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Applied Coastal and Marine Management (MSc)

Master (ISCED 2011 level 7)


Duration 2 semesters
Cost EU FEES €6,000; NON-EU FEES €13,000

The programme focuses on science (including the social sciences) of Coastal and Marine management and policy-making today. Designed and presented in close collaboration with the state-of-the-art Beaufort Institute and the University’s Coastal and Marine Research Centre, it is designed to give students professional competency to make sound, scientifically-informed, strategic and operational decisions regarding the sustainable governance, use and protection of coastal and marine environments. It also provides training in applied practical skills, with an emphasis on geospatial techniques relevant to coastal and marine data capture, analysis, integration and visualisation. Students will also receive training in important transferrable skills including principles and practice of scientific research, effective communication and presentation techniques, and sound project management

The degree offers a combination of theory, practice and technical skills relevant to the needs of environmentally sustainable coastal and marine governance.

Topics to be studied include different models of governance, marine spatial planning, and the basics of coastal and marine law; the physical functioning and key processes controlling coastal and marine environments; the biological components of coastal margins and the ecosystems they are part of, at varying spatial and temporal scales, and especially the interactions and exchanges between these; and the approaches available in coastal management and physical protection techniques. In addition, training will be provided in the application of core technologies, including geographical information systems (GIS), remote sensing and Earth observation, and hydrographic survey and mapping from ship-borne platforms.

A unique feature of the programme is that students will spend time at sea, onboard the Irish research vessel Celtic Voyager (or equivalent), at no additional cost, so that they may experience marine surveying and other techniques in a working research environment.

Upon successful completion of this programme, students should have a clear understanding of the theory, principles and concepts that underpin the management of coastal and marine spaces; will have practical skills to equip them for making policy, and for taking management-level decisions, regarding the strategic and operational use of coastal and marine spaces; will know how to work with coastal and marine data originating in a range of scientific disciplines (physics, biology, geology, oceanography, etc.); and will have a good scientific understanding of the physical, environmental and human processes that affect, and are impacted by, the world’s oceans. The frame of reference will range from the global to the local, but with particular emphasis on the sustainable development and management of Ireland’s coastal and marine territories and resources

The programme will consist of two parts.

  • Part I will consist of eight taught modules to the value of 60 credits involving lectures, practicals, seminars and workshops.
  • Part II will be a substantial piece of Independent Research to the value of 30 credits (GG6514).

Each of the prescribed taught modules will be examined by a written paper and/or continuous assessment. Each candidate progressing to Part II of the programme must submit the research project (GG6514) in an area of Applied Coastal and Marine Management by 4.00pm on the Friday of the third week in September in the academic year of registration for the programme. Independent research projects can be carried out on the main university campus, through the Programme and other linked University Staff; or, with support from relevant Research Staff, within the commercially-focussed environment of the Beaufort laboratory in Ringaskiddy. Other commercial and practitioner placements with relevant coastal and marine-focussed industries, semi-state bodies and government will be considered, as appropriate to project proposals submitted by students.

Students take a total of 90 credits. Part I consists of 60 credits. Part II consists of 30 credits.


Further details on the modules listed above can be found in our book of modules. Any modules listed above are indicative of the current set of modules for this course but are subject to change from year to year.

University Calendar

You can find the full academic content for the current year of any given course in our University Calendar.

Course Practicalities

The programme presents a full-time day course of study (Monday to Friday), with delivery through an integrated combination of methods including lectures, seminars and workshops; ‘dry’ and ‘wet’ laboratory work; computer-based exercises; private study; field work (onshore and also at sea); and an independent supervised research project.

As part of the development of their thesis, students will be offered placements in the state-of-the-art Beaufort laboratory with direct access to academic and research staff. This should assist students in producing robust research as well as an appreciation of working in an active research environment. 

