UCL Department of Geography


Description Photo Here

Personal tools
Log in
This is SunRain Plone Theme
UCL Home  /  Geography  /  Study  /  Graduate Taught  /  MSc Remote Sensing and Environmental Mapping

MSc Remote Sensing and Environmental Mapping (RSEM)

Developed from one of the oldest and most well-respected MSc Programmes in remote sensing and mapping 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 and environmental mapping.

Our RSEM MSc offers the opportunity to study at an advanced level the ways in which we can collect spatial, spectral and temporal information about the Earth system across a wide range of scales from spacecraft, aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and ground-based sensing systems. This successful, interdisciplinary, intercollegiate degree programme combines aspects of theory, practice and policy, covering applications of remote sensing and mapping across the Earth system, particularly focusing on climate and 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 a broad range of jobs in the commercial sector, government, climate, space agencies, NGOs as well as more broadly in the rapid growth areas of spatial analysis.


In our teaching, we focus on the principles of how we collect spatial data – 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 range of rapidly growing new satellite, and ancillary data sources from space agencies and commercial organisations, how to access these data resources, and how to exploit them. Students are introduced to cutting edge applications via poster sessions, interdisciplinary research opportunities within the Geography Department but also with other departments and external partners, and seminars from leading commercial and academic practitioners in the field. Students benefit from 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 2020/21. Please note these may be subject to change.

Module codeModule titleUCL Credit value
GEOG0040 Principles and Practice of Remote Sensing 15 credits
GEOG0110 Analytical and Numerical Methods 15 credits
GEOG0111 Scientific Computing 15 credits
CEGE0094 Geospatial Science 15 credits
Module codeModule titleUCL Credit value
GEOG0105 Research Project and Dissertation 60 credits
Module codeModule titleUCL Credit value
GEOG0035 Environmental GIS 15 credits
GEOG0051 Mining Social and Geographic Datasets 15 credits
GEOG0067 Surface Water Modelling 15 credits
GEOG0113 Terrestrial Carbon: Modelling and Monitoring 15 credits
GEOG0121 Climate Modelling 15 credits
GEOG0162 Cartography and Data Visualisation 15 credits
CEGE0042 Spatial-Temporal Data Analysis and Data Mining (STDM) 15 credits
CEGE0092 Reality Capture and Precision 3D Sensing 15 credits
CEGE0095 Sensors and Location 15 credits

MSc RSEM 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. Staff in the Department have strong links with organisations outside UCL and there is opportunity for projects carried out with external partners. 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, engineering, geology, mathematics, physics, computer science. 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 RSEM will appeal to individuals interested in developing research training while acquiring vocational skills for work in mapping and 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, spatial 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 conservation and management, data analysis, computing, policy and the commercial sector.

RSEM 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.

The long heritage of the course (over 30 years) and its interdisciplinary nature provides students with a unique perspective, not just from UCL, but across the wider world of environmental science. Read more about employment prospects on our Careers page.

UCL staff on Twitter

Other Earth Observation Twitter feeds:

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