School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics

MSc Coastal Engineering

This MSc equips graduates of engineering or science degrees with the knowledge and skills needed to work within the coastal engineering industry. You'll study core topics in coastal and port engineering, be introduced to numerical modelling techniques, obtain hands-on experience of using state-of-the-art software tools and carry out physical modelling of coastal structures within the COAST laboratory.

Supervised and supported by members of the COAST Engineering Research Group, you will also have the opportunity to undertake a substantial research project focused on an aspect of coastal engineering,

Find out more about your eligibility for a postgraduate loan

You may now be eligible for a government loan of over £11,000 to help towards the cost of your masters degree.

Find out more about your eligibility for a postgraduate loan

Careers with this subject

For Civil Engineering graduates this programme will help you work as a specialist coastal engineer. For other applicants the course provides you with the skills and knowledge to work alongside engineers within the sector. 

Previous graduates work as scientists, researchers or engineers at graduate destinations such as Arup, Mott MacDonald, the Environment Agency, Symprove, HR Wallingford, Mining Searches UK, Canterbury Council and JBA Consulting.

Key features

  • Equips engineering and science graduates with knowledge and understanding of engineering and coastal processes enabling them to work in this strategically important sector.

  • Learn how to quantify the loading effects of waves, tides, surges and manage the influences of climate change: sea level rise and greater storminess.

  • Discover how coastal structures - breakwaters, groynes, sea walls - are designed to protect against flooding and coastal erosion.

  • Understand how modern ports are designed for the needs of international trade.

  • Work in our acclaimed COAST laboratory to develop skills in physical modelling and interact with our COAST researchers or collect data in Plymouth Sound.

  • Obtain hands on experience in numerical modelling using modern industry software.

  • The programme is accredited as meeting the requirements for Further Learning for a Chartered Engineer (CEng) for candidates with an Accredited CEng (Partial) BEng (Hons) or an Accredited IEng (Full) BEng/BSc (Hons) undergraduate first degree. See jbm.org.uk for further information.

Course details

  • Programme overview
  • Study the theory of waves, tides, surges and modern techniques in coastal data collection and analysis, including GIS and remote sensing. You also study core topics in coastal and port engineering, gain research skills, are introduced to numerical modelling techniques and obtain hands-on experience of using state-of-the-art software tools.

    Towards the end of the programme, you have the opportunity to undertake a substantial research project focused on an aspect of coastal engineering, supervised by academic staff actively researching this field.
    Core modules
    • COUE506 Port and Harbour Engineering

      This module presents the fundamental elements of the layout, design and construction of modern port structures, and provides students with the necessary understanding of the forces and loadings acting of them. The subject combines 3 elements not often found together in engineering: the requirements of a major transport infrastructure, the harsh marine environment, and the design of highly specific structural solutions.

    • COUE508 Advanced Coastal Engineering Modelling

      This module covers the modelling techniques and software tools used in modern coastal engineering practise. Topics include the modelling of waves, currents and sediments; the modelling of coastal engineering designs and their impacts; the use of software tools of data analysis for coastal engineers.

    • COUE509 Coastal Engineering

      This module covers essential theoretical concepts for coastal engineers. Topics include: water wave theory, wave transformation processes, shallow water waves, coastal environments, climate change, introduction to flood defence, introduction to data analysis & software tools for coastal engineers, introduction to coastal structure design.

    • MAR513Z Research Skills and Methods

      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.

    • PROJ517 MSc Dissertation

      You will demonstrate practical skills and knowledge of research methods to plan and implement high quality research. You will carry out a substantial research investigation on a topic of your choice and report upon the aims, methodology, data analysis, interpretation, synthesis, and conclusions through a high quality, scholarly and professional write-up of the project, either as a formal dissertation or journal paper.

    Optional modules
    • MAR512 Assessment of Coastal Resources and Impacts

      This module reviews the dynamics of the coastal ocean and explores methods to assess MRE resource availability and potential environmental impacts. Observational methods for understanding coastal morphology, ecosystems and forcing mechanisms such as waves, tidal currents and tidal elevation are examined. Methods for impact mitigation and management are discussed. Case studies from around the world are utilized.

    • MAR518 Remote Sensing and GIS

      This module introduces the principles of geographical information systems and remote sensing of marine, polar and coastal environments. Field data will be acquired using GPS and radiometric instrumentation. Emphasis is placed on the critical evaluation of remote sensing data and analysis tools in varied scenarios and on developing practical computing skills.

    • MAR528Z Mechanics of MRE Structures

      This module will cover engineering aspects of marine renewable energy conversion. The module comprises lectures and tutorials, invited industry lectures, a field trip visit to a marine engineering company and a wave energy converter performance experiment in the COAST lab.

    • MAR706 Port Policy and Management

      This module will play a central role in your examination of the significance of port policy and the management of ports in the modern supply chain management system and logistics framework.

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 Coastal Engineering Programme Specification September 2019 2370

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

Minimum of a lower second class honours degree (2:2) in engineering or physical science subject e.g. geography, environmental science or physics.

Students with advanced standing who can evidence an academic ability to similar levels may also be considered.

Applicants with overseas qualifications can check their compatibility with the UK equivalent through NARIC, who provide an advisory service. 

We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

If your first language is not English then evidence of English proficiency is required.

The minimum IELTS score for acceptable English proficiency for entry is normally 6.5. 

For further advice on the appropriateness of overseas qualification and proficiency in the use of English, please contact our International Office.

Fees, costs and funding

EU applicants should refer to our dedicated Brexit webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

New Student 2020 2021
Home/EU £7,800 To be confirmed
International £11,800 To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) £450 To be confirmed
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. For more information about fees and funding please visit www.plymouth.ac.uk/money.

Alumnus loyalty reward for postgraduate study

The University applies a discretionary alumni reward where alumnus meet certain criteria on particular postgraduate taught courses.

  • a 20 per cent discount on home/EU tuition fees
  • or a £2,000 discount on international tuition fees.
  • a 10 per cent alumni discount is available on the following programmes: MSc Advanced Psychology, MSc Clinical Psychology, MSc/PgDip Psychology, MSc Physiotherapy (Pre-Reg) and MSc Occupational Therapy.

PGCE programmes, Master of Architecture, MChem, MEng, MGeol, MPsych, MSci, ResM, MSc Environmental Consultancy, MSc Sustainable Aquaculture, MSc Environmental Geochemistry and postgraduate research degrees are not included in this reward.

Please note that students must have applied directly to be eligible.

For further details, and contact information, please review our alumni discount policy.

Postgraduate scholarships for international students

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

Find out about the postgraduate scholarships available to you as an international student


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 website. 

International students

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email international-admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

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 weeks of 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
Email: admissions@plymouth.ac.uk 

Admissions policy

More information and advice for applicants can be referenced by downloading our Student Admissions Policy Prospective students are advised to read the policy before making an application to the University.

COAST Laboratory

The COAST (Coastal, Ocean And Sediment Transport) laboratory provides physical model testing with combined waves, currents and wind, offered at scales appropriate for device testing, array testing, environmental modelling and coastal engineering.

Find out about the facilities our COAST laboratory has to offer

Our facilities and resources

From dedicated computer laboratories to a wealth of electronic information, you’ll benefit from a range of facilities and resources that will help your learning and development.

Our facilities include our £19 million Marine Building and dedicated engineering laboratories equipped with industry standard software.

Find out more about our exceptional engineering facilities and resources

Our final year projects

Let our graduates inspire you

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