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Marine Planning for Sustainable Development MSc/Diploma

Course Description


There is a clear need for provision of MSc training in this broad subject area and, in Scotland, there are extensive examples of established and new, highly-important industries utilizing the space and resources of the marine environment (maritime trade, ports and harbours, fisheries, oil industry, aggregate extraction, naval military requirements, aquaculture, conservation, marine renewable energy production, tourism and recreation).

Marine planning, including spatial planning, is a fast developing discipline of global interest with excellent employment prospects. Ambition to create jobs and growth in the ‘Blue Economy’ is made real by new technologies giving access to the wealth of resources in the oceans and seas. New approaches are needed to govern the interactions among marine industries while maintaining the aspiration for healthy seas and the conservation of ecosystems. Adaptation to the effects of climate change adds to the importance of marine planning as an essential tool in marine management.

The MSc in Marine Planning for Sustainable Development is based at the Orkney Campus but is available also at the Edinburgh Campus. Orkney is a global centre for marine energy research and development. A unique concentration of marine expertise and activity provides students with unparalleled access to key participants in the sustainable development and planning of marine industries.

For more information visit http://www.postgraduate.hw.ac.uk/prog/506/

Programme content

There are six core subject areas:

- Introduction to Marine Planning
Aims of the course are to:
Develop an understanding of planning drivers and the processes employed in the making of marine planning decisions; explore emerging regimes of marine governance including jurisdiction, law and political process; develop skills for the integration of data and information streams for the purpose of making planning decisions; and explore participative management techniques and build conflict mitigation abilities with particular reference to island and peripheral coastal communities.

- GIS for Marine and Environmental Scientists
GIS have been appraised as the biggest step forward in the handling of spatial information since the invention of the map. The aim of the course is to provide a substantial introduction for understanding and making practical use of Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and their associated technologies. This course is weighted towards practical work and will cover map composition, database query, suitability mapping, pipeline routing, derivative mapping and an introduction to image processing (aerial photographs and satellite images).

- Environmental Policy and Risk
The aims of the course are to understand International law; property rights; and environmental impact and environmental risk assessment techniques.

- Marine Resource Development
This course examines the exploitation and use of marine resources (including oil and gas, fisheries, transport, renewables, aquaculture and tourism), issues associated with development in the marine environment (including pollution and waste) and how these activities are regulated. You will learn about marine technologies and the challenges of developing and deploying technologies to exploit resources in the marine environment.

- Development Appraisal
Looking at what happens when renewable energy technologies are deployed, or other devices placed in the water, this course examines development constraints and opportunities: policy and regulatory issues (including strategic environmental assessment, environmental impact assessment, landscape assessment, capacity issues and the planning system). It also looks at the financial aspects (valuation of capital asses, financing projects and the costs of generating electricity) and at project management.

- Oceanography and Marine Ecology
This course is designed to give you an understanding of the science of waves and tides, and how this affects efforts to exploit energy from these resources. You will also learn about marine ecosystems and how these may be impacted by energy extraction and about the challenges and impacts associated with carrying out engineering operations in the marine environment.

Optional courses (of which two are chosen) are:
- Climate Change: Causes & Impacts
- Economics of Renewable Energy
- Climate Change: Mitigation & Adaptation Measures
- Practical Skills in Marine Surveying

To complete the MSc programme, a research dissertation equivalent to 4 taught courses must be completed.

English language requirements

If your first language is not English, or your first degree was not taught in English, we’ll need to see evidence of your English language ability. The minimum requirement for English language is IELTS 6.5 or equivalent. We offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your masters programme:

- 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no more than one skill at 4.5);
- 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with minimum of 5.0 in all skills);
- 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with minimum of 5.5 in reading & writing and minimum of 5.0 in speaking & listening)

Visit the Marine Planning for Sustainable Development MSc/Diploma page on the Heriot-Watt University website for more details!

(Student Profile)

Kate Rydzkowski

3519.jpg Choosing to do my Masters degree at ICIT is one of the best decisions I have ever made, not only is Orkney a fantastic place to live but the Old Academy gives you all the facilities that you would want from a university, with the added bonus of all being under the same roof. And I think it would be hard to find a University with a better view from its classroom windows! The course can be intensive but I think that is good as it pushes you to work hard and get the most out of the course material.

One of the best things about Orkney is that you very quickly feel part of the community and that you have lived here all your life. There is so much to see and do with various music festivals throughout the year and as much historic culture that anyone could ever ask for. The nightlife in Orkney is good fun and you very quickly fall into a routine of doing the “rounds” of all of the pubs in Stromness. My fellow class mates and I were a regular feature in the pubs and had some amazing times playing pool and finding random songs to play on the jukebox.

I am still living in Orkney, working with local industries and studying for a PhD at ICIT in fishery management for the brown crab fishery in Orkney. Through working with the fishery I met my husband and we’re very settled living in Stromness. I couldn’t recommend Orkney more!


SFC (Scottish Funding Council) - 14 Awards

A scholarship covering tuition fees will be awarded to successful applicants, pending a selection process. Please note that the scholarship covers tuition fees only, and students are expected to fund their own living and accommodation costs. For more information please email [email protected]

Value of Scholarship(s)

Tuition fees


Students must be Scottish residents for a minimum of 7 years. Previous experience as well as qualifications will be taken into consideration.Not available to Distance Learners.

Application Procedure

An application form is completed.For more information please email [email protected]

Further Information


Entry Requirements

For MSc level entry, students must hold a good degree in a relevant discipline (e.g. life sciences, engineering, environmental studies, business studies, surveying) from a UK or Overseas University. In addition to the academic qualifications, motivation, work experience and personality are taken into consideration.

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