Aquatic Science MSc

Options: PG Diploma, PG Certificate

Environmental issues such as eutrophication, habitat degradation and climate change threaten the sustainability of our aquatic resources. Responding to these threats the Aquatic Science MSc equips students with an interdisciplinary understanding of the structure and functioning of aquatic environments, encompassing lakes, ponds, rivers, wetlands, groundwaters, estuaries and shallow seas.

Mode of study

  • Full-time 1 year
  • Part-time 2 years

Tuition fees

  • UK/EU Full-time: £9,000
  • UK/EU Part-time: £4,500
  • Overseas Full-time: £17,400
  • Overseas Part-time: £8,750

Application date

  • UK/EU applicants: 1 August 2014
  • Overseas applicants: 31 July 2014

More details in Application section.

What will I learn?

Students gain a sound training in field sampling, study design, instrumentation, numerical analysis and the taxonomy of a range of aquatic organisms. Distinctive features include the integration of aquatic ecology with hydrological and geomorphological processes, analysis of sediment cores, design of aquatic monitoring programmes and modelling of aquatic system dynamics.

Why should I study this degree at UCL?

The Aquatic Science MSc is run by UCL Geography, which enjoys an outstanding international reputation for its research and teaching.

The programme is taught by members of departmental research groups specialising in environmental change and environmental modelling, and has specialist input from the UCL Thames Estuary Partnership, and in-house aquatic consultancy Environmental Scientific Services

Speakers from other universities and environmental organisations including the UK Environment Agency, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, the UK Wildlife Trusts, the Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences and the Broads Authority are invited to lecture on the programme and take part in fieldwork.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. The programme consists of four core modules (60 credits), four optional modules (60 credits) and a research dissertation (60 credits).

A Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits, full-time nine months, part-time two years) is offered.

A Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits, full-time 12 weeks, part-time one year) is offered.

Core Modules

  • Aquatic Systems
  • Aquatic Monitoring
  • Environmental Data Acquisition and Analysis
  • Scientific Basis for Freshwater and Coastal Conservation (field-based course)


  • Lakes
  • Marine Conservation
  • Surface Water Modelling
  • Wetlands
  • Aquatic Macrophytes (field-based course)
  • Impacts of Climate Change on Hydro-Ecological Systems
  • Biological Indicators of Environmental Change
  • Non-biological Indicators for Environmental Reconstruction


All students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a dissertation of 15,000 words. Dissertation placement positions are offered linked to external conservation bodies and research-orientated consultancies.

Teaching and Learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, practical classes, laboratory sessions, case-studies and residential field classes. Assessment is through coursework and the dissertation, which includes an oral presentation of the research proposal.

Further details available on subject website:


For information on bursaries available, please visit

Further information about funding and scholarships can be found on the Scholarships and funding website.

Entry requirements

Normally a minimum of an upper second-class Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline from a UK university or an overseas qualification of an equivalent standard. Applicants with relevant professional experience in aquatic science or environmental management will also be considered.

International equivalencies

Select your country for equivalent alternative requirements

English language proficiency level: Good

How to apply

The deadline for applications is 1 August 2014. Applicants who require a student visa should submit their programme application before 31 July 2014.

Who can apply?

The programme is particularly suitable for students with a first degree in environmental science, geography, oceanography, biology, chemistry or engineering who wish to develop the skills necessary for further research in the field, or for a career in the areas of environmental protection and conservation.

What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Aquatic Science
  • why you want to study Aquatic Science at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your academic and/or professional background meets the demands of a challenging academic environment
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree
Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.


This programme provides an ideal foundation for PhD research, or for employment with environmental protection and conservation agencies, the water industry and environmental consultancies.
The first cohort of students on the Aquatic Science MSc are due to graduate in 2014, therefore no information on graduate destinations is currently available.


The MSc provides students with the science background and practical skills necessary for a career working in aquatic conservation, with stakeholder agencies, or as a route to PhD study. We aim to expose students to potential employers from the outset and students receive expert tutition in field sampling and monitoring programme design, conservation biology, taxonomy of key species groups, knowledge of important conservation pronciples and legislation and working with stakeholders.

Next steps


Ms Fiona Mannion

T: +44 (0)20 7679 7579



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