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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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In this section

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


This part-time course provides advanced training in coastal zone management by developing understanding of how the coast works, (physico-chemical processes) what ecosystems occur there, and how humans interact with these. The threats and opportunities related to human occupation of and utilisation of the coast are studied and the options for managing/regulating these interactions are assessed. The course will take 3 years to complete, is fully online and part-time, making it suitable for working professionals and accessible from any part of the world.

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About this course

In this section


You will study two modules on coastal processes, coastal ecosystems and human interactions with these. One of the modules covers the 'dry' coast (beaches, dunes, cliffs, etc) and the other covers the 'wet' parts' (estuaries, lagoons, the inner continental shelf). The other two modules deliver skills in (a) handling environmental data and preparing for research and (b) environmental impact assessment. The course concludes with a student project on some aspect of Coastal Management, leading to a manuscript suitable for submission to an international journal.


Part-time, distance learning only

Start dates

  • September 2018
  • January 2019
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

Various roles in government, administration, consulting, overseas development

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

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 2018
  • January 2019

Fees and funding

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Additional mandatory costs

There are no additional mandatory costs associated with this programme.


School of Geography and Environmental Sciences

Niamh McInerney


T +44 (0)28 7012 4401

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

Admissions enquiries:

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,).