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UCL Home  /  Geography  /  Study  /  Graduate Taught  /  MSc Remote Sensing and Environmental Mapping

MSc Remote Sensing and Environmental Mapping

As one of the oldest and most well-respected MSc Programmes in remote sensing in the UK, our MSc offers a unique blend of theory, practice and cutting edge transferable skills in the rapidly developing field of remote sensing.

Our Remote Sensing MSc offers the opportunity to study at an advanced level the ways in which remote sensing instruments in space and on aircraft may be used to collect environmental information about the Earth at a range of scales. This successful, interdisciplinary, intercollegiate degree programme combines aspects of theory, application and policy, covering applications of remote sensing across the Earth system, particularly focusing on climate aspects, the land surface as well as oceans, atmosphere, cryosphere and the solid earth. Our graduates leave with strong, transferable skills in data analysis, computer modelling and information synthesis, and go on to jobs in commercial remote sensing, government, climate, space agencies as well as more broadly in the rapid growth areas of spatial analysis.


In our teaching, we focus on the principles of remote sensing, and spatial data more generally – how we measure the Earth system remotely, how we can exploit these observations, and the scientific, commercial and policy implications of the resulting data.  Students are introduced to the wide range of new satellite, and ancillary data sources from space agencies and commercial organisations, how to access these huge and rapidly-growing data resources, and how to exploit them quickly and efficiently. Students are also introduced to cutting edge applications of these data, via interdisciplinary research opportunities across UCL faculties and departments and programmes of seminars from leading commercial and academic practitioners in the field. Students benefit from the involvement in the programme of other London institutions such as King’s College London and Imperial College, and more widely from the involvement of UCL Geography staff in the UK’s National Centre for Earth Observation (NCEO), as well as links to the European Space Agency, NASA and other international organisations.

The Programme runs over a full year, with students taking four core modules in Term 1 and the choice of four options modules in Term 2. The core modules ensure that all students develop key theoretical and practical skills; the options modules and dissertation are opportunities to apply these skills to specific areas and applications.

The following modules will be available for 2017/18. Please note these may be subject to change.

Module codeModule titleUCL Credit value
GEOGG121 Analytical and Numerical Methods 15 credits
GEOGG122 Scientific Computing 15 credits
CEGEG159 * Geospatial Science * 15 credits
GEOGG141 Principles and Practice of Remote Sensing 15 credits
Module codeModule titleUCL Credit value
GEOGG124 Terrestrial Carbon: Modelling and Monitoring 15 credits
GEOGG134 Climate Modelling 15 credits
GEOGG142 Global Monitoring and Security 15 credits
CEGEG085 Airborne Data Acquisition 15 credits
CEGEG083 Ocean and Coastal Zone Management 15 credits
CEGEG084 Terrestrial Data Acquisition 15 credits

* subject to approval

MSc Remote Sensing students also undertake a piece of original research leading to a dissertation of up to 12,000 words (60 credits) with the support of an academic supervisor. The dissertation period normally lasts from late April or May to the end of August. The Department enjoys strong links with the remote sensing sector more generally, and projects are often carried out in collaboration with organisations outside the University. In recent years a number of students have had their dissertation work published in the academic literature, and/or been recruited for employment based on their research.

Information on fees and funding can be found on the main UCL website.

You can apply for a place on this Programme via UCL Admissions.

Potential applicants are expected to have a minimum second-class UK Bachelor's degree in a relevant discipline or overseas qualification of equivalent e.g. oceanography, marine studies, geography, civil engineering, geology, mathematics, and physics. However degrees covering other areas will certainly be considered, and relevant work experience will also be considered. The Department currently requires a good level of English demonstrated by a recent IELTS Academic or equivalent qualification. If you have any more questions about this programme, you can email the Geography Department or make an appointment to come and meet staff. It is possible to take the MSc part time, as well as to enrol for a Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip) which entails completing the taught component only, or a Postgraduate Certificate (PG Cert) which entails completing only the four core taught modules. Please contact the programme convenor if you require details of the part-time or PG Dip/Cert structures.


This MSc will appeal to individuals interested in developing research training while acquiring vocational skills for work in remote sensing related positions in public and private sector institutions. The quantitative skills the course provides have proved attractive for employers, particularly the grounding in programming, data handling and analysis, image processing and report writing. These skills are generic and have allowed graduates to go into a range of careers in remote sensing and spatial analysis but also areas such as conservation and management, data analysis, computing, policy and commercial application.

Remote Sensing graduates find jobs in diverse companies from consultants carrying out environmental and spatial analysis, through major international companies to government and government-affiliated agencies. The Programme is also suitable training for those wishing to undertake higher-level work as a prelude to a PhD in remote sensing.

The range of generic, transferable skills provided by the course have proved to be attractive to a range of employers. The course provides students with fundamental understanding of the key principles of remote sensing and data handling and analysis, as well as the ability to communicate their ideas. These principles can and are applicable across a wide range of career options. The long heritage of the course (over 30 years) and its interdisciplinary, intercollegiate nature provides students with a unique perspective, not just from UCL, but across the wider world of remote sensing and environmental science. Read more about employment prospects on our Careers page.

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What our students have to say...

"I wanted to immerse myself in a new topic with global scope which exposed me to other areas such as computer vision which I am becoming increasingly interested in. Remote Sensing technology gives us the power to monitor global trends in many critical environmental parameters and at the same time can be applied on a smaller scale for local surveying, and thus was a good fit for the career I hope to enter."
James O'Connor
MSc graduate