MRes Geoenvironmental Engineering

Key facts

  • Start date: September
  • Application deadline: August
  • Study mode and duration: 12 months full-time; 24 months part-time; 36 months part-time (online distance learning)
  • Athena Swan Gold Award for supporting gender equality in engineering

Study with us

  • Masters by Research (MRes) postgraduate research degree in Geoenvironmental Engineering
  • further your knowledge and develop your research skills on geoenvironmental engineering and sustainability topics
  • tailor your studies to suit your own research interests and career objectives
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Why this course?

This research-led MRes in Geoenvironmental Engineering aims to provide advanced study in key issues related to geoenvironmental engineering and related topics such as geoenergy and engineering for sustainability.

The course is ideal if you are looking to further your knowledge and develop your research skills, contribute to new knowledge on geoenvironmental engineering topics.

The MRes offers a unique and bespoke experience; you can tailor your studies to suit your own research interests and career objectives. The course is largely research and project-based but there is also a taught element to it. You'll be taught by an interdisciplinary group of professionally qualified civil engineers, chemists, microbiologists and geoscientists. The Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering has strong industrial links which contributes to the overall student experience, too. The research element provides opportunity to undertake independent research alongside leading academics delivering exciting research on geoenvironmental engineering topics, including geoenergy applications.

An MRes takes one year full-time or two years part-time to complete. While full-time study is available to UK and international students, part-time study on-campus is only available to students from the UK or EU. You can also study this course part-time through online Distance Learning, over 36 months, offering a flexible mode of study. Distance Learning is available to UK and international students.

THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner
Athena Swan Gold award - Gender charter

We've been awarded the Athena Swan Gold Award for our commitment to improve equality, and being an inclusive and supportive place to work and study.

What you'll study

This degree combines a number of subjects relevant to geoenvironmental engineering including:

  • environmental engineering
  • pollution and contamination
  • environmental impact assessment
  • risk assessment
  • microbiology
  • chemistry
  • hydrogeology
  • sustainability

You'll complete six taught modules – four compulsory classes and two optional. The bulk of your study will focus on the MRes dissertation project, which will develop your independent research skills.

MRes thesis

You can choose from a wide range of topics for your research. Your choice of topic should be shaped by your research interests, the skills you wish to develop, and the opportunities and expertise within the department.

You can explore potential supervisors and research topics by browsing the supervisor list, taking a look at the research conducted within the Research Centres within Civil and Environmental Engineering, through discussion with potential supervisors and by liaising with the MRes Director.


You'll have access to laboratory facilities providing the hands-on experience essential to develop skills and pioneer new research into geoenvironmental engineering topics.

Our £6 million state-of-the-art laboratory facilities are well-equipped with high-technological instrumentation and available space to investigate:

  • environmental & molecular microbiology
  • environmental chemistry
  • analytical chemistry
  • geomechanics & soil quality
  • structural design & material science

Discover more about our laboratory facilities.

Learning & teaching

Taught classes are delivered via a mixture of approaches that may include lectures, online quizzes, tutorials, workshops, and research seminars.

The dissertation represents independent study to deliver new research in a geoenvironmental engineering field that interests you and that develops the skills you wish to acquire. Your independent study will be supported by the supervisor(s), research groups, and the MRes Director.


You'll be assessed via a mixture of methods that may include assignments, online quizzes, formal exams, practicals, presentations or team projects.

The final MRes thesis is typically assessed orally in a viva voce examination.

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Course content

There are four compulsory classes. All are run by the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering. You must choose an additional 30 credits of elective classes.

Site investigation & risk assessment (10 credits)

This class explores the complete sequence of site investigation and risk assessment of obstructed, derelict or contaminated land. Students will carry out a complete sequence of a site investigation, from desk study, sampling assessment, sample and survey design, data collection and, finally, analysis and reporting – which includes modelling and interpretation using risk assessment models.

Research methods for quantitative & qualitative approaches (10 credits)

In this class, dedicated to the MSc and MRes students in the Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, students will acquire familiarity with, and practice of, research techniques, and examine different ways of, and gain experience in, presenting research results. The course discusses the key principles, and practical exercises, on both quantitative and qualitative research methods, such as observation methods, survey methods, interviewing techniques and statistical methods. The course also includes discussion of ethical issues. Finally, the course covers writing skills and use of literature, which is relevant to all classes.

Hydrogeology (10 credits)

In this class, students will:

  • gain an understanding of Hydrogeology as a discipline
  • discuss and explore the physical mechanisms of water movement in the subsurface
  • undertake experiments in the lab that demonstrate key principals of groundwater movement
  • explore hydrogeological issues based on case studies

Contaminated land (10 credits)

Within the background of land redevelopment (residential, industrial/commercial and gardens/parks), this class aims to provide insights into the remediation of contaminated land, including contaminant mobility and its impacts on contaminated land management and remediation; site-specific considerations; sampling and analysis; exposure and risk assessment; remediation processes; legislation and policy; and the regulatory framework. These issues will be explored in depth in case studies.

