Taught course

Marine Systems and Policies

University of Edinburgh · School of Geosciences

Entry requirements

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in natural sciences or social sciences, but with clear evidence of experience and interest in marine topics.

Months of entry


Course content

Rapid climate change and the global expansion of human activities threaten the world’s oceans. How do we realistically balance the demand for development with the need to protect the environment?

The MSc in Marine Systems and Policies is unique from other marine programmes. It enables you to truly embrace the integrated approach needed to tackle the complex issues facing our oceans.

You can explore diverse marine ecosystems, understand the tensions between conservation and marine development, and examine the policies in place to protect our coastlines and global ocean.

The programme approaches these challenges through three intrinsically linked areas:


Explore marine ecosystems, their socioeconomic importance, and their conservation across marine biomes, habitats and species – spanning islands, coasts, estuaries, continental shelves, polar seas, and the deep and high seas.


Examine the built systems of a ‘blue economy’ such as resource exploitation and infrastructure and how they affect marine species and ecosystems. You’ll learn to develop robust practical management frameworks that aim for sustainable ocean development such as marine spatial planning, and environmental impact assessment.


Investigate different systems of ocean policies and governance, from voluntary codes of conduct to legally binding regional and international policies. You’ll also review marine planning, area-based management tools, as well as the impact of local customs and traditional knowledge.

This innovative programme is taught by world-leading experts in key fields of marine science and policy. It also has excellent relationships with a variety of organisations from local communities through to government, industry and academia. This network ensures that you not only have access to employers and decision makers who may be able to provide employment opportunities or research projects, but also help you gain valuable real-world experience and effect real change.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MSc
    full time
    12 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
    part time
    24 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

Admissions Programme Contact, Kathryn Will
+44 (0)131 650 2624