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MSc Marine Resource Development and Protection

Master (ISCED 2011 level 7)


Duration 3 semesters
Cost Tuition fees for 2020 entry (by residency status): Scotland / Non-UK EU £8,680; England / Northern Ireland / Wales £8,680; Overseas £21,800


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.


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.

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 our current and future session dates.

Tropical Coral Reef Course

Tropical Coral Reefs: Monitoring and Management (A11CR) is an optional course available to all students on any of our PGT Marine programmes. It involves a two week field trip where students are given the opportunity to explore the marine environment whilst learning different techniques for surveying and monitoring coral reefs. See this short film from the 2016/17 course.

Go Global

Some of our Postgraduate Taught Masters Programmes are eligible for Inter-Campus Transfer. Please contact for further information

Structural components
International component
Practical/Field work
Language training
Research Project

Application procedure

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.

Grant opportunities

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 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

Learning outcomes


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


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.

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)

ISCED Categories

Project management
Conservation and environmental management
Physical and chemical oceanography
Offshore and renewable energy
Marine spatial planning