Missed the deadline? Start with a short course.
You’ve missed the deadline to apply for the September 2023 intake of this online degree.
But you can still start the degree via our short course route.View the short course route to this MSc
Learn practical GIS skills and how to analyse spatial data.
Join a university with over 30 years of excellence in postgraduate teaching of remote sensing, GIS, visualisation, digital mapping and cartography.
Geospatial technologies are of increasing importance in many areas of commercial, industrial, and government employment. This includes nature conservation agencies, civil and coastal engineering projects, and marine and coastal zone management. As a result, the demand for skills in GIS and related technologies has grown considerably.
In this GIS degree, you’ll study the techniques and tools for acquiring, storing, processing, classifying, analysing and visualising spatially referenced data, and their application to the study of the Earth.
- Spatial databases
- Simulation and modelling
- Global Positioning Systems (GPS)
- Digital mapping and cartography
- Airborne, satellite and UAV remote sensing
- Digital image processing
- Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
- WebGIS and Internet atlases
- Field data capture
- Mobile GIS.
What you’ll study
You can choose to study for a:
- Masters (180 credits)
- or start with one of the short courses that make up this degree (typically 15 credits).
How you’ll study
MSc Geographical Information Systems is delivered part-time, 100% online.
Your teaching is delivered through MyAberdeen, our online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It holds all the materials, tools and support you’ll need in your studies. Take a look around MyAberdeen.
You can access your learning materials on computer, smartphone and laptop, 24 hours a day. You’ll find a range of resources at your fingertips, including online access to our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library.
You’ll learn from internationally experienced geoscientists and academics, with direct input from industry via guest lectures and an industry advisory board. Your industry advisory board members are:
- Stewart Angus - SNH (Environmental)
- Martin Berry - Fugro (Offshore Survey)
- Scott Buchan - Aberdeen Harbour Board (AHB) (Hydrography)
- Andy Dare - Andrews Survey (Offshore Survey)
- Marshall Halliday - Esk Rivers & Fisheries Trust (Trust)
- Damian Ling - Chevron (Oil and Gas)
- Aftab Majeed - Aberdeen City Council (Local Authority)
- Mike Mawby - Ops Input Limited (Oil and Gas)
- Dave Scott - Bristow Aerial Solutions (UAV)
They constantly review your course content to make sure your training is always cutting edge and industry-relevant.
This degree is assessed entirely online.
Hours for taught courses
If you plan to study part-time, we recommend you take no more than 30 credits per term. Students typically take one or two 15-credit short courses per term.
- Around 150 hours of study and assessment time to complete.
- You’ll study 8 – 10 hours per week per term, plus more at assessment times.
- Around 300 hours of study and assessment time to complete.
- You’ll study 15 – 20 hours per week per term, plus more at assessment times.
This is an indicative guide to the time required for a typical student at this level to achieve the learning outcomes.
You can largely set your own study hours each week to cover the materials. MyAberdeen is available 24/7, so you can log in and study when it suits you.
Activities at fixed times
There will be some activities scheduled at a fixed time, such as online meetings with your tutor or assessments with deadlines. But otherwise, you can access and work through each course at your convenience.
Hours for 60-credit projects and dissertations
A 60-credit project or dissertation is around 600 hours of study time.
This is around one term of full-time study.
You can dedicate a full term to your project or dissertation and work on it full-time. Or you can complete it part-time, spreading the hours you dedicate to it over two terms.
When you study with us, you can expect a first-class support structure so that you’re never alone in your studies.
But learning online does mean you have to motivate yourself and manage your own time.
Your most important commitment to your course will be time – the time to work through, reflect on and understand your teaching materials.
Before you start a course that involves a high degree of independent study, we recommend looking at the time you will be able to devote to your course each week:
- Be realistic
- Create a weekly schedule as a guide
If you have any questions about studying online, get in touch with our friendly team. We’re here to help.
