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Physical Oceanography MSc


Course facts

  • Name: Physical Oceanography
  • Qualification: MSc
  • Duration: 1 year full-time

"The MSc in Physical Oceanography at the University of Bangor, which has received NERC funding since 1965, meets a critical skills need in the UK for modellers and numerate environmental scientists."
NERC 4 Feb 2011

"The School of Ocean Science at Bangor... is generally regarded as the best institute in Europe for physical oceanography."
New Scientist 22nd October 2008

This 12 month taught postgraduate course introduces students with a first degree in the physical, mathematical or other numerate sciences to the subject of Physical Oceanography. The course has run for over 40 years and is unique in the UK for the depth of physical oceanography training provided. As well as giving an overview of physical oceanography, the course enable students to study in detail those aspects of the subject for which they have particular interest.

Course Objectives

  1. Provide a thorough training in the theory and application of physical oceanography.
  2. Familiarize the student with modern oceanographic instrumentation and observational techniques.
  3. Introduce state-of-the-art computational fluid dynamics, data analysis and fundamental modelling methods.
  4. Provide the student with the practical experience and physical understanding necessary to address significant problems in the coastal ocean environment.

Course Director

The course director is Dr Mattias Green, who oversees course admissions, the administration of lectures and practicals, and general day to day running of the course. The deputy course director is Dr Yueng Lenn. Drs Green and Lenn are available to help you with any general course related or welfare problems during your enrolment on the course. Specialist confidential assistance with many student difficulties is available by referral to central College facilities. Dr Green's office is Room 202, Second Floor, Craig Mair Building. His office phone is 2893 (01248-382893 when calling from an outside line). You may also email In his absence, Dr Lenn ( or any other member of the teaching staff will be happy to provide assistance.

Course content is for guidance purposes only and may be subject to change.

Course Content

The first two semesters of the course are taught, introducing the student to the physics of the ocean and its role in the climate system. Modules cover both oceanographic theory and its application, as well practical oceanography. The latter includes an introduction of state-of-the-art instrumentation, remote sensing, numerical modelling as well as practical experience working on small boats and the University's state-of-the-art research vessel, the Prince Madog. Student achievement in the course is evaluated by continuous assessment and module examinations.

During the second semester the student begins to focus on specific aspects of the subject, intially through an extensive literature review and then a research project. The research project, which forms a major component of the course, is selected in close consultation with the students to be of direct relevance to their intended future work. For overseas students, well founded projects based on investigations being undertaken in a home institute are encouraged.

Modules for the current academic year

Module listings are for guide purposes only and are subject to change. Find out what our students are currently studying on the Physical Oceanography Modules page.

Entry Requirements

Successful applicants normally hold, or expect to obtain, a 2(ii) undergraduate Honours degree in a physical, mathematical or other numerate science.  Applicants from other subject areas (e.g. Geography, Geology, Biology and other sciences) or with relevant employment experience are encouraged to apply, provided that they can demonstrate high levels of motivation and experience in their Personal Statement and CV and have mathematics to A-level or beyond.

IELTS: 6.0 (with no element below 5.5) is required.

International Students

For information and further detailed guidance on entry requirements for International Students, including the minimum English Language entry requirement, please visit the Entry Requirements by Country pages on the International Education Centre section of our website.

Ask the IEC for assistance...

If you want advice or a general chat about what’s available contact the International Education Centre on +44 (0) 1248 382028 or email


How to Apply

Home/EU students

Home/EU students: apply online yourself with the help of our Guidance Notes on online application for Home/EU students. We strongly recommend you read these before you start to apply online.

Apply online

Once you have read the Guidance Notes you should apply using our Online Application form.

Need help applying? Home/EU students please contact:

Postgraduate Admissions: or write to:

Admissions Office
Bangor University
LL57 2TF

Telephone: +44 (0)1248 383717.

International students

  • Agents: if you are an agent applying on behalf of the student, then you can Apply here. For further guidance click here

Need help applying? International students please contact:

International Education Office: or write to

International Education Centre
Bangor University
LL57 2DG

Telephone: +44 (0) 1248 382028

When to apply

The University will accept applications throughout the year, but we would generally advise that you send in your application form by the end of June to ensure that you have time to make any funding and/or accommodation arrangements, and for documents such as transcripts and references to be obtained if not submitted with the application. This will also give you more time to meet any conditions we may potentially attach to an offer. If you are making an application for one of our professional courses, which has limited place availability, you are advised to contact the academic school for advice on the final dates for applications.

Careers and Employability

This course has run for over 40 years and past students have gone on to become Nobel Laureates, directors of the main UK Oceanographic laboratories and managing directors of major commercial oceanographic companies. Many hold posts in the marine industries, particularly in consultancy companies that provide services in oceanography to the oil industry and companies concerned with engineering operations in shelf seas. There are opportunities in Government Laboratories and agencies with responsibility for estuarine and coastal waters. Many graduates have continued to higher degrees and an academic career.

Recent figures show that 50% of MSc PO students have proceeded to a PhD, whilst 20% went straight into jobs in commercial oceanography and a further 25% to oceanography related jobs in the public sectors.

Some of the leading academics would have studied the Physical Oceanography MSc at Bangor:
Prof Stefan Romstorf (IPCC member and Nobel Laureate), Prof Edward Hill (Director of the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton), Drs Jonathan Sharples and Alex Souza (Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, Liverpool), Drs Bob Marsh and Kate Stansfield (Southampton University), Dr Stuart Cunningham (National Oceanography Centre, Southampton), Drs Patrick Hyder and John Siddorn (Met Office), Dr Tim O'Hare (Plymouth University), Icarus Allen (Plymouth Marine Laboratory).

Leading Oceanographers in the commerical world who studied Physical Oceanography MSc at Bangor include:

  • Kevin Deeming (MD METOC plc)
  • Rick Lailey (WNI Science & Engineering, W. Australia)
  • Hugh Agnew (Yeoman Marine Ltd)
  • Robin Stephens (Fugro GEOS UK)

Others major employers of Bangor MSc PO graduates include Fugro GEOS, EXXON, Shell and GeoLab BV.

* These figures are based on the 51 students who started the MSc Applied Physical Oceanography between 2000 and 2006.



Further information


Some funding may be available for eligible applicants. Nominations are made by Course Directors who take into account: degree classification, personal statement and references.

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