Aquatic Conservation, Ecology and Restoration MSc

London, Bloomsbury

Environmental issues such as pollution, habitat degradation, invasive species and climate change threaten the quality and sustainability of our aquatic resources. Responding to these threats, the Aquatic Conservation, Ecology and Restoration MSc equips students with an interdisciplinary scientific and applied understanding of the current aquatic conservation and restoration scene spanning ponds, lakes, rivers, estuaries and shallow seas.

UK students International students
Study mode
UK tuition fees (2024/25)
Overseas tuition fees (2024/25)
1 calendar year
2 calendar years
Programme starts
September 2024
Applications accepted
Applicants who require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 28 Jun 2024
Applications close at 5pm UK time

Applications open

Applicants who do not require a visa: 16 Oct 2023 – 30 Aug 2024
Applications close at 5pm UK time

Applications open

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.

The English language level for this programme is: Level 4

UCL Pre-Master's and Pre-sessional English courses are for international students who are aiming to study for a postgraduate degree at UCL. The courses will develop your academic English and academic skills required to succeed at postgraduate level.

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

Equivalent qualifications

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. Please note that the equivalency will correspond to the broad UK degree classification stated on this page (e.g. upper second-class). Where a specific overall percentage is required in the UK qualification, the international equivalency will be higher than that stated below. Please contact Graduate Admissions should you require further advice.

About this degree

Students focus on integrated freshwater and coastal systems. Distinctive features include: integration of aquatic ecology with hydro-geomorphology, aquatic landscape ecology, restoration ecology and rewilding, public engagement, citizen science and science communication, analysis of sediment cores for environmental change reconstruction, design of aquatic monitoring programmes and modelling of aquatic system dynamics. Students come away with a sound and critical knowledge of current-day links between aquatic science, legislation and practical conservation and restoration.

Who this course is for

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. Other backgrounds are considered, however, based on recent practical experience.

What this course will give you

The Aquatic Conservation, Ecology and Restoration MSc is run by UCL Geography, which enjoys an outstanding international reputation for its aquatic environmental research and teaching. The degree has a strong emphasis on the acquisition of key practical survey and taxonomic skills and in the development of expertise in study design, landscape-scale aquatic conservation and restoration planning, aquatic monitoring and modelling, stakeholder working and public engagement work. 

The programme is taught by world-leading researchers specialising in Environmental Change & Biodiversity and Environmental Modelling and Observation and has specialist input from the Thames Estuary Partnership. The course also has a great network of past students who keep in touch with the current student cohort as part of external lectures, reunion and other course events. 

The MSc aims to bring students to the aquatic science cutting edge, while also passing on important practical conservation and restoration knowledge. External speakers from environmental organisations including the Environment Agency, the Rivers Trusts, Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust, the UK Wildlife Trusts, National Trust and Natural England lecture on the programme and take part in fieldwork. By bringing together students (present and past), researchers and practitioners, a vibrant and informal academic environment is created encouraging mutual discovery, ongoing debate and much associated fun.

The foundation of your career

We aim to expose students to a range of potential employers from the outset (including a substantial alumni base). Students will be able to pursue careers in aquatic conservation and environmental protection agencies, the water industry, environmental consultancies and organisations specialising in stakeholder working and citizen science. The MSc is also an ideal platform for further PhD study. 


This MSc equips students with key transferable skills in project, survey and monitoring design, environmental governance and working with stakeholders, science report writing and communication, numerical analysis, catchment management, GIS and modelling approaches, conservation biology and the taxonomy of key species groups.


Students will benefit from the expertise of our world-class researchers and due to the inter-disciplinary nature of our work, you can develop your knowledge across subjects, learning from academics not only in Geography but the wider UCL community as well. The department also hosts annual careers events where alumni share their experience of post-graduation training and employment across the wide variety of opportunities available to geography graduates.

Teaching and learning

The programme is delivered through a combination of lectures, seminars, practical classes, laboratory sessions, case -studies, debates and residential field classes.

Assessment is through coursework and the dissertation, which includes a poster presentation of dissertation results.

Each 15 credit module involves 150 learning hours per module. This includes taught time (lectures and seminars), independent study, peer-to-peer learning, field work, tutorial support, and assessment and assessment preparation.

