Marine Spatial Planning

Study mode:Online Study type:Part-time Languages: English
StudyQA ranking:3181 Duration:36 months


The award is intended to provide students with an appreciation of the scientific basis underpinning the management of coastal land and water resources and to enable those successfully completing the course to operate at a professional level in the emerging field of marine governance, planning and management. The specific objectives of the course are to develop:

* a thorough understanding of how coasts "work" and inter-relate with the marine environment;
* the ability to identify, synthesise and analyse the multifarious roles of humans in altering coastal systems and exploiting the marine resource in a sustainable way;
* a detailed knowledge of integrated coastal zone management approaches and a sound appreciation of emerging marine planning and management initiatives.

Career options top

The students taking this course predominantly fall into two groups; those who are already working in the field and who wish to up-skill and refresh their knowledge; and those who are interested in making a career change. For the former group the progression opportunities focus on promotion within their current workplace or a change of job but within the same discipline. Others who are working within either the coastal environment or the planning environment will see this course as an opportunity to broaden their knowledge base and make themselves more employable by developing a wider range of skills.

There is already evidence from within Government and Local Authority planning departments that personnel from a terrestrial planning background are being required to work within newly created posts in Marine Spatial Planning but in addition to this students will be seeking to enter jobs in the newly developing field of Marine Spatial Planning within governments, policy making bodies, Non-Governmental organisations and charities.

There is also the possibility of further study by undertaking a PhD on part-time basis.

PgDip/MSc Marine Spatial Planning

Modules in this programme are available on a two year rotational basis so the order in which they are studied is dependent upon when a student enters the programme. Four taught modules constitute the postgraduate diploma and one module is taken each semester over two years. The MSc Research Project is the final element of the programme and this is commenced once a student has completed the postgraduate diploma.

PgDip Modules

Geography and Management of Coastal Land Resources (30 credits)
This module introduces students to the physical, ecological and cultural basis of coastal land resources. It engenders an understanding of how such systems work and of the impact which humans can render upon them. Practical examples of management practices are demonstrated using case studies from around the world. The strengths and weaknesses of different approaches are critically reviewed.

Research Methods (30 credits)
This module will introduce students to the use of a mixed methods approach to research marine and coastal environments. Lectures and directed reading will be used to illustrate the inter-disciplinary nature of evidence-informed interventions in this context. Students are expected to demonstrate an applied understanding of relevant theories and to show research expertise through worked examples.

Marine Spatial Planning (30 credits)
This module introduces students to the concepts and practices informing the emerging field of marine planning and management. Grounded in an appreciation of sustainable development, it explores the planning, regulation and management of the marine / coastal interface resource from a governance, public policy and transdisciplinary perspective. The module provides students with a solid appreciation of the complexity of the property rights regime and potential modes of intervention.

Management of Coastal Water Resources (30 credits)
This module introduces the physical, ecological cultural and socio-economic characteristics of coastal water resources (estuaries, lagoons, reefs, inner shelf environments). It investigates the temporal and spatial variation in these resources and assesses contemporary patterns of human use in this context. Contemporary approaches to coastal water resource management are introduced and discussed.

Plus (Masters only)
Marine Spatial Planning MSc Research Project (60 credits)
To obtain an MSc qualification, students are required to complete advanced study under supervision within a specialised area. The project module aims to extend the experience of the student in the practice of scientific investigation and to develop the intellectual skills of recognising and using subject specific theories, concepts, and principles, analysing, synthesising and summarising information critically, collecting and interpreting several lines of evidence to formulate and test hypotheses and applying knowledge and understanding to address familiar and unfamiliar problems. The student, by making an original contribution to their field, develops the skills of postgraduate, independent research, commensurate with an MSc.

Applicants must hold a degree in a science or spatial planning related subject or other suitable discipline or demonstrate their ability to undertake the course through the accreditation of prior experiential learning. International Students IELTS overall band 6.0 with no contributing band less than 5.5 or TOEFL 550 in the paper based-test Entry to the MSc Students initially register for the Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip). Students who complete the PgDip with an overall mark of 50% or higher can proceed to the MSc programme. Students successfully completing the research project and with a pass mark of greater than or equal to 70% will graduate with an MSc with distinction. Those who obtain a pass mark of greater than or equal to 50%, but less than 70%, will graduate with an MSc. English Language Requirements IELTS band: 6 TOEFL paper-based test score : 550 IMPORTANT NOTE: Since April 2014 the ETS tests (including TOEFL and TOEIC) are no longer accepted for Tier 4 visa applications to the United Kingdom. The university might still accept these tests to admit you to the university, but if you require a Tier 4 visa to enter the UK and begin your degree programme, these tests will not be sufficient to obtain your Visa. The IELTS test is most widely accepted by universities and is also accepted for Tier 4 visas to the UK- learn more. Technological Requirements To take this course, students will need access to a computer with a fast internet connection. The course uses the Blackboard learning environment - this is one of the largest online education software providers in the world.

Postgraduate students typically fund their own tuition fees and living costs. Some students may receive support from their employers. Grants and loans for postgraduate study are limited but might be available depending on your circumstances.


This course is accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences.

The Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES) is a charitable organisation which promotes and raises public awareness of environmental science by supporting professional scientists and academics working in this crucial arena. As a seminal environmental sciences organisation, founded in 1971, the Institution is consulted by the Government and other interested parties on environmental issues. The Institution has strong ties with Higher Education and promotes and supports environmental science and sustainable development in universities and colleges both nationally and internationally.

Ulster is a university with a national and international reputation for excellence, innovation and regional engaement. We make a major contribution to the economic, social and cultural development of Northern Ireland and play a key role in attracting inward investment. Our core business activities are teaching and learning, widening access to education, research and innovation and technology and knowledge transfer.

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