With a multidisciplinary emphasis, this MSc Oceanography Masters programme incorporates both taught modules as well as independent research.
This is the course page for MSc Oceanography at the University of Southampton. Find out everything about Oceanography and what studying here involves.
In this course page we explain a range of key information about the course. This includes typical entry requirements, modules you can take and how assessment works. We also suggest career opportunities open to you as a University of Southampton graduate of MSc Oceanography.
If you still have questions, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to answer any enquiries. See our contact us page for our telephone, email and address information.
The MSc Oceanography degree is designed primarily for students with no previous specialisation in marine science. For example, if you are a graduate with a degree in biological sciences, chemistry or materials science, physics, maths, environmental science, physical geography or related disciplines.
The programme includes compulsory introductory modules that provide a foundation in interdisciplinary marine science, along with the opportunity to specialise in particular areas through an option of modules, as well as research project experience with marine scientists at the National Oceanography Centre Southampton (NOCS).
To highlight the specialisations possible through the option modules of the programme, we have developed "pathways" of suggested module choices, which include:
Students can either follow one of these "pathways", or mix options from different pathways, where the timetable allows, to pursue broader interests.
Employment in the marine environmental sector is a common destination for MSc Oceanography graduates, and as the degree is a "conversion" to marine science from "pure" science backgrounds, around one-third of graduates also go on to PhD research in marine sciences.
Society urgently needs experts with a multidisciplinary education in atmospheric and Earth System sciences. Climate change and issues of air quality and extreme weather are matters of global concern, but which are inadequately understood from the scientific point of view. Not only must further research be done, but industry and business also need environmental specialists with a strong background in natural sciences. As new regulations and European Union directives are adopted in practice, people with knowledge of recent scientific research are required.
Upon graduating from the Programme you will have competence in
Further information about the studies on the Master's programme website.
The six study lines are as follows:
Aerosol particles are tiny liquid or solid particles floating in the air. Aerosol physics is essential for our understanding of air quality, climate change and production of nanomaterials. Aerosol scientists investigate a large variety of phenomena associated with atmospheric aerosol particles and related gas-to-particle conversion using constantly improving experimental, theoretical, model-based and data analysis methods.
Hydrospheric geophysics studies water in all of its forms using physical methods. It includes hydrology, cryology, and physical oceanography. Hydrology includes the study of surface waters such as lakes and rivers, global and local hydrological cycles as well as water resources and geohydrology, the study of groundwater. Cryology focuses on snow and ice phenomena including glacier mass balance and dynamics, sea ice physics, snow cover effects and ground frost. Physical oceanography covers saline water bodies, focusing on describing their dynamics, both large scale circulation and water masses, and local phenomena such as surface waves, upwelling, tides, and ocean acoustics. Scientists study the hydrosphere through field measurements, large and small scale modelling, and formulating mathematical descriptions of the processes.
Meteorology is the physics of the atmosphere. Its best-known application is weather forecasting, but meteorological knowledge is also essential for understanding, predicting and mitigating climate change. Meteorologists study atmospheric phenomena across a wide range of space and time scales using theory, model simulations and observations. The field of meteorology is a forerunner in computing: the development of chaos theory, for example, was triggered by the unexpected behaviour of a meteorological computer model. Meteorology in ATM-MP is further divided into dynamic meteorology and biometeorology. Dynamic meteorology is about large-scale atmospheric dynamics, modelling and observation techniques, whereas biometeorology focuses on interactions between the atmosphere and the underlying surface by combining observations and modelling to study the flows of greenhouse gases and energy with links to biogeochemical cycles, for example.
