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Marine Systems & Policies (MSc)

Course Description

Programme description

This programme is unique in Europe and beyond. It embraces a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to understanding the roles of humans and their connection to marine ecosystems for survival and prosperity.

This MSc approaches marine systems as an integrated socio-ecological system through focusing on three spheres of marine systems:

•Marine natural systems – exploring diverse scales and functions of key marine biomes, habitats and species, spanning islands, coasts, estuaries, continental shelves, polar seas and global oceans.

•Marine policy systems – examining different approaches to marine spatial planning and governance of marine ecosystems and services, through formal policies, laws and informal customs and practices.

•Marine built systems – exploring ‘blue growth’ opportunities e.g. the ingenuity and impact of human built environments in marine settings, from reshaping coastlines for cities, travel and trade, to the urbanisation of ocean environments through innovations in energy infrastructure.

Programme structure

This programme involves two semesters of classes followed by an individual research project. The curriculum consists of compulsory and optional taught courses followed by a period of individual dissertation project work. There will also be local and international fieldtrips.

Compulsory courses typically include*:
•Marine Systems and Policies
•Marine Infrastructure and Environmental Change
•Marine Field Methods in Research and Practice
•Research Project in Marine Systems and Policies

Option courses:

Through consultation with your Programme Director you will choose three option courses* from areas such as:

•International Law of the Sea
•International Law of the Marine Environment
•Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability
•Foundations in Ecological Economics
•Applications in Ecological Economics
•Global Environmental Politics
•Energy Policy and Politics
•Energy and Society

•Ecosystem Dynamics and Functions
•Ecosystem Values and Management
•Water Resource Management
•Values and the Environment

•Environmental Impact Assessment
•Principles of GIS
•Fundamentals for Remote Sensing

*Please note: courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change each year.

Field trips

Historically, our field trips have provided site-based learning of both natural and social science practices, a key dynamic of this MSc. The core field trip is provisionally during April and has historically taken place in locations such as Jamaica and the Maldives

Career opportunities

This MSc provides a foundation for work up to international level, for government bodies, think-tanks, consulting firms and NGOs where an integrated understanding of marine ecosystems, policies and practice is required.

Student experience

Would you like to know what it’s really like to study at the School of GeoSciences?

Visit our student experience blog where you can find articles, advice, videos and ask current students your questions.

Visit the Marine Systems & Policies (MSc) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

Student Profiles

Head of School Scholarship - GeoSciences - 5 Awards

Three scholarships worth £5,000 towards tuition fees are available to applicants of any nationality. A further two awards covering full tuition fees are available to applicants who are liable for the overseas rate of fee.

Value of Scholarship(s)



The scholarship will be awarded on the basis of academic excellence. Candidates must have, or expect to obtain, the international equivalent of a UK 2:1 Honours degree at undergraduate level. Applicants who have already commenced their programme of study on the closing date are not eligible for this scholarship.Applicants intending to study part-time or online distance learning courses are not eligible for this scholarship.

Application Procedure

Please see our website for instructions on how to apply.

Further Information



Highly Skilled Workforce Scholarship - No. of awards TBC

The scholarships will cover the UK/EU tuition fee for eligible programmes.

Value of Scholarship(s)

The scholarships will cover the UK/EU tuition fee


Scholarships are available to UK nationals who are permanently domiciled in Scotland, as well as EU nationals (excluding UK nationals) domiciled in the EU or Scotland but not elsewhere in UK. Applicants must be accepted on an eligible full-time or part-time Master’s degree programme beginning in the 2017-2018 academic session. Scholarships cover the full UK/EU rate of fee for the duration of the programme.The scholarship will be awarded on the basis of academic merit and the benefits to the student. Candidates must have, or expect to obtain the international equivalent of a UK first class or 2:1 Honours degree at undergraduate level.

Application Procedure

Eligible applicants should complete an online application
This scholarship has two rounds of applications. The first round will close on 2 May 2017; the second on 30 June 2017.Please note you will not be able to access the online application form unless you have applied for admission to the University of Edinburgh.

Further Information



Derek and Maureen Moss MSc Scholarship - Single Award

Derek and Maureen Moss wish to award one student of the MSc in Marine Systems and Polices a scholarship, covering full tuition and the cost of the programme-specific international marine field trip. This scholarship opportunity is only available to UK or EU nationals, meeting UK/EU residency requirements of the University of Edinburgh.

Value of Scholarship(s)

Full tuition


The scholarship will be awarded to a student on the basis of academic excellence. Eligible students will have a UK 2:1 Honours degree at undergraduate level, or an international equivalent, though a UK First or equivalent is preferred.

Application Procedure

You will provide a 500 word maximum application statement about why you are suitable for the Derek and Maureen Moss Scholarship. We are looking for inspiring, entrepreneurial students who can demonstrate their commitment to studying marine ecosystems, policies and society. In particular we are looking for previous experience with marine coastal field-based projects, gained through study or work. While your final dissertation topic will be developed during the Marine MSc programme year, we also request that you provide an example of a potential research topic that reflects your skills and aspirations. Please see the website on how to submit application.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in natural sciences or social sciences, but with clear evidence of experience and interest in marine topics.

Email Enquiry

Recipient: University of Edinburgh

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