contamination of intertidal sediments of Scapa Flow, Orkney: a first assessment. Mar Pollut Bull. 130, 293-302.
  • Miller, M.A., Bankier, C., Al-Shaeri, M.A.M., Hartl, M.G.J. (2015. Neutral Red cytotoxicity assays for assessing in vivo carbon nanotube ecotoxicity in mussels – comparing microscope and microplate methods. Mar Pollut Bull. (101): 903-907.
  • Rouse, S., Jones, M.E.S., Porter, J.S., 2014. Spatial and temporal patterns of bryozoan distribution and diversity in the Scottish sea regions. Mar Ecol-Evol Persp. 35, 85-102.
  • Al-Shaeri, M., Ahmed, D., Mc Cluskey, F., Turner, G., Paterson, L., Dyrynda, E.A., Hartl, M.G.J., 2013. Potentiating toxicological interaction of single-walled carbon nanotubes with dissolved metals. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 32, 2701-2710.
  • Jennifer Loxton, Piotr Kuklinski, James M Mair, Mary Spencer Jones, Joanne S Porter (2012) Patterns of Magnesium-Calcite Distribution in the Skeleton of Some Polar Bryozoan Species Mineralogy of Polar Bryozoan Skeletons. Lecture Notes in Earth Sciences 143:169-185
  • Hartl, M.G.J., Grigson, S., Sinet, E., 2010. Maintenance of bivalve haemocytes for the purpose of delayed DNA strand break assessment using the Comet assay. Environ. Molecul. Mutagen. 51, 64-68.
  • Harper, S. J. M., Bates, C. R., Guzman, H. M. & Mair, J. M. (2010) Acoustic mapping of fish aggregation areas to improve fisheries management in Las Perlas Archipelago, Pacific Panama In : Ocean and Coastal Management. 53, 10, p. 615-623.
  • Kennedy, E. V., Holderied, M. W., Mair, J. M., Guzman, H. M. & Simpson, S. D. 15-Nov-2010 Spatial patterns in reef-generated noise relate to habitats and communities: Evidence from a Panamanian case study In : Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 395, 1-2, p. 85-92. 8 p.
  • McGowan, T., Cunningham, S. L., Guzman, H., Mair, J. M., M Guevara, J. & Betts, T. (2010) Mangrove forest composition and dynamics in Las Perlas Archipelago, Pacific Panama. In : International Journal of Tropical Biology and Conservation. 58/3, p. 857-869

Programme leader

The Programme leader for our Marine suite of programmes is Dr Mark Hartl, Associate Professor of Marine Biology and Director of Studies for the Life Sciences Marine and Environmental taught MSc cluster. Dr Hartl is also Director of the Centre for Marine Biodiversity & Biotechnology and a Past President of the Physiology Section of the American Fisheries Society.

Please go to for further information on Dr Hartl's research interests and publications to date.


