MSc Remote Sensing and the Living Environment

The Aberystwyth MSc in Remote Sensing and the Living Environment 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.  You will also apply this learning to the major themes and complexities involved in the monitoring and management of the Living Environment. 

In this highly interdisciplinary Masters course in Remote Sensing and the Living Environment, 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, Physics and Computer Science (IMPaCS), 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 the Living Environment has a strong vocational dimension, with field-based and 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. 

Key Facts


One year full-time or two years part-time. The academic year (September to September) is divided into three semesters: September to January; January to June; June to September.

Contact Time:

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.

Assessment: 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.
Entry Requirements:

Good Undergraduate degree 2.2 (UK) (or above) equating to a mark of 56.5 or above in a related subject. European and International applicants can find their grade equivalence on our comparability page. Those who are not graduates must satisfy the University that they are of the required academic standard to pursue postgraduate study.

English Language Requirements:

If you have a Bachelor’s degree from a UK University, you do not need to take an English proficiency test.

Non-native English speakers who do not meet this requirement must take a University-recognised test of academic English language proficiency. For further information please see our English Language requirements page.

Course Fees:

Please see the tuition fee pages for current tuition fees. Please note that all fees are subject to an annual increase.


Funding opportunities may be available, please check our funding calculator for details.


The Master’s in Remote Sensing and the Living Environment combines the fields of the Living Environment 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 conservation, biodiversity and sustainability, and the application of ecological principles to restoration problems.

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 human impacts on terrestrial ecosystems, glaciology, hydrology, forestry, coastal change, carbon cycle science and biodiversity).  Within the Living Environment, you will engage with the hot topics of ecosystems: the effects of pollution, climate change, natural resource exploitation, rehabilitation, and new technologies on managing the environment will be explored

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 the Living Environment 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 the Living Environment, 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.

Our Staff

Department of Geography and Earth Science: lecturers are all qualified to PhD level or working towards a PhD.

The majority of teaching staff at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences are qualified to PhD level and are research active. Vocational courses also have staff whose background lies within industry.  The Institute has a large number of research only staff with whom students may have contact.

Course Content

Welsh medium modules available

Year 1 Core (120 Credits) The following modules are core and must be taken

Semester 1

Frontiers In The Biosciences BRM4920

Advanced Research Skills 1: Science Communication And Data Analysis EAM1120

Fundamentals Of Remote Sensing And Gis EAM4020

Semester 2

Work Experience In Geographical Information Systems/remote Sensing EAM2020

Skills In Remote Sensing EAM3620

Advanced Research Skills 2: Research Design And Data Acquisition EAM4720

Year 1 Core (60 Credits) Dissertation.

Semester 3

Research Dissertation In Geographical Information Systems/remote Sensing EAM3060


Qualification: MSc in Remote Sensing and the Living Environment

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.


Every aspect of the Aberystwyth Master’s in Remote Sensing and the Living Environment 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 the Living Environment, 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 climate change, human impacts on terrestrial ecosystems, glaciology, hydrology, forestry, coastal change, carbon cycle science and biodiversity.    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 the Living Environment includes field trips which will take you into the Cambrian Mountains and local area.  This 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 and the Living Environment datasets.

Such activities convert the purely academic theory of research and data collection into the proven know-how of experience and, importantly, the necessary repertoire of presentation skills to communicate your findings 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 the Living Environment 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.  Remote Sensing MScs 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. 


How to Apply

Postgraduate applicants can submit their application either on-line or off-line. Please see our How to Apply page for further information.

Departmental contact details 

Tel: (01970) 622643

Fax: (01970) 622659


Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences

Llandinam Building

Penglais Campus

Aberystwyth University

SY23 3DB

If you'd like to see how we assess your application please click and watch our Application videos.

Further Information

As a Postgraduate Student you will be inducted to the University and join one of the top Graduate Schools in the world (Igraduate2012).

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