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?

Our 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
  • examine the policies in place to protect our coastlines and global ocean

The programme approaches these challenges through three inter-linked perspectives:


Explore marine species and ecosystems directly during field trips throughout the year and from our classrooms. We will explore their socioeconomic importance and conservation across marine biomes and habitats 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 as well as the human dimension. You will learn to rigorously critique 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, and the need to integrate local customs and traditional knowledge into policy-making.

Study Details:

MSc: 1 year full-time, 2-3 years part-time

Module Details:

You must take these courses
Marine Ecosystems and Policies
Corals in a Changing Ocean
Marine Field Methods in Research and Practice
Sustainable Marine Development
Research Project in Marine Systems and Policies

Programme Funding

The Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) offers two fully funded scholarships for MSc Marine Systems and Policies students.

Please also visit

Student Destinations

Employers tell us that they seek candidates with real-world skills and an integrated understanding of marine ecosystems, development and planning, as well as regional and international policies.

Our unique MSc programme provides you with this foundation so that you can work in a wide range of settings, from grassroots community groups to universities and governments.

You can also seek a career with the marine industry, non-government organisations (NGOs) or international agencies.

Our graduates are now working around the world at local, national and international levels.

They have gained employment in a variety of roles such as:

  • consultants
  • marine science officers
  • marine policy analysts and officers
  • sustainability consultants
  • project leaders
  • program officers
  • marine mammal observers
  • marine education executives

For example, they can be found:

  • gathering evidence for the government to support marine protected areas
  • conducting academic research and fieldwork
  • advising the fishing and tourism industry
  • working with international conservation agencies to help implement marine policies at the highest level


We have excellent relationships with various organisations, from local communities to government, industry, and academia.

Our networks can give you access to potential employers and decision-makers who may provide employment opportunities or research projects.

Our graduates

Examples of the organisations our graduates have gained employment include:

  • World Wildlife Federation (WWF)
  • United Nations Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre
  • Coral Cay Conservation Philippines
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Commissioned Officer Corps USA
  • Royal Society for the Protection of Nature Scotland
  • International Union for the Conservation of Nature
  • Pew Foundation


Please see our website

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.

Please see our website for how to apply

Visit Website Add to Compare List

Key Information

Please see our website for how to apply

Visit Website

Add to Compare List

University Hub

Edinburgh, The University of

More Information