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MSc Environmental Remote Sensing and Geospatial Sciences

This course provides a thorough scientific grounding in remote sensing and professional training in geospatial technology and programming, with a unique focus on environmental applications and space exploration.

Key facts

  • Award Masters / MSc, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma
  • Start date September 2024
  • Duration MSc full-time: 12 months, MSc part-time: 24 months
  • Mode of study full time, part time
  • Delivery on campus

Overview

As we have entered an era of high-resolution Earth observation, the Remote Sensing data are undergoing an explosive growth. Remote Sensing data are regarded as the Big Data of the environmental monitoring world, making graduates with these skills sought after by employers.

Our MSc Environmental Remote Sensing and Geospatial Sciences has a unique emphasis on developing and applying Remote Sensing solutions for understanding and monitoring structures and environmental processes on Earth and other planetary bodies in our solar system. This degree has a special focus on the use of Remote Sensing data and services for climate research and digital transformation of the environment.

The course covers topics from satellite, space, (un)manned airborne- and ground-based platforms and provides professional training in remote sensing, GIS, data analytics, modelling and theoretical, field and lab skills.

Top reasons to study with us

Course objectives

The MSc Environmental Remote Sensing and Geospatial Sciences aims to prepare graduates for a successful career in:

  • environmental, heritage and resource management (e.g. agriculture, fisheries, energy, insurances, waste crime) sectors;
  • the fast-growing downstream space and technology-driven industries, including government regulators, local authorities, universities and space agencies.

We aim to provide an in-depth, critical and balanced understanding of the theoretical foundations of remote sensing alongside current and emerging environmental and other applications.

This course will develop transferable professional and academic skills and will combine interdisciplinary scientific knowledge in environmental sciences with practical and cutting edge observation technology.

Work placements

This Masters course includes work-related assessments and guest speakers from public, private and third sector. Collectively, these will help you to set your career expectations and provide you with knowledge and skills which are highly relevant to recruitment needs.

The modules also integrate career readiness skills through the use case studies from different sector perspectives. This gives you the opportunity to familiarise with real-life solutions to common challenges in Earth observation and space exploration.

Flexible learning

If you’re interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email Graduate Admissions to discuss your course of study.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a second class honours degree or equivalent in a numerate subject such as geosciences, geography, environmental sciences, physics, engineering, mathematics is required for entry to this course. Applicants without these formal qualifications, but with significant appropriate work, may also be considered.

International entry requirements

View the entry requirements for your country.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS Academic or UKVI 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each sub-skill.
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 60 overall with a minimum of 59 in each sub-skill.
  • IBT TOEFL 78 overall with a minimum of 17 in listening, 18 in reading, 20 in speaking and 17 in writing.

See our information on English language requirements for more details on the language tests we accept and options to waive these requirements.

Pre-sessional English language courses

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses.

Course details

The first semester will develop core theoretical, field and data analytics skills alongside learning about environmental processes. In the second semester, the focus turns to training advanced skills in optical and passive remote sensing through a wide range of applications. This includes topics such as

  • aquatic and terrestrial systems
  • cometary and planetary near-surface processes
  • icebergs
  • ecology
  • marine safety
  • food security
  • human health
  • climate change

You'll also take a specialist module on GIS for learning geo-informatics skills required in the sector. This course will allow you to work with unique specialists within the University, and to work on your research project. 

The space sector is growing fast, driven by rising demands of Earth observation and space exploration and the need for evidence-based solutions. The rapidly increasing rate of data collection from Earth and space missions suitable for quantifying physical and biogeochemical processes on Earth and other planetary bodies; e.g. ESA Sentinel and Rosetta, NASA Mars Exploration Rovers and Landsat and Aqua missions, offers unique information about a wide range of different environments.

Advances in sensors and platforms (e.g. unmanned vehicles, CubeSats) support new and more detailed characterisation of surfaces and processes. Collectively, these are revealing a new era for science applications and industry opportunities.

Modules

The module information below provides an example of the types of course module you may study. The details listed are for the current academic year (September 2023). Modules and start dates are regularly reviewed and may be subject to change in future years.

Course Details

Teaching

The basis of the course is research-led teaching, delivered by staff who are world-leaders in their fields. This MSc will transfer to students the knowledge and expertise gained by USTIR world-leading and ground-breaking research. Stirling provides an ideal location for studying the environment.

The following teaching and learning strategies will be followed in order to achieve the intended learning outcomes (as listed above):

  1. lectures
  2. guided reading
  3. field and lab classes
  4. assignments
  5. guest lectures. Guest lecturers are drawn from academia and industry giving a good view of EO and space exploration activities and careers.
  6. dissertation

Fieldwork

The is an optional module on field skills in Enviromental Sciences. EPLPPG1 includes some filed activities using in-situ radiometers and drones.

Assessment

A diverse range of assessment methods, including coursework and written or practical examinations are used in this course.

Coursework is mainly based on relevant research carried out in the field or the laboratory, working either individually or in groups, and includes elements of literature review and research design.

Coursework may be either individually or group assessed. A final year research dissertation includes an industry-linked opportunity.

Assessments are anonymously graded wherever possible, and grading is subject to robust moderation procedures.

Fees and funding

Fees and costs

2023/242024/25
Students from the UK and Republic of Ireland£10,350£10,900
International (including EU) students£21,845£22,900

University of Stirling alumni will automatically be awarded a fee waiver for the first year of Masters studies through our  Stirling Alumni Scholarship.

Applicants from the UK or Republic of Ireland who hold a first-class honours degree or equivalent will automatically be awarded a £2,000 scholarship through our Postgraduate Merit Scholarship

Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course. 

If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for additional fees. 

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry. 

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Eligible students could receive a scholarship worth between £4,000-£7,000. See our range of generous scholarships for international postgraduate students.

Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course. 

If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for additional fees. 

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry. 

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Additional costs

There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.

Scholarships and funding

Funding 

Eligible international students could receive a scholarship worth between £4,000-£7,000. See our range of generous scholarships for international postgraduate students.

University of Stirling alumni will automatically be awarded a fee waiver for the first year of Masters studies through our Stirling Alumni Scholarship.

Applicants from the UK or Republic of Ireland who hold a first-class honours degree or equivalent will automatically be awarded a £2,000 scholarship through our Postgraduate Merit Scholarship.

If you have the talent, ability and drive to study with us, we want to make sure you make the most of the opportunity – regardless of your financial circumstances.

Learn more about available funding opportunities or use our scholarship finder to explore our range of scholarships.

Cost of living

If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.

International (including EU) students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support.

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay

After you graduate

Upon completion of this course, you will be prepared to build a successful career in the fast-growing downstream Space and technology-driven industries or work in environmental, heritage and resource managements sectors including government regulators, local authorities, universities and space agencies. The course will allow to get industry experience through modules including work-related assessments and guest speakers from public, private and third sector.

What our students said

Morgan Simpson
Morgan Simpson
Scotland
MSc Earth and Planetary Observation
During the course I’ve enjoyed the hands-on experience with the earth observation software, as well as learning about in-field techniques for taking measurements. I have also enjoyed the added ability to be involved with work outside of the Masters course, such as the Copernicus Accelerator project that we were involved with this year.
Read Morgan's story
Isla Farrell
Isla Farrell
Scotland
MSc Earth and Planetary Observation
The postgraduate experience has been outstanding due to the level of guidance provided by my lecturers. What I like about my course is that it incorporates planetary science into a remote sensing degree. I have also gained experience in coding and data science.
Read Isla's story

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