Aquatic System Science MSc/PgDip


The Masters in Aquatic System Science is a multidisciplinary programme that allows you to specialise in the monitoring and research of aquatic environments.

Key facts

Why this programme

  • University of Glasgow’s School of Geographical and Earth Sciences is proud to announce that it is ranked 32nd in the world (QS World Rankings 2014).
  • The School is a member of the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre: SUERC. This collaboration of Scottish universities aims to perform and support applied and strategic environmental research in the Scottish University community.
  • The School is consistently ranked amongst the top 10 in the UK and top 5 in Scotland, recently achieving 2nd in Scotland and 8th in the UK (Guardian University Guide 2015).
  • With a 95% overall student satisfaction in the National Student Survey 2014, the School of Geographical and Earth Sciences continues to meet student expectations combining both teaching excellence and a supportive learning environment.
  • This programme is suitable for graduates from biology, geography, environmental and earth sciences, civil engineering or related disciplines.
  • If you are seeking a career in the water, environmental or research sectors worldwide, this programme is designed for you.
  • You will benefit from our links with the University Marine Biological Station Millport, and the Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment Rowardennan, which provide expertise across the marine and freshwater sciences and facilities which include laboratories for freshwater ecology, Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and chemistry, as well as small boats and research vessels.

Programme structure

Modes of delivery of the MSc in Aquatic System Science include lectures, seminars and tutorials and allow students the opportunity to take part in lab, fieldwork, project and team work.

Through a combination of core and optional courses you will combine training in the physical and biological aspects of aquatic environments with training in research methods, environmental data acquisition and handling.

Core courses

Total 80 credits

  • Environmental Statistics (10)
  • Impacts of climate change (10)
  • Introduction to Statistics (10)
  • Principles of GIS (10)
  • Research and Professional Issues (10)
  • Freshwater sampling techniques (10) OR Marine sampling techniques (10)
  • Plus 20 credits from either Marine Sampling (if not taken already); Hydrology; Catchment Management; Hydrogeology & Environmental Geoscience; or Limnology

Optional courses, including

Elective courses. This list is subject to expansion to enable students to take additional courses offered elsewhere in the University.

Total 40 credits from any of the courses not completed as Core (subject to availability), or from the following suggested courses (subject to availability), or from courses offered elsewhere in the University. Possible Options include:

  • Advanced linear models (10)
  • Catchment management (10)
  • Freshwater ecology (20)
  • Freshwater sampling techniques (10)
  • Hydrographic survey (10)
  • Integrated coastal management (10) 
  • Introduction to R (10)
  • Nearshore ecology (10)
  • Principles of land survey (10)
  • Remote sensing of the environment (10)
  • Scientific writing (10)

Non-credited elective training courses (will incur additional fees)

  • Boat handling 
  • Marine mammals
  • Scientific diving 

The Aquatic Science MSc project (PSYS) may take one of three forms (60 credits):

  • an extended practical application task requiring extensive use of well known methods to produce a specified outcome;
  • a development project where the main purpose is to design and implement a new approach to a well understood problem;
  • a research oriented project where the main aim is to experimentation or investigation into a fundamental research question.


Industry links and employability

Entry requirements

for entry in 2015

Normally a second class Honours degree in an appropriate subject (eg Biological Science, Environmental Science, Ecology, Civil Engineering, Geography, Earth Science, Chemistry).

Applicants with industrial experience may be admitted to the PgDip in the first instance.

International students with academic qualifications below those required should contact our partner institution, Glasgow International College, who offer a range of pre-Masters courses.

English language requirements

For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)

  • overall score 6.5
  • no sub-test less than 6.0
  • or equivalent scores in another recognised qualification (see below)

Common equivalent English language qualifications

All stated English tests are acceptable for admission for both home/EU and international students for this programme:

  • ibTOEFL: 92; no sub-test less than 20
  • CAE (Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • CPE (Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English):  176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • PTE Academic (Person Test of English, Academic test): 60; no sub-test less than 59

For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use these tests to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level programmes. The University is also able to accept an IELTS test (Academic module) from any of the 1000 IELTS test centres from around the world and we do not require a specific UKVI IELTS test for degree level programmes. We therefore still accept any of the English tests listed for admission to this programme.

Pre-sessional courses

The University of Glasgow accepts evidence of the required language level from the Language Centre Pre-sessional courses. We also consider other BALEAP accredited pre-sessional courses:


What do I do if...

my language qualifications are below the requirements?

The University's Language Centre offers a range of Pre-Sessional Courses to bring you up to entry level. The course is accredited by BALEAP, the UK professional association for academic English teaching; see Links.

my language qualifications are not listed here?

