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MSc Coastal and Marine Environments

Course Description


Galway’s identity is intertwined with the coast. The Discipline of Geography, with strong links with The Ryan Institute which identifies marine and coastal processes as a Priority Research Area, is delighted to offer a brand new structured postgraduate programme in NUIG. This programme is designed to train skilled personnel, who can advise on, organise and regulate an informed development of coastal and marine resources and activities in Ireland, the European Union and worldwide. Ireland’s coastal and marine environments are a vital natural resource. This value is reflected in a broad range of current EU directives and strategies aimed at taking full advantage of these resources while also enhancing our natural environments. The Irish Government has recently launched an integrated plan (Our Ocean Wealth), seeking to put into operation these EU policies for our coastal and marine resources. While rapid growth is expected as these new plans come into action, they are not without risks. A recent report by the Marine Institute outlined some challenges: a need to develop our environmental understanding; the challenge posed by climate change; protecting biodiversity; enhancing monitoring capability; greater integration of science, management and advice. The key to achieving the true sustainable development of our coastal and marine resources may be through new educational programmes. On the one hand, facilitating existing managers and planners through targeted learning in this expanding field, while on the other hand, training our current students to be the future decision-makers in these coastal and marine environments.

This is a highly opportune time for an MSc in Coastal and Marine Environments: physical processes, policy and practice. This MSc programme, theoretically informed and with a strong field-based and applied focus, is offered in direct response to newly emerging discourses on the long term health of coastal and marine environments. It seeks to challenge and facilitate students to engage with but go beyond established scientific conceptual and theoretical perspectives, engage new ways of understanding the complexities of our evolving physical coastal and marine environments, and develop critical insights that can support policy and practice in sustaining these increasingly vulnerable environments.


The MSc in Coastal and Marine Environments is a full-time postgraduate course delivered over 3 semesters (12 months). The programme was devised by a team of academics from the Discipline of Geography who have been involved in priority EU-funded and US National Science Foundation (NSF) research on contemporary and future challenges facing coastal and marine areas, including the ANCORIM (Atlantic Network for Coastal Risk Management) (INTERREG) and MARNET (Marine Atlantic Regions Network) (FP7) projects, as well as local and national-level projects on the same. The team is engaged in a broad range of scientific investigation of the physical environment, with an excellent international publication record. Students will become active members of ongoing research programmes and will learn the research and publication process.

There is a strong focus on the formulation of coastal and marine policies and strategies; the identity and role of stakeholders; the nature and impact of local, national and European governance; and the historic and contemporary approaches used to understand the physical processes that control the characteristics of our coast. Development of skills is supported by a significant focus on practical and field-based learning, including short field courses in Ireland and work placements.

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. Students will be required to conduct socially relevant research that addresses the roles of agencies and policy structures in coastal and marine environments.


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 complexities of the interaction between the economy and health of these environments. This, added to the broader national and European focus on the coastal zone and the urgent need for more Higher Education courses which recognise the renewed importance of sustainability of coastal and marine activities and the multifunctional facets of these areas, should present graduates of this course with opportunities across various fields ( coastal and marine science, environmental consultancy, local/regional/state management agencies, government and policy institute research, politics and governance of the environment, sustainable energy, research laboratories and programmes, teaching, heritage, tourism, etc.). The work placement programme will aid in professional development and offer links with potential employers, giving our students realistic and desirable career opportunities, and built-in work experience upon graduation.

PhD Entry: the MSc Programme can be used as a platform for potential doctoral PhD candidates for research programmes in Geography and our partners in NUIG, especially the Ryan Institute, and abroad. This will encourage the growth and visibility, at home and abroad, of the coastal and marine priority theme research clusters in NUIG.

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

Entry Requirements

NQAI Level 8 degree, second class honours or equivalent, with second class honours grade 1 or equivalent in a relevant field of studies. Selection is based on candidate’s academic record at undergraduate level, statement of intent and academic letters of recommendation.

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Recipient: National University of Ireland, Galway

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