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Masters Degrees (Glacier)

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The aims of the course are to provide an understanding of key contemporary research problems in a range of disciplines in either the humanities and social sciences or physical sciences relating to the Arctic and Antarctica, and for students to undertake original research on a topic selected in consultation with members of staff. Read more
The aims of the course are to provide an understanding of key contemporary research problems in a range of disciplines in either the humanities and social sciences or physical sciences relating to the Arctic and Antarctica, and for students to undertake original research on a topic selected in consultation with members of staff.

Taught material is presented in the Michaelmas Term, usually in the form of seminars. The material is organized in two strands, suitable for students interested in the humanities and social sciences or in the natural sciences. It is examined through the submission of three essays, which can take the form of research papers. In the Lent and Easter terms students carry out research towards their dissertations. Dissertation topics are agreed with supervisors and are closely integrated with the ongoing research activities of the Scott Polar Research Institute (SPRI). Students are expected to participate in internal and external research seminars, and a research forum.

See the website http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/directory/eaggmpmps

Course detail

The outcomes of the course are achieved both through focused study of specialised aspects of research on the Arctic and Antarctic, either in terms of Arts and Humanities or the Sciences, and through the development of research skills and methods. The following outcomes of student learning are sought:

Knowledge of ideas: Students gain familiarity with an appropriate range of intellectual and methodological traditions relevant to the study of the Arctic and Antarctic. For the humanities and social science strand, students draw on material from Geography, Anthropology, Political Science and other social sciences, and understand the significance of different epistemological positions that provide the context for research. For the physical sciences strand, students will become familiar with theories and empirical work from, amongst other areas, the fields of glaciology, oceanography and atmospheric science. They will gain knowledge and understanding of the field-based, remote sensing and modelling techniques used in polar science research. The teaching is provided via lectures and seminars, research supervision via bi-weekly meetings between students and their supervisor and sessions concerning research skills. Students also attend the research seminars held in their research groups. This allows exchange of ideas and debate with more experienced academic researchers and their peers;

Critical skills: Students become skilled and critical readers of Arctic and/or Antarctic publications and data sets. This is achieved through structured reading associated with each module, as well as via supervision on the essays and dissertation;

Substantive knowledge of ideas: Students gain in-depth knowledge of substantive areas of Arctic and/or Antarctic research. This knowledge is gained in the modules on The Emerging Arctic, Northern Peoples, Polar Remote Sensing, Glacier and Ice Sheet Dynamics: Present and Past. Students gain an in-depth knowledge either of underlying patterns of development, conservation and cultural transformation in the Arctic and/or Antarctic regions, or of the physical processes at work in these regions, how these have changed in the past and are changing currently, and the methods and techniques for investigating them;

Research design skills: Students develop their capacity to frame research questions, to derive appropriate research designs, and develop awareness of different epistemological approaches. This is achieved through the ‘Research Training’ sections of course;

Practical research skills: Students gain a competence and confidence in using a range of qualitative and/or quantitative methods for gathering, analysing and interpreting data. This is achieved through the ‘Research Training’ sections of course and the dissertation;

Presentation skills: Students gain skills in the presentation of research-based evidence and argument. Students are expected to take an active role in the research seminars of the research groups to which they belong and to contribute actively to seminar discussions. They are also expected to present their dissertation aims, methods, preliminary results, and plans for future work at a student forum held part way through their dissertation research period;

Management and other transferable skills: Students gain skills in managing a research project, and its execution (including, where appropriate, elements of data management, understanding ethics and codes of good practice in cross-cultural research, understanding uncertainty, disseminating research). Several of these elements are taught in the ‘Research Training’ sections of course, and then are extended and applied via the dissertation research, which has individual supervision from an experienced researcher.

Assessment

- 20,000 word dissertation that, at the discretion of the examiners, can include an oral examination on the thesis and the essays and on the general field of knowledge.
- Three essays or other exercises of up to 4,000 words each.

Continuing

70% overall in MPhil.

How to apply: http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying

Funding Opportunities

AHRC for Arts and History topics approved by the AHRC DTP at University of Cambridge.

General Funding Opportunities http://www.graduate.study.cam.ac.uk/finance/funding

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Goal of the pro­gramme. Society urgently needs experts with a multidisciplinary education in atmospheric and Earth System sciences. Read more

Goal of the pro­gramme

Society urgently needs experts with a multidisciplinary education in atmospheric and Earth System sciences. Climate change and issues of air quality and extreme weather are matters of global concern, but which are inadequately understood from the scientific point of view. Not only must further research be done, but industry and business also need environmental specialists with a strong background in natural sciences. As new regulations and European Union directives are adopted in practice, people with knowledge of recent scientific research are required.

