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Coastal Zone Management - PgDip/MSc - Video

One of the longest running e-learning Coastal Zone Management courses in the world (fully online since 2000).

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One of the longest running e-learning Coastal Zone Management courses in the world (fully online since 2000).


Why consider Coastal Zone Management at Ulster University in the United Kingdom?

With the introduction of the Marine Bill in Europe and other significant legislative developments world-wide, evaluation and management of coastal areas and the need for compliance with legislation has come to the fore in recent years. This PgDip/MSc course, offered through fully online distance learning, offers exciting opportunities to develop advanced skills in the range of subjects involved in contemporary coastal zone management. It encourages the development of a deep understanding of the relevant science and human activities that affect the coast and uses this understanding as a basis for devising management approaches to complex, real-life coastal issues. The course is aimed at both physical sciences and life sciences graduates, and also at those who have demonstrable past or current coastal management responsibilities in their working lives.

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About this course

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The course in Coastal Zone Management is one of a number of interlinked e-learning PgDip/MSc courses offered by the School of Geography and Environmental Sciences at Ulster University. The School was originally established in 1969 and it has a long and successful record of teaching and research in an interrelated group of subjects focusing on Geography and Environmental Science. We have been offering innovative, fully online, distance learning Master’s programmes for nearly 20 years and we have a rich and diverse student body studying in all parts of the world. The course in Coastal Zone Management draws upon the latest innovations and developments in the subject area and, in particular, focuses on practical projects and the considerable research into coastal management being undertaken within the School. Topics considered include aquaculture, tourism, conservation, land and coastal planning, and sustainable resource development.

The specific objectives of the course are for you to develop:

  • an advanced understanding of how coasts ‘work’;
  • a clear and detailed appreciation of the role of humans in coastal systems;
  • sophisticated insights into both past and current practice and new, innovative developments.
  • enhanced decision-making skills.

Why study with us?

  • You will get support and advice from experienced lecturers, tutors, librarians and e-learning IT staff.
  • There is total flexibility of location – you can study from almost anywhere and there is no need to travel to classes.
  • You can choose the times you study to suit yourself, so that you can combine study and work.
  • You will be able to access a wide range of online resources such as e-books and journals, digital lectures and module discussion boards within the sector leading e-learning platform, Blackboard.
  • There is flexibility in the level of the course – you can study for a Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) or a Master’s degree (MSc) or enrol for individual modules that interest you.

Our extensive experience in online course delivery means that we consistently get high student satisfaction levels and positive feedback from past and present students as well as external examiners and evaluators.


This course is offered fully online and is completed part-time by distance learning. You do not need to visit the University at any stage to successfully complete this course.

The Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) Coastal Zone Management and the Master of Science (MSc) Coastal Zone Management are linked courses. You need to successfully complete the PgDip (120 credit points) before you can transfer to the MSc (a further 60 credit points). To get the full MSc you need to successfully complete 180 credit points.

For part-time postgraduate courses one module is taken each semester and hence the PgDip takes two years (4 semesters) to complete. Modules for the programme are available on a two-year rotational basis so the order in which you will complete the modules depends on when you start the course.

The MSc consists of an advanced project module and an additional two semesters are required to complete this element of the programme. In total the whole MSc programme will take three years part-time (6 semesters).

Start dates

  • September 2017
  • January 2018
How to apply


Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.

Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

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Year one

Environmental data analysis

Year: 1

This module will provide new and synthesise existing knowledge and skills necessary to understand and analyse environmental data. Statistics, environmental modelling, geographical information systems and presentation skills will all be taught and demonstrated. The students will put this knowledge into action in the form of worked examples and assessments. Knowledge and evaluation techniques are provided in lectures, skills developed during worked examples and demonstrated by assessments

Management of coastal water resources

Year: 1

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.

Year two

Environmental Impact Assessment

Year: 2

This module introduces the concepts and requirements of environmental impact assessment, the methodology of planning and carrying out an environmental audit and the use of environmental management systems.

Geography and management of coastal land resources

Year: 2

This module introduces the physical, ecological cultural and socio-economic characteristics of coastal land resources (beaches, dunes, tidal flats, salt marshes and cliff-shore platform systems). It investigates the temporal and spatial variation in these resources and assesses contemporary patterns of human use in this context. Contemporary approaches to coastal management are introduced and discussed.

Year three

Coastal zone management project

Year: 3

This module requires the student to pursue an independent piece of research into an issue in coastal management. A project plan, review of existing knowledge and data gathering and interpretation conclude in the presentation of a dissertation.

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

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Entry Requirements

Entry to the PgDip:
You must hold an honours degree in a science or other suitable discipline or demonstrate your ability to undertake the course through the accreditation of prior experiential learning (APEL).

Entry to the MSc:
You initially register for the Postgraduate Diploma (PgDip) and if you complete the PgDip with an overall mark of 50% or higher you can then proceed to the MSc programme.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Teaching and learning assessment

Teaching is delivered entirely online through detailed lecture presentations and videos offering you the flexibility to study at your own pace, any place and at any time. Learning is supported by e-tutors offering one-to-one problem resolution and through discussion boards which encourage participation from the whole class. This offers opportunities to learn about issues and problems from different perspectives.

Assessment is entirely by course work and there are no examinations. Instead, a mixture of methods including practical reports, problem analysis, projects, literature reviews and essays, class tests, group work, presentations, and a research project are used to assess your understanding and skills development.