Biogeochemistry studies the processes involved in cycling of elements in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems by integrating physics, meteorology, geophysics, chemistry, geology and biology. Besides natural ecosystems, it also studies systems altered by human activity such as forests under different management regimes, drained peatlands, lakes loaded by excess nutrients and urban environments. The most important elements and substances studied are carbon, nitrogen, sulphur, water and phosphorus, which are vital for ecosystem functioning and processes such as photosynthesis. Biogeochemistry often focuses on the interphases of scientific disciplines and by doing so, it also combines different research methods. It treats ecosystems as open entities which are closely connected to the atmosphere and lithosphere. You will thus get versatile training in environmental issues and research techniques. As a graduate of this line you will be an expert in the functioning of ecosystems and the interactions between ecosystems and the atmosphere/hydrosphere/lithosphere in the context of global change. You will have knowledge applicable for solving global challenges such as climate change, air pollution, deforestation and issues related to water resources and eutrophication.
Remote sensing allows the collection of information about the atmosphere, oceans and land surfaces. Various techniques are applied for monitoring the state and dynamics of the Earth system from the ground, aircraft or satellites. While Lidar and radar scan from the surface or mounted on aircraft, instruments on polar orbiting or geostationary satellites permit measurements worldwide. In atmospheric sciences remote sensing has found numerous applications such as observations of greenhouse and other trace gases, aerosols, water vapour, clouds and precipitation, as well as surface observations, for example of vegetation, fire activity, snow cover, sea ice and oceanic parameters such as phytoplankton. Synergistic satellite data analysis enables the study of important processes and feedback in the climate system. Remote sensing advances climate research, weather forecasting, air quality studies, aviation safety and the renewable energy industry.
Atmospheric chemistry studies the composition and reactions of the molecules that make up the atmosphere, including atmospheric trace constituents and their role in chemical, geological and biological processes, including human influence. The low concentrations and high reactivity of these trace molecules place stringent requirements on the measurement and modelling methods used to study them. Analytical chemistry is the science of obtaining, processing, and communicating information about the composition and structure of matter and plays an essential role in the development of science. Environmental analysis consists of the most recent procedures for sampling, sample preparation and sample analysis and learning how to choose the best analytical methods for different environmental samples. Physical atmospheric chemistry studies focus on the reaction types and reaction mechanisms occurring in the atmosphere, with emphasis on reaction kinetics, thermodynamics and modelling methods.
With the eastern Mediterranean as our natural marine laboratory, the International M.Sc. Program in Marine Geosciences provides students with a unique opportunity to develop practical scientific experience at sea alongside a rigorous academic curriculum.
Established in 2007 as part of the multidisciplinary Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences, the Department of Marine Geosciences combines research and graduate studies of the marine environment in the following main disciplines: exploration geophysics, seafloor mapping, remote sensing, geodynamics, tectonics, marine and coastal sedimentology, geochemistry, chemical and physical oceanography.
The two-year MSc program will begin in October.
Topics to be covered include: the structure of the seafloor; the Earth’s crust below it and the search for energy sources (oil, gas, hydrates); the dynamics of the water body above it; sea level variations and their relation to tectonic and climate changes; coastline developments in present and past times; and, finally, present and past influences on human evolution. Students will have the opportunity to interact with central research institutions in Israel including the Israel Oceanographic and Limnological Research Institute, the Geological Survey of Israel, the Geophysical Institute of Israel and other industrial institutes.
Taught in English, the program can be completed in two years and begins every October. Coursework, field trips and an educational cruise are held during the first two semesters, the summer semester is dedicated to establishing a research proposal, while the second year is dedicated to conducting research. Students will be required to submit a research thesis at the end of the second year of the program. Upon completion of the program, students will be awarded a Master of Science in Marine Geosciences.
For a full and detailed list of the program curriculum, please visit here.
Full Scholarships for outstanding students from China and India!
Graduates of the program will be well-placed to pursue careers within government research agencies, onshore and offshore site investigation contractors or consultancy companies, and various branches of higher education and research.
Students will gain practical experience in marine geophysical survey work through hands-on field activities. The program includes educational research cruises to the deep sea, coastal and underwater field excursions, as well as geological field trips to marine structures currently exposed onshore. The research and educational cruises are carried out in water bodies in and surrounding Israel – the Mediterranean, the Dead Sea, the Red Sea and the Sea of Galilee.
For more information on the course curriculum and course description please click here.
