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Aquatic Science MSc

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.

Key Information

Modes and duration

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

Programme start date

September 2016

Tuition Fees (2016/17)

£9,815 (FT) £4,935 (PT)
£18,670 (FT) £9,285 (PT)

Application dates

All applicants
Open: 5 October 2015
Close: 29 July 2016
Optional qualifications: This degree is also available as a PG Diploma and a PG Certificate with fees set accordingly.

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.

English Language Requirements

If your education has not been conducted in the English language, you will be expected to demonstrate evidence of an adequate level of English proficiency.

The English language level for this programme is: Good

Further information can be found on our English language requirements page.

International students

Country-specific information, including details of when UCL representatives are visiting your part of the world, can be obtained from the International Students website.

International applicants can find out the equivalent qualification for their country by selecting from the list below.

Select your country:

Degree Information

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.

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 - 4 core modules and 4 option modules all 15 credits (120 credits, full-time nine months, part-time two years) is offered.

A Postgraduate Certificate - 4 core modules only at 15 credits (60 credits, full-time twelve weeks, part-time two years) is offered.

Core Modules

  • Aquatic Systems
  • Aquatic Monitoring (includes field-trip to Scottish Highlands)
  • Environmental Data Acquisition and Analysis
  • Scientific Basis for Freshwater and Coastal Conservation (field-based course in Norfolk, England)


  • Lakes
  • Coastal Change
  • Politics of Climate Change
  • Marine Conservation
  • Surface Water Modelling
  • Wetlands
  • Aquatic Macrophytes (field-based course in Dorset, England)
  • Impacts of Climate Change on Hydro-ecological Systems
  • Biological Indicators of Environmental Change
  • Non-biological Indicators for Environmental Change
  • Environmental GIS


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 information on modules and degree structure available on the department web site Aquatic Science MSc


For information on bursaries available, please visit www.geog.ucl.ac.uk/aquatic

Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed (where available) below. For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.


This programme provides an ideal foundation for PhD research, or for employment with environmental protection and conservation agencies, the water industry and environmental consultancies.

Recent conservation sector and consultancy destinations include Norfolk Rivers Trust, South East Rivers Trust, Natural England, Environmental Agency, The Wildlife Trusts, VerdErg Renewable Energy Ltd. and Carnstone Partners LLP. Recent PhD destinations include UCL, University of Hull, University of Southampton and Queen Mary University of London.


The MSc provides students with the science background and practical skills necessary for a career working in aquatic conservation and environmental protection agencies, environmental consultancies and stakeholder agencies. The MSc is also an ideal platform for further PhD study. We aim to expose students to potential employers from the outset and students receive expert tuition in field sampling and monitoring programme design, conservation biology, taxonomy of key species groups, knowledge of important conservation principles and legislation and working with stakeholders.

Why 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, the Rivers Trust, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, the UK Wildlife Trusts, the National Trust, Natural England, and the Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences are invited to lecture on the programme and take part in fieldwork.

Student / staff ratios › 43 staff including 15 postdocs › 158 taught students › 70 research students

Department: Geography

Degree reviews

Alumni review

"My dissertation and programme tutor's recommendation and encouragement helped me to get two jobs - as a visiting lecturer and a Rivers Trust job - immediately after I had finished the degree. These were precisely the types of jobs which I had hoped to pursue before I started the programme."

Olly van Biervliet

Aquatic Science MSc (2013)
Student review

"I have been impressed with all aspects of the Aquatic Science MSc at UCL. Lectures have been fascinating, with guest speakers bringing together different aspects of the subject. The field trips have been informative and I believe I have gained skills that would be of value to employers. During my dissertation fieldwork there have been many opportunities to network with different organisations and university institutions."

Tom Eldridge

Aquatic Science MSc

Application and next steps


Students are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.

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 environmental protection and aquatic conservation.

Application deadlines

All applicants
29 July 2016

For more information see our Applications page.

Apply now

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.

Contact Information


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  • Receive notice of graduate open days, events and more
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