Our first-class support structure will ensure that you aren’t alone in your studies. You’ll have contact with your tutors via MyAberdeen and email. You can use social media and discussion boards to chat with your fellow students too.
We provide a wide range of services to support you in your studies and beyond:
- Careers and Employability Service – including one-to-one advice sessions
- Disability support
- IT support
- Library support
- Student Support Service – help with finances, stress, wellbeing and non-academic issues
- Student Learning Service – study support, with advice sessions available via phone or Skype
- Aberdeen University Students’ Association (AUSA) – run by students for students
- Toolkit – clever apps and free training that can make your study life easier
Wherever you are in the world, you’ll feel part of our very special Aberdeen learning community.
We’re a member of the Access scheme run by the Society of College, National and University Libraries (SCONUL).
Access study spaces, books and journals in your area
The SCONUL Access scheme allows you, as a University of Aberdeen student, to access books and resources at university libraries across the UK and Ireland, or visit them for a quiet place to study.
You’ll be able to use study spaces, books and journals at over 150 university libraries which belong to the scheme.
Your support team
Our friendly team are here to answer any queries you have before, during and after your studies.
Dr David R. Green
David is the degree coordinator. He’ll be on hand to answer any questions about degree content before you start and to help you throughout your studies.
Daniela van Heerden
Daniela is part of the School’s support team. She’ll be there throughout your studies to answer any of your non-academic queries.
Get in touch
The online education team is here to answer any questions you have right now about this qualification, or about studying online.Ask us a question
Where this will take you
Our GIS graduates have a very successful employment record in the commercial sector, environmental agencies, local and national government, research, and academia.
They’ve gone on to work as:
- Project officers
- Sales managers
- GIS engineers
- Senior consultant GIS specialists
- Project managers.
Further career opportunities include:
- GIS consultant
- GIS technician
- Planning analyst
- Spatial data consultant.
You’ll acquire the practical experience, specialist knowledge and problem-solving skills to pursue careers in any of these fields.
Career opportunities are highlighted through guest lectures, and chances to work with organisations as part of your MSc dissertation.
In addition, there is the possibility of industry suggested projects, dependent upon minimum academic requirements, and industrial input and contact with geospatial practitioners.
I wanted to study GIS and the related technologies as I had already undertaken some basic GIS courses previously. I was also interested in GIS as it is an expanding area with good employment opportunities.Aapo Jaakkola, MSc Geographical Information Systems graduate, Processing Supervisor
Lifelong career support
Our career support doesn’t stop when you graduate.
You have access to our free careers service while you study, and beyond.
- 1:1 appointments
- CV checks
- Interview prep
- Job opportunities
Fees and funding
The fee quoted above is based on you starting your studies with us in the 2023/24 academic year.
We have confirmed that our fees will rise by 5% for the 2024/25 and 2025/26 academic years. Our indicative cost includes a 5% fee rise each year.
Pay as you go
Don’t worry, you do not have to pay the full degree fee upfront.
You can pay for your degree one term at a time. This gives you a flexible way to spread the cost.
Pay as you go allows you to spread payments over several terms.
When you pay
You make a payment before the start of each term.
How much you pay
You only pay for the credits you want to study in the upcoming term.
It’s up to you how many credits you take each term. This gives you control over your costs and your workload.
- Taking fewer credits will increase the length of your studies.
We break down the total cost of this qualification into cost per 15-credit course and your dissertation.
Costs for this degree, starting in academic year 2023/24
- £1,410 in academic year 2023/24.
- £1,480 in academic year 2024/25.
- £1,555 in academic year 2025/26.
- £3,360 in academic year 2024/25.
- £3,520 in academic year 2025/26.
Tuition fees typically rise a little each academic year and will rise by 5% for the 2024/25 and 2025/26 academic years.
This is an example payment schedule for tuition fees. It’s based on the typical route through the degree.
Term 1) September – December 2023 | Academic year 2023/24
- Take two 15-credit courses @£1,410 each.