Please contact the Recruitment and International Office:


For further information about English language requirements, please contact the Recruitment and International Office:

Fees and funding

Tuition fees for 2015-16 (subject to change and for guidance only)


Home and EU
Full time fee£7000
Part time 20 credits£778
Full time fee£18200


Home and EU
Full time fee£4667
Part time 20 credits£778
Full time fee£12133

Funding opportunities

Career prospects

The combination of field, modelling and analytical skills developed by graduates is in demand across the environmental sector. Opportunities exist in government agencies (Environment Agency, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency and international equivalents) in flood-risk planning, catchment management, hydrology and coastal management. Engineering consultants and contractors, ranging from small local companies to large multi-nationals, have increasing demand for environmental specialists operating in multi-disciplinary teams. Companies operating in the water sector include those delivering power generation, transport, waste management and manufacturing (large plants are increasingly managing their own water supply and waste remediation on site), and there are opportunities in local and national government and with NGOs.

How to apply

We ask that you apply online for a postgraduate taught degree. Our system allows you to fill out the standard application form online and submit this to the University within 42 days of starting your application.

You need to read the guide to applying online before starting your application. It will ensure you are ready to proceed, as well as answer many common questions about the process.

Guide to applying online

Do I have to apply online for a postgraduate taught degree?

Yes. To apply for a postgraduate taught degree you must apply online. We are unable to accept your application by any other means than online.

Do I need to complete and submit the application in a single session?

No. You have 42 days to submit your application once you begin the process. You may save and return to your application as many times as you wish to update information, complete sections or upload additional documents such as your final transcript or your language test.

What documents do I need to provide to make an application?

As well as completing your online application fully, it is essential that you submit the following documents:

  • A copy (or copies) of your official degree certificate(s) (if you have already completed your degree)
  • A copy (or copies) of your official academic transcript(s), showing full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained
  • Official English translations of the certificate(s) and transcript(s)
  • Two supporting reference letters on headed paper
  • Evidence of your English Language ability (if your first language is not English)
  • Any additional documents required for this programme (see Entry requirements for this programme)
  • A copy of the photo page of your passport (Non-EU students only)

If you do not have all of these documents at the time of submitting your application then it is still possible to make an application and provide any further documents at a later date, as long as you include a full current transcript (and an English translation if required) with your application. See the ‘Your References, Transcripts and English Qualification’ sections of our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Do my supporting documents need to be submitted online?

Yes, where possible, please upload the supporting documents with your application.

How do I provide my references?

You must either upload the required references to your online application or ask your referees to send the references to the University as we do not contact referees directly. There is two main ways that you can provide references: you can either upload references on headed paper when you are making an application using the Online Application (or through Applicant Self-Service after you have submitted your application) or you can ask your referee to email the reference directly to See the 'Your References, Transcripts and English Qualifications' section of the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

What if I am unable to submit all of my supporting documents online?

If you cannot upload an electronic copy of a document and need to send it in by post, please attach a cover sheet to it that includes your name, the programme you are applying for, and your application reference number.

You may send them to:

Recruitment & International Office
71 Southpark Avenue
G12 8QQ
Fax: +44 141 330 4045

Can I email my supporting documents?

No. We cannot accept email submissions of your supporting documents.

What entry requirements should I have met before applying? Where can I find them?

You should check that you have met (or are likely to have met prior to the start of the programme) the individual entry requirements for the degree programme you are applying for. This information can be found on the ‘entry requirements’ tab on each individual programme page, such as the one you are viewing now.

What English Language requirements should I have met before applying? Where can I find them?

If you are an international student, you should also check that you have met the English Language requirements specific to the programme you are applying for. These can also be found on the ‘entry requirements’ tab for each specific programme.

Further Information

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions for more information on applying to a postgraduate taught programme.

Guidance notes for using the online application

These notes are intended to help you complete the online application form accurately, they are also available within the help section of the online application form. If you experience any difficulties accessing the online application then you should visit the Application Troubleshooting/FAQs page.

  • Name and Date of birth: must appear exactly as they do on your passport. Please take time to check the spelling and lay-out.
  • Contact Details: Correspondence address. All contact relevant to your application will be sent to this address including the offer letter(s). If your address changes, please contact us as soon as possible.
  • Choice of course: Please select carefully the course you want to study. As your application will be sent to the admissions committee for each course you select it is important to consider at this stage why you are interested in the course and that it is reflected in your application.
  • Proposed date of entry: Please state your preferred start date including the month and the year. Taught masters degrees tend to begin in September. Research degrees may start in any month.
  • Education and Qualifications: Please complete this section as fully as possible indicating any relevant Higher Education qualifications starting with the most recent. Complete the name of the Institution (s) as it appears on the degree certificate or transcript.
  • English Language Proficiency: Please state the date of any English language test taken (or to be taken) and the award date (or expected award date if known).
  • Employment and Experience: Please complete this section as fully as possible with all employments relevant to your course. Additional details may be attached in your personal statement/proposal where appropriate.
  • References: Please provide the names and contact details of two academic references. Where applicable one of these references may be from your current employer. References should be completed on letter headed paper and uploaded on to your application.

Standard application deadlines

  • International applications (non-EU) 24 July 2015
  • UK and EU applications 28 August 2015
    (with the exception of those programmes offering SFC funded places)

Classes start September 2015 for most programmes and you may be expected to attend induction sessions the week before.

Apply now