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)
  • Award: Athena Swan Silver Award for supporting women 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

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 two elective classes.

Site investigation & risk assessment

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 protocols for science & engineering

In this class, students will acquire familiarity with, and practice of, research techniques, and examine different ways of, and gain experience in, presenting research results.

Through classes, case studies and practical exercises, students will be introduced to key research principles, including quantitative and qualitative research methods (including survey methods, interviewing techniques, and statistical methods), and discussions around research ethics.

Finally, the class includes content focussed on the student’s research project, to support elements such as choosing a research question, developing hypotheses, research method design, and preparing a research proposal.


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

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.

The elective class Rock Mechanics, Tunnelling and Groundwater introduces geological CO2 storage from a rock mechanics perspective, using the world-leading Aquistore project in Canada as a case study. MRes students also have the option of taking the 10-credit class ‘Independent Study in Collaboration with Industry’ in which a short research project is carried out with, at or for an external organisation.

Best practice in environmental impact assessment

This class provides an introduction to 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 and of the EIA process using the Institute of Environmental Assessment and Management (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.

The class has the contribution of key practitioners in the field and includes different case studies such as mining, roads, and on-shore and off-shore wind farms.

Principles of environmental microbiology

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

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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This class provides an introduction to the methods used to predict environmental impacts and evaluates how these may be used to integrate environmental factors into decisions. The use of EIA as a design tool and how EIA can be used to enhance positive impacts is discussed in detail. 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. Students are also introduced to key principles of Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA).

Rock Mechanics, Tunnelling and Groundwater

The class aims to provide you with an understanding of sub-surface geology and rock mechanics and its influence on the engineering design of slopes and tunnels. You’ll gain an overview of groundwater flow through soil and rocks, and will be introduced to techniques for the in-situ measurement of permeability and methodologies for site investigation in dewatering projects. In the class we look at geological CO2 storage from a rock mechanics perspective, using the world-leading Aquistore project in Canada as a case study.

The Times / The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021. University of the Year shortlisted.
The Times / The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021. University of the Year shortlisted.
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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 in the very heart of Glasgow, Scotland's largest city. National Geographic named Glasgow as one of its 'Best of the World' destinations, while Rough Guide readers have voted Glasgow the world’s friendliest city! And Time Out named Glasgow in the top ten best cities in the world - we couldn't agree more!

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.

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Full-time, one year: £4,500

Part-time, two years: £2,250

Part-time (online), three years: £4,200


England, Wales & Northern Ireland

Full-time, one year: £4,500

Part-time, two years: £2,250

Part-time (online), three years: £4,200


Full-time, one year: £21,850

Part-time, two years: £10,925 

Part-time (online), three years: £4,200

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.

International students

We've a thriving international community with students coming here to study from over 100 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

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To apply to the MRes programme, you need to complete an application through the postgraduate research application portal.

Your application must be accompanied by a Research Statement, which 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, your research interests and career aspirations, 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.

For more information about the application, including the documentation you need to provide, see our ‘your application and offer’ webpage, and also our guide to Strathclyde’s postgraduate research application system.

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Contact us

Civil & Environmental Engineering

Telephone: +44 (0)141 574 5484