MSc Satellite Data for Sustainable Development

Key facts

  • Start date: January
  • Study mode and duration: 12 months full-time, 36 months part-time
  • Scholarship: Faculty of Engineering International Scholarship for new international students

Study with us

  • build a fundamental understanding of space system design, remote sensing, data analytics and machine learning while choosing electives in urban design, clean energy solutions, environmental impact, entrepreneurship, management and advanced computing techniques
  • study applied learning, in the frame of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to find real life solutions to global development challenges
  • focus on sustainability across various industries by engaging in industry guest lectures, case studies and student projects
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Why this course?

Our MSc Satellite Data for Sustainable Development is a globally unique Masters degree which embraces the UN Sustainable Development Goals to offer a cross-disciplinary approach to the teaching of satellite applications, space system design, data science and sustainability.

The applied learning activities of the MSc programme is strategically aligned with the goals and interests of the University of Strathclyde’s Centre for Sustainable Development, to give students a wider exposure to the global movement that surrounds the 17 UN SDGs. 

The course will have a focus on the practical use of satellite data in direct applications to SDGs through the analysis of case studies and engagement, through student projects and invited talks with start-ups and NGOs actively working in the field.

Students will gain an insight into the broad use of satellite data across various industries and will be equipped with the necessary technical skills and critical thinking to understand the challenges we are facing globally and develop innovative solutions, through project-based learning (some of them group-based) and a final individual project.

THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner
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Course content

You'll take 180 credits made up of 120 credits of taught modules and the 60-credit individual project. The 12-month full-time course spans three semesters as follows:

Geographical Information Systems (GIS) (10 credits)

This practical-based class provides a thorough introduction to the rapidly growing field of Geographical Information Science. The class covers the key theoretical principles but also provides many computer-based exercises using current state-of-the-art Geographical Information Systems (GIS) – namely IDRISI and ArcGIS. The class evaluates how GIS can be used for spatial query and analysis, while at the same time assessing the quality and the effectiveness of the resultant products in terms of their use. Teaching staff: Dr Elsa João

Satellite Data Assimilation & Analysis (10 credits)

This class is designed to provide students with an understanding on available satellite datasets, their characteristics, processing and visualisation methods and tools, descriptive analytics methods. The class is designed to provide theoretical foundations, as well as hands on exercises.

Machine Learning for Satellite Data (10 credits)

This class is designed to provide the students with the theoretical and practical foundations on the applications of machine learning methods to satellite data for prediction, classification, clustering and time series analysis.

Satellite Applications for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) (20 credits)

The class introduces the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals and will explore in depth multidisciplinary perspective of responding to the challenges of four particular goals, namely: SDG 3 Good Health and Wellbeing, SDG6 Clean Water and Sanitation, SDG 10 Reduced Inequalities and SGD 13 Climate Action. Through focused study of these four SDGs, students will gain an understanding of the different ways in which various disciplines in Business, Engineering, Humanities and Social Sciences, and Science, can contribute to addressing these challenges. 

The second part of the course, that will run in parallel with the first one, is focused on providing students with a practical understanding of the application of satellite data to SDGs and the  sustainability of data gathering itself. This articulates in a series of invited lectures from academics from other departments, private practitioners and governmental representatives; and a series of tutorials where notable success stories on the topic will be analysed and discussed in terms of results achieved, impact and technology demonstrated.

Individual project (60 credits)

60 credits, during Summer and Sept Semester

In addition to taught modules, students are expected to conduct an individual research project which may be an industry-themed project or one aligned to engineering research at Strathclyde. Students can also self-propose projects if there is any application of satellite data that they are really interested in exploring further.

The following optional module selections will be provided to students. The selection of these modules has been discussed and agreed with each of the departments in involved in running the modules.


Entrepreneurship, Innovation & Commercialisation (10 credits)

This class aims to provide engineers and scientists with a better understanding of what it takes to create and grow technology-based businesses. Specifically it aims to provide you with:

  • an appreciation of the intrinsic value of entrepreneurship, innovation and commercialisation activities to business
  • a set of frameworks to better understand and more successfully engage in high-tech business opportunities
  • a better appreciation and understanding of management in a complex, uncertain and interdisciplinary high-tech business environment

New Venture Planning (10 credits)

This class is designed to provide a practical introduction to business modelling and understanding how new ventures are developed. The class is multi-disciplinary in nature and integrates within it the main business disciplines. It focuses upon the processes within new businesses but draws comparisons with larger organisations and as such introduces a more entrepreneurial approach to the career patterns of individuals who pursue careers in larger organisations.

