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Masters Degrees (Marine Ecology)

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Aquatic ecosystems and species are under intense anthropogenic threats. These threats directly affect services such as sustainable fisheries, drinking water or ecosystem resilience. Read more

Aquatic ecosystems and species are under intense anthropogenic threats. These threats directly affect services such as sustainable fisheries, drinking water or ecosystem resilience. To adequately respond to these 21st century challenges and conserve these goods and services, a fundamental understanding of the biodiversity and ecosystem processes is needed, as without knowledge there can be no application or effective management.

Considering both freshwater and marine ecosystems and species, we have designed a programme to equip you with the interdisciplinary practical skills and theoretical understanding to pursue a career in aquatic research, consultancy or environmental protection, and give you a good understanding of applying scientific understanding to science policy. 

This programme balances the latest in ecological theory, conservation biology and evolutionary biology with practical application. You will take part in three residential field-courses (Dorset, Cumbria and Cape Verde) for practical, hands-on training.

You will be supervised by research-active scientists, becoming part of their research groups. We support links with a range of NGOs or potential employer organisations and strongly encourage you to publish your project work.

Programme highlights

  • Balances the latest in ecological theory with practical application
  • Residential field courses for practical, hands-on training in the field
  • Access to analytical, mesocosm and temperature-controlled facilities within the Centre for the Aquatic and Terrestrial Environment
  • Strong foundation for employment with environmental protection and conservation agencies, the water industry and environmental consultancies or PhD research 

Research and teaching 

You will have access to analytical research facilities within our Centre for the Aquatic and Terrestrial Environment, developed from an investment of £1.8 million in analytical equipment and specialist laboratory facilities. You will also have access to the Freshwater Biological Association’s River Laboratory on the River Frome in Dorset, via our River Communities Group, and to mesocosm and temperature controlled facilities at QMUL. Furthermore you can make use of our network of partner NGOs, research labs and industries to create further opportunities.

By choosing to study at a Russell Group university, you will have access to excellent teaching and top-class research. You can find out more about our research interests and view recent publications on the School of Biological and Chemical Science's Aquatic Ecology Research group page.

Centre for the Aquatic and Terrestrial Environment (CATE)

(CATE) at Queen Mary is an interdisciplinary collaboration between the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences and the School of Geography.

CATE builds on existing research strengths in areas of environmental research such as biogeochemistry, freshwater and marine ecology, terrestrial ecology and conservation. These facilities are used either in the formal teaching of this programme or are available for individual research projects.

Dorset Field Facilities

The Aquatic Ecology Group has a complementary unit (the River Communities Group) who do applied research, based at the River Laboratory of the Freshwater Biological Association in Dorset. We have a suite of ponds, 50% of which are heated above ambient temperatures, in which run long-term climate change experimentation. You will have the opportunity to conduct both field work and lab projects at this site.


  • Ecosystem Structure and Function: Ecosystems are under continued and growing threat from human activity (e.g. habitat loss, invasive species and diffuse pollution) and if we seek to preserve them then we need to understand how ecosystems function and how they respond to either enforced or natural change. Here we focus on the structural and functional elements of many ecosystems, from shallow lakes to tropical forests, with a particular focus on contrasting aquatic environments.
  • Statistics and Bioinformatics: Covers core statistics methods, within the R statistical computing environment. R has become the de facto environment for downstream data analysis and visualisation in biology, thanks to the hundreds of freely available R packages that allow biological data analysis solutions to be created quickly and reliably.
  • Quantitative Techniques for Surveying and Monitoring in Ecology: In the first week, there will be a series of lectures, workshops and practical data analyses classes where you will learn the theory behind designing and initiating surveys and monitoring campaigns for research projects and also for conservation & management. In the subsequent week, you will be able to put the theory into practice in the field at a location such as Lake Windermere and environs: here you will undertake electrofishing and hydroacoustic surveys for fish populations, zooplankton and benthic invertebrate surveys, a census for aquatic birds, and camera-trapping for aquatic mammals. Other skills such as the use of the modern telemetric tools will be demonstrated.
  • Science into Policy and Management – includes week in Dorset: Here a broad spectrum of human environmental impacts and their mitigation will be explored. The first half of the module will bring the student ‘face to face’ with potential regulators, practitioners and potential employers (typically Defra, Environment Agency, Natural England) through a series of guest lectures. These topics are then explored and summarised through an unpacking and feedback workshop. The second half is field based with current practitioners working directly in the field of bioassessment and biomonitoring. National and international legislation and directives are introduced through a series of case studies to look at the link between successful science and policy.
  • Marine Mammals and Turtles – field course to Cape Verde: The module focuses on the diversity, behaviour, ecology, physiology, conservation and management of cetaceans (whales and dolphins), and marine turtles. It covers such issues as the life history and migrations of turtles, their diving ability and behaviours, the social behaviour of dolphins, and the conservation of whales. It also includes (even though they are not mammals or reptiles!) a brief look at the sea-birds and sharks that will likely also be seen during field excursions. For part of the module you will be taught in the archipelago of Cape Verde, with boat trips for whales and shark observations, sea turtle monitoring. Mornings will be dedicated to lectures and workshops while afternoons and evening will be dedicated to hands-on practical experience.
  • Tropical Ecology and Conservation – field course, usually to either Borneo or Cape Verde

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The world’s aquatic ecosystems and environment are increasingly under threat. Pollution, overfishing, global climate change and many other impacts have highlighted the importance for us to understand their function at all levels, from the molecular to the global. Read more

Why take this course?

