Durham University

Degree level: Postgraduate

Master of Data Science (Earth and Environment) (Taught)

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Course summary

As part of a suite of Data Science Masters this course is targeted at Geographers, Earth and Environmental Scientists who want to learn how to work with managing natural resources and spatio-temporal information flows. These courses are designed to equip students with the key skills and interdisciplinary knowledge to address the challenges of utilising the streams of data produced in modern industry, science and government. The advantage of taking one of these Masters at Durham is that you will be part of a cohort of Masters students who will work together throughout the 12 month course. Included with the Masters course your research project could be carried out in conjunction with a range of partners across industry, regulators and policy-makers building on Durham’s significant strengths in delivering world-leading and world changing research. To equip you for your career all of the students on the suite of Data Science Masters courses share core modules. These shared modules mean you will be carrying out team building activities, present case studies and carry out both formative and summative assessments with students from all four faculties of Durham University ensuring that you learn how to represent not just your own discipline but listen and the integrate views and skills from other disciplines. All around us, massive amounts of increasingly complex data are being generated and collected, for instance, from mobile devices, cameras, cars, houses, offices, cities, and satellites. Business, research, government, communities, and families can use that data to make informed and rational decisions that lead to better outcomes. It is impossible for any one individual or group of individuals to keep on top of all the relevant data: there is simply far too much. Data science enables us to analyse large amounts of data effectively and efficiently and as a result has become one of the fastest growing career areas. Previously, data science was the province of experts in maths and computer science, but the advent of new techniques and increases in computing power mean that it is now viable for non-experts to learn how to access, clean, analyse, and visualize complex data. There is thus a growing opportunity for those already in possession of knowledge about a particular subject or discipline, and who are therefore able to grasp the full meaning and significance of data in their area, to be able to undertake data analysis intelligently themselves. The combination of primary domain knowledge with an expertise in extracting relevant information from data will give those with this ‘double-threat’ a significant employment advantage. The Master of Data Science programme is a conversion course with a hard-core of data science, intended to provide Masters-level education rich in the substance of data science for students who hold a first degree that is not highly quantitative, including those in social sciences, the arts and humanities. Introductory modules are designed to bring students with non-technical degrees up to speed with the background necessary for data science. This is done on a need-to-know basis, focusing on understanding in practice rather than abstract theory. Core modules then introduce students to the full range of data science methods, building from elementary techniques to advanced modern methods such as neural networks and deep learning. Optional modules allow students to focus on an area of interest.


Core modules: Introduction to Computer Science; Introduction to Statistics for Data Science; Machine learning; Programming for Data Science; Data Science Tools in Earth Sciences; Data Science Applications in Earth Sciences; Research Project (60 credits). Examples of optional modules: Introduction to Maths for Data Science; Ethics and Bias in Data Science.

Assessment method

The Master of Data Science is research-oriented. Data Science is a driving force behind many subject specialisations today and aspects are delivered within the context of an active and varied research culture as is demonstrated via the associated academics and researchers within the Institute for Data Science (www.durham.ac.uk/idas/people). Students are also encouraged, through a range of modules, to develop research methods, skills and ethics reflecting the wide range of methods used by the research active staff. Research methodologies are actively taught through many other modules and assessments. They are also developed through innovative teaching practices such as simulations. Overall students are encouraged and guided to be ‘research minded’ in all modules, and to develop these critical skills for the future. All modules taught on this programme are underpinned by research, and embed elements of research training both in the delivery and in the assessment.

Entry requirements

A UK first or upper second class honours degree or equivalent in a Geography, Earth or Environmental Sciences degree and excluding degrees in Mathematics and Physics and Computer Science.

English language requirements

Durham University welcomes applications from all students irrespective of background. We encourage the recruitment of academically well-qualified and highly motivated students, who are non-native speakers of English, whose full potential can be realised with a limited amount of English Language training either prior to entry or through pre-sessional and/or in-sessional courses. It is the normal expectation that candidates for admission should be able to demonstrate satisfactory English proficiency before the start of a programme of study, whether via the submission of an appropriate English language qualification or by attendance on an appropriate pre-sessional course. Acceptable evidence and levels required can be viewed by following the link provided.

English language requirements


Fees and funding

Tuition fees

England £11600 Year 1
Northern Ireland £11600 Year 1
Scotland £11600 Year 1
Wales £11600 Year 1
Channel Islands £11600 Year 1
EU £26900 Year 1
International £26900 Year 1
Republic of Ireland £26900 Year 1

Additional fee information

No additional fees or cost information has been supplied for this course, please contact the provider directly.
Master of Data Science (Earth and Environment) at Durham University - UCAS