The class will not follow the more traditional lecture pattern but will be highly interactive with class participants being involved in individual and group activities which will encourage creative thinking and 'learning by doing' in addressing the real opportunities and challenges that face the first-time entrepreneur.

This class considers the nature of business planning and deals with the business planning process. It is a project-based course in which students, working in small groups, research and develop a business plan for a new venture. Students will select a business idea and develop it into a business model. In the final weeks of the course, each group will showcase a video presentation of their plan and will be questioned by an 'enterprise panel' about aspects of this business model.

Project Management (10 credits)

This module provides students with skills relating to the use of engineering practices in Project Management with particular respect to the effective and efficient use of resources. The syllabus includes an introduction to project management techniques and project control, project networks including critical path analysis, procedural and graphical presentation techniques, an introduction to Contract Law and project budgetary control.

Risk Management (10 credits)

Under Health and Safety legislation, and under the wider European Post-Seveso Directives, it is mandatory for many industries to carry out risk assessments with the aim of showing that risk is As Low As Reasonably Practicable. This module introduces the fundamental techniques of risk analysis and risk-informed decision making. Students will learn the general principles of methods and their place in risk management, as well as the chance to develop skills in applying these methods to variety of engineering examples.

Machine Learning & Data Analysis (10 credits)

Big Data Fundamentals (10 credits)

The aim of this module is to give students:

  • an understanding of the new challenges posed by the advent for big data, as they refer to its modelling, storage & access
  • an understanding of the key algorithms & techniques which are embodied in data analytics solutions
  • an understanding of the fundamentals of Python to enable the use of various big data technologies
  • an understanding of how classical statistical techniques are applied in modern data analysis
  • an understanding of the potential application of data analysis tools for various problems & appreciate their limitations

Machine Learning for Data Analytics (20 credits)

The aim of this class is to equip students with a sound understanding of the principles of machine learning and a range of popular approaches, along with the knowledge of how to apply the techniques. The class will teach the students how to:

  • understand the aims & fundamental principles of machine learning
  • understand a range of the key algorithms & approaches to machine learning
  • apply the algorithms covered & interpret the outcomes
  • understand the applicability of the algorithms to different types of data & problems along with their strengths & limitations

Database Development (10 credits)

This module builds on a basic understanding of the relational database approach, covering more complex SQL query design and efficient execution, as well as transactional design using database triggers/stored procedures or by embedding SQL code within other programming environments. Upon completion you will:

  • display knowledge of declarative versus procedural approaches to access databases and the relative benefits/costs associated with each
  • display skill to construct complex SQL queries
  • demonstrate the ability to utilise triggers/stored procedures within a commercial database management platform
  • understand how to appropriately embed SQL queries within other programming languages and environments
  • display an appreciation for the importance of database indexing in the context of supporting complex queries on big data
  • display knowledge of transactional processes within database systems and understand their relevance to code design and execution

Legal, Ethical & Professional Issues (10 Credits)

This module aims to ensure that you're aware of the legal, social, ethical and professional issues commensurate with the practice of Information Systems Engineering.

On completion of the module, you'll be able to:

  • appreciate the characteristics of professionalism as it relates to modern data management
  • recognise and appreciate the professional aspects of other modules in the course, and how those aspects influence practice
  • form a sound basis on which you'll subsequently be able to practise Information Systems Engineering with a due regard for legal, ethical and social issues

Database & Web Systems Development (20 credits)

The aims of this class are to help you:

  • display knowledge of the process of designing a database system, starting from an informal specification
  • display skill in formulating database queries using SQL
  • show an appreciation of the facilities and services which should be provided by a fully featured database management system
  • demonstrate knowledge of commonly occurring data models

Big Data Tools & Techniques (10 credits)

This module will enhance your understanding of the challenges posed by the advent of Big Data and will introduce you to scalable solutions for data storage and usage.