The world’s aquatic ecosystems and environment are increasingly under threat. Pollution, overfishing, global climate change and many other impacts have highlighted the importance for us to understand their function at all levels, from the molecular to the global.

This is what our course sets out to do and thanks to our close proximity to many types of temperate marine habitats and internationally protected conservation areas, we offer the perfect location for investigation.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

Research at our internationally-renowned Institute of Marine Sciences or carry out microbiological work at the University’s Field Centre for Environmental Technology at Petersfield Sewage Works
Rear coldwater species for restocking programmes or trial fish food at Sparsholt College’s National Aquatics Training Centre
Study abroad through Erasmus or various other conservation and research schemes

What opportunities might it lead to?

You’ll be taught by leading international researchers and the course has been designed with strong input from outside agencies including environmental consultancies, a range of government bodies and industry. This ensures your training links directly to UK and international employment opportunities.

Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:

Consultancy work
Government-based research
Further study

Module Details

You will cover a variety of topics in advanced laboratory and field skills, and choose from units that cover marine ecology, aquaculture, ecotoxicology and pollution, and scientific journalism. A large amount of your time will also be spent on the research project that will enable you to apply the skills and knowledge you have gained.

Core units are:

• Research Toolkit: This covers a range of key professional skills for research methods (communication skills, ethics and report writing), advanced field skills (boat sampling, taxonomy, and marine and freshwater sampling methods), advanced laboratory skills (genomics, monitoring and pollution monitoring methods) and remote sensing technology (such as GIS).

• Research Project: Your final project allows you to select from a range of marine and freshwater projects provided by staff within the School, government research laboratories, NGOs and private research companies. During the project you will write literature reviews and develop skills in data analysis and presentation.

Then choose any three optional units from:

• Ecotoxicology and Pollution: This provides an introduction to environmental toxicology using model and non-model organisms.

• Aquaculture: This unit focuses on the principles of aquaculture production, global production and diversity of aquaculture species. It is taught by academic staff and staff from the National Aquatics Training Centre at Sparsholt College. Areas covered include larval culture, diseases and pathology, feeding and growth, reproductive manipulation, and business and management.

• Marine Policy, Planning and Conservation: Planning and Conservation: This unit explores contemporary debates on coastal and marine management with a specific focus on marine policy, planning and conservation.

• Science and the Media: Science communication is increasingly becoming an important part of science. This unit firstly addresses the skills required by scientists to effectively communicate with the media and general public and secondly, provides an understanding of the skills needed for a career in science journalism.

• Subtidal Marine Ecology: Selected topics of current interest in marine ecology, incorporating both theory and applied aspects, culminating in a week-long practical field course in the Mediterranean Sea. The unit carries an additional cost for the field trip, and requires a minimum level of training and experience in SCUBA diving to participate.

Programme Assessment

Hands-on laboratory-based work teamed with field trips means that practical learning underpins the theory learned in lectures, seminars, tutorials and workshops. You’ll also find that some aspects of your course may be taught online using our virtual learning environment.

You will be assessed using a range of methods from exams to coursework and presentations, with great opportunities to present your final-year projects to industry and researchers from other departments and organisations.

Student Destinations

Once you have completed this course, you will be particularly well placed to enter a wide range of interesting and rewarding careers in the UK and abroad. We will ensure you have all the relevant knowledge and skills that employers require, giving you the opportunity to either pursue a scientific career, enter the teaching profession, or further study should you want to continue your research.

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With the increasing pressures on the marine environment, both in the South Pacific region and worldwide, experts in the conservation and management of marine organisms and ecosystems are in demand. Read more

With the increasing pressures on the marine environment, both in the South Pacific region and worldwide, experts in the conservation and management of marine organisms and ecosystems are in demand.

As a world-leader in marine conservation, New Zealand is a great place to develop your expertise in the field. Its unique and lengthy coastline is home to numerous marine organisms—from the tiny phytoplankton to the endangered New Zealand sea lion.

Study with Victoria's School of Biological Sciences, a leader in marine biology research. Examine marine conservation issues and practice using examples from New Zealand, Australia, South Pacific and wider Indo-Pacific region, which can be applied worldwide.

Marine Conservation can be studied through two qualifications. The Master of Marine Conservation (MMarCon) is a taught Master's with no thesis component and is the only taught Marine Conservation Master's degree in New Zealand.

Or you can choose to study the Postgraduate Certificate in Marine Conservation (PGCertMarCon), a shorter qualification for those who want to expand their expertise into a new area of interest.

Master of Marine Conservation

The 180-point Master of Marine Conservation consists of three core courses and three courses chosen from a range of marine biology, biodiversity, ecology, ecological restoration and conservation courses. You can also choose courses that specialise in environmental management and conservation issues relating to New Zealand Māori and Pacific Island communities.

Two of your core courses, BIOL 424 New Zealand Conservation Practice and BIOL 529 Tropical Marine Conservation Practice, are field courses. You'll visit several world-renowned marine conservation sites in New Zealand and overseas.

