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Course content

This course is designed for Scientists and Engineers who wish to develop their skills in environmental analysis. The course will enhance your career prospects and give you the confidence and competence to make a difference in this fascinating field.

You will benefit from the use of modern analytical equipment, and a real insight into the latest developments and challenges facing the industry. Your coursework will be underpinned by research, and industry-input, providing you with the best platform from which to deliver relevant and up-to-date analytical science services as a well-prepared graduate.

85% of MSc Analytical Sciences graduates have gone on to employment in analytical sciences and 12% have continued to PhD study - Business Gateway, 2017.

What you will study


This course has a common first semester with the Analytical Science courses with other specialisms (Drug Analysis and Toxicology, and Food Analysis, Authenticity and Safety).

However, the extensive laboratory module is tailored to emphasise analytical techniques most relevant to your chosen specialism of Environmental Analysis.


You will take part in a group problem-solving mini-project within your discipline. This builds on semester one study and emphasises the groups' ability to correctly apply appropriate instrumental techniques and methodology to solve the analytical problem posed. 

Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH), Ethics and Project Planning are introduced to the group and will provide you with valuable experience for your individual MSc Research Project Preparation which is carried out in the final 2-3 weeks of semester 2. 

The project titles are released at the beginning of semester two but not allocated until week 3 or 4. Allocation is often based on a competitive basis.


You will begin the MSc Research Project practical work where you will develop your skills in using initiative, innovation, interpersonal skills, and a high level of autonomy, critical judgement and the application of appropriate and relevant principles in order to produce your thesis.

Teaching and assessment

A built-for-purpose learning environment fully supports your learning experience in analytical science. You are given extensive use of state-of-the-art analytical equipment, e.g. GC-MS, LC-MS, LC-MS-MS, ICP-AES, SEM-EDXA, CE, DSC, TGA, PCR, NMR and tuition from research active, expert staff. Much focus is placed upon developing you to work autonomously and problem-solve in analytical environments.

Our partners commonly provide industrial visits and guest lectures as well as external MSc projects. These relationships will allow you to gain a unique insight into the opportunities available within the analytical chemistry sector, as well as the challenges and opportunities you will face once in the workforce.


  • Lectures - 20 students per group, 10 hours per week
  • Seminars - 20 students per group, 1 hour per week
  • Webinar - 20 students per group
  • Tutorial - 20 students per group, 2 hours per week
  • Project Supervision - 20 students per group, 5 hours per week
  • Demonstration - 20 students per group
  • Practical class or workshop - 20 students per group, 1 hour per week
  • Supervised time in studio / workshop - 20 students per group
  • Field Work - 20 students per group
  • External Visits - 20 students per group, 1 hour per week
  • Placement / Work Based Learning - 20 students per group


You will develop substantial initiative and autonomy through lectures, tutorials and laboratory exercises which will demand a significant amount of independent learning to complete coursework and assessments. The MSc project is a significant piece of self-directed work which tests your higher cognitive skills in problem-solving and analysis, synthesis, evaluation and selectivity and improves your ability to learn.


Our team features in the annual Support and Teaching staff with Appreciation and Recognition (STAR) awards voted by the students and organised by RGU:Union. 

Most of our staff members are research-active or have connections to industry. Professional involvement in the design of this course ensures its alignment with the requirements of the industry and increases your employability. Our school has a unique relationships with, for example, Aberdeen's environmental industries, Scottish Food and Drink producers and the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA). We also collaborate with the Scottish Police Authority on the profile analysis of seized and surrendered abused drugs. 


Typically students are assessed each year:

  • 1 written exam, typically for 2.5 hours
  • 3 written assignments, including essays
  • 1 report
  • 1 dissertation
  • 14 set exercises
  • 4 oral assessments
  • 1 practical skills assessment


Depending upon availability and academic performance, you may have the opportunity to undertake your MSc Research Project in an industrial setting. This may be in the Aberdeen area or further afield, e.g. other parts of Scotland, Switzerland, Spain, Belgium, France etc. We have a dedicated Placement Office to support you to securing a placement, however most students achieve placement from their own independent networking. Please note that industry projects are limited and subject to availability.

Study abroad

Study Abroad is not technically an option for this course. However, the MSc project can be undertaken abroad in an EU country, which will enhance your learning experience and maximise your employment prospects.

Job prospects 

85% of MSc Analytical Sciences graduates have gone on to employment in analytical sciences and 12% have continued to PhD study (Business Gateway, 2017). Graduates gain employment in a wide range of areas such as research, project management and analytical services associated with a range of industries including distillation, pharmaceutical, oilfield chemistry, food/drink analysis and environmental science.

Graduates may also go on to further their academic career by seeking doctoral studies either within Robert Gordon University, when funding and suitable vacancies are available, or the rest of the UK, EU or internationally.

Some of our graduates with the Environmental specialism have gone on to undertake a variety of projects including river level monitoring for SEPA, analysis of shellfish poisons for Marine Scotland, and analysis of soil toxicity for the Hutton Institute.

Please visit the website to find out how to apply

Visit the Analytical Sciences: Environmental Analysis (MSc) page on the Robert Gordon University website for more details!





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