Assessment will be through a combination of coursework (including laboratory, computer and field-based work), written exams and submission of an independently-conducted research dissertation. The proportion of marks assigned to each of these components will vary between modules

Teaching on the course will be overseen by academic staff from the departments of Geography, Civil Engineering and Biology, with support and specialist inputs from researchers at the university’s state-of-the-art Beaufort Laboratory. Visiting academics, and practicing coastal or marine scientists and managers from the private and public sectors, will be invited to give one-off seminars according to their availability.

Why Choose This Course

  • The only degree in Ireland that offers training and instruction in the applied aspects of coastal and marine management.
  • Offers a unique combination of classroom, computer-based, laboratory and ship-based learning methods.
  • Attractive balance of theoretical, administrative and scientific aspects of coastal and marine management, including technical/applied skills such as Hydrographic surveying and GIS, alongside areas such as policy-making and the management of marine spaces.
  • The programme is intended to give students a comprehensive understanding of coastal and marine environments subject to multiple human uses and impacts and to equip them with tools and knowledge necessary to evaluate and manage these complex, dynamic systems in ways that are both sustainable and economically productive.
  • Specific topics to be covered will include the principles and practice of coastal and marine management; the physical geography and the biology of the coast and off-shore regions; and the use of geographical information systems (GIS), remote sensing and other spatial information technologies for collecting, analysing and managing coastal / marine data, and for generating information products to support scientific enquiry, policy-making and management decision-making.
  • Students who proceed to Part II of the programme will also be required to undertake an independent research project, which will allow them to develop in-depth expertise in one or more specialist areas of coastal or marine management, in a scientific, strategic or an operational context, or in a combination of these.
  • Throughout their studies, but especially when undertaking their independent research project, students will be able and encouraged to avail of the specialist equipment for physical geography, as well as GPS and surveying equipment and computer laboratories, provided by the Geography Department. They will also have access to advanced technical facilities and expertise available at the state-of-the-art Beaufort Institute, currently under development at Ringaskiddy.
  • Once established, accreditation for the course will be sought from an appropriate professional body such as The Institute of Marine Engineering, Science & Technology (IMAREST). It is hoped that this accreditation, once obtained for the programme, will allow graduates to also gain exemptions or credits towards their own professional accreditation.

Skills and Careers Information

The programme aims to consolidate Cork’s position as a national, European and international hub of expertise in marine and coastal science and management. Successful completion of the MSc in Applied Coastal and Marine Management should provide opportunities for a variety of professional careers at home and abroad, in the public, private and non-governmental sectors, including local and national government; civil engineering and coastal defence; renewable energy; petroleum and mineral exploration and development; environmental management; cultural heritage management; fisheries management and protection; aquaculture; the Defence forces; marine transport; marine spatial planning; town and country planning; port and harbour administration; etc.


  1. A primary degree to at least second class honours level (2H2) (180 ECTS credits or equivalent) from a recognized third-level institution, in Geography, Geology, Environmental Sciences, Biology, Oceanography, Physics, Mathematics, Engineering or a related discipline.  Applications will also be considered from graduates in other disciplines, including those in the Arts or Social Sciences, who have a demonstrable interest and/or experience in coastal and marine management, and who can offer sufficient numerical abilities. 
  2. A primary degree (180 credits or equivalent), in a cognate area, as detailed in 1 above, plus at least 2 years' experience in a relevant maritime industry (applied) as approved by the Director of the MSc in Applied Coastal and Marine Management on a case by case basis.

Additionally, students whose native language is not English must provide evidence of competence in both written and spoken English, according to standard criteria set out by the UCC International Education Office (IELTS overall score of 6.5 or above, and a score of no lower than 6.0 in each category).

The selection committee for the MSc also attaches strong importance to the additional supplementary online questions for the CKE39AdditionalQuestions.

The programme Director and/or Programme Board must approve candidates. The number of places is limited and selection will be based on academic achievement, relevant work experience and a personal statement.


Structural components
Internship/Workplace experience
Laboratory training
Practical/Field work
Research Project

ISCED Categories

Policy and governance
Conservation and environmental management
Marine Geology
Environmental protection technology
Marine spatial planning
Near- and offshore constructions