Currently, the Department of Marine Geosciences faculty includes seven senior members and six adjunct faculty members. The department is currently under the leadership of Professor Uri S. Ten Brink whose fields include marine geophysics, tectonics, earthquakes, landslides and tsunami hazards.
For a full list of faculty staff and their specialisations please visit here.
This program is eligible for MASA scholarship.
A number of full-tuition scholarships for outstanding students from China and India are available.
Further information on scholarships and financial aid can be found here.
Oceanographers investigate both fundamental and applied problems relating to the physics, mathematics, biology, chemistry, and geology of the sea, often working across traditional academic disciplines. Research carried out both independently and in collaboration with federal government laboratories occurs in many different oceanographic regimes, including coastal BC fjords, the inland sea of the Strait of Georgia, open ocean regions of the Subarctic Pacific, and many other locations, including the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. The types of problems that can be studied include fundamental questions about the flow of stratified fluids at scales ranging from tens of meters to thousands of kilometers, applied research in estuaries, coastal, and deep-ocean processes, general ocean circulation and climate change issues, marine chemistry, geochemistry, and biogeochemistry, natural product chemistry, marine viruses, fisheries oceanography, plankton ecology and physiology, and primary production of the sea. The Department is well equipped to carry out research in the field (using either its own boat or larger vessels in the oceanographic fleet), at the laboratory bench, and in the numerical heart of a computer. Most problems involve aspects of all three.
Students in Oceanography may select courses, depending on their interest, from the following areas of specialization:
Students are encouraged to broaden their knowledge by taking courses outside their area of specialization. Courses related to Oceanography are also offered in the Departments of Botany, Chemistry, Civil Engineering, Geography, Physics and Astronomy, and Zoology.
Our Master’s programme in Climate Physics offers you a unique combination of theoretical courses and practical training in all aspects of the Earth’s climate. You’ll study the physics, dynamics, and chemistry of the atmosphere, oceans, and cryosphere – as well as explore their interactions.
The Dutch Master's Selection Guide (Keuzegids Masters 2017) ranked this programme as the best in the field of Physics in the Netherlands.
The two-year Climate Physics programme trains you to be a highly skilled researcher by focusing on the fundamental physical processes that make up the Earth’s climate system. The complex nature of the work requires advanced mathematical skills right from the start. You will build on this foundation by adding specialised theoretical, observational, and computational knowledge and skills relating to the atmosphere, meteorology, oceans, cryosphere (ice), and biosphere. Moreover, your instructors will encourage you to develop a critical attitude towards your research results and your underlying assumptions.
Our teaching staff include leading experts from the five research fields encompassed by the Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research Utrecht (IMAU):
The MSc in Climate Physics is a two-year research Master’s programme that provides students with the knowledge and skills to evaluate the fundamental physical processes that regulate the Earth’s climate system, including the dynamics of the planet’s atmosphere, ocean, and climate.
Join us for our Master Open Day to find out more about our courses.
This Masters will prepare you in the physical sciences and mathematics for a research career in climate, atmospheric or environmental sciences. It ideally bridges the gap between undergraduate studies in physical/natural sciences and engineering, and study for a PhD.
Alternatively, if you decide to leave academia, the highly transferable skills gained from this course could lead to a research role in industry or government.
Gain a broad overview of physical problems in climate and atmospheric science, together with a sound physical understanding of natural processes. Alongside this, develop highly transferable skills to conduct research in these subjects with a strong emphasis on quantitative data analysis and physical and numerical modelling.
A career in scientific research is always interesting – sometimes exciting – but might not suit everyone. This course provides an excellent opportunity to get a taste of postgraduate research study and decide whether it is really the career for you.
Interact with academics who are at the forefront of major global issues. Leeds is a leading centre of excellence across both the physical science of the climate and atmosphere science, and the resultant socio-economic impacts and processes:
Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science (ICAS) is the UK’s most diverse academic institute for atmospheric research.
Priestley International Centre for Climate Change (PICC) a world-leading centre for policy-relevant, solution-driven climate research.
