School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences

MSc Data Science and Environmental Intelligence

This programme combines data science with cutting-edge skills in environmental and marine technology to provide an innovative curriculum and an outstanding foundation for your future career in the digitally-enabled environmental and marine sectors.

Postgraduate opportunities – virtual drop-in session

Find out more about postgraduate study in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences at our virtual drop-in session.

Key features

  • Hands-on, experiential learning.
  • Industry-focused content that prepares students for working with emerging cutting edge technologies.
  • Teaching led by academics actively driving change.
  • A sustainability-based education that empowers students to make a difference.
  • A specific focus on environmental intelligence – sensing, monitoring and management through the use of automation, AI and big data.
  • By combining core skills in computing and data analysis with knowledge of a range of innovative environmental sensors and the ability to analyse big data you will develop the interdisciplinary skills and knowledge to take a leading role in environmental analytics and in providing practical solutions to 21st century global challenges.
  • After completing the taught programme and dissertation, you will have the opportunity to consolidate your learning by undertaking an optional 6–12-month industry placement in the terrestrial or marine environmental sectors.
  • A diverse and respectful place in which to work and study is fundamental to everything we do. Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion in the School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Science.

Course details

  • Year 1

  • The MSc Data Science and Environmental Intelligence programme provides a diverse curriculum to teach you the skills required to become proficient in data collection, management, and analysis to meet the current and future demands of the data economy with a particular focus on environmental systems and data.
    During the first two semesters of the one-year taught programme you will gain essential computing skills such as software development and coding, modelling and machine learning, and advanced statistical data handling with a focus on big data. Alongside developing your technical expertise, you will learn how environmental data are collected and analysed, and how such data are essential for sustainable development. In particular, our new facilities in terrestrial and marine sensors, and ground-breaking work on marine autonomous vehicles, will open your eyes to the future of environmental sensing technology.
    In the final semester, you will complete an independent dissertation project with a focus on either a terrestrial or marine issue. Throughout your studies you will be supported in gaining the research and professional skills to help you succeed in the programme and to launch a successful career.

    Core modules

    • Placement Preparation (APIE502)

      This module is aimed at students who may want to undertake an optional industrial placement upon completion of the taught programme. It is designed to assist students in their search for a placement, and preparation for the placement itself.

    • Environmental Observations and Quality Assurance (GEES531)

      This module introduces the fundamental concepts of ‘the analytical approach’ to working with environmental problems, including student-lead case studies that allowing them to learn and apply the principles of good practice for observational data collection, quality control and traceability. Research study skills sessions are included, leading to the planning of a research dissertation.

    • Terrestrial Environmental Sensors and Big Data (GEES535)

      Terrestrial sensor networks are revolutionising the design of urban environments, as well as informing land and catchment management. This module builds upon the semester 1 by providing students with the opportunity to solve real-world questions relating to sustainability challenges using expanded datasets from automated sensors and environmental observations used in current earth and environmental science research.

    • Marine Environmental Monitoring (MAR538)

      Monitoring of the marine environment provides data that underpins research, exploitation, management and policy development. Students will learn about the practicalities of reliable marine data collection using autonomous platforms and sensors, be introduced to secondary data sources from across the subject area, and develop associated skills in spatial and time-series data analysis techniques and interpretation.

    • Modelling and Analytics for Data Science (MATH501)

      This module gives students an understanding of modelling and analytics techniques for Data Science. It supplies modern data modelling tool boxes for making strategic decisions in a broad range of Business related practical situations. It offers a hands-on introduction to Bayesian inference and machine learning. It provides additional practice in making professional presentations.

    • Big Data and Social Network Visualization (MATH513)

      Sophisticated analytics techniques are needed to visualize today's increasing quantities of Big Data. Up-to-date R tools including dplyr for data manipulation, ggplot2 for visualization, and knitr/LaTeX for document presentation are studied. These are applied to database interrogation, social network visualization and sentiment analysis. The module provides considerable experience of writing professionally documented R code using RStudio.

    • Research Skills and Methods (MAR513)

      This module aims to equip students with the practical skills and contextual framework for conducting high quality research. Emphasis is placed on workshop opportunities to acquire and practice research planning, analysis, communication, writing and oral presentation skills.

    Optional modules

    • MSc Dissertation (GEES520)

      The student will complete an independent research project that they have designed in semester 1 as part of their research skills development. The record of the research will communicate the project aims, research problem, methodology, data analysis, interpretation, discussion/synthesis and conclusions in the format specified and to a professional standard.

    • MSc Dissertation (MAR524)

      The student will complete a research project that they have designed in the semester 1 research skills module. The project can be submitted in the format of a journal paper or dissertation. The write-up will communicate the project aims, methodology, data analysis, interpretation, synthesis and conclusions.

  • Optional placement year following completion of the taught programme

  • Core modules

    • Industry Placement (APIE503)

      This module enables students to take a 6-12 month placement linked to their programme. Assessment is based on Progress Reports, Regional Tutor evaluation, Employer evaluation and self-evaluation via reflective report (or portfolio).