The field courses will have costs over and above the course fees.

You'll also examine marine conservation issues of cultural and socioeconomic significance to Māori and Pacific peoples, such as exploitation of coastal regions and ecotourism, seabed and foreshore rights, and community-led conservation strategies.

Postgraduate Certificate in Marine Conservation

The Postgraduate Certificate is made up of three courses totalling 90 points chosen from any of the courses in the MMarCon programme; however, you must include at least one of the core courses.


If you are studying full time you can expect a workload of 40–45 hours a week for much of the year. Part-time students doing two courses per trimester will need to do around 20–23 hours of work a week. Make sure you take this into account if you are working.

You can estimate your workload by adding up the number of points you'll be doing. One point is roughly equal to 10–12 hours work.


The Master of Marine Conservation can be completed in 12 months of full-time study, or in 24 months part time.

The Postgraduate Certificate in Marine Conservation can be completed in six months of full-time study or in 12 months part time.


Postgraduate study at Victoria will help you build valuable relationships and networks with peers, university staff and future colleagues. You'll have opportunities to attend events, workshops, social functions and seminars.

The Postgraduate Students' Association can give you information and provides a voice for you on campus.


You'll gain skills and knowledge in a wide range of areas within the conservation and management of marine organisms and ecosystems, in both temperate and tropical climates. You might find work at Crown Research Institutes, private research institutes or with national government agencies managing marine conservation and fisheries.

Other organisations you may work with include regional authorities such as city, regional and district councils, consultancy firms carrying out contract marine biology work or non-government agencies and not-for-profit organisations.

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The master's Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management is a two-year MSc programme. You can specialise in Aquaculture; Marine Governance; Marine Resources and Ecology. Read more

The master's Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management is a two-year MSc programme. You can specialise in Aquaculture; Marine Governance; Marine Resources and Ecology.

Oceans, seas, estuaries and lakes are major providers of ecosystem goods and services such as food, tourism and coastal protection. In many cases, exploitation levels have bypassed the carrying capacity of these ecosystems leading to devastating effects on biodiversity and ecosystem functioning. 

To preserve marine biodiversity and its ecosystem functions innovative and sustainable solutions are necessary. Therefore, young professionals are needed with an integrative approach to marine ecosystem management.

Study programme

You start the MAM programme by taking courses that will give you a common basis on aquaculture and marine resources management. Then you chose one of three specialisations in which you will take deepening courses that will prepare you for your thesis.

In the Academic Consultancy Cluster you will share (interaction) and intergrade your knowledge with (the knowledge of) other students in multidisciplinary teams. On the programme of Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management page you can find the general outline of the programme and more detailed information about courses, theses and internships.


Within the master programme you can choose one of the following Specialisations to meet your personal interests.

Your future career

As an alumni of the MSc programme Aquaculture and Marine Resource Management there are many job opportunities. To give you a small idea how your career could look like after your study we highlight some of the most common job types. Also, a few of our alumnus tell about their jobs. Read more about career perspectives and opportunities after finishing the programme.

Related programmes:

MSc Animal Sciences

MSc Biology 

MSc Environmental Sciences 

MSc Forest and Nature Conservation 

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Tropical ecosystems provide important resources locally and globally, and coral reefs are the most diverse of marine ecosystems threatened by human activities. Read more
Tropical ecosystems provide important resources locally and globally, and coral reefs are the most diverse of marine ecosystems threatened by human activities.

Our unique multidisciplinary course, MSc Tropical Marine Biology, is designed to deliver advanced tropical marine biology theory and to facilitate the development of a comprehensive range of practical and professional skills required by today’s employers.

As a student of our School you will benefit from the breadth of research carried out by our internationally recognised academics, and will engage with current research activities both in the UK and abroad. You also have opportunity to put theory into practice and study coral reef conservation first hand during the School’s annual field trip to Wakatobi Marine National Park, Indonesia.

Explore topics including:
-Hands-on experience of coral reef conservation on our pioneering underwater lectures in Indonesia
-The biotechnological ‘treasure chest’ of marine microbes, algae and invertebrates
-Tropical oceans, seagrass beds, mangroves and coral reefs
-Coral reef resource management

During the summer term, you will embark on your own extensive research project under the supervision of researchers at the forefront of their fields. This can be conducted within our in-house Coral Reef Research Unit, or alongside one of our research partners from across the globe, addressing key questions on the functioning of and threats to tropical marine ecosystems.

Two-thirds of our research is rated “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014), and you learn from and work alongside our expert staff.

Professional accreditation

To expand your skillset and boost your employability, we provide you with £125 to spend on externally accredited learning, such as certification as a Marine Mammal Surveyor, participation in Sea Survival courses or gaining the skills and background knowledge needed to drive a powerboat.

Our expert staff

As one of the largest schools at our University, we offer a lively, friendly and supportive environment with research-led study and high quality teaching. You benefit from our academics’ wide range of expertise on important national and international problems using cutting-edge techniques.

Key academic staff for this course include: Dr Leanne Appleby Hepburn, who works on community ecology of coral reefs; Professor Dave Smith, who is researching tropical marine biology and conservation; Dr Michael Steinke, who is working on biogenic trace gases in marine environments; Dr Tom Cameron, who specialises in aquatic community ecology; and Dr Etienne Low-Decarie, who is investigating ecological and evolutionary responses to global change.