Once registered students are able to access the University's extensive online resources of electronic journals and books and a wide range of databases.

As a distance learning student you can

  • Submit work quickly and easily using the Blackboard Virtual learning Environment.
  • Email your lecturer or e-tutor with queries or problems as they arise and receive feedback to ensure successful progression.
  • Liaise with other students by email or through discussion board forums and use shared ideas and information.

Careers & opportunities

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Career options

Our students enrol for this course to develop their professional knowledge and to acquire new skills. They do this to improve their career and promotion prospects, change their career or, if they are recently graduated, to specialise in a new subject area to enhance their job prospects

Coastal Zone Management graduates from Ulster are employed in a wide range of professions and contexts including local authorities, national and regional governments, international organisations including development agencies, academic and research institutes, and private consultancies.

Professional recognition

Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES)

Accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES) for the purpose of eligibility to apply for associate membership.

Academic profile

This course is led by Professor Andrew Cooper. Andrew has been at Ulster University since 1994 and previous to this held posts at the University of Greenwich and the University of Natal, South Africa. He has over 200 peer-reviewed publications focusing on coastal geomorphology and coastal management and plays a leading role in the Coastal Systems Research Group within the School of Geography and Environmental Sciences. This research group examines coastal geomorphic change at timescales from millennia to seconds, with a focus on the decadal to centennial scale.

The work of the Coastal Systems group focuses on:

  • Processes and landforms
  • Marine Ecosystems
  • Coastal Management

The spatial scale of investigation ranges from a few metres of a single beach, to regional and global comparisons of coastal landforms. In coastal management, the research assesses the utility of various societal approaches to CZM and the constraints imposed by human values and organisational structures. This is done within the context of evolving legislative drivers at national and EU level. The group's work contributes directly to the societal debate on responding to the impacts of future climate change and sea-level rise.

Research Projects

  • Late Glacial Sea Level Minima (NERC)
  • Aeolian sediment transport on beaches under offshore wind (NERC)
  • Morphological signature of the March 2008 swell event on Caribbean beaches (NERC)
  • Innovative Management for Europe's Changing Coastal Resource (IMCORE) (EU)
  • CoastAdapt(EU)
  • Storm deposits of tropical coasts: Beach ridge form and genesis
  • Dune dynamics on Mars


How to apply

All applications are submitted online. We have start dates each year in late September and late January. Applications should be submitted at least one month before the start date but in some situations we can accept later applications.

Applications to our postgraduate courses are made through the University’s online application system.

Start dates

  • September 2017
  • January 2018

Fees and funding

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Fees (total cost)

Important notice - fees information Please note fees displayed are for 2017/18 Academic Entry. Fees are correct at the time of publishing. Additional mandatory costs are highlighted where they are known in advance. There are other costs associated with university study.
Visit our Fees pages to find out more

Northern Ireland & EU:
£13,240.00  Scholarships available

Where the postgraduate course selected offers multiple awards (e.g. PG Cert, PG Dip, Master’s), please note that the price displayed is for the complete master’s programme. Postgraduate certificates and diplomas are charged at a pro-rata basis. Find out more

Additional mandatory costs

There are no additional mandatory costs associated with this programme.

Tuition fees and costs associated with accommodation, travel (including car parking charges), and normal living are a part of university life.

Where a course has additional mandatory expenses we make every effort to highlight them. These may include residential visits, field trips, materials (e.g. art, design, engineering) inoculations, security checks, computer equipment, uniforms, professional memberships etc.

We aim to provide students with the learning materials needed to support their studies. Our libraries are a valuable resource with an extensive collection of books and journals as well as first-class facilities and IT equipment. Computer suites and free wifi is also available on each of the campuses.

There will be some additional costs to being a student which cannot be itemised and these will be different for each student. You may choose to purchase your own textbooks and course materials or prefer your own computer and software. Printing and binding may also be required. There are additional fees for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines. Additional costs vary from course to course.

Students choosing a period of paid work placement or study abroad as part of their course should be aware that there may be additional travel and living costs as well as tuition fees.

Please contact the course team for more information.


School of Geography and Environmental Sciences

Niamh McInerney


T (+44) 28 7012 4401

Course Director: Professor Andrew Cooper
T: +44 (0)28 7012 4429

For admission enquiries contact the Faculty Office:

T: +44 (0)28 7012 4159



‘I can honestly say that Ulster University’s MSc Coastal Zone Management course exceeded my expectations in all regards. The course staff were responsive, knowledgeable and helpful throughout and provided quality feedback on submissions in addition to answering questions in a timely manner. I entered the course as a mature student with a full-time professional job, and had my reservations about the benefits of learning online. However, I found the learning environment to be well thought out, flexible and easy to use. The reading lists and support information were well targeted and effectively distilled some of the current global thinking on the source topics (often authored by course faculty). I thoroughly enjoyed the course and feel that it was worthwhile just for the learning benefits. The course has also enabled me to move forward professionally, first with a new position at a regional engineering company, and more recently with the launch of my own consulting business. I would strongly recommend the Ulster University MSc Coastal Zone Management course to anyone looking to increase their knowledge in the subject, or to further their professional career in the field’ (Andrew Johnston, 2013 Principal, Atlantic Resource Consultants, USA,).