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest programme structure and may be subject to change:

MSc Data Science And Environmental Intelligence Programme Specification September 2024 7575

The modules shown for this course or programme are those being studied by current students, or expected new modules. Modules are subject to change depending on year of entry.

Entry requirements

An honours degree (a second class or better) in a relevant discipline (e.g., BSc Geography, Environmental Science, Geological Sciences, Earth Science, Marine Science, Ocean Science, Data Science, Mathematics, Computing, Chemistry) OR overseas equivalent. If you apply with a degree in a none-related subject this will also be considered. If you apply without recent formal qualifications, but with relevant industry experience you will also be considered.
A minimum grade C in English Language at GCSE level OR a minimum overall score of 6.5 in IELTS with no less than 5.5 in any component.

Fees, costs and funding

Student 2023-2024 2024-2025
Home £10,500 £11,000
International £18,000 £19,800
Part time (Home) £580 £610
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances. More information about fees and funding.

Additional costs

This course is delivered by the Faculty of Science and Engineering and more details of any additional costs associated with the faculty's courses are listed on the following page: Additional fieldwork and equipment costs.

Postgraduate scholarships for international students

We offer several scholarships for international students who wish to study postgraduate taught (PGT) degree programmes.

Tuition fees for optional placement years

The fee for all taught postgraduate students undertaking a placement year will be calculated as 20% of your course's 'home student' tuition fee.
Learn more about placement year tuition fees

How to apply

When to apply
Most of our taught programmes begin in September. Applications can usually be made throughout the year, and are considered until programmes are full.
Before you apply
Familiarise yourself with the information required to complete your application form. You will usually be required to supply:
  • evidence of qualifications (degree certificates or transcripts), with translations if not in English, to show that you meet, or expect to meet the entry requirements
  • evidence of English language proficiency, if English is not your first language
  • a personal statement of approximately 250-400 words about the reasons for your interest in the course and outlining the nature of previous and current related experience. You can write this into the online application form, or include it as a separate document
  • your curriculum vitae or résumé, including details of relevant professional/voluntary experience, professional registration/s and visa status for overseas workers
  • proof of sponsorship, if applicable.
If you require further information take a look at our application guidance.
Disability services
If you have a disability and would like further information about the support provided by University of Plymouth, please visit our Disability Services.
International students
Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office. Take a look at our how to apply information or email
Submitting an application
Once you are happy that you have all of the information required you can apply using our online postgraduate application form (the blue 'Apply now' icon on this page).
What happens after I apply?
You will normally receive a decision on your application within four weeksof us receiving your application. You may be asked to provide additional information; two academic/professional references, confirming your suitability for the course; or to take part in an interview (which in the case of overseas students may be by telephone or video conference) and you will be sent a decision by letter or email.
We aim to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. Our Admissions and Course Enquiries team is on hand to offer help and can put you in touch with the appropriate faculty if you wish to discuss any programme in detail.
If you would like any further information please contact the Admissions and Course Enquiries team:
Telephone: +44 (0)1752 585858
Admissions policy
More information and advice for applicants can be referenced in our admissions policy which can be found on the student regulations, policies and procedures page. Prospective students are advised to read the policy before making an application to the University.

Learn more about the programme, its relevancy to real world issues and the career opportunities available.

Specialist facilities

On this programme you will benefit from easy access to cutting-edge specialist labs and next-generation software and hardware on a single campus.
Facilities will include access to the NVIDIA seed-funded GPU Research Centre, the University’s High-Performance Computing Centre, the state-of-the-art Marine Station, the newly opened National Centre for Coastal Autonomy, the Sustainable Earth Institute, and access to world leading chemistry analytical facilities, which include a new Sensors Laboratory. Students will also benefit from the outdoor laboratory of the south-west peninsula, including urban, terrestrial and marine environments, all with easy access.
Chemistry facilities - student using lab equipment

Dr Cho Kwong Charlie Lam

Programme Leader
Dr Cho Kwong Charlie Lam's skills translate across climate science, built environments, bioclimatology, epidemiology (heat-human health responses) and social science. These skills come from his human and physical geography background and subsequent PhD and postdoctoral training in climate science and the built environment in Australia (Monash University) and China (Sun Yat-sen University).
Using field measurements and numerical simulations, he has worked in relevant trans-disciplinary areas on adapting cities to climate change by creating more liveable urban environments. These are highly relevant issues, considering the recent summer heatwaves in Europe, Australia and North America, and the 489,000 annual heat-related mortality worldwide during the past two decades. In light of climate change, European governments have recognised the need for urgent policy development and adaptation action to provide cooler and liveable cities.
Dr Cho Kwong Charlie Lam, Programme Leader for the MSc Data
Science and Environmental Intelligence
Moreover, this issue is a particular focus for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for its next assessment. His research findings have the potential to save lives and increase cost savings associated with health benefits in the UK and beyond.

Academic staff