School of GeoSciences

About the programme

Combine data, technology and science to find new solutions to the world’s biggest challenges.

This unique MSC aims to provide you with the theoretical and practical skills to use and analyse Earth Observation data in conjunction with Geographical Information Science (GIS). This programme is well-embedded in a research and industry active environment, and builds on our successful MSc in Geographical Information Science (GIS) degree, which was the first of its type in the world with a heritage of over 30 years.

What is GIS?

GIS captures, stores, checks and displays data related to positions on the Earth’s surface so you can better understand spatial patterns and relationships.

Drone capture

What is Earth Observation?

Earth Observation involves the gathering of information about the Earth’s physical, chemical and biological systems using remote sensing technologies such as satellites. Earth Observation is growing in social, economic and political importance by helping us better understand and manage the earth and its environment in areas such as agriculture, infrastructure and transportation, mineral resource management, land use and planning, monitoring pollution, deforestation and land degradation to climate change monitoring and action.

What will I learn?

Through the programme you will be equipped with critical theoretical knowledge, develop strong practical skills and undertake supervised independent research, all under the guidance of our internationally recognised staff.

The programme is continually refreshed to keep you abreast of the latest technologies as well as anticipating trends and innovation ideas which is essential in this rapidly growing sector.

You will gain extensive experience applying Earth observation data ‘in the field’ including remote sensing, as well as benefit from access to projects that involve the use of equipment such as survey-grade GPS and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Is this programme for me?

The interdisciplinary nature of the program is ideal if you have a background in environmental or geographical sciences with experience in remote sensing. It is also suitable if you have a background in physics, computer science or engineering and looking for a career in more applied areas. There is a lot of flexibility in the programme, enabling you to customise your learning in areas you are most passionate about.


Facilities are an essential asset for our research and teaching. Computing-intensive research in Geographical Information Systems (GIS), meteorological and climate modelling, geophysics, and analysis of space and satellite data, is supported by access to our well-equipped in-house GIS suite with a broad range of software licences, and the Edinburgh Computer and Data Facility parallel computing and DataStore facilities. Specialist training in the use of these facilities will be provided.

You will also have access to national and international supercomputing, laboratory, experimental and field facilities.

Finally, we use field stations and facilities worldwide for research projects in the Antarctic, Arctic and tropics, on research ships in the world’s oceans, through aircraft sampling the atmosphere and via remote sensing data from satellites.