The University of Essex has a Women's Network to support female staff and students and was awarded the Athena SWAN Institutional Bronze Award in November 2013 in recognition of its continuing work to support women in STEM.

Specialist facilities

Recent investment has provided modern facilities for imaging biological systems, aquatic community ecology, photosynthesis and eco-physiology. On our course you have the opportunity to:
-Work in an open and friendly department, with shared staff-student social spaces
-Conduct your research alongside academics and PhD students in shared labs
-Our local marine biology field centre, with direct access to the Colne estuary, a recently designated marine conservation zone (MCZ). -Develop your practical skills through mapping habitats, Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and boat handling
-Learn to use state-of-the-art research facilities

Your future

As the world's environmental problems increase, the demand for qualified marine biologists continues to grow, and postgraduate study is often a requirement for becoming a researcher, scientist, academic journal editor and to work in some public bodies or private companies.

Many of our Masters students progress to study for their PhD, and we offer numerous studentships to support our students in their studies.

Our graduates go on to a range of careers. Some work with governmental and non-governmental environmental agencies, organisations, consultancies and voluntary organisations, or go on to conduct doctorate research. Many overseas students return to comparable posts in their home country.

We work with our university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Example structure

-Tropical Marine Resources
-Tropical Marine Systems
-Methods in Tropical Marine Biology
-Professional Skills in Tropical Marine Biology
-Research Project: MSc Tropical Marine Biology

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Your programme of study. Ecology is an important discipline to inform many different environmental management issues which often involve wider impacts being assessed for planning and other purposes. Read more

Your programme of study

Ecology is an important discipline to inform many different environmental management issues which often involve wider impacts being assessed for planning and other purposes. There is an increasing desire to utilise sites which are environmentally sensitive and this puts pressure on ecology and habitat survival. There are many other types of environmental impacts which are often hidden but also affect Ecology such as the many different pollutants which are often highlighted monthly. Species decline is becoming a well known issue globally and the ability to maintain and continue species and grow is important in a declining environment.

The programme comes from a very strong department which has been ranked consistently at number 1 in soil science and soil ecology in the UK (REF 2014). The Master's in Ecology has very solid foundations as it has been taught to generations for over 50 years and with this comes considerable knowledge and experience. With this programme you get a chance to influence how we utilise our environment and manage it to the best ability to preserve our ecology.

Our MSc programme provides flexibility to enable you to gain knowledge and skills to meet your career aspirations, whether in research or as a practicing ecologist. The programme runs through a full year, starting with a field course and culminating in a major research project. You will have the opportunity to gain hands on experience of everything from field survey to chairing discussions, from statistics and modelling to report writing and from identifying important ecological questions to researching them and writing a scientific paper. Previous graduates have gone on to the top of their chosen profession in research, consultancy, conservation, policy, education and advocacy.

Courses listed for the programme

Semester 1

  • Experimental Design and Analysis
  • Introduction to GIS
  • Plant Ecology
  • Population and Community Ecology

Optional Courses

  • Statistics for Complex Study Designs
  • Introduction to Ecological Field Research in Northern Scotland
  • Molecular Ecological Techniques
  • Soils for Food Security
  • Aquaculture
  • Introduction to Bayesian Inference

Semester 2


  • Research Project Planning


  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Spatial Information Analysis
  • Marine Spatial Management and Top Predators
  • Readings in Ecology, Conservation and Environment
  • Ecology, Conservation and Society
  • Catchment Management
  • Environmental Management Plan
  • Applied Forest Ecology
  • Advanced Modelling for Ecology and Conservation

Semester 3

  • Project in Ecology

Find out more detail by visiting the programme web page

Why study at Aberdeen?

  • Ecology has been taught at Aberdeen for over 50 years and Plant Ecology and Soil Science is No 1 in the UK (REF 2014)
  • You will be taught be known ecologists who are active in research, management and nature conservation
  • Aberdeen is ideally situated to take full advantage of coastal, inland, rural and wild landscapes and environments

Where you study

  • University of Aberdeen
  • Full Time and Part Time
  • 12 Months or 24 Months
  • September

International Student Fees 2017/2018

Find out about international fees:

  • International
  • EU and Scotland
  • Other UK

Find out more about fees on the programme page

*Please be advised that some programmes also have additional costs.


View all funding options on our funding database via the programme page and the latest postgraduate opportunities

Living in Aberdeen

Find out more about:

Your Accommodation

Campus Facilities

Find out more about living in Aberdeen and living costs

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This programme is unique in Europe and beyond. It embraces a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to understanding the roles of humans and their connection to marine ecosystems for survival and prosperity. Read more

This programme is unique in Europe and beyond. It embraces a holistic, interdisciplinary approach to understanding the roles of humans and their connection to marine ecosystems for survival and prosperity.