You can expect to learn about:

  • the design and implementation of cloud NoSQL systems
  • addressing design trade-offs and their impact
  • the Map-Reduce programming paradigm

Database Fundamentals (10 credits)

This module will provide you with conceptual and practical understanding of data modelling, database design, and database technology. You’ll gain an in-depth understanding of key database concepts underpinning big data tools and technologies. After completing the module you'll:

  • understand the process of designing a database from an informal business specification
  • be able to formulate database queries using SQL
  • understand the facilities and services that should be provided by a fully featured database management system
  • understand commonly occurring data models
  • have experience of using a relational database management system in a client-server environment

Urban Design

Studio (10 credits)

We generally use Glasgow as a living laboratory for our studio project. Our City is an example of  a European metropolis experiencing change and globalisation,. You will learn to develop appropriate strategies for resilient sustainable urban development, encompassing social, political, economic, environmental, architectural, aesthetic and psychological aspects. You'll work on the design of a complex urban area, generally on commission of a real client (local authority, housing association, community group or private developer). In addition you'll work at the interconnected levels of the entire city, the neighbourhood and the individual public space defined by urban architecture.

Studio meets once a week in Semesters 1 and 2 with design development work taking place between sessions. You'll work in multidisciplinary teams of architects, planners, geographers and economists, in the same way you'll do in practice. Work is fast-paced but also in-depth. You'll have considerable responsibility (ie presenting to clients and organising public events), but it is also a lot of fun.

Urban Landscape Design (10 credits)

You'll look at the impact of the urban landscape on human wellbeing and perception and the role of ecological networks as an integral part of urban form.

Sustainability (10 credits)

We'll cover the impact of growth on social, economic and environmental sustainability.

Civil & Environmental (10 credits)

Air Pollution, Climate Change & Human Health (10 credits)

In this class, run by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, you'll gain the knowledge and skills on atmospheric pollution and climate change impacts, ranging from local to global scales. The class includes a focus on the assessment and management of environmental impacts on people through the interface between environmental science and engineering activities that mitigate environmental risks. Learning objectives are assessed through a formative portfolio covering the main syllabus areas. Student interaction is encouraged throughout the class through structured feedback sessions, directed reading, student-led question sessions & directed questions sessions.

Environmental impact assessment (10 credits)

Environmental impact assessment (EIA) relates to the process of identifying, evaluating, and mitigating the biophysical, social, economic, cultural and other relevant effects of development proposals prior to major decisions being taken and commitments made. This class, run by the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering but open to all MSc and MEng students across the University, introduces the methods used to predict environmental impacts, and evaluates how these may be used to integrate environmental factors into decisions.

The class draws principally on the UK planning context of environmental impact assessment of individual projects (project EIA), but also takes account of EIA experience in other countries and international organisations. Participants evaluate the quality of Environmental Statements (or EIA Reports) and of the EIA process using the Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment (IEMA) methodology.

The class discusses how EIA can be used a pro-active design tool for projects and how it can contribute to the enhancement of environmental, social and health issues. Students are also introduced to key principles of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) and biodiversity net gain (BNG). Class has the contribution of key practitioners in the field and includes different case studies, such as proposed onshore and offshore windfarms.

Circular Economy & Transformations Towards Sustainability (10 credits)

This class initially introduces the circular economy as a framework for the development and management of a sustainable 'waste-as-resource' economic system in which production is designed to be restorative and resilient. The class then proceeds to cover a range of contemporary challenges in the practical application of circular economic principles within different sectors, incorporating presentations from leading practitioners in the field.

The implications of the concept of circular economy for research, policy, business practices and societal transformations towards sustainability are explored in detail through a mix of theory, case studies, individual and group project work. This includes:

  • consideration of the role of innovation and knowledge production
  • social trends and consumer behaviour
  • conservation and sustainable use of energy and material resources
  • climate change and environmental sustainability
  • the design of business models that maximise product life and value retention

The class discusses the role of individuals and communities in the making and operation of the circular economy. You'll be challenged to identify and critically evaluate opportunities to use waste as an economic good and as the basis for commercially, socially and environmentally profitable business initiatives through the application of creative design; as well as the range of business opportunities arising from repair, reconditioning and remanufacturing activities. The class also introduces the key principles of Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), carbon measurement and management.

Energy Systems

Energy Resources & Policy (10 credits)

Against the background of international commitments on atmospheric emissions, diminishing fossil fuel resources, renewable energy systems deployment and the liberalisation of energy markets, this module examines sustainable options for energy production, supply and consumption. The aim is to give students an understanding of current trends in the energy market, and to enable a critical evaluation of emerging ideas, technologies and policies especially in relation to new and renewable energy supply systems.

