MSc in Glaciology

MSc students on fieldwork

The Centre for Glaciology offers a unique, 1 year taught MSc Programme designed to provide students with a range of skills appropriate for the practical and theoretical challenges of glaciological research, but which are also highly relevant to wider Earth Science and Physical Geographical contexts and employment beyond. Key facts, course structure and details on how to apply can be found on the Postgraduate website.

MSc Student Testimonials

Morgan Gibson - MSc in Glaciology 2012/13 (now a Ph.D student at Aberystwyth University)

"During my undergraduate degree I focused on glaciology, and when it came to further study there was just no better option than Aberystwyth University’s MSc in Glaciology. The course was particularly practically focused, through a combination of field and laboratory work, and learning of remote sensing and GIS techniques. The varied combination of skills formed a great base to set me up for my Ph.D and for others on my course to follow careers with the Met. Office, European Space Agency, and working as field technicians and in various national park roles across the UK.

The field trip at the start of the course threw you right in to the application of glaciology, and you got to know your fellow course mates early on, too. The latter created a great working dynamic in the group, helping to generate stimulating discussions about our work throughout the year; being on a course with people with an equal enthusiasm for the subject was very rewarding. Being taught by glaciologists at the forefront of their research was a great insight into academia, and was complimented by a varied teaching schedule, with a focus on the true application of the work you were undertaking to show you the purpose of your studies.

The course was challenging, thought-provoking and a significant step up from an undergraduate degree, but the range of skills I developed was worth the hard work. The support provided throughout the year from the staff was exceptional, and the course left me feeling ready and eager to start my Ph.D!"


Stephen Brough – MSc in Glaciology 2011/12 (now Ph.D student at Aberystwyth University)

"For me, what made the MSc in Glaciology at Aberystwyth University stand out from the rest was the cutting edge nature of the modules on offer, which cover all sub-disciplines of glaciology, coupled with the opportunity to be taught by internationally renowned academics.    

The MSc started with a week long trip to Switzerland which immediately dispelled any notion I had engrained in the back of my head about being stuck behind a textbook for most of the year. For some this provided the first ‘hands on’ experience of a glacier and what an experience to have. From structural glaciology, to supraglacial hydrology, to glacial sedimentology, each day was unique… and from the smiles on our faces I think we all knew we were going to have a fascinating year.

The course itself is academically challenging, like an MSc should be, however the variety of assessments and assessment types ensures you are engaged and interested throughout. Further the flexibility of the MSc provides you with the freedom to focus upon topics that are of interest to you, as well as providing new and exciting opportunities. Indeed, as a result of completing the MSc I am about to undertake a Ph.D at Aberystwyth University focusing upon the dynamics of glacial-like forms on Mars!       

I cannot reiterate enough how much I learned over the MSc and how it has unequivocally prepared me for progression on to a Ph.D. I would not hesitate in recommending the MSc in Glaciology, or Aberystwyth University for that matter, to anybody." 


John Groves - MSc in Glaciology 2010/11 (now Ph.D student at Queen Mary, University of London)

"After getting a taste for all things cold during my undergraduate degree at Aberystwyth, the choice to take on the Glaciology MSc came pretty easily.

The course started with a weeks fieldwork in Switzerland - this was a fantastic trip, both academically and socially, and gave some us our first experience of fieldwork in a glacierised environment. It’s said that you learn much more in the field than you do from reading papers and this is absolutely true. We conducted fieldwork in subglacial caves, high in the snowy accumulation zone, mapped crevasses and debris cover and took samples for analysis back in Aberystwyth. It was also a great opportunity to get to know the rest of the MSc students so when we arrived back in Aberystwyth to start the course we were already great friends and found group work a breeze!

The course itself was essentially training in how to be a glaciologist - almost every assessed report or paper was accompanied by fieldwork or laboratory experiments which was is much more interesting than just reading textbooks! We had several field trips reconstructing the ancient glaciers of Snowdonia, constructing and testing field equipment and considering and comparing key theories which comprise most of our current knowledge of glacier behaviour.

One huge advantage of studying glaciology at Aberystwyth is the expertise and approachability of the staff: problems are solved very quickly and you feel very much part of an integrated community of scientists rather than a faceless student just 'passing through.'"


Henry Patton - MSc in Glaciology 2007/08 (now working as a PDRA at the University of Tromso, Norway)

"Having been inspired by the frozen landscapes of Svalbard, I decided late on during my undergraduate days that I wanted to continue studying glaciers. Whilst researching the various postgraduate degree schemes available, the MSc course at Aberystwyth seemed the obvious choice for me.

The depth and range of cryospheric material covered was the main draw. Added to this the fact we were being taught by internationally renowned academics without a doubt helped to keep us motivated and stimulated throughout the year.

I took the chance to study optional modules in remote sensing and GIS; both added a useful dimension to the course, and taught me invaluable skills that I'm still using to this day. We were a small group, far smaller than anything I was used to at undergraduate, so from the moment we were all dropped in the deep end on a glacier in Switzerland we forged strong friendships and helped each other throughout the MSc.

I was fortunate enough to be able to stay on at Aberystwyth and complete a Ph.D modelling ice sheets during the last ice age. Looking back, there is no doubt that the MSc in Glaciology provided an excellent, and less intimidating, route into the world of academia.

Aberystwyth has an atmosphere unlike anywhere else in Britain, and I can't possibly recommend it highly enough as a place to live and study…I guarantee you won't regret it!"


Tom Holt - MSc in Glaciology 2005/06 (now a Lecturer in Glaciology at Aberystwyth University)

"I'd decided early on in my undergraduate degree that I wanted to pursue the MSc in Glaciology course, facsinated by glacial and glaciated landscapes. The week we spent in Switzerland to kick off the course was simply outstanding, and it set the tone for the rest of the year. The work set throughout the course was challenging and enjoyable, and the mix of assessment types meant that I also improved a lot of 'transferable' skills along the way, as well as my glaciology knowledge...

I opted to take the remote sensing modules alongside the core glaciology modules, and eventually ended up studying the response of tropical glaciers to climate change and El Niño events using optical satellite imagery for my MSc Dissertation. I later went on to complete a Ph.D at Aberystwyth University, using a range of remote sensing datasets to evaluate the stability of Antarctic Peninsula ice shelves.

The MSc in Glaciology was integral to my progress as an early career scientist"