A Postgraduate Diploma - four core modules and four optional modules all 15 credits (120 credits, full-time nine months, part-time two years) is offered. A Postgraduate Certificate - four core modules only at 15 credits each (60 credits, full-time twelve weeks, part-time two years) is offered.


Teaching takes place during terms one and two. You will undertake 8 taught modules, including four compulsory modules in term one and four optional modules in term two. Dissertation planning commences in term 1, but with the research and writing conducted in term 3 and over the summer. Modules include lectures, seminars, and practicals, with fieldwork an integral part of this programme.
Programme structure:
Term 1:
You will take four compulsory modules
Term 2:
You will take four optional modules
Term 3 and summer: 
You will complete the dissertation

Teaching takes place during terms one and two. You will undertake 8 taught modules over the course of two years, with 2 core modules in term 1 and 2 optional modules in term 2 each year. Dissertation planning commences, unsupervised, in year one, with the option to start your research from term 3. The supervised research and writing are completed in term 3 and over the summer in year two. Modules include lectures, seminars, and practicals, with fieldwork an integral part of this programme. We endeavour to be flexible to the needs of part-time students in designing their pathway through the degree over two years.
Programme structure:
Year 1, term 1:
You will take two compulsory modules
Year 1, term 2:
You will take two optional modules

Year 1, term 3:
You may opt to start your unsupervised dissertation research
Year 2, term 1:
You will take two compulsory modules
Year 2, term 2:
You will take two optional modules
Year 2, term 3 and summer: 
You will complete the dissertation

Please note that the list of modules given here is indicative. This information is published a long time in advance of enrolment and module content and availability are subject to change. Modules that are in use for the current academic year are linked for further information. Where no link is present, further information is not yet available.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. Upon successful completion of 180 credits, you will be awarded an MSc in Aquatic Conservation, Ecology and Restoration. Upon successful completion of 120 credits, you will be awarded a PG Dip in Aquatic Conservation, Ecology and Restoration. Upon successful completion of 60 credits, you will be awarded a PG Cert in Aquatic Conservation, Ecology and Restoration.


Planned field classes around the UK include week-long trips to the North Norfolk Coast, Scottish Highlands or elsewhere in the British uplands and Dorset. Other shorter field days also take place.

Coronavirus note: Due to COVID-19, there may need to be changes to planned field trips for this programme. This will depend on travel restrictions, social distancing measures, and the availability of the relevant venues. Your department will keep you updated if any changes need to be made.


Details of the accessibility of UCL buildings can be obtained from AccessAble Further information can also be obtained from the UCL Student Support and Wellbeing team.

Fees and funding

Fees for this course

UK students International students
Fee description Full-time Part-time
Tuition fees (2024/25) £17,300 £8,650
Tuition fees (2024/25) £34,400 £17,200

The tuition fees shown are for the year indicated above. Fees for subsequent years may increase or otherwise vary. Where the programme is offered on a flexible/modular basis, fees are charged pro-rata to the appropriate full-time Master's fee taken in an academic session. Further information on fee status, fee increases and the fee schedule can be viewed on the UCL Students website:

Additional costs

Optional module Aquatic Macrophytes (field class) - approximately £300

Dissertation poster - approximately £20

For more information on additional costs for prospective students please go to our estimated cost of essential expenditure at Accommodation and living costs.

Funding your studies

For information on the funding available, please visit

For a comprehensive list of the funding opportunities available at UCL, including funding relevant to your nationality, please visit the Scholarships and Funding website.

Aziz Foundation Scholarships in Social and Historical Sciences

Value: Full tuition fees (equivalent to 1yr full-time) (1yr)
Criteria Based on financial need
Eligibility: UK

Brown Family Bursary

Deadline: 20 June 2024
Value: £15,000 (1 year)
Criteria Based on both academic merit and financial need
Eligibility: UK

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.

There is an application processing fee for this programme of £90 for online applications and £115 for paper applications. Further information can be found at Application fees.

When we assess your application we would like to learn:

  • why you want to study Aquatic Conservation, Ecology and Restoration
  • why you want to study Aquatic Conservation, Ecology and Restoration 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.

Please note that you may submit applications for a maximum of two graduate programmes (or one application for the Law LLM) in any application cycle.

Choose your programme

Please read the Application Guidance before proceeding with your application.

Year of entry: 2024-2025

Got questions? Get in touch

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