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Course content

This MSc is designed to give students a broad range of experience in marine survey practice, including the acquisition and processing of hydrographic data, positioning, and charting. The programme is offered jointly with the Port of London Authority, which contributes through teaching and practical work aboard its survey vessels.

Degree information

Students develop an advanced knowledge of a broad range of topics, including error theory, quality control, GNSS, reference systems, electronic charting, and international boundaries. Particular emphasis is placed on understanding the principles that underlie the analysis and interpretation of survey data, in particular those issues that affect its quality.

Students undertake modules to the value of 180 credits. The programme consists of four core modules in term one, four specialist modules in term two, and a research project. A Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits) is offered.

Core modules
-Mapping Science
-GIS Principles and Technology
-Principles & Practice of Surveying
-Data Analysis
-Specialist modules
-Hydrographic Applications
-Management/Group Project
-Ocean and Coastal Zone Management

Students on the MSc programme embark on an individual project after the examinations in May, which lasts until the end of the programme in September. The department enjoys strong links with industry, and projects are often carried out in collaboration with organisations outside the college.

Teaching and learning
The programme is delivered through lectures, seminars, practicals, tutorials, and field courses including periods on Port of London Survey vessels. It is supported by a series of external speakers from industry and visits to industrial and government establishments. Assessment is through coursework, unseen written examinations, oral presentation, and the dissertation.

Fieldwork will take place aboard PLA survey vessels, and will include associated shore based activities. There are several boat days in the first and second terms, and a final fieldwork week at the end of the second term. Activities include the use of multibeam and single beam echo sounders, side scan sonar, tide gauges, and GNSS equipment. Students should allow up to £500 for travel and accommodation costs associated with field work.


This programme offers exceptionally good career prospects. Many of our graduates go on to work for offshore surveying companies including Fugro, Gardline, Schlumberger, Horizon and Stolt Offshore (now Acergy). Others prefer shore-based jobs, or those that offer a mixture of time in the office and aboard survey vessels - examples include GEMS Survey and Netsurvey, or port authorities such as the Port of London or Singapore and Hong Kong. Other careers include work for equipment manufacturers (Sonardyne), cable companies (Alcatel), national hydrographic offices (UKHO) or research careers (UCL).

Top career destinations for this degree:
-Hydrographic Surveyor, Environment Agency
-Hydrographic Surveyor, Government of New Zealand.
-Hydrographic Surveyor, Specialist Subsea Services
-Hydrographic Surveyor, Gardline
-Surveyor, Dolphin Geophysical

Our graduates benefit from strong contacts with professional surveyors at the Port of London Authority and from carrying out work aboard their fully equipped survey vessels. They have particular strengths in data analysis, GNSS (GPS, etc), and co-ordinate reference systems. Being based in a geomatics department, they gain a broad view of the subject area and thus have wider employment opportunities.

Why study this degree at UCL?

Students have the advantages of studying in a multi-faculty college with a long tradition of excellence, situated at the heart of one of the world's greatest cities. They also benefit from the training and facilities contributed by the surveyors at the Port of London Authority, one of the most advanced port hydrography departments in the world.

The Hydrographic Surveying MSc is recognised as a "Category A" programme by the IHO/FIG/ICA board. This is the highest level of accreditation offered, and is an internationally recognised qualification that is increasingly demanded by employers worldwide. It is also accredited by the RICS.

Visit the Hydrographic Surveying - MSc/PGDip page on the University College London website for more details!





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