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Galway’s identity is intertwined with the rugged coasts and waters of Ireland’s iconic west. The MSc in Coastal and Marine Environments: Physical Processes, Policy and Practice fosters the necessary critical and practical skills sought out by industry, agencies, planners and policy makers. With a comprehensive, field-based learning approach supported by dedicated ship time through the Marine Institute and strong links to NUI Galway’s The Ryan Institute, highly motivated students will focus on emerging discourses surrounding the long-term health, use, planning, and management of coastal and marine environments, as well as the economic sectors and local communities who rely upon these unique spaces for employment, well-being, and identity.

Ireland’s coastal and marine environments provide an engaging and distinctive experience for students to go apply theoretical perspectives, challenging them to hone new ways of understanding the complexities of our evolving physical coastal and marine environments, develop critical insights toward planning and policy development, and consider the effects of these policies on the full scope of interests and activities, from local to EU-level scales. Integrating these elements in a transdisciplinary setting, students will develop rich understandings on some of today’s greatest environmental and social concerns, preparing them to be the future decision-makers in charge of sustaining these increasingly vulnerable environments. It is directed at graduates from Geography, Natural Sciences and other related disciplines in the social and natural sciences, and at professionals in the field who are interested in furthering their knowledge of coastal and marine environments.


The MSc in Coastal and Marine Environments is a full-time postgraduate course delivered over 3 semesters (12 months). A two-year part-time option is available to suitably qualified and experienced professionals who meet EU residency requirements. Autumn and spring semesters are dedicated to classroom instruction, skills development, and mastery of relevant software and analytical tools. Skills development is supported by a significant focus on practical and field-based learning, including short field courses led by external professionals.

The MSc is completed by an independently designed and conducted thesis, supported by MSc faculty advisement. While student dissertations will focus on a particular aspect that matches their interests, skills, and professional goals, there are central themes that link each course together: the historic and contemporary approaches used to understand the physical processes that control the characteristics of our coast at multiple scales; how these characteristics provide a particular set of ecosystem services which we rely upon; the identity and role of stakeholders; the emergence of complex systems theories to better understand this human-environment relationship; and the formulation of coastal and marine plans, policies, strategies, and governance systems that seek to manage this relationship in support of stated sustainable, inclusive development goals. 


With coastal and marine resources increasingly promoted as being central to revitalising the Irish economy, the coming years will require well-informed and educated leaders who understand the complex interactions that shape economic productivity, socio-political stability, and environmental health. Higher Education Institutions across the EU recognise the importance of coastal and marine areas, the critical need to pursue sustainability at multiple scales, and safeguard its multifunctional facets. Graduates of this programme will be prepared to advance into various fields, including coastal and marine science, environmental consultancy, local/regional/national management agencies, government and policy institute research, politics and governance, advocacy, sustainable energy, research, teaching, and industry, including tourism and recreation.

PhD Entry: The MSc can be used as a platform for potential doctoral candidates for research programmes in Geography and our partners in NUI Galway, especially The Ryan Institute, as well as abroad.

Visit the MSc Coastal and Marine Environments page on the National University of Ireland, Galway website for more details!




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Recipient: National University of Ireland, Galway

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