Marine Resource Development and Protection MSc/Diploma/Certificate

General information

From its years of academic research and industrial consultancy experience as one of the main UK Marine Technology Centres, the University recognises the need for an interdisciplinary approach to both the development and the protection of ocean resources.

In these times of rapid global change, it is essential that scientists and environmental decision-makers understand the fundamentals of the technologies involved in different development options, whilst engineers should be encouraged to adopt an understanding of the environmental, socio-economic and political aspects of any proposed project.

This programme covers all of the above areas and its structure is sufficiently flexible to meet the wide variations in background of entrants - and their respective individual career plans. A major aim of the programme is to provide students with training in holistic approaches to addressing and solving environmental problems and we strive to maintain a mix of entrants from different disciplines, from UK, EU and overseas, and from both recent graduates as well as entrants with industrial experience. This mix has previously proven extremely useful in widening the horizons of the individual class members.

Topics covered

The programme has courses that aim to cover topics corresponding to priority areas of NERC's science strategy, particularly in the marine sustainability and climate change area of Marine Science and Technology (i.e. impacts of exploitation, role of biodiversity, water quality, climate change measures). In addition, also covered within several modules are the general priority areas of Biodiversity, Environmental Risks and Hazards, Natural Resource Management, Pollution and Waste, and, as described above, all with an emphasis on an interdisciplinary approach.

In addition, the general priority areas of Biodiversity, Environmental Risks and Hazards, Natural Resource Management, Pollution and Waste are also covered with an emphasis on an interdisciplinary approach. The aim of other training, such as collaborating with colleagues from other disciplines in teamwork exercises and generic and transferable skills included in the programme, provides a good grounding for graduates to go into relevant employment and further study.

Course content

Core (Mandatory) courses

  • Marine Resources and Sustainability
  • Marine Ecotoxicology
  • Applied Research Design and Analysis
  • Marine Environmental Monitoring
  • Climate Change: Mitigation and Adaptation Measures
  • GIS: Geographic Information System for Marine & Environmental Scientists
  • Research Project (MSc only)

Research projects

The research project will normally take place over the summer months after completion of the taught component of the programme. Topics for projects should be discussed with staff with a view to agreeing a title and theme for the project at the beginning of Semester 2. Students will be assigned to a supervisor within the University. Where the research project is undertaken outside the University another joint supervisor, where relevant, may be assigned from the outside organisation. Background reading and research should start once the title and theme of the project has been agreed with the supervisor and practical work can normally commence in mid-April at the end of the final taught course examinations.

View a detailed course guide here.

Programme duration

The duration of the MSc is 12 months, starting in September, finishing in August. It consists of eight courses, split into two semesters (four courses per semester). The masters research project is conducted at the end of the second semester, with a final submission date in August. Graduation for Masters students normally takes place in November.

See current and future session dates here.

Learning outcome:

Understanding, Knowledge and Cognitive Skills

  • fundamentals of the main disciplines and associated technologies in the management of marine resources
  • comprehensive understanding and knowledge of the concepts, principles and theories of specialist technical issues
  • the ethics and standards relevant to professional scientific and engineering practice
  • the social and environmental impact of marine engineering and commercial developments within an international framework

Scholarship, Enquiry and Research (Research Informed Learning)

  • plan, conduct and analyse results of field surveys
  • prepare and make a series of presentations on project and review work
  • use a variety of sources to generate and evaluate ideas
  • integrate scientific principles with knowledge/understanding of management of environmental issue in order to adopt a holistic approach to problem-solving
  • analyse complex situations of a multi-disciplinary nature, and quantify and evaluate risks, to create solution strategies as appropriate to the particular context
  • assess the environmental impact, economic aspects and feasibility of marine developments

Industrial, Commercial and Professional Practice

  • transfer problem-solving skills to a variety of contexts
  • integrate theory and practice
  • apply numerical, scientific and management skills

Autonomy, Accountability and Working With Others

  • communicate effectively at all levels and using a range of media
  • work as part of a team and as a team manager
  • plan and organise own learning through self-management and time management

Communication, Numeracy & Information and Communications Technology

  • appraise and develop continuously and effectively attributes linked to personal and professional aspirations
  • adopt a mature, ethical and professional attitude to the solution of technical problems
  • display professional attributes in situations which are challenging and demand responsibility, personal judgement and meaningful decision-making
Contact Person: Dr Mark Hartl (


The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0312 - Policy and governance", "0512 - Toxicology", "0521 - Ecology", "0522 - Conservation and environmental management", "0713 - Offshore and renewable energy", "0724 - Oil, gas and mineral resources", "0831 - Fisheries


Venue: Heriot-Watt University
Edinburgh, United Kingdom




Status* Full-time Part-time Per Course
Scotland / Non-UK EU £8,448 £4,224 £1056**
England / Northern Ireland / Wales £8,448 £4,224 £1056**
Overseas £20,760 £10,380 £2595**

* If you are unsure which category you fall in to, you should complete a fee status enquiry form, which allows us to assess your fees.

** Fee per course (module). Refer to the Course Content to see how many courses comprise the full programme.

Scholarships and bursaries

We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.