This MSc approaches marine systems as an integrated socio-ecological system through focusing on three spheres of marine systems:

  • Marine natural systems – exploring diverse scales and functions of key marine biomes, habitats and species, spanning islands, coasts, estuaries, continental shelves, polar seas and global oceans.
  • Marine policy systems – examining different approaches to marine spatial planning and governance of marine ecosystems and services, through formal policies, laws and informal customs and practices.
  • Marine built systems – exploring ‘blue growth’ opportunities e.g. the ingenuity and impact of human built environments in marine settings, from reshaping coastlines for cities, travel and trade, to the urbanisation of ocean environments through innovations in energy infrastructure.

Programme structure

(Revised 18 October 2017 to provide more comprehensive information). This programme involves two semesters of classes followed by an individual research project. The curriculum consists of compulsory and optional taught courses followed by a period of individual dissertation project work. There will also be local and international field trips.

Compulsory courses typically include:

  • Marine Systems and Policies
  • Marine Infrastructure and Environmental Change
  • Corals in a Changing Ocean
  • Marine Field Methods in Research and Practice
  • Research Project in Marine Systems and Policies

Option courses:

Through consultation with your Programme Director you will choose three option courses from areas such as:


  • International Law of the Sea
  • International Law of the Marine Environment
  • Human Dimensions of Environmental Change and Sustainability
  • Foundations in Ecological Economics
  • Applications in Ecological Economics
  • Global Environmental Politics
  • Energy Policy and Politics
  • Energy and Society


  • The Ecology of Ecosystem Services
  • Ecosystem Service Values
  • Water Resource Management
  • Values and the Environment


  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Principles of GIS
  • Fundamentals for Remote Sensing

Courses are offered subject to timetabling and availability and are subject to change.

Field trips

Our field trips provide site-based learning of both natural and social science practices, a key dynamic of this MSc. The core field trip has historically taken place in tropical locations such as Jamaica and the Maldives.

Career opportunities

This MSc provides a foundation for work up to international level, for government bodies, think-tanks, consulting firms and NGOs where an integrated understanding of marine ecosystems, policies and practice is required.

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The programme encompasses the following key ideas. ·        . Understanding complex marine systems from a range of standpoints. Read more

The programme encompasses the following key ideas:

·        Understanding complex marine systems from a range of standpoints. Establishing a core body of knowledge about the marine environment and the physical, chemical, ecological and anthropogenic processes operating on a range of spatial and temporal scales.

·        Multidisciplinary approaches. Creating a multidisciplinary approach to understanding and managing the marine environment through integrated field, laboratory and theory-based learning and examine this in the context of the relevant legislative framework and global policy changes.

·        Understanding the impacts of both natural and anthropogenic factors on the marine environment alongside environmental change. Using a multidisciplinary approach to the development of applied solutions to managing marine resources and biodiversity in an ever changing situation.

·        Use of big marine data. The collection of rigorous scientific data; formulating and testing hypotheses through carrying out scientific investigations and communicating information in a variety of formats to a range of audiences.

·        Professional practice and application to real world situations. Understanding the links between scientific ideas and their application to solving marine environmental problems by working with professionals from a range of scientific disciplines. In addition, using industry-standard approaches, equipment and analysis to collect, analyse and report on ecological and environmental data from field and laboratory investigations in the relevant format to inform the public, practitioners in the field, policy makers and scientists.


The programme allows the progression of students along two main pathways with different core modules to allow for specific career and skill development. Those wishing to pursue a career in fisheries science can follow the MSc Marine Environmental Management (Fisheries) pathway where those students who wish to follow the more ecological route can follow the MSc Marine Environmental Management (Ecology)  route.

Example modules:

  • Applied Fisheries Science and Management. Fisheries ecology, economics and social science; understanding of fundamental fisheries management tools and concepts, comparing/contrasting freshwater and marine systems. Students are trained in the use of Ecopath with Ecosim and traditional numeric fisheries management tools.
  • Applied Benthic Ecology.  The use of industry-standard approaches, equipment and analysis to collect, analyse and report on marine ecological and environmental data from field and laboratory investigations.  During a 1 week field trip students are trained in survey design using sublittoral sampling equipment and then tasked as a group designing a question and supervising the operation of a survey boat for a day. Samples will be worked up (quantified, taxonomic work and mapping) and analysed on return the university.
  • Operational Oceanography.  Desktop oceanography using the myriad of open source “big data” sources available, students will learn to use a range of recognised resources to model and analyse contemporary and future oceanographic situations and issues.
  • Research Design.  Identifying aspects of environmental problems amenable to qualitative and quantitative study, questionnaire design, programmes of monitoring and experimental study. The scientific method: formulating and testing hypotheses through carrying out scientific investigations using primary and secondary data from field, laboratory, computer and desk-based study.  To support thier analytical abilities students take part in a 3-day intensive R programming course.
  • Dissertation in fisheries ecology or management using extensive links with industry.  These can be data based or field based in nature.

Optional modules

  • Principles of GIS.  Practical use of the most widely available GIS system ArcGIS on real-world environmental problems; development of a wide range of special analysis and problem-solving skills.
  • Environmental Impact Assessment.  Introduction to EIA/EcIA; scoping and valuation; key ecological receptors; characterising impacts of urbanisation or industrial development; determining significance; presenting an EcIA to consultees.
  • Ecotoxicology.  Knowledge of the impacts of persistent and ephemeral pollution on marine and estuarine systems)
  • Scientific Diving.  Training to or towards this HSE recognised professional qualification and an understanding of the regulatory and legal framework in which such activities sit). Student divers will carry out a research project to give them an opportunity to more fully understand the opportunities and limitations of this research approach.

