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MSc Remote Sensing and Planetary Science

Course Description

The Aberystwyth MSc in Remote Sensing and Planetary Science is designed to provide you with a range of key skills and expertise required to understand, analyse and interpret remote sensing and other spatial datasets, and to apply them on a solar system-wide stage. Previous graduates have since contributed to the BEAGLE Mars exploration projects.

In this highly interdisciplinary Remote Sensing and Planetary Science Masters course, you will be exposed to the cutting edge of understanding from a range of subject areas, taught by world-class experts. All the Remote Sensing Masters are offered through the collaboration of the Institutes of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS), of Mathematics and Physical Sciences (IMAPS), of Computer Sciences, and of Geography, History, Politics and Psychology (IGHPP).

You will have access to these four world-class departments. The superb teaching staff members maintain active national and international research programmes in their specialist subjects and ensure that every exciting development is brought into the course material. Their collective expertise and experience, and the superb departmental facilities available at Aberystwyth, ensure that your Remote Sensing course has a rigorous academic core with strong practical relevance.

The Aberystwyth MSc in Remote Sensing and Planetary Science has a strong vocational dimension, with work experience modules that link the latest theoretical concepts with real applications. You will develop a cache of practical, technical and analytical skills which will stand you in excellent stead for entry into further study, public sector organisations and private companies.

See the website http://courses.aber.ac.uk/postgraduate/remote-sensing-and-planetary-science-masters/#overview

Suitable for

This degree will suit you:

- If you wish to obtain a Master’s degree with leading input from four internationally-renowned research departments;
- If you have a 2:1 degree or higher in a related discipline;
- If you wish to gain academic expertise, field skills and technical experience in a remote sensing discipline;
- If you wish to enter one of a diverse range of careers requiring research, analysis and practical excellence.

Course detail

The Master’s in Remote Sensing and Planetary Science combines the fields of Planetary Science and Remote Sensing to provide students with a strong theoretical and conceptual background and vocational training in these inter-related topics. Having completed your undergraduate degree in a related field, this MSc will enable you to bring your skills and knowledge up to date with a mastery of the latest technological tools and contemporary theoretical understanding. The course particularly focuses on understanding the satellite exploration of Earth, other planets and the solar system.

The course is a full-time programme, taught over one year, and is divided into two parts over three semesters. In part one, you will establish a breadth of necessary skills in a number of core modules whilst directing your own study by choosing specialist modules, worth a total of 120 credits. In part two, you will apply your learning in the individual dissertation worth an additional 60 credits.

The Remote Sensing component will introduce you to a range of technologies (including radar, optical/hyperspectral sensing and LiDAR) in a breadth of application contexts (including climate change, human impacts on terrestrial ecosystems, glaciology, hydrology, forestry, coastal change, carbon cycle science and biodiversity). Within Planetary Science, you will encounter new and innovative techniques in computer based analysis, whether the focus is ground, air or space.

Whatever your own previous experience or future aspiration, you will benefit from the marvellous integration of cutting-edge theory and practical application, across four world-class departments. In addition to this input, you will be encouraged to conduct your own reading of up-to-date articles on key aspects of planetary science and remote sensing, and also to participate in relevant meetings and conferences, such as the Remote Sensing and Photogrammetry Society Annual Conference.

Our lecturers are active researchers working at the cutting edge of their disciplines, and you will benefit from being taught the latest geographical theories and techniques. In the most recent Research Excellence Framework assessment (REF 2014) DGES retained its crown of the best Geography department in Wales, with 78% of the research being undertaken classified as either "world leading" or "internationally excellent”. DGES is also in the top ten of UK Geography departments with regard to research power, which provides a measure of the quality of research, as well as of the number of staff undertaking research within the department.

As a graduate of the Aberystwyth MSc in Remote Sensing and Planetary Science, you will possess the latest technological, theoretical and practical understanding of the subject. Recent graduates in remote sensing have been highly successful in continuing within academia and finding employment within private enterprises and in UK and international government agencies. You can be fully confident that this MSc, as a statement of contemporary academic expertise proven in practise, will make you highly desirable to employers, academic institutions and recruiting government bodies.


Contact time is approximately 8-10 hours a week in the first two semesters. During semester three you will arrange your level of contact time with your assigned supervisor.


