School of GeoSciences

About the programme

Find out why you should take this intensive, educational opportunity to combine two exciting disciplines.

Geographical Information (GI) provides powerful solutions to real-world problems using one of the world’s most advanced technologies. It is an important and diverse industry employing at least 10,000 people in the UK alone.*

Students on Calton Hill with Edinburgh in background

*The UK Location Market Study 2012, ConsultingWhere Ltd

Build a unique set of skills and boost your career prospects

At the interface of archaeology, information and survey technologies, this programme aims to develop and improve your understanding of geographical information systems (GIS) by mixing practical skills with fundamental theoretical knowledge. Whether your background is in  archaeology or the broader environmental sciences, our unique modular structure enables you to tailor the programme around your individual interests and career goals. Demand for skilled archaeologists with GIS expertise continues to develop at a remarkable rate, and our degree is held in high regard by employers. 

The Edinburgh Masters programmes in Geographical Information Science (GIS) are world-class degrees, offering students the chance to gain critical theory, develop strong practical skills and undertake supervised independent research, all under the guidance of internationally-recognised staff. The programme is housed within Schools which have demonstrated "world-leading" and "internationally excellent" research.

Why study GIS & Archaeology at Edinburgh?

The GIS & Archaeology degree at the University of Edinburgh is an excellent, vocational qualification for a number of reasons, including: 

A strong reputation 

  • Unequalled experience as the first GIS programme of its type in the world, established in 1985 

  • One of the first Universities to offer a combined GIS & Archaeology programme, putting graduates at the forefront of their field 

  • Learn from and work with highly committed staff 

  • Enjoy studying at a University established in 1583, located in the centre of one of the most spectacular cities in the world with internationally-renown festivals occurring year round 

  • Keeps up with latest technologies (eg. software, sensors, platforms), keeping ahead of trends and is innovative in terms of ideas 

  • Unique project-oriented fieldwork programme in the Scottish Highland

Throughout our 20-year relationship, the GIS programme at Edinburgh has consistently developed high-calibre graduates, with strong analytical capabilities and an excellent grounding in technology, providing an exceptional foundation for a career in digital.

Dr John AldersonChairman of Informed Solutions

Facilitating networking

  • Unique professional GIS and Remote Sensing seminar series, run jointly with the Edinburgh Earth Observatory and AGI-Scotland - a forum for debate, networking, the exchange of ideas and the promotion of new research 

  • Weekly archaeology and history seminars from visiting academics and professionals, run by the School of History, Classics and Archaeology  

  • Opportunity to attend GIS and / or archaeology conferences, where students can learn about cutting edge research and network with researchers and other students 

  • Extensive graduate network, with hundreds of graduates working in key positions worldwide 

  • Annual alumni conference to foster an international graduate community

  • Strong links with industry through close staff contacts with individual companies, local and national government, as well as the Association for Geographic Information 

  • Annual student prizes generously sponsored by Informed Solutions

Career Opportunities

  • Proven track-record of graduate employment 

  • A dedicated GIS Careers event drawing on industry contacts and graduate experiences to give insight into the job market 

  • Annual GIS Update conference keeps graduates up-to-date with the field 

  • We regularly circulate job opportunities to students and graduates


Facilities and resources

The MSc GIS & Archaeology programme is jointly based in the Geography Building on Drummond Street (School of Geosciences) and the Old Medical Building on Teviot Place (School of History, Classics and Archaeology), both in the historic Old Town of Edinburgh. 

At Drummond Street, MSc students have access to three computing labs and a dedicated MSc social space. In the Old Medical Building, students have access to two computing labs, student social space, and a dedicated history, classics and archaeology Student Research Room, which contains several collections and libraries. These building are a short walk from the University Main Library, Pollock Halls accommodation, and the city centre.

GIS students have access to a remarkable range of general-purpose, database and web servers, with 42 well-specified PCs for practical and project work.  Software includes GIS (ArcGIS, QGIS), database management systems (Oracle, PostgresSQL), remote sensing (ERDAS Imagine), programming environments (Python, Java etc.), web data serving (GeoServer, MapServer), spatial statistics (SPSS, GeoDA) and photogrammetry (AgiSoft PhotoScan). Other equipment includes high-precision GPS, Total Stations, large and small UAV platforms, and a fully-supported Diamond HK36 TTC-ECO aircraft.   

The GIS group at Edinburgh have a pedigree of involvement in significant technologically-based projects such as writing an interface between ArcINFO and the Oracle Database Management System, the world's first integrated GIS (GeoView), Parallel Processing and GISSpaceBookThe Gazetteer for Scotland, the World Wide Earthquake Locator, as well as significant programmes of application-based research such as the Centre for Research on Environment, Health and Society, and in Belize. Archaeology staff have been involved with projects such as SimulPast and the Water Supply of Constantinople.  

GIS computing facilities

University Facilities

Student of this MSc will have access to a suite of excellent University facilities, including:

  • Library facilities

  • Borrowing books and browsing journals 

  • Access to various e-resources and databases 

  • Study facilities and areas to relax 

  • uCreate multimedia and specialist IT resource centres 

  • Study pods enabling groups of students to discuss ideas and work on projects 

Careers Service and Opportunities

The Careers Service offers guidance and information to students and recent graduates of the University on a range of career development learning opportunities and builds relationships with employers and training organisations in order to market students and graduates. Graduates can access Career Services resources for two years after they complete their degree.


Please note that field trip locations may change based on availability or for reasons outwith our control including those of a political nature.