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This course provides you with an exceptional grounding in marine environmental research. You’ll develop your understanding of key concepts and issues. Read more
This course provides you with an exceptional grounding in marine environmental research. You’ll develop your understanding of key concepts and issues. You’ll also develop the skills and qualities required for a career in academia or industry.

Through a combination of taught and research modules, our course develops your understanding of:
-The roles of science, policy, technology and economic development in the marine environment
-Marine environmental issues, their origins and possible solutions
-The principal processes maintaining and altering structure, function and ecosystem services of coastal waters
-The key concepts and methodologies used in ecosystem, environmental management and conservation science
-The context, purpose and implementation of resource mapping and evaluation
-The theory, principles, concepts and practices in marine governance

Our staff have over 30 years of research and teaching experience, both in the UK and overseas. Their expertise spans the natural and social sciences in coastal-marine science and management.

Our taught modules will ground your understanding of marine ecosystem dynamics, research methodologies and environmental governance. You will develop your research skills by designing and completing a supervised project.

Major sites for projects include the:
-Red Sea
-Northumberland coast (UK)

The project will develop a detailed knowledge of your chosen research topic by drawing on the research communities within the School of Marine Science and Technology. These include:
-Marine Biology, Ecosystems and Governance (MBEG)
-Oceans and Climate (OC)

These research groups have had notable successes in their work on:
-Coral reefs (Prof John Bythell, Prof Alasdair Edwards, Prof Nicholas Polunin)
-Physical oceanography and climate modelling (Prof Andrew Willmott, Dr Miguel Maqueda)
-Marine spatial mapping and systems planning (Dr Clare Fitzsimmons)
-Marine protected areas and management (Prof Nicholas Polunin, Prof Selina Stead)
-Food webs (Prof Nicholas Polunin)

They are also active in:
-Marine mammal monitoring (Dr Per Berggren)
-Citizen science and outreach (Dr Jane Delaney)
-Deep sea ecology and marine time series (Dr Ben Wigham)

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The emergence of the Law of the Sea Convention and establishment of Exclusive Economic Zones has given coastal states extensive and comprehensive rights and obligations over marine resources in vast areas of ocean. Read more
The emergence of the Law of the Sea Convention and establishment of Exclusive Economic Zones has given coastal states extensive and comprehensive rights and obligations over marine resources in vast areas of ocean. Wise management of ocean resources is essential if the full economic potential of these new entitlements is to be realised. To ensure the continuing biological productivity of these areas, the level and type of development of activities such as waste dumping, mineral extraction, recreation, industrial and urban growth, fisheries and aquaculture, need to be controlled, and interactions of these often conflicting activities resolved by management.

This MSc is a full-time one-year course, consisting of 9 months taught course and 3 months research project, and examined by continuous assessment. The course provides theoretical and practical training in measuring and quantifying marine resources and the effects of conflicting usage upon them. It provides a sound scientific basis on which to develop policy and make decisions on marine resource exploitation and protection around the world.

Course Aims
To broaden the student's awareness of the economic potential of the ocean, to generate an understanding of the major marine biological resources and the physical processes controlling these resources, to provide theoretical and practical training in measuring and quantifying these resources and the effects of conflicting usage upon them, to enhance those skills necessary to manage effectively the sea area of national jurisdiction, and to produce graduates with appropriate experience for developing policy and making decisions on marine resources and other marine uses for their individual countries or regions. To date, most graduates have taken up employment in the field of marine environmental protection in the UK and abroad.

You will receive training in the following major modules:

Marine Ecology Skills
Marine Fisheries
Coastal Habitat Ecology and Survey
Marine Environmental Impacts and their Assessment
Marine Conservation and Coastal Zone Management
Research Project design and Planning
Research Project and Dissertation
Modules combine different learning approaches, including taught lectures, seminars and working groups, practicals in the laboratory, on the shore or at sea, as well as personal study and practical research.

Skills Trained
The broad areas covered in each module are outlined below. For more detail on what our current students are studying you can take a look at our online module information.

Marine Ecology Skills
Experimental and survey design
Statistical techniques
Ship work
Taxonomic Workshop
Marine benthos survey
Statistical analysis
Report writing
Marine Fisheries
Fisheries biology
Fisheries resources
Fisheries survey at sea
Population dynamics of fin fish
Coastal Habitat Ecology and Survey
Coastal habitat ecology
Survey techniques
Planning biological surveys
Risk assessment
Team field survey
Marine Environmental Impacts and their Assessment
Physical and chemical processes causing impacts
Development of the coastal zone
Environmental Impact Assessment
Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement
Consultant / Developer interviews
EIA public meeting
Marine Conservation and Coastal Zone Management
Environmental remote sensing and Geographical Information Systems
Coastal Zone Law
Integrated Coastal Zone Management
Coastal Zone Management Conference
Research Project Design and Planning
Literature review
Project proposal development
Scientific peer review
Research Project and Dissertation
Health and Safety
Practical research at home or overseas
20,000 word dissertation

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The oceans do not exist in isolation but are in constant interaction with the atmosphere and underlying geology receiving energy from the sun and to a lesser extent from geothermal sources. Read more
The oceans do not exist in isolation but are in constant interaction with the atmosphere and underlying geology receiving energy from the sun and to a lesser extent from geothermal sources. The highly interdisciplinary field of Marine science, the study of the oceans from the deep sea to shallow coastal seas, aims to understand the biology, chemistry, geology and physics of this dynamic system so central to all our lives.

