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MSc Atmosphere-Ocean Dynamics

Course Description

This course is designed for students from a mathematical background who wish to apply their skills to understanding the complex behaviour of Earth's atmosphere and oceans. This is an exciting interdisciplinary subject, of increasing importance to a society facing climate change.

The focus of the course is on analysing the equations of fluid dynamics and thermodynamics, via mathematical and numerical modelling. Training is thus offered in both modern applied mathematics and atmosphere-ocean science, combining teaching resources from both the School of Mathematics and the School of Earth and Environment. The latter are provided by members of the School's Institute for Climate and Atmospheric Science, part of the National Centre for Atmospheric Science. Only a handful of UK universities are positioned to offer similar interdisciplinary training.

Two-thirds of the course consists of taught modules involving lectures and some computer workshops. Beyond a compulsory core of atmosphere-ocean fluid dynamics, students may choose options from applied maths (e.g., wave and stability theory), atmosphere-ocean science (e.g., climate change processes, weather forecasting), numerical methods and scientific computation. The final third of the course consists of an intensive summer project, in which students conduct an in-depth investigation of a chosen subject related to the course.

Students will be prepared for postgraduate research in applied mathematics or atmosphere-ocean science, or employment in the environmental sector.

However, given the interdisciplinary nature of the programme, graduates will have expertise and skills in a number of different areas, and should be attractive to wider range of employers.

Visit the MSc Atmosphere-Ocean Dynamics page on the University of Leeds website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Leighton Regayre

5024.jpg Why did you choose the University of Leeds?

I came to England from Australia about ten years ago and I have trained as a maths teacher here in the UK. I decided to develop myself by enrolling on an MSc and sought a cross-curricular programme. The MSc in Atmosphere-Ocean dynamics seemed like an interesting application of mathematics. Also the university has a well established relationship with the met office, which gives the course greater credibility.

What is the long-term goal? To go into academia?

When I started on this Masters I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to go into academia but now I have read some research papers and completed a literature review, I’ve found it to be quite stimulating. There’s a lot going on in the academic world which is new and cutting-edge. Progress is made faster than I’d imagined and there are developments in this field which are exciting and surprising.

What made you decide to study for this course in particular?

I had a good look around at UK universities to see what PhDs were available and it was the fact that this was an inter-disciplinary Masters, which was of interest to me and the fact that it uses Maths in an applied way to study real world phenomena, which motivated me to choose this programme. At the time I was thinking about it, I would have applied for environment-related Masters but the chance of me being accepted onto one of them with a Maths background was quite unlikely. So this was perfect really as it might allow me to change direction and broaden my expertise.

How do you find the lecture content?

It is really coming together brilliantly between the Maths’s department’s Hydro-dynamic Stability course and the more general applications in the Earth and Environment’s atmospheric course. In Earth and Environment we really get to see how concepts can be applied to the atmosphere and ocean, and then in the maths lectures we get the more rigorous formulation of the concepts.

What do like best about the School of Mathematics?

We have really dynamic and stimulating lecturers. I have made appointments to see them and they clearly want to help, which is great. There is also a good bunch of students around. Masters students on other courses are all friendly.

(Student Profile)

Jack Wood

5025.jpg Why did you choose the University of Leeds?

I am from Leeds originally and I did my undergraduate in Edinburgh and so I decide to come back to where I am from to do my Masters.

What made you decide to study for this course in particular?

I studied Pure Maths at Edinburgh and in my fourth year I did some modules in modelling fluids and motion flow and numerical methods and so I was a bit stuck as to what to do for my Masters and so I thought that these were the modules which I found interesting and so that was why headed towards this research area.

So part of the course is in School of Mathematics and one module is in the School of Earth and Environment?

It’s nice to have the change of going to the School of Earth and Environment and it is more hands-on than in Maths. So the other day, for example, we were doing a practical in a lab watching waves propagate in a big tank, which you would never get the chance to see in mathematics because you don’t really get to see things being applied. So, that was quite interesting, seeing the real-life examples. I also really like the maths as well though, looking at the more theoretical side of it.

Where do you hope to end up after the Masters?

Well, I am quite enjoying the course at the moment and so I am thinking about applying for a PhD but I would only be able to do that if I got some funding and so I will have to do well in the exams. Otherwise I have been looking into getting jobs working for the Met Office or some private forecasters or British Antarctic Survey. So I’m still deciding really.

When you look back what will be the best parts of studying here?

I have really enjoyed the course, the way all the different modules come together. You get lots of different perspectives on similar ideas which is really interesting. The teaching has been really good, the lecturers have been really good and have been enthusiastic about the subject which makes you want to do it because sometimes maths lectures can be quite dry. I have been really impressed with the lecturers and they have been very inspiring.

(Student Profile)

Jodie Cullum

5026.jpg Why did you choose the University of Leeds?
Originally I am from Norfolk and I did my undergraduate degree at the University of East Anglia. Primarily I looked at Leeds for the course and then I came up for an open day and I liked the people and the department and so I made the decision to come and study here.

What made you choose to do a Masters?
I enjoyed my undergraduate degree and I wanted to do further study in Maths and the opportunity to do specialise in Atmosphere-Ocean Dynamics was a good one, giving me chance to study more in depth within this field. I did some modules in environmental science during my undergraduate studies at UEA which stimulated my interest in this particular research area.

Is there anything which has surprised you about the Masters?
I was surprised by the high standard of teaching. All of my lecturers are good teachers and are all very approachable with any problems; and are all very willing to help you.

So what kind of subject areas have you been studying?
The course covers modules in both the School of Maths and also the School of Earth and Environment. So, it has been really good to have the links between the two, looking at a subject from two different perspectives and linking the two together. I have also found that I can link it into my undergraduate studies as well.

What university social/sporting activities have you become involved in during your spare time?
I play badminton at a club on a weekly basis and I am also involved in Action which is the volunteering society which is based in Leeds University Union. So, I have been involved in trips taking a group of young people out which has been good fun.

What would you say to other students thinking of studying Atmosphere-Ocean Dynamics?
If you are interested in that field and have enjoyed your undergraduate studies in that field then go for it, it’s a good choice, in a good uni with a good maths department.


Dean's Excellence Scholarship - 10 Awards

These awards are competitive, based on high achievement.

Value of Scholarship(s)



There are up to 10 partial-fee scholarships available worth £3,000 each. These awards are open to international candidates who have been accepted for admission onto a full-time MSc programme in the School, and who are eligible to pay tuition fees at the full international rate.

Application Procedure

Eligible applicants will automatically be considered for these awards at the time of application, so are not required to complete an application form.

Further Information


Entry Requirements

A first or upper second class (2.1) BSc degree in mathematics or in a physical science subject with a substantial mathematics component), or equivalent.

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