The taught part of the course (Part 1) is delivered and assessed through lectures, student seminars, practical exercises, case studies, course work and formal examinations. The subsequent successful submission of your research dissertation (Part 2) leads to the award of MSc.


Every aspect of the Aberystwyth Master’s in Remote Sensing and Planetary Science programme is designed to enhance your employability: indeed, successful completion of this degree is in itself certain to do so by building your CV; but more significant is the hugely enhanced array of knowledge, abilities and skills with which you will graduate. We know from past graduates’ success that prospective employers take a similar view, as our alumni have taken positions with UK and international government bodies, private enterprises and leading research establishments.

By completing the Aberystwyth Master’s in Remote Sensing and Planetary Science, you will have strengthened your employability in both specialist and more general areas of work. As a specialist, you will be a highly competent contributor to any work relating to atmospheric and solar system physics, Magnetospheres and Ionospheres, robotic explorations and much more. In more generic employment situations, your strengths will be broad and deep because you can demonstrate mastery of any planning, research, analysis and reporting skills that your employer will require.

You may choose to apply for the Access to Masters scheme (ATM) which ensures that postgraduate training is geared towards the needs of business. Masters students on ATM undertake projects with local businesses, which are tailored to meet the interests of the companies. This scheme ensures that Masters students have gain experience in a relevant workplace and begin to build their personal business networks, ready for graduation.

All employers, whether subject-related specialists or more general corporate bodies and consultancies, place a high value on first-rate technical aptitude, clarity in research and analysis and fluency in communication. You will gain these skills, and much more, as you progress through your studies at Aberystwyth to become an engaging candidate for areas of work relating to remote sensing and beyond.

- Field Expertise in Practise:
As a highly practical Master’s course, the MSc in Remote Sensing and Planetary Science includes field trips into the Cambrian Mountains and local area. These will provide you with hands-on experience in the use of field equipment and the collection of ground truth data to support the interpretation and analysis of Remote Sensing datasets. These exercises are necessary for you to gain a thorough understanding of Remote Sensing.

Such activities convert the purely academic theory of research and data collection into the proven know-how of experience and, when reporting your findings, the necessary repertoire of presentation skills to communicate your results successfully. This experience gained by this approach, which begins at the concept stage and ends in written and live presentation, is a rare advantage in the competitive jobs market. The MSc in Remote Sensing and Planetary Science is set up to help you pursue this edge throughout your studies, securing your theoretical learning with practical knowledge.

- Advanced Skills in Research and Technology :
As you would expect, the content of this MSc is strongly weighted in favour of understanding all the scientific processes and advanced technical tools at your disposal. A number of modules, such as the Advanced Research Skills, are designed to develop your thinking to the point that critical analysis and evaluation becomes second-nature. The benefits of practising such skills go beyond the Master’s course and into further study and any professional employment you choose.

Masters students have access to a dedicated computer laboratory (located within the Llandinam Tower) for research in remote sensing which is fully equipped with the latest software. You will get to grips with an impressive array of remote sensing software systems, technologies and programming languages including IDL ENVI, ARCGIS, ArcInfo, Erdas Imagine, Cyclone (LiDAR processing), Gamma (radar processing) and python. This highly specific and technical experience will more than satisfy employers within related employment sectors and impress those in other, unrelated areas of work.

- Project Management in the Dissertation:
The Master’s dissertation requires you to work independently and to pursue your own individual dissertation topic. You will access to the support and expertise of any of the four departments relevant to remote sensing, but you are required to cultivate a professional work ethic to deliver the combination of research, analysis, communication and presentation demanded by your dissertation. This rigorous part of the MSc will require you to employ project management skills which are entirely transferrable to almost any work context that Master’s graduates apply for.

Studying for this Master’s degree will allow you to sharpen up all your core scientific disciplines, your professional work ethos and your presentation and communication skills. Once secured by obtaining your Masters Degree, you will have gained confidence in the level of your academic expertise and practical field skills, which in turn will enhance your employability in both highly specialised related professions and also on broader, unrelated professional paths.

Find out how to apply here https://www.aber.ac.uk/en/postgrad/howtoapply/

Visit the MSc Remote Sensing and Planetary Science page on the Aberystwyth University website for more details!

Entry Requirements

Good Undergraduate degree 2.2 (UK) (or above) equating to a mark of 56.5 or above in a related subject. Those who are not graduates must satisfy the University that they are of the required academic standard to pursue postgraduate study.

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