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Masters Degrees (Contaminated Sites)

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This programme will give you hands-on practical experience of both laboratory and bioinformatics techniques. You will also be trained in biotechnology research strategies. Read more
This programme will give you hands-on practical experience of both laboratory and bioinformatics techniques. You will also be trained in biotechnology research strategies. A strong practical foundation is provided in the first semester (Semester A) when you study two modules: 'Cellular Molecular Biology' and 'Core Genetics and Protein Biology'. These modules concentrate on the basic principles and the techniques used in modern molecular biology investigations, and on aspects of cellular molecular biology and development.

The second semester (Semester B) has a problem-based learning approach to the application of the knowledge you gained in Semester A. You will study two modules: 'Industrial Biotechnology' and 'Molecular Biotechnology'. These modules will give you an in depth understanding of the application of molecular biological approaches to the production of industrial and medicinal proteins. You will also learn how to apply and design industrial and environmental biotechnology processes, such as process kinetics and design, reactor design and oxygen transfer, sterilization kinetics and the application of biotechnology processes for the bioremediation of contaminated sites.

In the third semester (Semester C) you undertake a research project to develop your expertise further. The research project falls into different areas and may include aspects of fermentation biotechnology, genetic manipulation and protein engineering, bioinformatics, microbial physiology and environmental biotechnology.

Why choose this course?

-This course gives in-depth knowledge of biotechnology and molecular biology for biosciences or biological chemistry graduates
-It has a strong practical basis giving you training in biotechnology research strategies and hand-on experience of laboratory and bioinformatics techniques
-It equips you for research and development positions in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, as well as a wide range of non-research roles in industry
-Biosciences research facilities cover fermentation biotechnology, high performance liquid chromatography, (HPLC), cell culture, molecular biology and pharmacology
-There are excellent facilities for chemical and biomedical analysis, genetics and cell biology studies and students have access to the latest equipment for chemical synthesis and purification, PCR, qPCR and 2D protein gel analysis systems for use during their final year projects
-The School of Life and Medical Science will move into a brand new science building opening in September 2015 providing us with world class laboratories for our teaching and research. At a cost of £50M the new building provides spacious naturally lit laboratories and social spaces creating an environment that fosters multi-disciplinary learning and research


On successful completion of the programme you will be well qualified for research and development positions in the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries, to progress to a research degree or to consider non-research roles in industry such as management, manufacturing and marketing.

Teaching methods

The course consists of five modules including a research project:
-Cellular Molecular Biology
-Core Genetics and Protein Biology
-Industrial Biotechnology
-Molecular Biotechnology
-Biosciences Research Methods for Masters
-Research project

All modules are 100% assessed by coursework which includes in-course tests.


Core Modules
-Biosciences Research Methods for Masters
-Cellular Molecular Biology
-Core Genetics and Protein Biology
-Industrial Biotechnology
-Molecular Biotechnology
-Project-Mol Biology, Biotechnology, Pharmacology

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The UK has a significant legacy of contaminants as a consequence of a long history of industrial activity. These pollutants can pose a major risk to human health and the environment. Read more

Why take this course?

The UK has a significant legacy of contaminants as a consequence of a long history of industrial activity. These pollutants can pose a major risk to human health and the environment.

This course is designed to provide you with the particular expertise required for dealing with contaminated sites. Such expertise is essential to ensuring we maintain habitable, safe and sustainable communities.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

Use our state-of-the-art geological and geotechnic labs for practical work
Get hands-on experience of using instruments such as GPS, Total Stations and 3D laser scanners
Be taught by recognised experts with extensive knowledge in groundwater hydrology, environmental geology and contaminated land

What opportunities might it lead to?

We will give you the knowledge and practical skills to ensure an interesting and rewarding career in the specialist area of contaminated land consultancy, regulation and remediation, both in the UK and overseas.

Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:

Environmental organisations
Geotechnical consultancies
Mining companies
Local authorities
Government agencies

Module Details

You can opt to take this course in full-time or part-time mode. The course is divided into three parts. The first two comprise the taught units of the course covering the key conceptual, institutional and applied bases of the subject. The third focuses on your dissertation.

This course covers a mixture of topics including: groundwater hydrology, geochemistry, site investigation, geotechnics and contaminated land assessment.

