Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre Southampton

MSc Oceanography (1 yrs)

With a multidisciplinary emphasis, this MSc Oceanography masters programme incorporates both taught modules as well as independent research

Programme Overview

This masters in oceanography offers the chance to broaden the science background of an undergraduate degree, while allowing advanced level specialisation in one or more aspects of the field. The masters course is a conversion course and provides background material.

During your MSc Oceanography degree you can choose from a range of flexible pathways depending on your research interest. You will develop specific knowledge and skills through your selection of modules and choice of subject for your research project.

The range of pathways include: Physical oceanography and climate dynamics, Ocean remote sensing, Marine biology and ecology, Marine biogeochemistry and Marine geophysics.

View the programme specification document for this course

To Apply

You can apply through the University of Southampton's online postgraduate application system. You can find out more here.


For all enquiries, email mscenq@southampton.ac.uk or telephone +44 (0)23 8059 6043.

Programme leader: Dr Jonathan Copley


The Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST).

Programme Structure

This masters in oceanography is in two parts: formal instruction (including lectures, practicals and boatwork) followed by individual research. In semester one all students complete a series of basic introductory modules that cover all the disciplines of oceanography. Boat-based practicals in local waters will introduce you to some of the measurement and analysis techniques in the marine sciences. As well as these compulsory modules, you will also study two optional modules.

Along with a choice of options in semester two, you will work on a literature review to provide a basis for your research project work. Following the end of semester two, all students work full-time on their chosen research project, producing a final dissertation by the end of September.

Staff at NOCS offer a wide range of project topics in their area of research, which could involve laboratory work, analysis of existing data sets, or fieldwork. You can also suggest your own ideas for research, after consulting with your tutor.

Key facts

  • Conversion course especially suitable for graduates from other disciplines

  • Flexible programme allowing you to explore specialist or wider interests

  • Draws on world-class expertise from our oceanography and marine science research groups

  • Opportunity to attend research seminars delivered by leading marine scientists

Entry requirements

Typical entry requirements

Entry requirements

Graduates in any scientific discipline are eligible to apply for MSc Oceanography, although it is desirable that you have a strong background in at least one of the following:

  • Physics
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • A biological science
  • Environmental Science
  • Geology.

You must have or expect to achieve a second-class Honours degree. A minimum of AS level mathematics (or equivalent) is recommended.

Selection process:

Intake: 40
Average applicants per place: 2

MSc Oceanography applications are considered throughout the year; most candidates will be invited to interview to discuss the programme in more detail.

Visit our International Office website or the NARIC website for further information on qualifications.


Typical course content

The MSc Oceanography degree structure shown below is for full-time students. Delivery for part-time students is agreed on an individual basis.

Year 1

Your choice of modules is determined by your current background and future interests. As a guideline, you will take 4 modules in Semester 1, including 'Introductory' modules depending on your background. Boat-based practicals in local waters will introduce you to some of the measurement and analysis techniques in the marine sciences. In Semester 2, you will take 3 option modules offered as short, intense courses. At the same time you will work on a literature review to provide a basis for your research project work.

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Learning and teaching

Ocean and Earth Science is strongly committed to providing the very best learning experience to all our students in a friendly and stimulating environment. We are known nationally and internationally for our excellence in teaching, and are continually improving the scope and delivery of our activities

On arrival at the University all oceanography masters students are assigned a personal tutor from the academic staff, who provides help and encouragement throughout the degree course and beyond, into industrial or academic careers and research opportunities. Each degree programme is a stimulating mix of lectures, practical classes, field work and tutorials, supported by computer-aided learning, and independent study. You will acquire an in-depth understanding of the fundamental principles and modern concepts within your chosen subject, as well as a good personal and transferable skills profile. The fully modular course structure allows you maximum flexibility for specialisation according to your own interests.

As part of the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOCS), Ocean and Earth Science has a strong research-led world reputation. Cutting-edge research carried out by academic staff provides direct and enthusiastic input into a challenging and stimulating masters in oceanography teaching programme. There is unique opportunity for students to undertake research projects with other NOCS-division scientists.

Career Opportunities

Developing knowledge and skills

Developing knowledge and skills

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