This programme offers students with a background in marine biology, geology or geography the opportunity to integrate their expertise in the wider marine science context.

The programme has one core course and offers a wide variety of options with maximum flexibility allowing students to pursue their studies either at our Orkney Campus or in Edinburgh.

Core course

- Oceanography and Marine Ecology
- Research Project (MSc only)

Optional courses

- Marine Resources and Sustainability
- Diversity of Marine Organisms1
- Applied Research Design & Analysis1
- Climate Change: Causes and Impacts
- Marine Ecotoxicology
- Practical Marine Ecotoxicology1
- Marine Ecology & Fisheries
- Introduction to Marine Planning
- Economics of Renewable Energy
- Environmental Processes
- Energy in the 21st Century
- Marine Biotechnology
- Practical Skills in Marine Biotechnology (Edinburgh Campus only owing to labs and practicals)
- Marine Environmental Monitoring
- Climate Change: Mitigation and Adaptation Measures
- GIS for Marine and Environmental Scientists
- Tropical Coral Reef Field Course
- Practical Skills in Marine Surveying (Orkney Campus only - field work)
- Environmental Policy & Risk
- Development Appraisal
- Development Project

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Will the otter be able to recover? How do plants settle in new areas? Why do geese always travel south at exactly the same time? How do species of plants and animals live together in a habitat?. Read more
Will the otter be able to recover? How do plants settle in new areas? Why do geese always travel south at exactly the same time? How do species of plants and animals live together in a habitat?

During this two-year Master's programme Ecology and Evolution, you will gain insight into the living organism in relation to its environment.

Ecology is an internationally oriented field and the degree programme has a strong focus on research. You will therefore conduct one or two independent research projects in various fields. But as you can design most of the programme yourself, you can specialize in the area of your interest. This programme also offers a Top Programme in Evolutionary Biology.

The Master's degree programme Ecology and Evolution is offered by t he Groningen Institute of Evolutionary Life Sciences (GELIFES), which conducts research in four relevant areas:
* Evolutionary Ecology & Genetics
* Behavioural Ecology & Ecophysiology
* Conservation Biology
* Community Ecology

Why in Groningen?

- Design most of your programme yourself !
- Offers Top programme Evolutionary Biology!
- Research projects possible in various fields!

Job perspectives

As a graduate of this programe you can for example become a researcher at a university or at an institution for applied research. You also have the options of becoming a project officer, consultant or policy officer.

Job examples

- PhD research position
- Project officer
- Consultant

Research Projects in Various Fields

The Master's degree programme is coordinated by the Groningen Institute for Evolutionary Life Sciences. GELIFES is part of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences and embraces fourteen research groups, which perform research in the fields of:

-Evolutionary Ecology & Genetics
On the importance of genetic variation: how do genetic variation and natural selection result in reproductive systems, adaptation of organisms to their environment and the emergence of new species? We try to answer this question by means of an experimental, molecular approach (genomics) and via model-based studies.

-Behavioural Ecology & Ecophysiology
Both the morphology and physiology of an organism and its behaviour are formed by selection. Behaviour – for example the timing of reproduction, partner choice and time and route of bird migration – and physiology – for example the degree of plasticity to regulate energy use and temperature – are products of evolution. Theoretical models are paired with experimental ones to study these issues, both in the field and in the laboratory.

-Conservation Biology
Small populations are threatened with extinction because their habitat is fragmented. Their chance of survival depends on their genetic structure, demography, dynamics of distribution, etc. This type of research is important, for example, for the restoration of nature reserves or the development of sustainable fishery. Examples of a research projects include the effects of genetic erosion in fruit flies and the seed dispersal of plants in the Wadden Sea.

-Community Ecology
Species and individuals living in the same area interact with each other and with their environment. Processes of physiological adaptations and restrictions, competition, grazing, predation and succession can change a group of individuals into a community. Combining field observations, laboratory experiments and theoretical models can give us a better understanding of the mechanisms that are active in nature.

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The MER master program provides high quality teaching in general oceanography with a specialization in marine environment (ecology, ecotoxicology… Read more

The MER master program provides high quality teaching in general oceanography with a specialization in marine environment (ecology, ecotoxicology, biochemistry, geochemistry, sedimentology, paleo-oceanography) and living or non-living marine resources. The MER program benefits from a consortium of four EU universities (Bilbao - Spain, Bordeaux-France, Southampton-UK and Liège-Belgium) and a worldwide network of associated partners.

Program structure

The MER master program is organized according to three teaching semesters (Semester 1-3: coursework) plus a research master thesis (Semester 4) carried out via an internship at any partner research institution worldwide. Mobility is mandatory and three different mobility opportunities are proposed for the coursework:

  • Bordeaux/Bilbao/Southampton.
  • Bordeaux/Bilbao/Liège.
  • Southampton/Bilbao/Liège.

