Hydrographic Surveying

This MSc is designed to give students a broad range of experience in marine survey practice, including the acquisition and processing of hydrographic data, positioning, and charting. The programme is offered jointly with the Port of London Authority, which contributes through teaching and practical work aboard its survey vessels.


What will I learn?

​Students develop an advanced knowledge of a broad range of topics, including error theory, quality control, GNSS, reference systems, electronic charting, and international boundaries. Particular emphasis is placed on understanding the principles that underlie the analysis and interpretation of survey data, in particular those issues that affect its quality.

Why should I study this degree at UCL?

UCL Civil, Environmental & Geomatic Engineering is an energetic and exciting environment in which to explore hydrographic surveying. 

Students have the advantages of studying in a multi-faculty college with a long tradition of excellence, situated within the heart of one of the world's greatest cities. They also benefit from the training and facilities contributed by the surveyors at the Port of London Authority, one of the most advanced port hydrography departments in the world.

The Hydrographic Surveying MSc is recognised abroad as a "Category A" programme by the International Hydrogr​aphic Organisation (IHO), the International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) and the International Cartographic Association (ICA). This is the highest level of accreditation offered, and is an internationally recognised qualification that is increasingly demanded by employers worldwide.

You can read about our graduates from the past couple of years and where they’ve gone on to work, by downloading our reports on the graduating classes of 2012 and 2013.

What is the structure of the degree?

The programme consists of 4 core modules in Term 1, four specialist modules in Term 2, and a research project.


A full MSc brochure is available for applicants to look through. The brochure contains more details about the course content, structure, UCL and PLA staff involved and course assessment.

Field Trips

A field trip is held at the end of the second term. This is designed to give practical experience of advanced techniques and technologies, and to highlight issues relating to the management of projects. It will be assessed as a component of the Management/Group Project module.

Although for practical reasons the field trip is assessed separately, in educational terms it is seen as forming a continuum throughout the second term along with the additional days afloat that form part of the Hydrographic Applications module. Collectively, these practical elements are sometimes referred to as the Integrated Marine Field Trip, with students taking on an increasing level of responsibility as the year progresses.

There are also Boat days held in conjunction with the PLA which take place on the river.

Total costs to the student are approximately £350.


​Graduates of the MSc will gain a qualification recognised internationally and nationally by several organisations: the MSc is recognised abroad as a "Category A" programme by The International Hydrographic Organisation (IHO), The International Federation of Surveyors (FIG) and The International Cartographic Association (ICA). This is the highest level of accreditation offered, and is an internationally recognised qualification that is increasingly demanded by employers worldwide. The course is also officially recognised as providing specialist training in Nautical Charting Hydrography, Hydrography to Support Port Management and Coastal Engineering, and Offshore Construction Hydrography. In addition the MSc is accredited by The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and a satisfactory performance on the programme will grant you an exemption from the RICS's final written examinations.

What are the entry requirements?quadstatue2_web.jpg

The minimum entry requirements are a good second class honours degree in a cognate subject or related discipline, including geography, geology, civil engineering, mathematics, physics, marine biology or marine studies, from a UK university or the equivalent from an overseas institution. Extensive work experience covering related areas will be considered.

As preparation for the MSc if you are offered a place, you will be expected to revise your knowledge of mathematics (up to 'A'-Level) in certain topics such as trigonometry, geometry and differential calculus if you have not studied these for some time. The most comprehensive text to use would be "Engineering Mathematics" by K.A. Stroud (6th Edition), but many other text books covering an equivalent level of mathematics are also available.

Overseas applicants will need a recognised English language qualification. Further information relating to your country and UCL can be found here. To find out if your degree is recognised by UCL please contact the Admissions Office.


How to apply?

Applications are accepted throughout the year but applicants are advised to apply as early as possible due to competition for places. It takes approximately 4 weeks from submission of an application to receiving an offer letter. If you are an overseas student requiring a visa we recommend applying no later than 15th June to enable you time to obtain the CAS number required for your visa.

The deadline for applications is Monday 3rd August 2015. Those applying for scholarship funding (particularly overseas applicants) should take note of application deadlines.
Details on how to apply and further information can be found here: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/prospective-students/

What are we looking for?

When we assess your application we would like to know:
  • Why you want to study Hydrographic Surveying at graduate level?
  • Why you want to study Hydrographic Surveying at UCL?
  • What particularly attracts you to this programme?
  • How your personal, academic and professional background meets the demands of a challenging programme?
  • How this degree fits to your career aspirations?

Together with essential academic requirements, the personal statement is your opportunity to illustrate whether your reasons for applying to this programme match what the programme will deliver.


What are my careers prospects after this degree?

This programme offers exceptionally good career prospects. Many of our graduates go on to work for offshore surveying companies including Fugro, Gardline, Schlumberger, Horizon and Stolt Offshore (now Acergy). Others prefer shore-based jobs, or those that offer a mixture of time in the office and aboard survey vessels - examples include GEMS Survey and Netsurvey, or port authorities such as the Port of London or Singapore and Hong Kong. Other careers include work for equipment manufacturers (Sonardyne), cable companies (Alcatel), national hydrographic offices (UKHO) or research careers (UCL).


Where can I get some further information?

It may also help you to visit our Frequently Asked Questions page. Here you can find more information on the application process, including visa issues for international students, as well as more general information applicable to all our Masters courses.

If you have any queries you can contact the course administrator on (+44)(0)20 7679 4046 or email