Planetary Science MSc

This interdisciplinary MSc offers students a wide programme of study related to planetary and space environments, including planetary interiors, atmospheres and magnetospheres; the impact of the space environment on human physiology; and research project work which provides potential opportunity to work with established planetary researchers at UCL, some of whom are involved in active or planned space missions, targeting worlds in our own Solar

Key Information

Modes and duration

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

Tuition Fees (2015/16)

£8,755 (FT) £4,375 (PT)
£22,350 (FT) £11,125 (PT)

Application deadlines

All applicants:
31 July 2015
Optional qualifications: This degree is also available as a PG Diploma with fees set accordingly.

Entry Requirements

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.

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 insights into the techniques used in current projects, and gain in-depth experience of a particular specialised research area, through project work, as a member of a research team. The programme provides the professional skills necessary to play a meaningful role in industrial or academic life.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits.

The programme consists of a choice of three core modules (45 credits), three optional modules (45 credits), a research essay (30 credits) and a dissertation (60 credits).

A Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits, full-time nine months, part-time two years) is offered, with a choice of three core modules (45) and a research essay (30 credits).

Core Modules

  • Deep Earth and Planetary Modelling
  • Earth and Planetary Materials
  • Planetary Atmospheres
  • Solar Physics
  • Space Plasma and Magnetospheric Physics


  • The remaining choice of core courses
  • Earth and Planetary System Science
  • Melting and Volcanism
  • Astronomical Spectroscopy
  • Physics of the Earth
  • Space Medicine and Extreme Environment Physiology


All students submit a critical research essay and MSc students undertake an independent research project which culminates in a substantial dissertation and oral presentation.

Teaching and Learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, practical classes, computer-based teaching, fieldwork, and tutorials. Student performance is assessed through coursework and written examination. The research project is assessed by literature survey, oral presentation and the dissertation.

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


Candidates may be eligible for a Santander scholarship. For further details please visit:

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

Summer Scholarship in Condensed Matter Physics

Variable (1 year)
UK, EU, Overseas students
Based on academic merit

More scholarships are listed on the Scholarships and Funding website


Students who take up MSc science programmes at UCL go on to engage in a variety of careers, for example: Research Associate (UCL), Carl Sagan Postdoctoral Fellow (Harvard), Consultant (Deltica), Systems Test Engineer (Elekta), and Scientist (UK Met Office).


MSc science students at UCL engage in a variety of learning activities, including undertaking their own research projects. These encourage the development of problem-solving skills, technical and quantitative analysis, independent critical thinking and good scientific practice. These, combined with team work, vision and enthusiasm make physics graduates highly desirable members of all dynamic companies. Physics-established careers embrace a broad band of areas e.g. information technology, engineering, finance, research and development, medicine, nanotechnology and photonics. It is no wonder that employers regard a physics degree as a flexible and highly desirable university training.

Why study this degree at UCL?

UCL Physics and Astronomy is among the top departments in the UK for graduate study. The department's participation in many international collaborations means we provide exceptional opportunities to work as part of an international team.Examples include work with the teams who manage scientific instruments aboard the Cassini spacecraft, and teams who are involved in planning the next generation of deep space planetary missions. These activities may also provide opportunities for networking with scientists involved in these missions.For students whose interests tend towards the theoretical, this may involve access to national supercomputer facilities, such as the Legion and HECToR services. In some cases, opportunities may exist for students to broaden their experience by spending part of their time overseas.

Examples include work with the teams who manage scientific instruments aboard the Cassini spacecraft, and teams who are involved in planning the next generation of deep space planetary missions.

For students whose interests tend towards the theoretical, there is access to national supercomputer facilities, such as the Legion and HECToR services. In some cases, opportunities exist for students to broaden their experience by spending part of their time overseas.

Student / staff ratios › 87 staff › 20 taught students › 191 research students

Department: Physics and Astronomy

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?

This MSc is particularly suitable for students with an undergraduate degree in physics, astronomy, astrophysics or related discipline, who wish to develop a career in planetary science, space science and related fields. The programme provides an ideal foundation for further research and entry onto the PhD programme.

Application deadlines

All applicants
31 July 2015

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 Planetary Science at graduate level
  • why you want to study Planetary Science at UCL
  • what particularly attracts you to the chosen programme
  • how your academic and professional background meets the demands of this challenging programme
  • 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.


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

UCL-IoE merger

UCL and the Institute of Education merged on December 2, 2014. Learn about the study options available to you.

Find out more

Life and learning

At UCL we're proud of our pioneering history, our distinguished present and our exciting future. UCL is a great place to be a student.

  • World-leading reputation
  • Extensive connections that benefit your study and career
  • The best and brightest staff and students from over 150 countries
Find out more