Course Overview

Nominated for Marine Industry Awards 2016, for "Excellence in Marine Education and Training Award".  Full story here.

For up to date descriptions of MSc staff and student activities please visit the following sites:

The MSc in Coastal and Marine Environments is a full-time postgraduate course delivered over three semesters. It is directed at graduates from Geography, Natural Sciences and other related disciplines in the social and natural sciences, and at professionals in the field who are interested in furthering their knowledge of coastal and marine environments. Since the emergence of integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) policy and practice in the 1990s, EU policy regarding catchment, coastal and marine management has continued to emphasize the importance of integrated and participatory approaches to progress sustainable development in the coastal zone. This MSc programme, theoretically informed and with a strong field-based and applied focus, is offered in direct response to new emerging discourses on the long term health of coastal and marine environments. It seeks to:

  • challenge and facilitate students to engage with but go beyond established scientific conceptual and theoretical perspectives,
  • engage new ways of understanding the complexities of our evolving physical coastal and marine environments
  • develop critical insights that can support policy and practice in sustaining these increasingly vulnerable environments.

A driving motivation of the programme is the conviction that informed decision making for addressing environmental change and adoption of appropriate management, planning and policy strategies in coastal and marine environments should be based upon appropriate scientific evidence. 

So far this year the 2015-2016 students in our MSc programme have participated in: 

Programme Director Dr. Eugene Farrell,

“At a local level, national policies that control how the Irish coastal and marine environments are managed and achieve Good Environmental Status by 2020 require personnel trained in both science and policy. Most new coastal and marine policies at national and European levels - like Harnessing our Ocean Wealth and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive—include commitments to consider the natural environment and the implications of climate change in our decisions. These initiatives clearly show the need and potential for new and innovative courses, research, and academic qualifications in this area. The EU has agreed its funding framework for the next decade through Horizon 2020 and one of the core 7 research themes is Marine and Maritime activities. This means that there are currently a series of large research projects coming to fruition requiring PhD candidates with strong foundations in the coastal and marine sciences and Industry opportunities for trained personnel.”

“Our vision is that the MSc will support the future trajectory of the next generation of scientists and leaders by building a clear pathway for students from undergraduate programmes through the one-year MSc and, for top performers, onto research PhDs. The MSc Programme is attracting top performing undergraduates locally and abroad. In our first two years we have students from all over Ireland, including NUIG, UCC, TCD, UCD, NUIM, and LIT, the UK, USA, Canada, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Spain, France, and South Africa. A particular strength of the programme is that we have students with very diverse backgrounds” says Dr. Farrell. 

Applications and Selections

Who Teaches this Course

Dr Aaron Potito
Dr Chaosheng Zhang
Dr Eugene Farrell
Dr Frances Fahy
Dr Kevin Lynch
Dr Audrey Morley
Dr Terry Morley

Requirements and Assessment

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

Level 8 degree, Second Class Honours or equivalent, with Second Class Honours Grade 1 or equivalent in a relevant fieldof studies. Selection is based on candidate’s academic record at undergraduate level, statement of intent and academic letters of recommendation.

Additional Requirements


1 year full-time

Next start date

September 2016

A Level Grades ()

Average intake


Closing Date

See review dates

Next start date

September 2016

NFQ level

Mode of study


ECTS weighting




PAC code


Course Outline

Proposed Modules (all 10 ECTs); subject to change

CORE Modules (Semester 1) NON CORE Modules
(Semester 2)
Coastal Processes and Landforms Coastal hazards OR Coastal Risk and Resilience
Field and Laboratory Methods Biodiversity in the Coastal Zone OR Environment & Health
Marine Spatial Policy and Planning Reconstructing the Marine Environment OR Quaternary Coastal Change
  May - August    Dissertation (30 ECTs)

Development of skills is supported by a significant focus on practical and field-based learning, including short field courses in Ireland, workshops, conferences, work placements and ship-time on the RV Celtic Voyager. It is directed at graduates from geography, the natural sciences and other related disciplines of the social and natural sciences, and at professionals in the field who are interested in furthering their knowledge of coastal and marine environments.