Here are the units you will study:

Soil Mechanics: This unit is fundamental to understanding how contaminants behave and migrate in the ground. You will gain an advanced understanding of the geo-mechanical behaviour of soils, including the description and testing of soils to UK and international standards.

Desk Studies and Ground Models: These are an integral part of any contaminated land assessment. You will have training in the development of geological ground models and geomorphological terrain models through desk studies, walk-over surveys and site investigation.

Ground Investigation Techniques: You will gain advanced knowledge of ground investigation using invasive techniques, in-situ tests and geophysical methods.

Contaminated Land Risk Assessments: You will learn key techniques for site assessment, analytical testing and risk assessment.

Field Reconnaissance and Walk-Over Survey: This unit covers techniques which are integral to the course and an essential skill for any graduate wishing to work in this area. You will have fieldwork training in techniques such as walk-over surveys combined with interpretation of remote sensing and aerial photography imagery.

Spatial Analysis and Remote Sensing: You will learn integration and analysis of spatial datasets using GIS and interpretation of aerial photography and satellite imagery - key tools for terrain evaluation.

Independent Research Project: This provides an opportunity for you to undertake an original piece of research to academic or industrial standards, typically in collaboration with research staff in the department or external industry partners. In addition to submission of a thesis report, you also present the results of your project at the annual postgraduate conference held at the end of September.

Programme Assessment

The course provides a balanced structure of lectures, workshops and practical laboratory work. You will generally be taught in small classes, providing an informal, friendly and supportive atmosphere for your studies.

Assessment is varied, aimed at developing skills relevant to a range of working environments. Here’s how we assess your work:

Poster and oral presentations
Project reports
Laboratory reports

Student Destinations

Contaminated land is listed as one of the key areas in which the UK has a skills shortage. This fact, combined with the vocational nature of this course, means that you will be in high demand from employers looking for newly qualified contaminated land specialists. You will find the majority of such roles in the environmental consultancy sector.

This course will provide you with a variety of transferable skills such as project planning, literature and data reviewing, report writing, along with the more general skills of presentation, communication and so on. It also has strong research and analytical components, ideal if you wish to pursue further research to PhD level.

We aim to provide you with as much support as possible in finding employment through close industrial contacts, careers events, recruitment fairs and individual advice.

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Environmental challenges require complex solutions, bringing together scientific, social, political and economic perspectives. GCU's MSc Environmental Management will provide you with the interdisciplinary perspective and diverse skillset to help solve environmental problems in a leadership role. Read more

Environmental challenges require complex solutions, bringing together scientific, social, political and economic perspectives. GCU's MSc Environmental Management will provide you with the interdisciplinary perspective and diverse skillset to help solve environmental problems in a leadership role. You can help your community manage environmental concerns responsibly, making a positive impact and supporting the common good.

The programme is accredited by the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM), the Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers (CIBSE) and the Energy Institute (EI). With the endorsement of four prestigious professional organisations, the MSc Environmental Management offers a respected credential that's relevant to employers around the world.

You'll have the option to complete a general programme - giving you a broad understanding across a wide range of environmental disciplines - or choose among four pathways for specialisation.

  • Waste - As society strives to use resources more efficiently, we must ensure waste is properly and safely managed. You'll study sustainable waste management, contaminated land and landfill engineering, reuse and recycling in the manufacturing sector and more.

What you will study

The MSc Environmental Management comprises of eight taught modules. Three compulsory modules, four optional modules and a Masters project. You also have the option to broaden your understanding of environmental issues via the general masters’ curriculum or to select modules from one of four specific pathways; waste, energy, water and oil and gas.

Health, Safety and Environmental Management

This module introduces the health, safety and environmental demands that face industry today. Study the role of legislation in achieving sustainability and the use of environmental management to improve corporate responsibility..

Climate Change and Carbon Management

Examine global climate change issues within the context of the built environment and learn to conduct practical investigation into carbon management.

Energy Technology

Explore conventional and emerging technologies including waste heat recovery, energy storage and fuel cells.

GIS and Environmental Management

Study the principles and concepts of GIS and its role in environmental management.

Renewable Energy Technologies

Explore technologies that allow us to become more energy efficient including alternative energy sources, conversion technologies and sustainable energy use.

