Teaching is based around four five week blocks, preceded by an induction week in September.

Students attend a fieldwork course at the end of block one. Teaching is concentrated in the first three blocks, with work on the dissertation commencing in block four and continuing over the summer.

If you wish to study part-time, you can discuss your individual programme of study with the Programme Director.

Course credits

The requirement for each programme is the completion of courses and a dissertation worth a total of 180 credit points. The weighting of these credit points varies depending on the degree programme chosen.

Taught element

Students undertake a number of key compulsory courses and choose their remaining courses from a wide range of options.

Recommended optional courses are selected from a wide range offered in the School of Geosciences. Students also have the opportunity to select optional courses from other Schools within the University of Edinburgh.

You should be aware that because different options are available in the four blocks, not all course combinations will be possible. This is particularly the case with courses timetabled by other Schools within the University. In addition, not all the option courses may be offered every year. Successful applicants will be advised of the precise timetabling on arrival in Edinburgh.

Introductory course

An introductory course, of two days duration, will take place at the start of the year during Induction Week. This will provide an overview of the GIS Laboratory computer systems and their operating systems. It is intended to provide a basic set of skills which are required for the remainder of the programme.

All students are required to attend this module regardless of previous computing experience. This component is not examinable.

Field trip

A field trip is undertaken at the Kindrogan Field Centre, Perthshire, where students use a variety of field based techniques and equipment concerned with the capture of geospatial information and apply these to the design and management of team based projects.


Students attend a weekly seminar series run jointly by the Edinburgh Earth Observatory and the Association for Geographic Information in Scotland (AGI-Scotland) with seminars delivered by GI professionals.

Research dissertation

Each student will conduct an individual research project on a subject supervised by a member of teaching staff. MSc candidates write up their work as a dissertation which is submitted before the end of August.

Part Time Studies

You may study any of the GIS programmes part time over either 2 or 3 years. You are advised to discuss your study options with the Programme Director.

The requirement for the degree of MSc is the completion of courses and a dissertation worth a total of 180 credit points.

As a rough guide, your study pattern might be as follows:

MSc over 2 years - in year one you will take most of the taught courses and carry out research preparation, and in year two you will take the remaining courses and focus on your research project.

MSc over 3 years - in year one you will take about half of the taught courses, in year two you will take the remaining courses and carry out preparatory work on your research project, and in year three you will focus on your research project and produce your dissertation.

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