View our full range of postgraduate taught scholarships.

Additional scholarship information

Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) Scholarships

For students interested in MSc research projects in the area of aqauculture, a limited number of fees-only scholarships are available. For more information, please contact Dr Mark Hartl on



Entry requirements

Masters (MSc) level entry applicants must have one of the following:

  • Minimum of 2:2 honours degree or equivalent academic qualification in a related subject area
  • For postgraduate conversion courses, non-related degrees will be considered
  • Corporate (or chartered) membership of relevant professional institutions will also be considered

PG Diploma level entry applicants must have an ordinary degree in a related subject area and relevant post qualification industry experience.

Candidates who do not meet the above entry requirements or have no formal academic qualifications will be considered individually based on their CV and possibly interview. Admission via this route will be at the discretion of the Director of Recruitment.

Recognition of Prior Learning

Heriot-Watt University is committed to providing opportunities to applicants who have a wide range of prior experiences through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). Prior learning at postgraduate level is normally recognised to gain exemption from individual courses within a programme based on an existing academic qualification. Note that the prior learning must have been rated at the level of the courses for which RPL is sought, yet credits from an award already held by an applicant can only contribute to a higher award in the same discipline, e.g. from PG Diploma to MSc. If you believe that you qualify for RPL, please contact the Learning & Teaching Support Team via, who will guide you through the RPL application procedure.

The school will only consider students' requests for RPL at the time of application for their programme of study.

English language requirements

If English is not the applicant’s first language a minimum of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent is required with all elements passed at 6.0 or above. Please refer to English language requirements for further details.

Some applicants may be asked for alternative evidence in line with UKVI recognised English speaking countries. Applicants who have previously successfully completed courses delivered in the medium of English language may be considered and will be required to provide documentary evidence of this. Examples would be secondary school education or undergraduate degree. A minimum of at least one year of full time study (or equivalent) in the medium of English language will be required.

All evidence of English language needs to be dated within two years of the commencement of study.

We also offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your master’s programme:

  • 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no more than one skill at 4.5)
  • 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with minimum of 5.0 in all skills)
  • 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with minimum of 5.5 in reading and writing and minimum of 5.0 in speaking and listening)

Application Procedure:

Application form

You can apply for all postgraduate programmes (except Edinburgh Business School programmes) using our online application form.  You must create an account to use the online application form. You don't have to complete the application in one session; you can save what you have done so far and return to complete it at a later date.

Supporting documents

In order for us to assess your suitability for the programme you have applied for, you need to submit various supporting documents. You can view the documents you are required to submit and upload them by logging into your application account.

You may delay an offer being made to you if you do not submit your supporting documents as soon as you can.

When to apply

There is no official deadline for postgraduate applications; we accept them right up until the beginning of term. However, if you are applying for a popular programme, it is in your best interest to submit your application as soon as you can so that you have the best chance of getting a place.

You should also bear in mind that in order to secure accommodation on campus you must have received and accepted your offer and submitted your accommodation requirements by the deadline (usually mid-August).

How we process your application

All applications will be carefully considered by appropriate staff in the relevant school and you will receive a response as soon as possible.  For some programmes, where the volume of applications is very high, this may be several weeks but for most programmes, you should hear from us within 2 weeks.

The response that you receive from the School will be either:

  • an unconditional offer
  • a conditional offer (further supporting documentation will be required, such as a copy of your degree certificate if you had not completed your degree when you first submitted your application)
  • regretfully, a decision to reject your application

Responding to an offer

You will be able to view our decision by logging into your application account.  If you receive an offer, please respond to it as soon as possible.

Once you have accepted your place you will be sent a confirmation letter, which you may use to help you obtain an entry visa to the UK (if you need one) or to obtain funding for your studies.

Information about how to register in September will be available during the summer.

Overseas offer holders

We operate a tuition fee advance instalment payment, which means that you can secure your place at Heriot-Watt University by paying the first instalment of your first year's tuition fees. This payment will mainly apply to overseas or self-financing postgraduate students.

If you wish to study for a postgraduate award and are able to demonstrate that your tuition fees will be paid for by a third party (a sponsoring company or government agency, for example), you can be exempted from paying the advance instalment at the discretion of your School.

Grant Opportunities:

There are a number of Heriot-Watt Bursaries available to eligible students. For all Heriot-Watt Scholarships and bursaries please click here.


Academic level: Master


Each taught programme will be assessed by a written examination and continuous means (e.g. course essays and desk studies). Award of the Master of Science degree will depend also on the satisfactory completion of the research project on which a dissertation will be submitted. The dissertation shall represent ONE THIRD of the total assessment (i.e. equivalent to weighting of FOUR taught courses). Students must gain at least 50% average on the taught elements and 50% on the dissertation to qualify for the award of a MSc. At the discretion of the examiners, a student may be allowed to re-submit a dissertation that was deemed to be unsatisfactory. Only ONE such re-submission will be allowed. A student who fails the dissertation or does not progress to project stage because of unsatisfactory taught programme marks or is offered and fails a resit in the August exam diet, may be awarded a Diploma.

Qualification: Master of Science
Occupations (not validated):
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