Coursework is organized according to six mandatory and optional modules (total: 90 ECTS).

Module 1 to 6: Content

  • Module 1 /Fundamental: Ocean Science
  • Module 2 / Framework: Global Ocean Environment
  • Module 3 / Scientific Challenges and Opportunities: Marine Environment Protection and Resources Exploitation
  • Module 4 / Socio-Economic Commitment: Marine Environment and Resources Management
  • Module 5 / Data Analysis: Interpretation of Environmental Data
  • Module 6 / Discovery: Research in MER

The MSc thesis research (Module 6) is carried out during Semester 4 (30 ECTS) at any Marine Research Institute worldwide.

Strengths of this Master program

  • Successful MER students acquire a high degree of personal and scientific maturity, due to the wide range of topics taught in the domains of oceanography and marine resource management.
  • Students learn to prove strong mobility, autonomy and the capacity to adapt to different cultural and administrative conditions in the different countries involved.
  • At least three major European academic systems are experienced, and practice in applications for funding etc. at an international level is largely acquired.
  • Having studied in (at least 3) different countries and followed all the lectures and practical workshops in the English language, MER students have excellent profiles for starting positions in a scientific career in an international context.

After this Master program?

Successful completion of this program will prepare students for a leadership role in various marine sectors such as conservation and environmental management, fisheries, nongovernmental organizations and all levels of government positions from local to global. Students benefit from a worldwide network of partner institutions.

From the start (2007), the MER program has trained more than 100 students. More than 50% of graduates continue with a PhD. Other graduates integrate public or private organizations in their field of expertise.

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A one year MSc degree focussing on core and specialist competences in key themes of fisheries, marine conservation; sustainability and ecosystem based management. Read more

A one year MSc degree focussing on core and specialist competences in key themes of fisheries, marine conservation; sustainability and ecosystem based management.

Course Overview

Level: 90 ECTS taught MSc, Level 9

Duration: 1 year, starts September

Outline: The course consists of six taught modules (5 ECTS each) and a major research thesis (60 ECTS).

The modules are:

Ecology of Top Predators in Marine Systems

Life History Strategies and Trade-offs

Secondary Impacts of Harvest on Wild Populations and Ecosystems

Applied Geographic Information Systems

Data Analysis Using R and R Studio

Seabird and Marine Mammal Population Assessment techniques

Research Thesis

Course Highlights

Teaching by research-active staff working in the field of Applied Marine Conservation with particular interest in marine mammals, seabirds and fisheries.

A major research thesis on a real conservation problem, in collaboration with a supervisor from GMIT and a supervisor from an external organisation.

Graduates will be well prepared for careers in marine conservation and management, or may continue to PhD research.

How to Apply

To request an application form, please contact Dr Ian O’Connor at:

For any queries about the application process please contact the Admissions Office at +353 (0)91 742305, or at

For any queries about the course please contact the course coordinator: Dr Ian O’Connor, email:

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Bodies of water, including oceans, large lakes, seas and estuaries, make up the largest part of the earth's surface. Well above 70% of the earth´s surface consists of water, which is essential for all life. Read more

Bodies of water, including oceans, large lakes, seas and estuaries, make up the largest part of the earth's surface. Well above 70% of the earth´s surface consists of water, which is essential for all life. Humans extract both directly and indirectly a major part of their food from the seas, photosynthesis in the oceans is responsible for approximately half of the global oxygen production, the oceans continue to yield unknown life forms at an astonishing rate. In spite of the importance of the water bodies of this earth, much of them remains unknown.

If you are interested in gaining more in-depth knowledge of this world, of the ecosystems associated with water, in a scientific manner, the Master of Science in Marine and Lacustrine Science and Management offers you what you need. This combination of disciplines makes the programme unique, not only in Flanders, but also in Europe. Students with most scientifically oriented bachelor diplomas can start the programme directly.


This 2-year master programme addresses students with a background in sciences. It provides you with strong fundamental and applied knowledge and prepares you for an active role in the scientific research and management of marine ecosystems. The programme adopts a multidisciplinary approach integrating physical, chemical geological, ecological and societal aspects and including nature conservation and sustainable development.

You can major in one of four specialisations:

• Biodiversity and Ecology

• Conservation Biology and Ecosystem Management

• Environmental Impact and Remediation

• Earth System Sciences

The programme is one of the International Course Programmes supported by the Flemish Interuniversity Council (VLIR-UOS). A limited number of scholarships is available for students coming from certain developing countries.

The diversity of professional, disciplinary and cultural backgrounds of both students and lecturers ensures that the programme has a truly unique international character.

Career opportunities

This programma trains students in:

  1. playing a key role in high quality scientific marine research
  2. providing advice in marine management based on sound scientific knowledge
  3. becoming critically minded, problem-solving and communicative scientists

This multidisciplinary Master´s diploma is your admission ticket to a fascinating professional world and can be the start of an international career. As a scientist with a broad education, you are the right person for functions that require an integrated approach. The integration of knowledge from across various disciplines is valuable, and you can contribute significantly in various jobs that are concerned with marine and lacustrine domains, wherever they are in the world. The programme is broad and deep and can complement a wide range of scientific professions.

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