Water Quality and Waste Water Treatment

Examine water quality and the provision of potable water in the UK.

Additional Waste modules include:

Sustainable Waste Management

Explore waste management and how it fits with sustainable development. Study the elements of waste management hierarchy and the environmental, legislative, health and operational aspects involved .

Advanced Waste Treatment Technologies

Develop an understanding of advanced waste treatment technologies (AWTT) with potential to reduce reliance on landfill as the disposal route for municipal solid waste (MSW) .

Contaminated Land and Landfill Engineering

Explore the effective management of contaminated sites and the scientific, operational, legislative and environmental impact of the landfill method of disposal .

Why Choose this Programme?

This course aims to develop the critical intellectual and practical skills of the students in the collection, analysis, interpretation and understanding of data related to environmental pollution. The course aims to provide the students with up-to-date knowledge and skills to equip them for a career in environmental management, waste management or in the oil and gas sector. It will develop the students' competence in applying advanced skills to solve environmental problems, using a critical and holistic approach. The MSc Environmental Management programme will enhance students' interpersonal, communications and other transferable skills, so that they are competent to operate in senior positions in industry. This programme will allow students to acquire educational qualifications which would enable them to gain recognition by professional bodies. It aims to provide students with an opportunity to critically explore environmental problems with others from different educational backgrounds, hence enhancing the breadth of their viewpoints on such issues; to further develop the students. This MSc will develop skills in research methods and practice, so that they can undertake advanced research in environmental, waste or oil and gas topics. The programme will enable students to engage with life-long learning, research and creativity tempered with scientific discipline and social awareness.

Graduate prospects

As a graduate of GCU's MSc Environmental Management, you'll have excellent career prospects in both the public and private sectors. Past graduates have found work with organisations such as the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA), international consulting companies including Carl Bro Group, ERS Land Regeneration and Valpak, and other government agencies and consulting firms.

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Apply your knowledge to real-world issues. You will gain skills in dealing with often-complex Earth systems, evaluate current research and and apply your knowledge to real-world issues, as well as get to work in some really amazing places around the world!. Read more

Apply your knowledge to real-world issues

You will gain skills in dealing with often-complex Earth systems, evaluate current research and and apply your knowledge to real-world issues, as well as get to work in some really amazing places around the world!

Find out more about the Master of Science parent structure.

The Master of Science (Earth Science) at Massey University will develop your skills in a field and laboratory environment that is focussed on solutions to Earth science-based issues facing society.

Explore the world around you

Field work could find you on a volcano top in Vanuatu, exploring ancient volcanoes on Chatham Island or assessing real-time hazards from an erupting volcano. You might find yourself exploring the back country of the Wanganui Basin or its marine terraces, sampling rivers and aquifers to determine groundwater recharge/discharge, or investigating erosion and land use employing both field and remote sensing techniques. 

You will also gain transferable skills that will be useful in many different careers. These include observation skills, advanced ability in data collection, analysis and interpretation, problem-solving and lateral thinking skills, self-motivation and resilience, teamwork as well as developing high-level written and verbal communication skills.

Let our expertise become yours

Massey University Earth science staff are actively researching and are members of internationally-relevant related groups. Many also have extensive industry experience, through either employment or consultancy. They bring this expertise to your teaching.

Examine the environmental impact

Massey’s expertise in environmental geochemistry includes remediation of contaminated sites, phytomining, mine site and land reclamation.

You can learn from – and build on – our expertise in the societal impacts of Earth events, such as volcanic activity. These include social, economic, infrastructure and the impact on local communities including iwi.

Specialised equipment

We have a range of specialised equipment which is available to you for your research and study. This includes:

  • A microprobe for spatial geochemical analysis of geological materials. Able to focus down to two microns, it allows measurement of changes in composition across crystals (which record pre-eruption processes in magmas)
  • Laser particle size analyser for measuring grain-size distributions of materials such as tephra
  • FTIR (Fourier Transform Infra-red) microscope. This measures water and CO2 contents in volcanic materials (related to eruption dynamics), but has also been used for analysing compositional differences in horse bones and carbon nanoparticles
  • Pyroclastic Flow simulator
  • Hyperspectral analyser for remote sensing soil,rock and plant materials (an example of use includes detecting mineralised ground by remote sensing)
  • FLYSPEC analyser for measuring SO2 in volcanic eruption plumes
  • XRD analyser for determining mineralogical compositions of a wide range of materials, especially clay minerals
  • TGA/DSC (Thermogravimetric Analyser/Differential Scanning Calorimeter) for uses such as thermal behaviour in volcanic glasses to characterise biochar
  • OEM (Optical Emission Analyser) for geochemical analysis with particular application to environmental geochemistry

In-depth research

This master’s includes an in-depth research project, where you will be able to explore an aspect of Earth science that interests you.