2015-2016 Modules

  • Biodiversity and Coastal Change (Dr. Terry Morley): coastal habitats are one of the most sensitive environments to climate change. This course aims to foster an interdisciplinary assessment and analysis of coastal biodiversity science and conservation within a context of global change. The module will expose students to current ecological methods, major threats to coastal environments, and the legislative framework used to implement conservation and restoration in coastal ecosystems.
  • Coastal Processes and Landforms (Dr. Eugene Farrell): the purpose of this module is to provide a general introduction to the discipline of coastal geomorphology, a review of coastal environments and related problems, and a more detailed consideration of beach-dune systems. Specifically, this module will focus on identifying and understanding the complex relationships between the suite of physical processes actively shaping the coast. Emphasis is put on critical analyses of the process-landform models (e.g. sediment transfers; system equilibria) operating on different time scales (seconds to millenia). Other themes will examine how multi-disciplinary field based sciences are designed and used to inform future coastal management strategies.
  • Coastal Risk: management and prevention (Dr. Kevin Lynch): this module builds on the work of the EU INTERREG project ANCORIM seeking to facilitate today’s (and future) coastal managers and planners in accounting for coastal risk in their decisions. The implementation of a myriad of EU Directives and the transposition of these into national legislation renders the management and prevention of coast risks a very complex field. Using theoretical considerations on coastal risk as a base, the module will focus on practical tools and management frameworks.
  • Field and Laboratory Methods (Dr. Aaron Potito; Dr. Chaosheng Zhang): this module outlines the principles of designing and implementing a research project: collecting representative data in the field; coding data and database construction; quantitative data analysis; mapping and spatial data analysis within a Geographic Information System. The aim of the module is to in still in students an ability to collect primary data, analyse them, draw conclusions and present the findings in a meaningful, professional manner.
  • Marine Spatial Planning and Policy (Dr. Frances Fahy): the complex array of contemporary social pressures on marine and coastal environments requires an integrated and holistic approach to planning and management. This module critically explores the development and evolution of marine and coastal management planning, policies and legislation. It introduces students to a range of tools for managing the marine environment.
  • Reconstructing Marine Environments (Dr. Audrey Morley): this module will explore the implications of continuing greenhouse gas emissions and global warming on the marine environment and climate by: (1) introducing students to the Atmosphere Ocean climate system on multiple timescales, (2) providing the scientific basis for analyzing and interpreting geophysical time series data for science and climate applications and (3) discussing specific case studies from the Cenozoic that serve as potential analogues to future changes on the marine environment.
  • Dissertation (Independent Research Project; Advisor selected for project): this is a key module in the programme. It allows students to develop, organise and execute a research project based on independent research which will bring to the fore their critical analysis skills, their practical and applied skills and their ability to link classroom and real world challenges. The conducting of an independent research project is one of the foremost skills developed during a student’s academic career.

Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

With coastal and marine resources increasingly promoted as being central to revitalising the Irish and global economy, the coming years will require well informed and educated leaders who understand the complexities of the interaction between the economy and health of these environments. Our taught Masters programme has been designed to integrate science, policy and governance so that students are trained to start professional careers in these areas. On graduating you will have opportunities across various fields including, but not limited to: Coastal and Marine Science, Environmental Monitoring, Professional Consultancy, Ecological Appropriate Assessment, Socio-Economic Impact Assessment, State/Semistate/NGOs, Environmental and Project Management, Planning, Governance, University and Private Research, Terrestrial and Oceanographic Surveys, Tourism, GIS, Heritage, and Teaching. 

The Marine Institute is the national agency responsible for Marine Research, Technology Development and Innovation (RTDI) in Ireland. They have produced a brochure  Oceans of Opportunitywith a list of exciting careers available in Marine Science, Engineering and Technology that include: 

  • Seafood (fisheries, aquaculture, seafood processing and seaweed)
  • Shipping, Ports and Services
  • Marine Renewable Energy
  • Offshore Oil and Gas and Seabed Resources
  • Marine and Coastal Tourism and Leisure including Cruise Tourism
  • Marine Information Communication Technology
  • Marine Biotechnology and Bioproducts



Who’s Suited to This Course

Learning Outcomes



Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€6,015 p.a. 2016/17

Fees: Tuition

€5,791 p.a. 2016/17

Fees: Student levy

€224 p.a. 2016/17

Fees: Non EU

€13,250 p.a. 2016/17

Postgraduate students in receipt of a SUSI grant – please note an F4 grant is where SUSI will pay €2,000 towards your tuition.  You will be liable for the remainder of the total fee.  An F5 grant is where SUSI will pay TUITION up to a maximum of €6,270.  SUSI will not cover the student levy of €224. 

Postgraduate fee breakdown = tuition (EU or NON EU) + student levy as outlined above.