Energy Modelling & Monitoring (10 credits)

This module provides an understanding of the theoretical and operational principles underlying simulation modelling of energy supply and demand systems and their environmental impact. The emphasis is on practical computer lab-based modelling exercises. It covers detailed energy system simulation, supply-demand matching, energy management and monitoring.

Renewable Marine Energy Systems (10 credits)


Spaceflight Mechanics (10 credits)

This class is designed to provide a comprehensive overview of spaceflight mechanics, including both orbit and attitude dynamics. The classic two-body problem is solved then used to investigate various modes of orbit transfer and attitude stabilisation for both spin- and 3-axis stabilised spacecraft. The various elements of the class will be brought together to illustrate the mission analysis and design process.

Spaceflight Systems (10 credits)

This class is designed to provide a comprehensive overview of spaceflight systems. An overview of the complete spacecraft lifecycle from proposal, through delivery and operations is covered, along with the function and purpose of the spacecraft sub-system level components. The various elements of the class are brought together through the production of competitive proposals for a typical spaceflight system development program.

Energy Systems Analysis (10 credits)

This module aims to impart an understanding of the underpinning theoretical principles and practical calculation methods for analysis of energy systems and an appreciation of how these systems are integrated in practical applications. Emphasis is on heat transfer and thermodynamic cycles. The underlying principles and analysis methods are appropriate for both renewable and non-renewable energy systems.

Renewable Marine Energy Systems

This module aims to provide you with:

  • principles and methodologies to analyse and evaluate the marine renewable energy sources potential
  • principles and methodologies to analyse and compare the main offshore wind, wave, and tidal systems available

This module covers:

  • introduction to marine renewable energy systems: context, trends, basic concepts
  • offshore wind energy resource characterisation and analysis
  • wave energy resource characterisation and analysis
  • tidal energy resource characterisation and analysis
  • marine Renewable Energy Systems economics: an introduction
  • offshore wind turbines: main technologies and modelling approaches
  • wave energy converters: main technologies and modelling approaches

At the end of this module you'll be able to:

  • analyse the potential of the main marine renewable energy sources (offshore wind, wave, and tidal)
  • classify and compare, from a techno-economic point of view, the main offshore wind, wave, and tidal energy systems
  • propose a preliminary design of a marine renewable energy system for a given geographical area
  • discuss on the main challenges of the experimental testing of marine renewable energy systems
  • demonstrate an awareness of the wider, multidisciplinary context for marine renewable energy devices

Assessment and feedback are in the form of:

  • quick quizzes for formative feedback
  • a class test, mid-way through the module, weighting 40% of the final module mark
  • an exam, at the end of the module, weighting 60% of the final module mark

Learning & teaching

You'll select from a combination of specialist and compulsory modules. The specialist modules focus on different technical aspects allowing tailored learning to suit individual needs. The compulsory modules provide the core key skills which are considered necessary for professionals in satellite data science.

To qualify for the MSc, you'll undertake an individual project which allows for the development of your own idea on the application of satellite data to provide an economically viable solution to one or more of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. The projects will be supported by academic and, where possible, industry advisors to enable you to complete your projects successfully within the prescribed period.


The course is assessed through written exams, groups and individual presentations, group and individual projects and the final individual project.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

Normally a first-class or second-class honours degree (or international equivalent) in either Engineering, Science, Public Policy, Law, and Business.

Other qualifications may also be considered provided there is evidence of capacity for postgraduate study.

Programming knowledge is not required to apply for this programme. Students should hold an aptitude for programming and data analytics, as this will serve them well when studying these subjects areas during their programme.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, please visit our English language requirements page for full details of the requirements in place before making your application.

Pre-Masters preparation course

The Pre-Masters Programme is a preparation course held at the University of Strathclyde International Study Centre, for international students (non-UK/Ireland) who do not meet the academic entry requirements for a Masters degree at University of Strathclyde.

Upon successful completion, you'll be able to progress to this degree course at the University of Strathclyde.

Please note: Previous Maths & English qualifications and your undergraduate degree must meet GTCS minimum entry requirements as well as the pre-Masters course and an interview will be conducted before an offer can be made.

International students

We've a thriving international community with students coming here to study from over 140 countries across the world. Find out all you need to know about studying in Glasgow at Strathclyde and hear from students about their experiences.

Visit our international students' section

Chat to a student ambassador

Want to know more about what it’s like to be a student at the University of Strathclyde? A selection of our current students are here to help!