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

  • Alice Moore (2019) is now a Fish a nd Shellfish Sustainability Officer with the Marine Conservation Society.
  • Fiona Moffat (née Monaghan) (2010) Senior Environmental Consultant and Team Leader at Royal HaskoningDHV.
  • Sara Campana (2015) has secured a PhD at the University of Amsterdam.
  • Ander De Lezea (2008). Following a PhD and a Post Doc in South Africa, Ander has now secured a Senior Lecturer position in the Blue Economy Research Institute at the University of Seychelles.
  • Clara Obregon Lafuente (2014) initially a volunteer/Research assistant at WWF Madagascar, and subsequently worked for Zoological Society, London, has now secured a PhD in Fisheries at the University of Western Australia.
  • Helene Hoffmann (MRDP2014) is now Marine Policy Advisor for Milieu Ltd, Belgium.
  • Elianny Dominguez (MRDP2004) is now in the third year of her PhD at University of New South Wales on Marine Spatial Planning
  • Mairi Capper (MRDP1998) is now an Assistant Professor at ICIT, Orkney. 
    1997-1998 Heriot-Watt – MRDP (Distinction) with NERC scholarship and tuition fees. NERC funded thesis at the Fisheries Dept, Penang, Malaysia: The use of antibiotics in penaied prawn cultivation in Malaysia and an analysis of sustainability, management and policy development
    1999-2003 University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia – PhD Thesis: Ecotoxicology of the cyanobacterium Ly...ngbya majuscula (Gomont) and five herbivores in Moreton Bay, South East Queensland, Australia
    2003-2004 University of Queensland Research Associate Ecophysiology of the cyanobacterium Lyngbya majuscula – nutrient dynamics, bloom productivity and toxicity
    2004-2007 Smithsonian Institute, Florida, USA Postdoctoral Research Fellow – Grazer interactions with toxic cyanobacteria; trophic transfer of dinoflagellate toxins to green sea turtles and manatees
    2007-2008 Career break (maternity leave)
    2008-2009 A&M University, Galveston, TX, USA. Research Associate – Identification and quantification of phytoplankton, Galveston Bay, Texas.
    2009-2015 James Cook University, Townsville, QLD, Australia. Lecturer and Research Scientist.
  • Dimitris Nasopoulos​ (2016) has secured a position as Maritime Operations Officer with the Royal Navy.
  • Gillian Mackay (2014) is Parliamentary Assistant at The Scottish Parliament, Falkirk
  • Kenneth Armit (2013) has secured a PhD studentship with SAMS and the University of Edinburgh researching the photochemical emission of methane in the marine environment.
  • Rebecca Grieve (2013) has secured a PhD at Heriot-Watt
  • David Bradley (2013) has secured a position as British Sea Fisheries Officer with Marine Scotland.
  • Bethany Graves (2013) has secured a position as Offshore Industry Advisor with JNCC in Aberdeen.
  • Donal McGee ( 2013) has secured a PhD at Sligo IT on the Molecular biology & physiology of microalgae for biorefining valuable metabolites
  • Caroline Pringle (2013) is now Project Assistant at Energised Environments.
  • Katrina Hall (2012) initially secured a position as assistant Marine Biologist with Thomson ecology's Marine Office and is now a scientist with Intertek
  • Rachel Wensley (2012) is now a Water Strategy Planner with Southern Water in Brighton.
  • Kirst Barclay (2011) is now Assistant Scientist (marine plants and zooplankton) at Scottish Environment Protection Agency.
  • Peter Frey (2011) has secured a position as a fisheries analyst with ProVantage Software, Inc.
  • Jenny James (2011) initially spent 18 months with the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) monitoring seabird populations on Bird Island and has now secured a PhD position at the University of East Anglia.
  • Callum Burns (2010) is now an Environmental Consultant at ERM. Previously he worked as a Marine Environmental Consultant at RSK Group plc, Aberdeen. and as a Marine Environmental Scientist for URS Corporation Ltd, Perth, Western Australia.
  • Adam Chivers (2010) has secured a funded PhD position at Scottish Association of Marine Science in Oban.
  • Iain Hannah (2010) has secured a MASTS-funded PhD at the Centre for Marine Biodiversity & Biotechnology in collaboration with Edinburgh Napier University and Veolia Environmental Services, Edinburgh.
  • Siobhán Mannion (2010) was Marine Policy and Advice Officer at Scottish Natural Heritage. She is now Marine Environmental Consultant at RoyalHaskoningDHV
  • Sally Rouse (2010) was awarded a prestigious Rubenstein Fellowship by the Encyclopaedia of Life developing >500 species web pages for the British and Mediterranean Bryozoa project. Sally has now also secured a MASTS-funded PhD at the Centre for Marine Biodiversity & Biotechnology in collaboration with the Natural History Museum in London.
  • Laurie Winter (2010) worked initially for Ventus Green Energy limited, assisting in environmental impact assessments for new small scale renewable energy developments. She has now moved on and works as a project developer for SSE Renewables, focussing on the Seagreen project in the Firth of Forth.
  • Fanchon Wright (2009) is now working for Frontier as an Assistant Research Officer on their Madagascar Marine Research Project.
  • William Davies (2008) is now working as a Seafood Supply Chain Consultant for the Humber Seafood Institute in Grimsby.
  • Cordelia Denby (2008) is now working for Kite Innovation to help support their growing portfolio of FP7 projects.
  • Ciaran McLaverty (2008) is currently working for APEM Ltd as a marine ecologist, having previously worked for RSK Environment as a marine environmental consultant.
  • Clare Reed (2008) is currently a Marine Conservation Officer with the RSPB.
  • Emelie Sinet (2008) is now an Environmental Business Analyst for Oil & Gas UK, Aberdeen.
  • Alexia Chapman (2007) initially a Marine Consultant for Entec, is now a Senior Marine Ecology Consultant at AMEC Environment & Infrastructure UK Limited
  • Laura Bush (2006). Following graduation Laura joined SEPA and has now secured a PhD at Bangor University.
  • Alice Walters (2006), is Scottish Conservation Officer for the Whale and Dolphin Society
  • Jade Berman (2005) is working as Living Seas Manager for the Ulster Wildlife Trust. and is now also an honorary lecturer at Queen's University, Belfast
  • Erini Glyki (2005) is now Assisting Professional Secretary, ICES Advisory Secretariat at ICES - International Council for the exploration of the Sea.
  • Peter Mackelworth (1999) is now the Conservation Director at Blue World Institute
  • Katherine Bradshaw (1991) worked for Hyder Consulting as Technical Director Water & Environment and now works for RPS heading up their Scottish Marine Renewable Energy business.

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

Entry requirements

Masters (MSc) level entry applicants must have one of the following:

  • Minimum of 2:2 honours degree or equivalent academic qualification in a related subject area
  • For postgraduate conversion courses, non-related degrees will be considered
  • Corporate (or chartered) membership of relevant professional institutions will also be considered

PG Diploma level entry applicants must have an ordinary degree in a related subject area and relevant post qualification industry experience.

Candidates who do not meet the above entry requirements or have no formal academic qualifications will be considered individually based on their CV and possibly interview. Admission via this route will be at the discretion of the Director of Recruitment.

Recognition of Prior Learning

We are committed to providing study opportunities to applicants who have a wide range of prior experiences through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). For more information on RPL, please contact the Admissions Team ( ahead of application. We can only consider requests for RPL at the time of application to a course of study.

English language requirements

If English is not the applicant’s first language a minimum of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent is required with all elements passed at 6.0 or above. Please refer to English language requirements for further details.

Some applicants may be asked for alternative evidence in line with UKVI recognised English speaking countries. Applicants who have previously successfully completed courses delivered in the medium of English language may be considered and will be required to provide documentary evidence of this. Examples would be secondary school education or undergraduate degree. A minimum of at least one year of full time study (or equivalent) in the medium of English language will be required.

All evidence of English language needs to be dated within two years of the commencement of study.

We also offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your master’s 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 and writing and minimum of 5.0 in speaking and listening)


Tuition fees for 2020 entry (by residency status)
Status* Full-time Part-time Per course
Scotland / Non-UK EU £8680 £4340 £1085**
England / Northern Ireland / Wales £8680 £4340 £1085**
Overseas £21800 £10900 £2725**

* 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 (module). Refer to the Course Content to see how many courses comprise the full programme.

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 scholarships.

Additional scholarship information

Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) Scholarships

For students interested in MSc research projects in the area of aqauculture, a limited number of fees-only scholarships are available. For more information, please contact Dr Mark Hartl on