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Postgraduate Taught

MSc Marine and Coastal Sustainability

Please note: The below is for 2025 entries. Click here for 2024 entries.
UCAS code 1234
Duration 1 year full time
2 years part time
Entry year 2024
Campus Penryn Campus
Discipline Geography
Typical offer

View full entry requirements

Normally a 2:1 degree or equivalent in a relevant discipline

Contextual offers


  • A unique programme that places social science perspectives at its centre
  • Examine how environmental sustainability can be achieved while improving social wellbeing and resilience of coastal communities
  • Hosted by our Environment and Sustainability Institute, an interdisciplinary centre leading cutting-edge research into solutions to problems of environmental change
  • Gain practical experience on our low-carbon field course and explore the sustainability dilemmas facing UK coastal communities
  • Delivered by internationally recognised experts in a location surrounded by coastal and marine biodiversity
  • Training in research skills and transdisciplinary methods will prepare you for a wide range of careers in NGOs, conservation and resource management agencies, sustainability consultancy, government, and academic research

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View 2024 Entry

Fast Track (current Exeter students)

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Programme Director: Dr Rachel Turner

Web: Enquire online

Phone: +44 (0)1392 72 72 72

Hear about this unique Masters from some of the academics who teach it: Dr Rachel Turner, Dr Tomas Chaigneau and Professor Callum Roberts.

Top 50 in the world for Geography

QS World University Subject Rankings 2024

9th in the world for Ecology

ShanghaiRankings Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2022

90% of our research in Biological Sciences is internationally excellent

Based on research rated 4* and 3* in the Research Excellence Framework 2021

High-quality research supervision, with access to excellent facilities

1st in Europe for Climate Action

Entry requirements

A 2:1 degree in a relevant discipline (e.g. Anthropology, Biosciences, Conservation, Ecology, Environmental Studies, Geography, International/Global Development, Marine Biology, Marine Sciences, Natural Sciences, Politics, Zoology).

Entry requirements are broad and enable applicants from a range of disciplines. Applications outside these will be considered on a case-by-case basis to enable consideration of other relevant experience.

Entry requirements for international students

English language requirements

International students need to show they have the required level of English language to study this course. The required test scores for this course fall under Profile B2. Please visit our English language requirements page to view the required test scores and equivalencies from your country.

Course content

Oceans, seas and coasts represent a new frontier for sustainability science and are increasingly recognised as central to global sustainable development. Growing demand for marine resources, momentum towards a ‘blue economy’, and the increasing vulnerability of coastal populations in the face of climate change present major challenges. Addressing these problems requires trained interdisciplinary scientists and practitioners in marine social and environmental science.

Core modules examine the interlinked nature of social and ecological systems, considering the role of marine resources in contributing to people’s wellbeing and livelihoods, how people contribute to and are impacted by environmental change, and the potential synergies and trade-offs in balancing social and environmental sustainability objectives.

Optional modules enable you to draw on other disciplines to gain an in-depth understanding of the ecology of marine and coastal systems, the science underpinning their management and conservation, and the role of marine and coastal systems in supporting human health.

The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.

The key feature of this Masters programme is its interdisciplinarity: it places social science perspectives at its heart and integrates knowledge of ecological systems, to understand complex interactions between people and the marine environment.

Dr Rachel Turner

Programme Director


2024/25 entry

UK fees per year:

£13,700 full-time

International fees per year:

£27,500 full-time


We invest heavily in scholarships for talented prospective Masters students. This includes over £5 million in scholarships for international students, such as our Global Excellence Scholarships*.

For more information on scholarships, please visit our scholarships and bursaries page.

*Selected programmes only. Please see the Terms and Conditions for each scheme for further details.

I have enjoyed the programme; it’s been a nice change as I did a biosciences undergrad degree and MSc Marine and Coastal Sustainability is more social science and geography based. I’ve enjoyed the modules I’ve been doing; I’m doing one at the moment called ‘Governing the Seas in a Changing World’ which is really interesting. 

It’s interesting to think about how different communities all over the world and different coastal environments change at a different pace and how we must adapt to the changing ocean.

Read more from Lucy


Studying MSc Marine and Coastal Sustainability

Teaching and research

Our research

In recent years the University of Exeter’s marine education and research has been growing fast. Our interdisciplinary marine research spans the humanities, physical, social and natural sciences. Marine research groups, containing over 350 researchers, can be found in all of our colleges and interdisciplinary research institutes.

Research is organised into nine major interdisciplinary themes which sees us working collaboratively with a wide range of partners locally, regionally and across the world’s oceans to shape positive changes in practice, policy and innovation. The research groups include:

How will I learn?

  • Seminars
  • Workshops
  • Fieldwork
  • Group discussion
  • Independent study

There is considerable scope for you to direct your learning towards fields of particular interest, especially through your choice of research project. Research seminars will enable you to interact with a diversity of top academics and get to know about their ongoing research.

Research project

Diverse University of Exeter academics involved with this programme will support you to develop a research topic in the UK or potentially overseas. There is also the option to develop a collaboration with an external organisation as part of your research project, which could be located anywhere in the world.

Tutorial support

Each student is allocated a personal tutor who is available for advice and support throughout your studies. There is also a postgraduate tutor available to help with further guidance and advice.


Taught modules will be assessed through formal oral presentations, written reports, essays and discussions, during or upon the immediate completion of these modules. The research project makes up a significant proportion of the assessment and is mainly based on the dissertation write-up.

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There is a growing demand for high-quality graduates equipped with a more holistic understanding of environmental and sustainability challenges. Careers in conservation and environmental management increasingly require social science expertise.

The MSc Marine and Coastal Sustainability has been designed for students who wish to work in marine resource management or conservation in some capacity, whether for government, national or international agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), environmental consultancies, or donor organisations. You could also go on to work in a range of other careers, such as journalism, policy analysis, advocacy, or community engagement. The research and academic skills you will acquire will further postgraduate study.

Employer-valued skills this course develops

This programme will provide you with a diversity of skills that will equip you for a range of sectors of work and further study of marine environments. Skills include:

  • Scientific writing and poster preparation
  • Grant writing
  • Public speaking
  • Short film production
  • Press release and the professional use of social media
  • Data analysis
  • Writing scientific information for a lay audience
  • Use of “R” and GIS.

Career paths

MSc graduates from the Centre for Geography and Environmental Science have gone on to varied careers. You can read about some of their experiences within our graduate profiles.

Careers services

Our careers teams at the Career Zone can help guide you through a wealth of information to match your skills and interests to a career that will suit you. Our staff work with regional, national and international employers to develop new work placement, project and graduate opportunities.

Supporting your career

Being part of research-intensive departments such as the Centre for Geography and Environmental Science, Centre for Ecology and Conservation, and Environment and Sustainability Institute means there are extracurricular research seminars, on-campus symposia and employability-focused seminars involving invited external stakeholders, which offer extensive networking opportunities.

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Graduate School of Environment and Sustainability

You will become part of Exeter's Graduate School of Environment & Sustainability - a vibrant and supportive postgraduate community based here on our Penryn campus in Cornwall. The Graduate School brings together experts from across the spectrum of earth and life sciences, engineering, humanities, social sciences and business. You will interact with students from other MScs and have the opportunity to explore issues from a range of perspectives, benefiting from a truly interdisciplinary experience. All our programmes are designed with a focus on developing solutions to global challenges and creating a better future for our planet and its people.