Our Unibuddy ambassadors can answer all the questions you might have about courses and studying at Strathclyde, along with offering insight into their experiences of life in Glasgow and Scotland.

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Michael-Sam Vidza, Satellite Applications student
Anytime I answer to people back home and other countries that I am studying at Strathclyde, I get super positive feedback showing that Strathclyde is internationally recognised, not forgetting Strathclyde's recent recognition as Scottish University of the Year by the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020.
Michael-Sam Vidza
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Fees & funding

Please note, for courses that have a January 2024 start date, 2023/24 academic year fees will apply. For courses that have a September 2024 and a January 2025 start date, 2024/25 academic year fees will apply.

Fees may be subject to updates to maintain accuracy. Tuition fees will be notified in your offer letter.

All fees are in £ sterling, unless otherwise stated, and may be subject to revision.

Annual revision of fees

Students on programmes of study of more than one year (or studying standalone modules) should be aware that tuition fees are revised annually and may increase in subsequent years of study. Annual increases will generally reflect UK inflation rates and increases to programme delivery costs.

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England, Wales & Northern Ireland




Additional costs

Optional textbooks and printed materials:

  • estimated maximum cost of £100 for the duration of course

Visa & immigration:

International students may have associated visa and immigration costs. Please see student visa guidance for more information.

Available scholarships

Take a look at our scholarships search for funding opportunities.

Please note: The fees shown are annual and may be subject to an increase each year. Find out more about fees.

Karim Garad, Satellite Applications student
I am very pleased with the course. Lecturers allow us to explore our ideas in coursework which motivates me to learn about new technology and be innovative.
Karim Garad

How can I fund my course?

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Scottish postgraduate students

Scottish postgraduate students may be able to apply for support from the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS). The support is in the form of a tuition fee loan and for eligible students, a living cost loan. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from England

Students ordinarily resident in England may be to apply for postgraduate support from Student Finance England. The support is a loan of up to £10,280 which can be used for both tuition fees and living costs. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from Wales

Students ordinarily resident in Wales may be to apply for postgraduate support from Student Finance Wales. The support is a loan of up to £10,280 which can be used for both tuition fees and living costs. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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Students coming from Northern Ireland

Postgraduate students who are ordinarily resident in Northern Ireland may be able to apply for support from Student Finance Northern Ireland. The support is a tuition fee loan of up to £5,500. Find out more about the support and how to apply.

Don’t forget to check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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International students

We've a large range of scholarships available to help you fund your studies. Check our scholarship search for more help with fees and funding.

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High-calibre professionals with satellite applications or data skills are in demand throughout the world. 

This course provides the skills to exploit the knowledge gained to meet the global industrial demand for highly-qualified people in the area of satellite applications, data science, and development organisations targeted at the UN Sustainable Development Goals. It's particularly suitable for graduates in the following sectors:

  • sustainable development
  • academia
  • government
  • policy
  • industry
  • entrepreneurship

We work closely with the University Careers Service which offers advice and guidance on career planning and looking for and applying for jobs. In addition, they administer and publicise graduate and work experience opportunities.

Glasgow is Scotland's biggest & most cosmopolitan city

Our campus is based right in the very heart of Glasgow. We're in the city centre, next to the Merchant City, both of which are great locations for sightseeing, shopping and socialising alongside your studies.

Life in Glasgow

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During the application process, you're required to upload the following supporting documents. If these are not provided, we'll not be able to process your application:

  • certified individual semester mark sheets/academic transcript showing subjects taken and grades achieved for all qualifications
    • if still studying, provide individual semester mark sheets to date
  • certified degree certificate for all qualifications
    • if still studying, provide this after completing the qualification
  • provide evidence of suitable English language proficiency if English is not your first language, or you're not from a “UKVI recognised "Majority English Speaking" country”; check the University’s language requirements
  • if you have been out of full-time education for over two years, provide a CV, detailing employment history, organisations worked for and a brief description of roles and responsibilities
  • a copy of your passport containing your photo and passport number
  • a copy of your sponsor letter/scholarship award (if appropriate) 
  • names, job titles and email addresses for two nominated referees

Start date: Jan 2025

Satellite Data for Sustainable Development (January)

Start date: Jan 2025

Start date: Jan 2025

Satellite Data for Sustainable Development (January)

Start date: Jan 2025

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Contact us

Faculty of Engineering

Telephone: +44 (0)141 574 5484