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. If English is not your first language, you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your spoken and written English. IELTS: 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each section) TOEFL-iBT: 100 (at least 20 in each section) PTE: 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections - "Enabling Skills" section scores are not considered) CPE: Grade B; CAE: Grade A

Months of entry


Course content

Programme description This programme is unique in Europe and beyond. It embraces a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to understanding the roles of humans and their connection to marine ecosystems for survival and prosperity.

This MSc approaches marine systems as an integrated socio-ecological system through focusing on three spheres of marine systems:

  • Marine natural systems – exploring diverse scales and functions of key marine biomes, habitats and species, spanning islands, coasts, estuaries, continental shelves, polar seas and global oceans.

  • Marine policy systems – examining different approaches to marine spatial planning and governance of marine ecosystems and services, through formal policies, laws and informal customs and practices.

  • Marine built systems – exploring ‘blue growth’ opportunities e.g. the ingenuity and impact of human built environments in marine settings, from reshaping coastlines for cities, travel and trade, to the urbanisation of ocean environments through innovations in energy infrastructure.

Programme structure This programme involves two semesters of classes followed by an individual research project. The curriculum consists of compulsory and optional taught courses followed by a period of individual dissertation project work. There will also be local and international fieldtrips.

Compulsory courses typically include*:

  • Marine Systems and Policies
  • Marine Infrastructure and Environmental Change
  • Marine Field Methods in Research and Practice
  • Research Project in Marine Systems and Policies

Option courses:

Through consultation with your Programme Director you will choose three option courses* from areas such as:


  • International Law of the Sea
  • International Law of the Marine Environment
  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability
  • Foundations in Ecological Economics
  • Applications in Ecological Economics
  • Global Environmental Politics
  • Energy Policy and Politics
  • Energy and Society


  • Ecosystem Dynamics and Functions
  • Ecosystem Values and Management
  • Water Resource Management
  • Values and the Environment


  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Principles of GIS
  • Fundamentals for Remote Sensing

*Please note: courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change each year.

Field trips

The programme typically offers a field trip providing site-based learning of both natural and social science practices which has historically been a key component of this MSc. The core field trip is provisionally during April. Past field trips have taken place in locations such as Jamaica and the Maldives.

Career opportunities This MSc provides a foundation for work up to international level, for government bodies, think-tanks, consulting firms and NGOs where an integrated understanding of marine ecosystems, policies and practice is required.

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Fees and funding

UK students
International students

Please visit our Scholarships website for details of funding available to students applying for Marine Systems and Policies.

Qualification and course duration


full time
12 months
part time
24, 36 months

Course contact details

Programme Director
+44 (0)131 650 8636