- Fee for term = £2,820.
- Payment due in September.
Term 2) January – April 2024
- Take two 15-credit courses @£1,410 each.
- Fee for term = £2,820.
- Payment due in January.
PgCert exit point
With 60 credits earned, you now have the option to exit with a PgCert.
Total fee for this route to your PgCert = £5,640.
Term 3) May – August 2024
- Summer break. There is no teaching in the first summer of your degree.
- No payment due.
Term 4) September – December 2024 | Academic year 2024/25
- Take two 15-credit courses @£1,480 each.
- Fee for term = £2,960.
- Payment due in September.
Term 5) January – April 2025
- Take two 15-credit courses @£1,480 each.
- Fee for term = £2,960.
- Payment due in January.
PgDip exit point
With 120 credits earned, you now have the option to exit with a PgDip.
Total fee for this route to your PgDip = £11,560.
Term 6) May – August 2025
- Embark on your 60-credit dissertation.
- Fee for dissertation = £3,360.
- Payment due in May.
On passing your dissertation, you’ll have earned 180 credits and will be awarded an MSc.
Total fee for this route to your MSc = £14,920.
You will need to purchase a piece of software for one of the courses in this degree: Advanced Spatial Analysis and Programming. The software is called TerrSet. You can buy TerrSet online. The current price (as of July 2022) is US$99. Find out about TerrSet.
All other software and all books and resources you need are included in your tuition fee. They will be available online and you do not have to you buy your own copies. We also provide recommended reading lists. These include books that you may wish to purchase for additional reading, but it is not essential.
You will have to pay for a printed A0 poster for one of your presentations. As a guide, printing for this is around £35. You may also wish to set aside a small budget for printing in general, depending on how you like to work.
Memory stick and/or external hard drive
You may have to purchase a suitable memory stick or external hard drive, if you do not already have these, for storing data and coursework.
There are several ways you may be able to get help funding your studies:
- Employer sponsorship – we accept full and partial fee payments from sponsors
- Student loans
- Scholarships – search our funding database for scholarships
All our students are entitled to a University of Aberdeen student card. This gives you access to a range of student discounts around the city and online.
20% Alumni discount
You’re entitled to 20% off our postgraduate taught degrees and short courses if you have a degree from the University of Aberdeen. View Alumni discount details.
How discounts work
Discounts are applied during your application process. You can only use one discount per application.
- A 2:2 (lower-second) honours degree or equivalent in Agriculture, Archaeology, Computing Science, Ecology, Engineering, Environmental Science, Forestry, Geography, Geology, Geomatics, Marine & Coastal Science, Marine Biology, Marine Science, Mathematics, Physics, Planning, Plant Science, Soil Science or Zoology.
You can also apply if you have:
- a degree in another subject area and can show your interest, aptitude and/or experience in a field relevant to the application of geospatial technologies.
These are our minimum entry requirements. They are given as a guide and do not guarantee entry.
Short course route to online MSc GIS
If you do not meet these entry requirements, or are not ready to commit to a full MSc, you may be able to use our online short courses as a route into this degree instead.Find out about our short course route to entry
We welcome students from all over the world.
See the minimum entry requirements above. If you do not have qualifications from the UK, check equivalent qualifications from your country.
You do not need a visa to study online with us.
English language requirements
Teaching is delivered in English.
If English is not your first language, use our English requirements checklist to see if you need to provide evidence of your English language skills when you apply.
English language tests and scores
If you do need to provide English language test scores, these are the tests and minimum scores we accept for this course or degree.
These are our Postgraduate Standard requirements.