Upon graduating from the Programme you will have competence in

  • Applying experimental, computational and statistical methods to obtain and analyse atmospheric and environmental data
  • Knowledge applicable to solving global challenges such as climate change, air pollution, deforestation and issues related to water resources and eutrophication
  • Making systematic and innovative use of investigation or experimentation to discover new knowledge
  • Reporting results in a clear and logical manner

Further information about the studies on the Master's programme website.

Pro­gramme con­tents

The six study lines are as follows:

Aer­o­sol phys­ics

Aerosol particles are tiny liquid or solid particles floating in the air. Aerosol physics is essential for our understanding of air quality, climate change and production of nanomaterials. Aerosol scientists investigate a large variety of phenomena associated with atmospheric aerosol particles and related gas-to-particle conversion using constantly improving experimental, theoretical, model-based and data analysis methods.

Geo­phys­ics of the hy­dro­sphere

Hydrospheric geophysics studies water in all of its forms using physical methods. It includes hydrology, cryology, and physical oceanography. Hydrology includes the study of surface waters such as lakes and rivers, global and local hydrological cycles as well as water resources and geohydrology, the study of groundwater. Cryology focuses on snow and ice phenomena including glacier mass balance and dynamics, sea ice physics, snow cover effects and ground frost. Physical oceanography covers saline water bodies, focusing on describing their dynamics, both large scale circulation and water masses, and local phenomena such as surface waves, upwelling, tides, and ocean acoustics. Scientists study the hydrosphere through field measurements, large and small scale modelling, and formulating mathematical descriptions of the processes. 

Met­eor­o­logy

Meteorology is the physics of the atmosphere. Its best-known application is weather forecasting, but meteorological knowledge is also essential for understanding, predicting and mitigating climate change. Meteorologists study atmospheric phenomena across a wide range of space and time scales using theory, model simulations and observations. The field of meteorology is a forerunner in computing: the development of chaos theory, for example, was triggered by the unexpected behaviour of a meteorological computer model. Meteorology in ATM-MP is further divided into dynamic meteorology and biometeorology. Dynamic meteorology is about large-scale atmospheric dynamics, modelling and observation techniques, whereas biometeorology focuses on interactions between the atmosphere and the underlying surface by combining observations and modelling to study the flows of greenhouse gases and energy with links to biogeochemical cycles, for example.

Biogeo­chem­ical cycles

Biogeochemistry studies the processes involved in cycling of elements in terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems by integrating physics, meteorology, geophysics, chemistry, geology and biology. Besides natural ecosystems, it also studies systems altered by human activity such as forests under different management regimes, drained peatlands, lakes loaded by excess nutrients and urban environments. The most important elements and substances studied are carbon, nitrogen, sulphur, water and phosphorus, which are vital for ecosystem functioning and processes such as photosynthesis. Biogeochemistry often focuses on the interphases of scientific disciplines and by doing so, it also combines different research methods. It treats ecosystems as open entities which are closely connected to the atmosphere and lithosphere. You will thus get versatile training in environmental issues and research techniques. As a graduate of this line you will be an expert in the functioning of ecosystems and the interactions between ecosystems and the atmosphere/hydrosphere/lithosphere in the context of global change. You will have knowledge applicable for solving global challenges such as climate change, air pollution, deforestation and issues related to water resources and eutrophication.

Re­mote sens­ing

Remote sensing allows the collection of information about the atmosphere, oceans and land surfaces. Various techniques are applied for monitoring the state and dynamics of the Earth system from the ground, aircraft or satellites. While Lidar and radar scan from the surface or mounted on aircraft, instruments on polar orbiting or geostationary satellites permit measurements worldwide. In atmospheric sciences remote sensing has found numerous applications such as observations of greenhouse and other trace gases, aerosols, water vapour, clouds and precipitation, as well as surface observations, for example of vegetation, fire activity, snow cover, sea ice and oceanic parameters such as phytoplankton. Synergistic satellite data analysis enables the study of important processes and feedback in the climate system. Remote sensing advances climate research, weather forecasting, air quality studies, aviation safety and the renewable energy industry.

At­mo­spheric chem­istry and ana­lysis

Atmospheric chemistry studies the composition and reactions of the molecules that make up the atmosphere, including atmospheric trace constituents and their role in chemical, geological and biological processes, including human influence. The low concentrations and high reactivity of these trace molecules place stringent requirements on the measurement and modelling methods used to study them. Analytical chemistry is the science of obtaining, processing, and communicating information about the composition and structure of matter and plays an essential role in the development of science. Environmental analysis consists of the most recent procedures for sampling, sample preparation and sample analysis and learning how to choose the best analytical methods for different environmental samples. Physical atmospheric chemistry studies focus on the reaction types and reaction mechanisms occurring in the atmosphere, with emphasis on reaction kinetics, thermodynamics and modelling methods.



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