Applied Meteorology and Climatology MSc

Wind farm

Weather and climate are integral parts of the Earth system. The monitoring of meteorological variables, together with the knowledge and modelling of underlying processes, are key to understanding our interaction with the natural environment.

This programme provides comprehensive training in understanding, modelling and prediction of atmospheric processes; as well as the collection, management, supply and application of atmospheric data for the needs of a variety of public and private sectors. The course also demonstrates how these create opportunities or pose problems for the successful operation of natural and human systems. Our aim is that upon graduation you will be able to compete for careers in Meteorology and Climatology.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Taught

Study Options: Full time

Duration: 1 year full-time for MSc (Postgraduate Diploma, Graduate Diploma, Postgraduate Certificate, PGDip, PGCert, or part-time registration is possible but you should first discuss your requirements with Dr Martin Widmann, the Programme Director )

Start date: September

Details

The programme was initiated in 1963 and developed in response to industry and research institution requirements for applied meteorologists and climatologists. This demand continues, partially due to the growing attention of the society to climate change, its mitigation and adaptation to it.

Skills gained

The programme aims to:

  • Provide training in theoretical and applied aspects of atmospheric physics and dynamics, quantitative modelling techniques, weather forecasting, climate prediction and observation of atmospheric processes
  • Equip you with the skills of quantitative and statistical analysis with regards to atmospheric data processing and management
  • Enable you to apply theoretical concepts and analytical techniques to the resolution of environmental and socio-economic problems that have an atmospheric origin
  • Develop your independent research ability
  • Convert participants with non-environmental backgrounds to applied meteorologists and climatologists
  • Develop your communication skills using traditional and IT-based media

Download the MSc Applied Meteorology and Climatology leaflet

Why study this course

Two observational stations provide meteorological and climatological data that can be used in students' projects. One technician is in charge of maintenance of the facilities. A wide range of meteorological equipment is available to MSc students including data logging systems, instrumentation for standard meteorological observations, radiometers, sonic anemometers and a tethersonde system. The University has computer clusters which provide a general IT resource, and the students have also access to UNIX servers which are used for teaching programming and for some of the dissertation projects.

Modules

 The course is modular in nature, comprising 180 credits, 120 from MSc-dedicated taught modules and 60 from a dissertation. In line with University Regulations it is intended that 60 credits be the equivalent of a Certificate, 120 credits a Diploma and 180 credits the MSc. All taught courses are compulsory for non-maths and physics graduates.

The course structure is:

Stage 1: PGCert (a total of 60 credits out of the 80 credit modules)

Module M1a: Theoretical Meteorology: Atmospheric Composition and Physics

M1a provides students with theoretical training in the fundamental laws of thermodynamics, microphysics and radiation and their implications for a range of meteorological processes and air pollution phenomena, coupled with an introduction to the controls on atmospheric composition. Specifics include: (1) to review the basic nature of the atmosphere in terms of its physical properties; (2) to introduce mass balance modelling of atmospheric composition and its time evolution; (3) to introduce a range of physical laws relevant to meteorology such as the first and second laws of thermodynamics and the equation of state; (4) to review cloud microphysics and cloud formation processes; and (5) to introduce basic radiation laws and radiative transfer processes in the atmosphere.

This module is assessed by three practical exercises (40%) and a two-hour exam (60%). For each of the three practical exercises, a one-hour tutorial class is provided to help students to further understand concepts and processes and to develop analytical and problem-solving skills.

Module M2: Weather Forecasting and Climate Modelling

This module aims to provide an understanding of practical and theoretical aspects of weather forecasting and climate modelling. . It covers traditional forecasting from weather maps as well as numerical weather forecasting. Global climate simulations for the past, present and future with General Circulation Models and with Earth System Models of Intermediate Complexity, as well as regional simulations are discussed. An in depth appreciation of the nature and physical foundations of numerical weather prediction products and climate simulations is developed, which provides the requisite skills for assessing the quality and relevance of weather forecasts and climate predictions.

The weather forecasting part of this module is assessed by practical exercises (50%) and the climate modelling part by exam (50%). A work experience week is an integral component of this module.

Module M3: Atmospheric Data Processing and Statistics

The course aims to provide students with analytical skills necessary for the processing and analysis of meteorological and climatological data sets. The module provides a background to the research computing environment through an understanding of the UNIX operating system and programming structure of FORTRAN as a basis for developing computer skills for the extraction, collation and organisation of data. The fundamentals of statistical hypothesis testing are introduced and developed further in the context of advanced statistical techniques for the fitting of statistical models, time series analysis and identifying the main modes of variation in large data sets.

The programming component is assessed by four worksheets (25%) and one 1.5-hour test (25%), while the statistics component is assessed by a one-hour exam (25%) and one project (25%).

