MSc Citizen Science

The MSc in Citizen Science will enable a new generation of socially engaged scholars and practitioners to meet the needs of industry, government and public sectors which are seeing a rapid growth of the interest and participation of the general public in collecting and processing data to answer critical environmental questions. This new MSc, the first of its kind in the world, provides students with theoretical and practical experience in creating and managing citizen science projects across a range of disciplines from astronomy to zoology.

Participation of the general public in scientific projects has experienced rapid growth over the past decade, covering a huge range of disciplinary areas including astronomy, history, arts, cell biology, engineering, climate science, epidemiology, and public health (see for a wide range of examples). For ecology in particular, citizen science is a long-established and vital tool for assessing the status of wildlife populations across the world, providing critical evidence for the health status of ecosystems (e.g. data from public-powered monitoring programmes made up the majority of the evidence for the UK’s State of Nature Report in 2019).

From policy makers and funders, to city councils and governments, interest and investment in citizen science projects are global. But how such projects are designed, implemented, and managed to be successful? What are the best methods to collect and evaluate the data? Which privacy and data sharing agreements need to be considered?

The professionalisation of citizen science requires the development of expertise in designing, implementing, and managing citizen science projects and activities, illustrating the urgent need for an academic programme that offers the necessary support and training for emerging citizen science practitioners.

This new MSc programme is the first of its kind, and will meet the need for recognised skills development and support in this exciting area, providing students with unique skills in an area of ever-increasing demand that can be applied across a number of different industries.

Why Study this Programme at UCL?

  • The MSc Citizen Science will be taught in UCL’s purpose-built People and Nature Lab at the new UCL East campus in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford, opening for staff and students in 2022.
  • Our People & Nature Lab represents an exciting new cross-disciplinary research and teaching partnership to facilitate innovative approaches to tackle the challenges posed by biodiversity loss, global ecosystem degradation and climate change, to support a more sustainable relationship between people and nature.
  • UCL’s breadth of expertise across disciplines, the scale of the investment in the new campus combine to create a unique opportunity to take our understanding of the interdependencies of the modern world and its impact upon our environment to the next level.
  • UCL’s People and Nature Lab expands the work of the Centre for Biodiversity and Environment Research (CBER) within the Research Department of Genetics, Evolution and Environment. Building on nearly two centuries of the study of the natural environment, CBER was established in 2013 as a world-leading centre of excellence for the study of the impact of rapid environmental change on biodiversity, how species are adapting to anthropogenic change, and how the degradation of nature impacts people and society.
  • The MSc Citizen Science is directed by Professor Muki Haklay who is co-director of the Extreme Citizen Science group (ExCiteS), and co-founder of the social enterprise Mapping for Change. Prof Haklay’s work focuses on understanding how communities, regardless of their scientific literacy, use methods and tools to collect, analyse, interpret and use information about their area and activities. He currently coordinates the promotion of citizen science projects across Europe, and directs several research projects developing geospatial technologies for different communities.
  • The MSc will realise the vision of a new type of programme which addresses the urgent need to produce professionals with expertise in both ecology and data science, and will be taught by a cross-disciplinary team of scientists, including from UCL’s departments of GEE, Computer Science; Geography; Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering; and The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment and industry partners from the Zoological Society of London and the Natural History Museum.

Career Opportunities

Citizen science is undergoing a rapid professionalisation. Since 2012 major associations of citizen science practitioners have emerged in the USA and Europe, and were followed by organisations in AustraliaAsia, South America and now Africa, while networks have developed and established in numerous countries, including Germany, Spain, Italy, and Austria.

There is ongoing growth in the number of scientific publications that are using the terms ‘citizen science’ and/or ‘crowdsourcing’, and there is now a dedicated scientific journal for the field—Citizen Science: Theory and Practice—as well as a growing array of books dedicated to the topic. Offices for citizen science are appearing in academic institutions, tasked with providing support for researchers running citizen science projects, and the interest in professional development and networking continues to grow.

This programme was developed through wide consultation with industry partners who strongly supported the need for high-quality vocation training in the area of Citizen Science and can see employment opportunities for graduates in their organisations. Additionally, major organisations across the world including NASACoca-Cola and Unilever are adopting the citizen science approach, creating job opportunities in this area. 

As this is a new programme we are not able to share the outcomes of previous graduates. However, upon completion of the MSc Citizen Science, students will have the project management skills, and theoretical and practical experience needed to design and manage Citizen Science projects. This will provide them with a unique point of difference that meets a fast growing need across all many industries.


Programme Details
Start Date September, 2022
Awards Available MSc
Duration 1 year Full Time
2 years Part Time
Location UCL East Campus

Course Website  
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