Centre for Polar Observation and Modelling (CPOM) is a research centre that studies processes in the Earth's polar latitudes that may affect the Earth's albedo, polar atmosphere and ocean circulation, and global sea level.
Develop your research skills – you will be regarded as a researcher in the School and expected to work closely with ICAS staff as well as presenting at the annual ICAS Science Conference along with academics and doctoral researchers.
Continue on to a PhD, or move into a research role in industry or government. Highly numerate graduates with training in independent research are widely sought after in many sectors.
The School's £23m building gives you access to world-class research, teaching and laboratory facilities, and dedicated computer facilities – many of which will be available to you throughout your studies.
You will be regarded as a researcher within the School and be expected to work closely with ICAS staff as well as presenting at the annual ICAS away day along with academic staff and doctoral researchers.
Be taught by staff from across the School, primarily from ICAS. Your programme manager is Dr Ryan Neely (ICAS) who also teaches as well as regularly supervises your research project and provides tutorial support.
Visit our website for more information on fees, scholarships, postgraduate loans and other funding options to study Environmental Dynamics and Climate Change at Swansea University - 'Welsh University of the Year 2017' (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017).
The MSc in Environmental Dynamics and Climate Change course places particular emphasis on recent global and regional environmental and climatic change, the scientific basis and limitations of models and data collection techniques. It combines the international research strengths of staff within the Departments of Geography and Biosciences around environmental and climate dynamics (processes and mechanisms involved in stability and change), marine and ecosystem biology, and environmental management and sustainable development.
Graduates from the Environmental Dynamics and Climate Change course will have extensive knowledge of the current scientific issues underpinning climate change and environmental and ecosystem dynamics, and the practical problem solving, ICT and communication skills required for a successful career in the environmental service industry, regulating bodies or academia.
Students of the MSc Environmental Dynamics and Climate Change at Swansea will benefit from exceptional computing facilities that include fifteen dual-processor workstations for Earth Observation, a 20-node multiprocessor Beowulf cluster, and the Department’s IBM ‘Blue Ice’ supercomputer, used mainly for climate and glaciological modelling.
The aims of the Environmental Dynamics and Climate Change programme are:
To provide advanced training in understanding the scientific issues associated with environmental dynamics and climatic change,
To provide graduates entering the environmental service industry or a regulating body with the required practical problem solving, ICT and communication skills; as well as a basic knowledge of current climate policy and environmental management,
To provide graduates continuing their academic career with the required subject specific and transferable skills.
Modules of the MSc Environmental Dynamics and Climate Change programme include:
Core Science Skills
Satellite Remote Sensing
Principles of Environmental Dynamics and Climatic Change
Please visit our website for a full description of modules for the Environmental Dynamics and Climate Change MSc.
The Stackpole residential field course introduces Environmental Dynamics and Climatic Change programme students taking the “Principles of Environmental Dynamics” to some of the major themes of the module: environmental systems, sea-level change and human impact on the environment, in a congenial setting in Pembrokeshire. The environmental issues facing the Stackpole Estate are discussed and placed into a historical perspective through lectures and the analysis of long term environmental records.
The Department of Geography aima to be one of the foremost international centres for research in human and physical geography, and to provide our students with excellent teaching and superb facilities in a friendly atmosphere.
The results of the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 show that Geography at Swansea University is ranked joint 9th in the UK for research impact and 11th in the UK for research environment.
Research groups include:
Global Environmental Modelling and Earth Observation
Migration, Boundaries and Identity
Social Theory and Urban Space
We host a large community of postgraduate researchers studying for PhD degrees, and run one-year MRes, MSc and MA courses.
The Department of Geography is well-resourced to support research: there are two dedicated computer laboratories: One of 24 computers in conjunction with Library and Information Services (LIS) providing general IT software and programmes dedicated to Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and Remote Sensing; One of 10 high-performance Linux workstations delivering software tools for advanced GIS and remote sensing applications.
We have specialist laboratory suites for: stable-isotope ratio analysis; tree ring analysis; extraction and identification of organic compounds; pollen extraction and analysis; rainfall simulation; tephra analysis; soil and sediment characterisation.