Why postgraduate study?

Postgraduate study is hard work but very rewarding and empowering. The Master of Science (Earth Science) will push you to produce your best creative, strategic and theoretical ideas. The workload replicates the high-pressure environment of senior workplace roles. Our experts are there to guide but you will find that postgraduate study demands more in-depth and independent study.

Not just more of the same

Postgraduate study is not just ‘more of the same’ undergraduate study. It takes you to a new level in knowledge and expertise especially in planning and undertaking research.

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Water is vital. Drought, floods and water footprint are crucial topics across the globe. Read more

Water is vital. Drought, floods and water footprint are crucial topics across the globe.

The Water Management Option was one of the original options of our MSc Environmental Technology course first offered in 1977, and remains at the cutting edge today, with research into the balance between water treatment, energy use, climate change and legislation being the focus of intense interest.


The aim of the option is to produce graduates who understand the challenges posed by water supply and water resources management, and who meet the demands of organisations concerned with the water environment and water technology. These include water companies, regulators, consultancies and research organisations. Changing priorities in these organisations mean there is an increasing emphasis on management in addition to the traditional broad foundation in the basic concepts of water technology and the water environment. As a result, the Water Management Option spotlights and develops management techniques, with two extended consultancy-style projects, one run in conjunction with Hounslow London Borough Council and the other with Anglian Water plc. In addition to lectures and tutorials the students develop their research and presentation skills in a dynamic, cooperative and competitive environment.

At the end of the course, the student will understand the basic concepts of water technology and the water environment both locally and globally, and be able to:

  • apply this understanding to water management issues
  • select and use a range of appropriate management techniques
  •  communicate effectively with others concerned with water management issues, (for example environmental engineers)
  •  apply this knowledge and skill to water management issues in both the developed and developing world
  • work professionally within an organisation, cooperating with others and communicating ideas in oral and written form.


The Option comprises a number of modules designed to introduce the student to the broad range of scientific, environmental and management issues relevant to man’s effects on the Earth’s most precious resource. In addition to lectures, delivered by a of leading practitioners from regulators, water companies, consultancies, research and other environmental organisations, there are seminars and practical coursework assessments that provide experience of contaminated land remediation and strategic investment planning for water supply and wastewater treatment.

Module Aims and Learning Outcomes

Environment and Health

  • To give the student a foundation in science and policy basics to understand aspects of environmental management and technology and its impact on health.
  • Be able to explain the main chemical and biological processes important in the physical environment, the parameters that define environmental quality and its effect on health.

Water Technology and Management

  • To introduce the student to the various unit processes used in water treatment, including underlying theory and technology.
  • Be able to describe the basic concepts of water treatment technology and the selection of unit treatment processes.

Environmental Policy and Resource Management

  • To provide students with an introduction to the legal, technical and practical issues involved in contaminated land and resources management.
  • Be able to appreciate the challenges for the management of contaminated land and be able to describe the basic concepts in relation to resources and waste management.

Environmental Decision Making and Tools

  • To introduce students to some of the most important policy tools and techniques to assist them in decision-making.
  • Be able to select and use various management techniques and policy tools to support decision- making in environmental and water management and policy.

Integrated Land and Water Management

  • To provide students with an overview of problems, potential remedies and possible outcomes involved in holistic management of the environment.
  • Be able to assess environmental problems and environmental relationships in order to propose holistic solutions that maximise overall benefits and minimise adverse impacts.

Environmental Pollution and Assessment

  • To enhance students' understanding of the pollution pathways in the environment from source to receptor.
  • Be able to describe water recycling technologies and assess the physical and chemical processes involved in the progress of pollutants from source to receptor.