IELTS Academic and IELTS Online (not IELTS Indicator or IELTS General Training)
- 6.5 overall
- 5.5 for listening, reading and speaking
- 6.0 for writing
TOEFL iBT and TOEFL iBT Home Edition
- 90 overall
- 17 for listening
- 18 for reading
- 20 for speaking
- 21 for writing
- TOEFL DI code is 0818
Cambridge English: B2 First, C1 Advanced, or C2 Proficiency
- 176 overall
- 162 for listening, reading and speaking
- 169 for writing
LanguageCert International ESOL B2 Communicator (Written and Spoken)
- Overall High Pass
- 33 for listening, reading and speaking
- 38 for writing
PTE Academic (online test not accepted)
- 62 overall
- 59 for listening, reading, speaking and writing
For full information about language requirements, see our English Language Requirements page.
You apply through our online Applicant Portal. It allows you to upload relevant qualifications and documents.
Applying to the University of Aberdeen is always free.
What you need to apply for this degree
- Degree transcript
- Personal statement
- Degree certificate
- CV / Resume
Your personal statement
Motivation and understanding of this degree is an important factor in securing admission. Your personal statement should focus on providing answers to the following questions:
- What is your background in geospatial technologies?
- What specific aspects and areas of geospatial technologies are you interested in?
- What applications of geospatial technologies would you like to pursue and why?
- How do you think your background (both academic and work-related) is relevant to the study of the geospatial technologies?
- How do you see a qualification in the geospatial technologies helping your future career?
You also need to apply on time
Apply as early as you can. Please apply at least two weeks before the degree start date. This is because we need time to review your application and get a decision to you. If you’re successful, we also want to enrol you before teaching starts.
Read our step-by-step guide to get started. It explains degree transcripts, what to write in your personal statement and more.
You can apply to start in either September or January.
Apply as early as you can. This is so we have time to review your application and get a decision to you. We also want to ensure you have time to enrol before teaching starts.
September 2023 intake
For our September 2023 intake, the application deadline is 3 September 2023.
You will need to accept your offer and provide any outstanding documents to meet the conditions of your offer by 10 September 2023.
Teaching starts on 18 September 2023.
January 2024 intake
Teaching starts on 22 January 2024.
Application deadlines will be announced in due course.
Studying GIS involves storing and processing large datasets. In order to handle this, you need access to adequate computing power. You will need:
A computer (ideally a PC or laptop) or Mac operating on either:
- Windows 10 or later
- macOS 10.15 (Catalina) or later (see note for Mac users* below).
*A note for Mac users
While you can use a Mac, this may limit running software used in GIS.
Most of the software you’ll use is best suited to a PC or laptop running MS Windows 10 or later. If you use a Mac, we recommend you partition your hard drive so that one partition runs macOS and the other MS Windows.
Alternatively, you can use our Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) to access and use the software required. Find out about our VDI.
If you’re unsure about the suitability of your hardware, please get in touch with us prior to enrolling so that we can offer guidance. Contact the Online Learning team.
Any desktop or laptop should be the highest spec you can afford, with:
- a minimum of 8 to 16GB RAM (ideally 32GB or more)
- plus graphics card/onboard RAM
- a fast processor
- a large hard drive or SSD (1TB or above).
External hard drive and memory stick
You’ll need some external storage for storing and backing up your data and coursework. We suggest:
- at least a 1TB external hard drive, and
- at least a 32GB memory stick.
Reliable internet access
- a wired connection
- a minimum download speed of 2 Mbps so you can take part fully in live sessions.
Speakers or headphones
- We recommend a headset with built-in microphone and earphones if you’re likely to study in an environment with background noise.
- A webcam is optional, but you may like to use one from some interactive sessions.
One of the courses in this degree, Advanced Spatial Analysis and Programming, requires you to purchase a piece of software that is not included in your tuition fee. The software is called TerrSet. You can buy TerrSet online. Find out about TerrSet.
We’ll provide you with access to all the other specialist software you require.
We’ll also give you access to Office365 applications. This means you can use online versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and install these programs on up to five personal devices.
See our IT requirements article for full information on our IT services.
Master of Science
This indicative cost is based on 180 credits of study over two years, starting in September 2023.