MSc Hydrographic Surveying

General information

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.

UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering is an energetic and exciting environment in which to explore hydrographic surveying. Students have the advantages of studying in a multi-faculty college with a long tradition of excellence, situated within the heart of one of the world's greatest cities. The Hydrographic Surveying MSc is recognised abroad as a "Category A" programme by the International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO), the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) and the International Cartographic Association (ICA). This is the highest level of accreditation offered, and is an internationally recognised qualification that is increasingly demanded by employers worldwide.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. The programme consists of 4 core modules in Term 1, four specialist modules in Term 2, and a research project. Students on the MSc programme start their 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.

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. 

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.

Compulsory Modules

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


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

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.

Careers. 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
  • Hydrographic Surveyor, Land Information New Zealand
  • Hydrographic Surveyor, Boskalis Westminster Ltd
  • Senior Business Solutions Advisor, CodaOctopus Products Ltd
  • Seismic Navigator, Dolphin Geophysical

Employability. 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.

Contact Person: Miss Shani Crawford (


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

0312 - Policy and governance", "0731 - Surveying", "0731 - Marine spatial planning", "0511 - Biology", "0532 - Marine Geology", "0532 - Physical and chemical oceanography", "0522 - Conservation and environmental management


Venue: University College London
London, United Kingdom

Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering
Chadwick Building, Gower Street
London WC1E 6BT



Tuition Fees (2016/17)


  • Full-time: £11,090
  • Part)time: £5,725 


  • Full-time £23,440


Entry Requirements

The minimum entry requirements are an upper 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 theInternational Students website.

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

Application Procedure:

Apply through the University's website where you will find more information about the online application process. You must submit your application yourself and not via an agency. 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. 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 academic and/or professional background meets the demands of a challenging academic environment
  • where you would like to go professionally with your degree

  Applications must be supported by:

  • two references from people who are able to comment on your suitability for the programme for which you are applying
  • transcripts (in English) for all qualifications that are relevant to your application
  • Personal statement
  • English language certificate

Application Deadline: 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. The applications for the start in September start in October of the previous year, and close for all applicants at the end of July.

Grant Opportunities:

International students may wish to approach their country's Ministry of Education to see if there are any grants for international study. Further information about funding and scholarships can be found on the Scholarships and funding website of the University. Scholarships available for the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering:



Academic level: Master


Assessment is through coursework, unseen written examinations, oral presentation, and the dissertation.

Qualification: Master of Science

UK Credits
Occupations (not validated):
Spotted a mistake in this page? Click here to request a change.