Finally, a four-day study tour incorporating a programme of visits gives operational insight into many aspects taught on the option. Visits to sites concerned with water and environmental resource management and related environmental conservation projects are complemented by visits designed to give an understanding of the technology used for water and wastewater treatment.


Graduates from our course have a very high success rate in achieving well paid employment. This is commonly in environmental consultancies and to a lesser extent in water utility companies, the Environment Agency, Defra and other regulators, and water charities in the UK, in the European Union and overseas.

Graduates from recent years have taken up positions and careers in the following companies:

  • Anglian Water
  • Arcadis Geraghty Miller
  • CH2M Hill
  • Dames and Moore
  • Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions
  • Environment Agency
  • ERM
  • Mott MacDonald
  •  Parsons Engineering Science
  •  Posford Duvivier
  • Thames Water


Students undertake two assessed pieces of coursework over the option term. One piece of coursework is in collaboration with a water company, Anglian Water and in addition to team research with other option members it involves a visit to the Anglian Water premises in East Anglia. The other piece of coursework is conducted in collaboration with the Hounslow London Borough Council. It builds on the theme of integrated land and water management and incorporates a day of water and soil sampling on Hounslow Heath in London (working alongside another of the MSc Options – Environmental Analysis & Assessment).

Anglian Water Placement

The opportunity exists for one student to carry out the MSc Environmental Technology Course Water Management Option over two years, which includes a 16 month industrial placement with Anglian Water. The programme provides the chosen candidate with an Anglian Water-financed bursary and payment of tuition fees (at UK/EU rate).  Please visit the website to find out more.

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Your programme of study. If your environmental interests are concerned with pollution of any kind the Environmental Pollution and Remediation programme covers all you need to know to assess and analyse pollutants in our environment. Read more

Your programme of study

If your environmental interests are concerned with pollution of any kind the Environmental Pollution and Remediation programme covers all you need to know to assess and analyse pollutants in our environment. You understand legislation and policies relating to pollution control, known environment risk assessment methods and regulation and regulators. In todays world there are many pollution issues not least of which is air pollution and its affect on our health and quality of life. Pollution control is essential in waterways and sea to ensure ecology and the food chain are not affected by major issues and soil can also be contaminated in many different ways over the longer term or in the short term.

Employment options include consultancy work to advise all types of organisations, sectors and business and support regulators at busy times. You can work as a regulator within central and local government and private business involved in operations that affect the environment, Sectors you are likely to work in cross energy, agriculture, fisheries, waterways, and specific polluting industrial areas. New technology is also becoming widely available to sense different pollutants in the environment with many different tools and options becoming available to experts in the area. Different countries require different levels of regulation but there is now a growing social need by major organisations devoted to health and quality of life such as UNEP to solve major pollution issues that put us as a species at risk.

You study environmental science related to pollution and remediation at UK and international level, studying hydrocarbon risk assessment and remediation, environmental analysis and EIA (environmental impact assessments). You look at legislation, risk and analysis.

Courses listed for the programme

Semester 1

  • Global Soil Geography
  • Core Skills in Environmental Science
  • Environmental Pollution
  • Applications of GIS

Semester 2

  • Remediation Technology
  • Environmental Analysis
  • Environmental Impact Assessments
  • Land Use and the Changing Environment on Deeside

Semester 3

  • Project in Environmental Pollution and Remediation

Find out more detail by visiting the programme web page

Why study at Aberdeen?

  • Aberdeenshire offers access to the North sea, coast, agriculture, forests, nature reserves and sites of scientific interest
  • Many spin out companies have been created as a result of pollution and remediation research
  • Environmental Science and soil science have a strong presence in Aberdeen at the James Hutton Institute
  • You study in the energy capital of Europe with a strong regulatory presence in the city

Where you study

  • University of Aberdeen
  • Full Time or Part Time
  • 12 months or 24 months
  • September start

International Student Fees 2017/2018

Find out about international fees:

  • International
  • EU and Scotland
  • Other UK

Find out more about fees on the programme page

*Please be advised that some programmes also have additional costs.


View all funding options on our funding database via the programme page and the latest postgraduate opportunities

Living in Aberdeen

Find out more about:

  • Your Accommodation
  • Campus Facilities
  • Aberdeen City
  • Student Support
  • Clubs and Societies

Find out more about living in Aberdeen and living costs 

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