Marine, Environmental Science and Engineering

The University of the Highlands and Islands is at the forefront of research into climate change, marine science, and renewable energy, with much of our work addressing the social, cultural and environmental impacts of development. Here is a summary of some of the areas we are involved in.

Two focus areas for the university with dedicated sections are Aquaculture and Energy.  UHI staff and students can access a series of short seminars by MESE cluster researchers here,

Mountain studies

At our Centre for Mountain Studies, based at Perth College UHI, an international group of scientists is undertaking research in Scotland, Europe, and at the global level. A major focus is on policies for sustainable mountain development, and providing the evidence base for these.  The centre hosts the UNESCO Chair in Sustainable Mountain Development and its world-class research underpins the MSc Managing Sustainable Mountain Development.

Environmental research

The Environmental Research Institute (ERI), based at North Highland College UHI in Thurso, is involved in research to address environmental issues and advance understanding of the sustainable use of the earth's natural resources. ERI's research priorities include: renewable energy; climate change; ecology; biogeochemistry; emerging contaminants; biotechnology; and bio resources. renewable energy - it's impacts on the marine environment; Tidal resource & wave climate assessment; ecology; emerging contaminants; tidal stream monitoring and modelling; Currents, sedimentation and associated ecological change.

Rivers and Lochs

The based at Inverness College UHI, the Rivers and Lochs Institute works to develop integrated, multidisciplinary research projects to more rapidly advance understanding of Scottish freshwater ecosystem and to research the nature and extent of freshwater biodiversity in lochs and rivers in Scotland. We work with local rivers trusts, fisheries boards, landowners, industry and the public sector to provide scientific support to managers to protect and conserve biodiversity conservation and ensure its exploitation is sustainable.

Marine research

Marine environment research is the focus for the Scottish Association for Marine Science UHI (SAMS UHI) in Oban, where 90% of research was judged to be 'internationally recognised' in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). SAMS UHI scientists are working on a range of projects within four departments: ecology; biogeochemistry and earth science; microbial and molecular; and physics, sea ice and technology.


at Orkney College UHI provides a research facility for the development of plants and plant-based products, focusing particularly on the Highlands, Western Isles and Northern Isles. The institute has a wide portfolio of research covering: cereals; biomass for fuel crops; plants for high value extracts; fruits and berries; and biodiversity.


Sustainability Network Projects, based at Lews Castle College UHI, the SEARCH and NERD projects are sustainability projects investigating social, economic, and environmental aspects to improve sustainable lifestyles in the rural areas. As a linking theme that unites geography with aspects of health, energy, economy, and culture, the research is directed at investigating practical examples of sustainability.

Fisheries science

NAFC Marine Centre UHI is conducting research in fisheries science to contribute to the assessment, management and sustainable harvesting of important marine species, commercially important finfish and shellfish species. Marine Planning, Policy and Advice Section is relevant to how resources are utilised within regulatory frameworks and environmental impacts. The centre is the site and lead partner in the collaborative mussel hatchery project "Stepping Stone".