Hydrographic Surveying MSc

This MSc is designed to give students a broad range of experience in marine survey practice, including the acquisition and processing of hydrographic data, positioning, and charting. The programme is offered jointly with the Port of London Authority, which contributes through teaching and practical work aboard its survey vessels.

Key Information

Modes and duration

  • Full-time: 1 year

Programme start date

September 2016

Tuition Fees (2016/17)

£11,090 (FT) £5,725 (PT)
£23,440 (FT) £N/A (PT)

Application dates

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

Entry Requirements

The minimum entry requirements are a good second-class Bachelor's degree in a cognate subject or related discipline, including geography, geology, civil engineering, mathematics, physics, marine biology or marine studies, from a UK university or the equivalent from an overseas institution. Extensive work experience covering related areas will be considered.

As preparation for the MSc if you are offered a place, you will be expected to revise your knowledge of mathematics in certain topics such as trigonometry, geometry and differential calculus if you have not studied these for some time. The most comprehensive text to use would be Engineering Mathematics by K.A. Stroud (6th Edition), but many other text books covering an equivalent level of mathematics are also available.

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: Standard

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 develop an advanced knowledge of a broad range of topics, including error theory, quality control, GNSS, reference systems, electronic charting, and international boundaries. Particular emphasis is placed on understanding the principles that underlie the analysis and interpretation of survey data, in particular those issues that affect its quality.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of four core modules in term one, four specialist modules in term two, and a research project.

A Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits) is offered.

Compulsory Modules

  • Mapping Science
  • GIS Principles and Technology
  • Principles & Practice of Surveying
  • Data Analysis

Specialist Modules

  • Hydrographic Applications
  • Management/Group Project
  • Ocean and Coastal Zone Management
  • Positioning


Students on the MSc programme embark on an individual project after the examinations in May, which lasts until the end of the programme in September. The department enjoys strong links with industry, and projects are often carried out in collaboration with organisations outside the college.

Teaching and Learning

The programme is delivered through lectures, seminars, practicals, tutorials, and field courses including periods on Port of London Survey vessels. It is supported by a series of external speakers from industry and visits to industrial and government establishments. Assessment is through coursework, unseen written examinations, oral presentation, and the dissertation.

Further information on modules and degree structure available on the department web site Hydrographic Surveying MSc


International students may wish to approach their country's Ministry of Education to see if there are any grants for international study.

Scholarships relevant to this department are displayed 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.

Brown Family Bursary - NOW CLOSED FOR 2015/16 ENTRY

£15,000 (1 year)
UK students
Based on both academic merit and financial need

SPDC Niger Delta Postgraduate Scholarship - NOW CLOSED FOR 2015/16 ENTRY

Tuition fees, plus stipend, flights and allowances. (1 year)
Overseas students
Based on academic merit

More scholarships are listed on the Scholarships and Funding website


This programme offers exceptionally good career prospects. Many of our graduates go on to work for offshore surveying companies including Fugro, Gardline, Schlumberger, Horizon and Stolt Offshore (now Acergy). Others prefer shore-based jobs, or those that offer a mixture of time in the office and aboard survey vessels - examples include GEMS Survey and Netsurvey, or port authorities such as the Port of London or Singapore and Hong Kong. Other careers include work for equipment manufacturers (Sonardyne), cable companies (Alcatel), national hydrographic offices (UKHO) or research careers (UCL).

Top career destinations for this degree

  • Hydrographer-Geodesist, Fugro (2014)
  • Hydrographic Surveyor, Land Information New Zealand (2012)
  • Hydrographic Surveyor, Boskalis Westminster Ltd (2013)
  • Senior Business Solutions Advisor, CodaOctopus Products Ltd (2012)
  • Seismic Navigator, Dolphin Geophysical (2012)


Our graduates benefit from strong contacts with professional surveyors at the Port of London Authority and from carrying out work aboard their fully equipped survey vessels. They have particular strengths in data analysis. GNSS (GPS, etc), and co-ordinate reference systems. Being based in a geomatics department, they gain a broad view of the subject area and thus have wider employment opportunities.

Why study this degree at UCL?

Students have the advantages of studying in a multi-faculty college with a long tradition of excellence, situated at the heart of one of the world's greatest cities. They also benefit from the training and facilities contributed by the surveyors at the Port of London Authority, one of the most advanced port hydrography departments in the world.

The Hydrographic Surveying MSc is recognised as a "Category A" programme by the IHO/FIG/ICA board. This is the highest level of accreditation offered, and is an internationally recognised qualification that is increasingly demanded by employers worldwide. It is also accredited by the RICS.

Student / staff ratios › 95 staff including 43 postdocs › 200 taught students › 170 research students

Department: Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering

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 suited to applicants from diverse backgrounds seeking to transfer into the marine hydrographic profession, although we have also have some students sponsored by employers for further career development.

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 Hydrographic Surveying at graduate level
  • why you want to study Hydrographic Surveying at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to this programme
  • how your personal, academic and professional background meets the demands of a challenging programme
  • how this degree fits to your career aspirations
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.


  • Register interest in your chosen subjects
  • Receive notice of graduate open days, events and more
Register now

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