You can choose two elective classes from a range of postgraduate classes on offer, many of which are available for Distance Learning. Suggested elective classes are shown below, but there are other options, too.

MRes students have the option of taking the class ‘Independent Study in Collaboration with Industry’ in which a short research project is carried out with, at or for an external organisation.

Principles of environmental microbiology (10 credits)

This class aims to introduce microbiology in a manner that is of practical importance in environmental engineering and public health.

Emphasis is placed on the microbial ecology and interactions in water, soil, and biological treatment process. Microbial physiology and biochemistry will be discussed in detail as it pertains to environmental systems. Both biodegradation and public health aspects of microbiology are included. The class combines theoretical and fundamental concepts in biology to provide a basic background in microbiology and biotechnology.

Geographical information systems (10 credits)

This module provides a thorough introduction to the field of Geographical Information Systems and spatial analysis. The course covers the key theoretical principles but it also provides many practical hands-on exercises using current state-of-the-art GIS software. By capturing, manipulating, integrating and displaying digital spatial data, a wide range of different analyses can be carried out, ranging from engineering (e.g. site selection, flood risk, transport planning, impact of construction), environmental science (e.g. soil erosion, health and disease, pollutant transport, hydrology, landscape visual impact assessment, wildlife preservation) to policymaking (e.g. urbanization, deforestation, spatial distribution of crime). The module demonstrates how GIS can be used for spatial query and analysis. Students will develop skills to apply GIS independently to real world datasets and problems.

Slopes & walls (with mechanics of unsaturated soils) (10 credits)

This class aims to introduce advanced tools to analyse geotechnical structures at the ultimate limit state taking into account the effect of climate load.

Groundwater flow modelling (10 credits)

This class aims to guide the student to:

  • gain an understanding of Groundwater Flow Modelling as a discipline
  • provide an introduction to MODFLOW, an industry-standard numerical code for groundwater flow modelling
  • provide an introduction to MT3D, an industry-standard groundwater solute transport simulator
  • develop groundwater flow modelling skills and understand how groundwater models can be used to refine and understand conceptual models
  • learn how to use a Geographic Information System (GIS) to prepare and post-process groundwater flow modelling inputs and results respectively
  • develop contaminant fate and transport modelling skills in order to simulate the movements of contaminants in the subsurface

Aquifer mechanics (10 credits)

Successful completion of this module should provide the student with an understanding of:

  • hydrogeology and subsurface fluid flow
  • well hydraulics and pumping tests
  • contaminant transport in the subsurface
  • real-world applications of hydrogeology

Environmental pollution management (10 credits)

The class develops knowledge & skills regarding the science, engineering & management of environmental pollution control to protect public health.  These aims are addressed through study of the interface between environmental science and environmental engineering, including risk-based methods. The class includes industrial & government case studies in contemporary air quality management practice.  Student interaction is encouraged through directed reading, project work, student-led question sessions, and structured feedback.

Independent study in collaboration with industry

Graduates increasingly need highly developed transferable professional skills to prepare for and to gain future employment. This course will allow students carrying out projects with industry to develop and refine these while gaining credits in the process. This could be for example the SME Carbon Audit that students carry out with training from Carbon Trust which involves 2 full-day training workshop, one 2-hour guided carbon audit of one SME, produce a Carbon Audit report for the SME that will be checked for quality by Carbon Trust before being released to the SME.

Approval of students being able to take this course would be done on a case-by-case basis by MSc course leader as an individualised learning contract. Students will be selected by competitive application and CV. Other placements with industry are possible as long as a report needs to be produced for the industrial contact which can then be evaluated for assignment purposes.

Vertically Integrated Project water and sanitation hygiene (10 credits)

This module aims to develop skills of working within a large cross-disciplinary group, on a substantial project over a sustained period of time. The group should consist of individuals at different stages of their studies and from different backgrounds working collaboratively on a common task.

In addition to the group working skills, the participants should apply and further develop specialist skills in their own discipline as well as gaining knowledge of another field. The research outputs should also emphasis and develop the student’s ability to conduct independent research to a high standard.