Module M5: Physical Climatology and Climate Change

The understanding of the variability of the climate system and its inherent changes in time will be a major component to address any questions of natural and anthropogenic climate change. This module will help students to become familiar with the underlying physical concepts as well as with its applications to attribute and detect anthropogenic climate change. The module will cover the basic physical laws, their application in the climate system, basics of the observed atmosphere and ocean general circulation, its 3-dimensional features, and will focus on main modes of large scale variability (e.g. NAO, PNA, ENSO, etc). The variability on different time scales will be addressed as well as anthropogenic climate change including an impact assessment and an introduction into actual political and social processes related to it.

The module will be assessed by a written exam (50%) and a combined student presentation and essay (50%).

Module M10: Meteorological Applications and Services

This module aims (i) to develop an understanding of the organisation of national and private meteorological services around the world; (ii) to understand the range of meteorological products and services that available to the public and commercial customers; and (iii) to develop an understanding of the legal and economic issues concerning the atmosphere and how to market meteorological products including the production of marketing material. At the end of the module, students should become aware of the range of meteorological and climatological products and services that are available around the world and how they are marketed.

The module is assessed by one PowerPoint presentation (25%), an essay (25%) and the production of a business plan and marketing material for a meteorological company (50%).

Stage 2: PGDip (a total of 120 credits)

Module M1b: Theoretical Meteoroloy: Atmospheric Dynamics

M1b provides an understanding of governing equations, fundamental theories of atmospheric dynamics at a variety of scales. At the end of this course, students should be able to: (1) understand the fundamentals of atmospheric dynamics; (2) have knowledge of conservation laws of mass, momentum, and energy; (3) analyse force balance using dynamics equations; (4) quantify geostrophic wind, gradient wind, potential vorticity, thermal wind, surface fluxes, gravity waves, etc.; (5) interpret physical meaning of important parameters such as Rossby number, Richardson number, etc.; (6) identify dominating processes at micro-, meso-, and synoptic-scales.

M1b is assessed by a two-hour exam (100%)

Module M4: Mathematics

This is a foundation maths course for students who have not taken maths as an undergraduate. This module aims to provide students with basic knowledge and skills of algebra, geometry and calculus. Emphasis will be placed on providing the students with the knowledge to understand mathematical forms of meteorological processes and with the skills to quantify meteorological elements/components.

The module is assessed by exam (100%).

Module M7:  Weather, Climate and Society  (optional to M4)

This module is designed to make students familiar with all aspects of management of the atmosphere with special emphasis on treating the atmosphere both as a hazard and a resource. It includes short- and long-range weather forecasting; natural and anthropogenic causes for climate variability, climate prediction, climate change impacts, the winter maintenance of roads and railways, the potential of wind and solar power, the cost/benefit of the use of weather information by industry; and the two-way relationship between climate and society.

The module will be assessed by exam (100%).

Module M8:  Applied Micrometeorology (optional to M4)

This module will provide students with an understanding of: (i) the principles of meteorology at small scales (metres to kilometres), (ii) the meteorological processes near the earth's surface (e.g., over a range of different surfaces/environments) associated with the exchange of heat, mass and momentum, and (iii) transport and dispersion of pollutants in the atmospheric boundary layer.

By the end of the module the student should be able to: (i) demonstrate a knowledge of meteorological processes near the earth's surface and the exchange of heat, mass and momentum between the earth’s surface and the atmosphere; (ii) transfer this knowledge to applied micrometeorological problems in different environments e.g., urban/rural climate and air quality; (iii) become familiar with methods for analysing near-surface meteorological data: (a) to derive quantities such as heat and moisture fluxes; (b) to estimate energy budgets for a range of natural and human-made surfaces and so predict local climate; and (c) to assess the effects of micrometeorological processes upon air quality.

The module will be assessed by a project (100%).

Choose one from the following three:

M9 Atmospheric Observation

The module encompasses all aspects of observing the atmosphere through direct and indirect measurements/observations. Module components included in Semester 1 concentrate upon conventional measurements and field observations, while semester 2 concentrates upon satellite measurements, data assimilation and proxy data sets. By completing the module, students will gain knowledge of meteorological instrumentation and observations, appreciation of observation accuracies and requirements, interpretation of meteorological data, understanding of satellite systems and subsequent observations, and knowledge of applications of satellite data sets.

The module is assessed by a field observation report (25%), a presentation (8%), and an exam (67%).

M11  Air Pollution Chemistry (optional to M9)

Students will study the basic principles underlying the chemistry of the atmosphere and gain detailed knowledge of the chemical processes involved in important air pollution phenomena such as urban smog, acid rain and stratospheric ozone depletion. The key role of transient reactive intermediate species will be emphasised. The implications for air pollution control will be considered in depth.

The module will assessed by a multi-problem coursework exercise (3000 word essay equivalent; 40%) and one two hour examination (60%).

M12  Causes and Effects of Air Pollutants (optional to M9)

The module sets out to highlight the major anthropogenic factors influencing air quality, and to consider the adverse consequences of air pollutants on health and the environment from the local to the global scale. It moves on to explore the physical basis for describing and modelling the movement of air pollutants through the environment. Personal exposure, including the contribution of microenvironment to a person’s total exposure to air pollutants, is considered. The module also considers the ways in which air pollution can be monitored, how these ways may be integrated to give representative and reliable information, and how measured and modelled data may be integrated to produce an air quality assessment.