In addition, we have recently spent £1.8million on state-of-the-art teaching spaces, including IT facilities, laboratories and flexible teaching spaces.
I originally came to Swansea University to study for a BSc in Geography. Although this course covered a wide range of both human and physical topics that were all very interesting and provided a broad spectrum of skills from GIS and remote sensing to environmental modelling, my main interest was in the physical aspects. I graduated in 2007 with a 1st Class BSc (Hons) in Geography and wanted to continue my studies into the field of climate change. I decided that the MSc in Environmental Dynamics and Climate Change would be an appropriate route to take in order to pursue this field. The MSc in Environmental Dynamics and Climate Change focused on many characteristics of the global environment, like impacts on ecosystems, and how the varying processes associated with climate change can be monitored, measured and modelled. This choice of topics was complimented by the fact that the modules were run by lecturers working at the cutting-edge of global environmental change. The culmination of what I learned over the course of the year was put into practice with the dissertation, which allowed me to focus on an area of particular interest. The group of friends that I had on the course were brilliant and I will take away a lot of fond memories of our time together at Swansea. Now, after finishing the MSc in Environmental Dynamics and Climate Change I have a job working for the National Oceanography Centre in Southampton".
David Hamersley, MSc Environmental Dynamics and Climate Change
The MER master program provides high quality teaching in general oceanography with a specialization in marine environment (ecology, ecotoxicology, biochemistry, geochemistry, sedimentology, paleo-oceanography) and living or non-living marine resources. The MER program benefits from a consortium of four EU universities (Bilbao - Spain, Bordeaux-France, Southampton-UK and Liège-Belgium) and a worldwide network of associated partners.
The MER master program is organized according to three teaching semesters (Semester 1-3: coursework) plus a research master thesis (Semester 4) carried out via an internship at any partner research institution worldwide. Mobility is mandatory and three different mobility opportunities are proposed for the coursework:
Coursework is organized according to six mandatory and optional modules (total: 90 ECTS).
Module 1 to 6: Content
The MSc thesis research (Module 6) is carried out during Semester 4 (30 ECTS) at any Marine Research Institute worldwide.
Successful completion of this program will prepare students for a leadership role in various marine sectors such as conservation and environmental management, fisheries, nongovernmental organizations and all levels of government positions from local to global. Students benefit from a worldwide network of partner institutions.
From the start (2007), the MER program has trained more than 100 students. More than 50% of graduates continue with a PhD. Other graduates integrate public or private organizations in their field of expertise.
The programme encompasses the following key ideas:
· Understanding complex marine systems from a range of standpoints. Establishing a core body of knowledge about the marine environment and the physical, chemical, ecological and anthropogenic processes operating on a range of spatial and temporal scales.
· Multidisciplinary approaches. Creating a multidisciplinary approach to understanding and managing the marine environment through integrated field, laboratory and theory-based learning and examine this in the context of the relevant legislative framework and global policy changes.
· Understanding the impacts of both natural and anthropogenic factors on the marine environment alongside environmental change. Using a multidisciplinary approach to the development of applied solutions to managing marine resources and biodiversity in an ever changing situation.
· Use of big marine data. The collection of rigorous scientific data; formulating and testing hypotheses through carrying out scientific investigations and communicating information in a variety of formats to a range of audiences.
· Professional practice and application to real world situations. Understanding the links between scientific ideas and their application to solving marine environmental problems by working with professionals from a range of scientific disciplines. In addition, using industry-standard approaches, equipment and analysis to collect, analyse and report on ecological and environmental data from field and laboratory investigations in the relevant format to inform the public, practitioners in the field, policy makers and scientists.
The programme allows the progression of students along two main pathways with different core modules to allow for specific career and skill development. Those wishing to pursue a career in fisheries science can follow the MSc Marine Environmental Management (Fisheries) pathway where those students who wish to follow the more ecological route can follow the MSc Marine Environmental Management (Ecology) route.