Engineering hydrology (10 credits)

This class aims to explore the hydrological cycle and the influence of weather, climate and the key processes on the environment, and develop application of hydrological cycle for engineering analysis and design, including estimating:

  • precipitation, including spatial distribution analysis techniques
  • evaporation and evapotranspiration
  • other hydrological losses, including infiltration

The class also aims to develop skills examining catchments using engineering hydrology approaches, including:

  • analysing relationships between precipitation, runoff and storage
  • analysing hydrographs
  • examining the influence of urbanisation and land management practices
  • introducing drainage design techniques and analysis
  • sustainable urban drainage systems

Isotope hydrology (10 credits)

This class aims to:

  • explore the evaluation of the water environment using the natural abundance of stable and radio isotopes
  • develop application of isotope hydrology principals including evaluation of precipitation sources with isotopes; evaluation of surface water with isotopes; evaluation of groundwater with isotopes
  • develop skills examining water resources management using natural stable and radio isotopes, including: analysing relationships between precipitation, runoff and storage; analysing hydrographs; examining the influence of contaminants in the environment; using isotope hydrology within an earth science system analysis
  • develop skills examining water resources management using atmospheric gases
  • use stable and inert atmospheric gases (Ne, Kr, Ar and Xe) to understand the physical conditions under which groundwater recharge occurred (recharge temperature, excess air and degassing)
  • relate dissolved concentrations of trace atmospheric gases to atmospheric mixing ratios using Henry’s Law (groundwater age)
  • develop an understanding of groundwater age in relation to groundwater resource management (groundwater flow velocity, recharge rates and mixing)
  • examine the susceptibility of a groundwater resource to contamination
  • constrain groundwater flow models using groundwater age estimates

Environmental geochemistry (10 credits)

In this class, students will explore the controls of the chemical composition of the lithosphere and hydrosphere. Students will develop an understanding of geochemical thermodynamics, an understanding of different weathering processes and the impacts of environmental pollution on the lithosphere and hydrosphere.

Structural health monitoring (10 credits)

The course aims to provide the fundamentals of health monitoring of civil structures, and includes the following topics:

  1. the logic of structural identification based on sensor observations
  2. an overview of sensor technologies for civil applications, with focus on accelerometers, strain gauges, thermocouples, fiber-optic sensors and wireless sensors
  3. numerical methods for signal processing and data analysis
  4. analysis of case studies, including bridges, buildings and heritage structures

Industrial design & construction (10 credits)

Graduates increasingly need highly developed transferable professional skills to prepare for and to gain future employment. This module allows students to design and construct field scale civil engineering structures. Approval of students being able to take this module would be done on case-by-case basis by MSc course leaders as an individualised learning contract.

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.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of first or upper second-class Honours degree from a UK institution (or overseas equivalent), and preferably a Masters-level qualification (or equivalent).

We welcome students from a wide variety of disciplines including (but not limited to):

  • civil and environmental engineering
  • earth sciences
  • bioscience
  • chemistry
  • chemical engineering
  • applied maths
English language requirements

For candidates whose first language is not English, minimum standards of written and spoken English are an IELTS minimum overall band score of 6.5 (no individual test score below 5.5). Applicants with slightly lower scores have the opportunity to attend the University's Pre-Sessional English classes to bring them up to the required level.

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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.

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Fees & funding

All fees quoted are for full-time courses and per academic year unless stated otherwise.

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




Distance learning


Additional costs

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.

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To apply to the MRes programme, you need to complete an application through the postgraduate research application portal, via the 'submit your own research proposal' avenue. 

Your application must be accompanied by a CV and research statement. The research statement is equivalent to a letter of motivation. The content and structure of this mandatory document is largely up to you, but it should be no more than two A4 pages long and must outline what motivates you about this MRes at the University of Strathclyde, any research experience to date, your research interests and career aspirations, the skills you're keen to develop, plus any clarification about how you meet the eligibility criteria.

You're welcome to submit a research proposal for your MRes dissertation project, but this is optional; your thesis topic will typically be developed in partnership with the supervisor and their interests. At the application stage, it can help to list the topics that are of interest to you, or the skills you're keen to develop. You can explore potential research topics by browsing the supervisor list, taking a look at the research conducted within the Research Centres within Civil and Environmental Engineering, through discussion with potential supervisors and by liaising with the Director for MRes Studies. It is possible to be supervised by staff from other departments across Strathclyde, too.

When you apply for the MRes, please select the Director for MRes Studies as one of the supervisors.

Our MRes courses start in September. Although you can apply to the programme at any time, in order to process your application in time for the forthcoming academic year, you'll need to complete your application before the end of July or earlier if you are a non-UK applicant.

For more information about the application, including the documentation you need to provide, see ‘your application and offer’.

Start date: Sep 2024

Geoenvironmental Engineering

Start date: Sep 2024

Start date: Sep 2024

Geoenvironmental Engineering

Start date: Sep 2024

Start date: Sep 2024

Geoenvironmental Engineering (online)

Start date: Sep 2024

Start date: Sep 2025

Geoenvironmental Engineering

Start date: Sep 2025

Start date: Sep 2025

Geoenvironmental Engineering

Start date: Sep 2025

Start date: Sep 2025

Geoenvironmental Engineering (online)

Start date: Sep 2025

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Contact us

Civil & Environmental Engineering

Telephone: +44 (0)141 574 5484