Postgraduate study

Geographical Information Science MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time


Funding opportunities

The programme not only encourages collaboration of students but also promotes the exchange between students, staff and industry partners. It was here I met a fellow student and a senior lecturer of the programme with whom I went on to found the start-up “Earthwave”. The MSc has provided me with the background skills needed to work on the different research projects Earthwave carries out for the European Space Agency but also prepared me to face the daily challenges of running my own business.

Livia Jakob MSc Geographical Information Science
Livia Jakob               MSc Geographical Information Science

Geographical Information Science (GIS) provides powerful solutions to real-world problems using a range of the world’s most advanced technologies.

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

Every day around the world, GIS is being used to solve complex problems and is being integrated into almost every discipline. From population dynamics, estate planning, logistics management and telecommunications through to tracking deforestation, environmental management and predicting climate change, GIS is changing the way the world works.

Our successful MSc in Geographical Information Science (GIS) was the first of its type in the world, and has a heritage of over 30 years.

The course is continually refreshed to keep you abreast of the latest technological changes and industry trends. You will gain critical theoretical knowledge, develop strong practical skills and undertake supervised independent research, all under the guidance of our internationally recognised staff.

Many of our MSc students’ research projects are published in academic or professional journals. You will gain valuable hands-on experience within the classroom, on a field trip within Scotland where you can apply your skills and gain experience in managing a short lifecycle GIS project and through a series of events and experiences which help launch your career and establish a professional network.

There is much flexibility in the programme, enabling you to customise your learning in areas you are most passionate about. Whether you want to build apps for your smart phone or solve some of the largest environmental problems on the planet, this programme is for you.


The programme is accredited by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

This MSc programme is comprised of:

  • 3 Compulsory courses
  • 3 Option courses
  • Field trip
  • Dissertation

Courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change.

You will experience a range of teaching styles while you are studying, depending on the subject matter and courses you are taking. Courses can be delivered through a mix of lectures, tutorials, seminars, workshops, practicals, laboratory work, short field trips and longer field courses. Please view each relevant course for teaching and assessment methods.

Part-time study

As we are committed to helping people into education whilst continuing to work or managing family and personal commitments, you may study this programme part-time.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScGeographical Information Science1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2019/20
MScGeographical Information Science2 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2019/20
MScGeographical Information Science3 YearsPart-timeProgramme structure 2019/20

Demand for GIS expertise continues to develop at an unprecedented rate.

The proven ability of our graduates means our internationally recognised programme is held in high regard by our employers. The vast majority of our students gain employment before completing the programme or within a few months of graduating.

The expertise gained on this programme will enable you to pursue a career in many fields, including surveying, illustration and 3D visualisation, digital archiving, heritage management, terrain modelling, database management, geomatics or IT consultancy as just some examples. Our graduates have been very successful gaining employment around the world in a variety of public and private sector organisations. Types of roles include GIS analysts, data managers, product development engineers, conservationists, and as geomatics specialists.

Examples of organisations our graduates are employed by include Microsoft, Google, IBM, Oracle, General Electric Aerospace, ESRI, The World Bank, British Antarctic Survey, The World Conservation Monitoring Centre, Deloitte, British Airways, the Forestry Commission, the Environment Agency, Clean Earth Energy, ARUP, Scottish Government, Scottish Water, Green Highland Renewable, and Historic Environment Scotland, together with local, city and federal governments around the world.

The programme has excellent relationships with relevant employers, as well as a diverse alumni network. We provide a dedicated GIS Careers event, with contacts in industry giving current students informative information on the current market and an insight into potential employment opportunities.

Field trips

Field trips are an excellent way in which to explore the factors and forces that shape our world and enable you to put valuable skills into practice.

All GIS students undertake a residential field-course, where you will undertake practical GIS projects.

You will develop your skills in project management and field techniques, especially relating to GIS data capture and remote sensing. This will provide you with valuable hands-on experience and training, and apply theoretical knowledge to real case-studies. Previous field trips have been to various locations in the Scottish Highlands.

Additionally, students are able to attend relevant GIS conferences as part of their studies. These may include the national GIS Research UK (GISRUK) conference held annually in different cities around the UK, and the national professional GIS conference, AGI Scotland.

  • We are pleased to advise that we do not charge extra fees for compulsory field trips. Travel and accommodation costs are covered by your programme.
  • Field course locations may change for a variety of reasons. In any given academic year, the main destination of the field course will be announced as soon as possible.


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.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent.

We may also consider a UK 2:2 honours degree, or its international equivalent, with relevant industry experience.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 (at least 6.0 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 20 in each module)

  • PTE Academic: total 67 (at least 56 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections; the "Enabling Skills" sections are not considered)

  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 169 in each module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Tuition fee deposit

If you receive an offer of admission, either unconditional or conditional, you will be asked to pay a tuition fee deposit of £1,500 to secure your place on the programme.

Find out more about tuition fee deposits:

Field trips and field courses

We do not charge extra fees for compulsory field trips or field courses. Costs of travel, accommodation and subsistence on compulsory field trips will be covered by the programme fees. However incidental/ personal expenses are to be met by the student.

Tuition fees

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScGeographical Information Science1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScGeographical Information Science2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees
MScGeographical Information Science3 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

School of GeoSciences Scholarships

Browse funding opportunities

You are also encouraged to undertake your own research into the range of potential scholarships and other funding for which you may be eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • School of GeoSciences
  • Institute of Geography
  • Drummond Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9XP

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

You must submit one reference with your application.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • School of GeoSciences
  • Institute of Geography
  • Drummond Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9XP