M13 Carbon Cycle and Carbon Management

Carbon Management is an increasingly important consideration for individual organisations through to national governments, with recognition that responsible management and sustainable development require minimising carbon emissions where feasible. This module provides an introduction to all aspects of carbon management. Topics covered include the overall scientific context of the global carbon cycle, global policy aspects (Kyoto, Copenhagen and current UK / EU targets), carbon offsetting and emissions trading, the impact of changing energy sources (biofuels and renewable energy resources, including impacts on air quality) and local carbon management, with a focus on the techniques used by local authorities and individual organisations. The module concludes with a realistic review of the likely near-future global emissions trajectory, considering economic trends in the BRIC nations, and the scope for renewable energy on a national level.

The module is assessed by 2 pieces of coursework; 1. Developing a Climate Change Strategy (25%) and 2. Strategy for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions at a Local Level (75%)

Stage 3: MSc (a total of 180 credits)

Research components:

M6a Research Proposal for Dissertation

This module aims to introduce students the skills and methods required to undertake a research project and to produce a research proposal. Through the training components in the module, the student should be able to identify and select a research topic and write a research proposal that identifies hypotheses, data requirements, analysis techniques and applications for the research.  Major contents include:  (1) introduction to research in applied meteorology and climatology – discussion of previous dissertations; (2) how to write a research proposal; (3) data requirements and analysis techniques; (4) case studies from academic staff; and (5) PowerPoint presentations of proposals.

The module will be assessed by a research proposal (75%) and a PowerPoint presentation (25%).

M6b Dissertation

This module aims to develop a student’s ability: (i) to carry out an independent piece of research; (ii) to gain experience of using field, laboratory or documentary sources; (iii) to interpret the results of previously published research; (iv) to make original observations or obtain secondary data; (v) to present results clearly and concisely in the form of text, maps, diagrams and other illustrations, and (vi) to appreciate the limitation and success of their efforts.  Students are encouraged to choose the topic for which they have conducted literature review and submitted a proposal in M6a.

The module will be assessed 100% based on a 10,000-word dissertation.

Semester Structure for the Academic Year

Date

Week

Special Task

Semester 1: Oct-Dec 1-11 Lectures, course work
Dec-Jan   Christmas Vacation (4 weeks)
Semester 2: Jan-Mar 1-11 Lectures, course work
Apr   Easter Vacation (4 weeks); work placement
Exam Period: May-Jun 1-2 Revision
  3-6 Exams (4 weeks)
Semester 3: Jun-Sep   Work on dissertation (~3 months)
1st Friday in Sep   Hand in dissertation (date subject to change)
Dec   Degree Ceremony

Fees and funding

  • Home/EU students £6,140 FT (£3,070 PT)
  • International students £17,355 FT only

Learn more about fees and funding  

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government. See the international scholarships page.

For further information contact the School directly or get in touch with the Student Funding Office via the online enquiries system.

Entry requirements

A good Honours degree, preferably upper second-class or above in a relevant discipline such as Geography, Environmental Science, Mathematics, Engineering, Physics, Chemistry or Biology. In special cases, applications may be considered from those holding non-graduate qualifications that are deemed by the University to be a satisfactory alternative to an Honours degree in the subject areas mentioned above. 

Learn more about entry requirements

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Learning and teaching

Taught modules involve lectures, practical classes and supporting tutorials. Modules are provided by staff, supported by seminars from invited experts. Vocational awareness is developed through a 'work experience' week in which course participants gain hands-on experience for instance in a commercial weather forecasting environment.

The programme has been accredited by the Royal Meteorological Society to provide training for Chartered Meteorologists (CMet). The RMS 'Chartered Meteorologist' accreditation scheme provides the highest level of professional qualification in meteorology and will satisfy clients and employers that individuals have reached a specified level of knowledge and experience in the subject equivalent to that of Chartered status in any other profession.

Assessment methods

120 credits are assessed through taught modules, with the remaining 60 credits awarded following the successful completion of the independent project. A variety of assessment methods are used, including written coursework, case study reports, oral presentations and standard examinations. The independent research project is assessed through a written dissertation.

Related research

Employability

The MSc course in Applied Meteorology and Climatology was initiated in 1963/64. It was developed in response to industry and research institution requirements for applied meteorologists and climatologists. This demand still continues. For example, over the period of the last decade, about 45 percent of graduates from the course have entered employment directly related to applied meteorology and climatology, while 37 percent have taken up research posts in this area.

Examples of the destinations of our graduates are the UK Met Office; MeteoGroup (London); Weathernews UK Ltd (Aberdeen and Japan); The Weather Services International (Birmingham); Vaisala TMI (Birmingham); and PhD studies in various universities including Cambridge, University of East Anglia, Edinburgh, Swansea, University of Central London, Leicester, UMIST and the University of British Columbia in Canada.