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Masters Degrees (Marine Mammal)

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The conservation of endangered marine mammal species and concordant management of marine resources, have gained prominent positions in public news items and the attention of both governmental and non-governmental agencies. Read more
The conservation of endangered marine mammal species and concordant management of marine resources, have gained prominent positions in public news items and the attention of both governmental and non-governmental agencies. The need to know more about the lives and behaviours of marine mammals, driven by many agendas, coincides with a period in which improving technology is facilitating novel ways to probe the marine environment, and learn more about its inhabitants. As a result, the rapidly developing, and highly topical, discipline of marine mammal science is an area in which many excellent biology graduates seek to conduct research.

The MSc in Marine Mammal Science is the only research oriented Masters degree in this popular subject worldwide. It is intended to prepare students fully for a professional career involved with the research into and conservation of marine mammals. It is, first and foremost, a programme in quantitative marine ecology and animal behaviour. The programme is led by members of the world-renowned NERC Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) and draws on the wider marine expertise within the Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI).

Research Project (dissertation)

The research project takes place during the whole year with a focus period from May to August and contributes one third of the total mark for the MSc. The project is assessed by submission of a research proposal, a written dissertation and a poster presentation. The topic and plan for the project will be developed by the student in collaboration with one or more academic supervisors at SMRU / St Andrews.

Marine Mammal Science

Whether because of their sheer size, complex behaviour, intriguing social structures or historic persecution, marine mammals in particular have come to symbolise issues in marine ecology. Conservation of endangered marine mammal species and management of their populations, especially those interacting with the human food chain, often attain prominent positions in the news, and in the attentions of both governmental and non-governmental agencies.

The need to know more about the lives and behaviours of marine mammals, driven by many agendas, coincides with a period in which improving technology is making it increasingly possible for us to probe the marine environment, and learn more about its inhabitants.

As a result, the rapidly developing, and highly topical, discipline of marine mammal science is an area in which many excellent biology graduates seek to conduct research.

Additional Entry Requirements

Proof of satisfactory English Language competence for applicants whose first language is not English (e.g. TOEFL, IELTS, Cambridge Proficiency Exam). Students must be able to communicate their ideas effectively in writing, in discussions and presentations. Please see the University of St Andrews list of minimum language requirements for postgraduate study http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/elt/entry/ . Note that additional requirements may apply depending on the test taken, e.g. IELTS of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each paper. Please note that these minimum requirements are not negotiable, and that, even if you meet minimum requirements, we might still require you to attend a pre-sessional English language course.

Where they’ve gone…

The Marine Mammal Science graduates are:
- currently enrolled in PhD programmes at St Andrews and in other institutions in the UK and around the world with the most popular countries being Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and the USA.

- now working as Post-Docs at St Andrews and around the globe.

- working as research scientists for government agencies, industry or environmental consultancies such as our linked companies

- SMRU Consulting in the UK, North America or Asia Pacific offices.

- working as research assistants in academic institutions, including with us at SMRU.

- working in policy/science interface in government agencies.

- working for marine conservation organisations.

- pursuing other higher education degrees such as veterinary science or environmental law.

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The Master of Science by Research degree in Marine Biology is a 12-month, research only degree, in which the candidate will undertake a supervised research project in the area of Marine Biology, in the School of Biology, University of St Andrews. Read more
The Master of Science by Research degree in Marine Biology is a 12-month, research only degree, in which the candidate will undertake a supervised research project in the area of Marine Biology, in the School of Biology, University of St Andrews.

The candidate will be based in the interdisciplinary Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI), based at East Sands, St Andrews. The SOI is home to the world famous Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU), and hosts a wide-range of researchers with interests ranging from the deep oceans to the coasts, and from the people who use and interact with the sea, to the biological and physical processes that make the oceans function.

There are four research themes running through the SOI: Global Change and Planetary Evolution; Ecology, Fisheries and Resource management; Developmental and Evolutionary Genomics; the Sea Mammal Research Unit. As such, the SOI brings together behavioural and population ecologists, evolutionary biologists, geneticists, conservationists, mathematicians and environmental scientists to contribute towards understanding and managing the future of our oceans and the organisms, big and small, that live within them. Further details about the SOI can be found here: http://soi.st-andrews.ac.uk/.

Candidates may approach potential supervisors in the SOI directly (https://synergy.st-andrews.ac.uk/research/phd-study/phd-study-supervisors/phd-study-soi-supervisors/) or via advertised projects listed here (https://synergy.st-andrews.ac.uk/research/mscres/). We strongly recommend that potential candidates make contact with a potential supervisor before applying.

The School of Biology provides a unique and supportive environment for scholarship, amid a beautiful setting for university life. We are a highly research active School, with a diverse and vigorous post-graduate community. The School comprises a large number of research groups organised into three interdisciplinary Research Centres: the Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI), the Biomedical Sciences Research Complex (BSRC) and the Centre for Biological Diversity (CBD). Together these centres encompass the full spectrum of research in biological sciences, spanning investigations on the properties and behaviour of individual molecules through to planetary environmental dynamics. Our postgraduate students enjoy a supportive and welcoming environment, including the student-led ‘Bionet’ society that provides a wide range of networking and social opportunities.

Progression and Assessment

Students in the MSc(Res) program will be assigned an Internal Examiner (IE) and Post-Graduate Tutor by the School. There will be a progress review meeting at three months to monitor and evaluate student progression, convened by the IE, with the student and Tutor in attendance.

In addition to the project-specific training that you will receive during your degree, Msc(Res) students will also have access to a wide range of training in transferable skills through the award-winning University of St Andrews GradSkills program, run by our Professional Development Unit CAPOD. Specific post-graduate programs run within the School of Biology may also offer additional training, for instance in statistical, bioinformatics or molecular techniques.

The degree requires submission and examination of a dissertation at the end of the one-year program. This thesis will consist of up to 30,000 words. The thesis will be evaluated by the IE and an External Examiner appointed at time of submission. Evaluation will be based on the written submission and there is no requirement for a viva voce examination.

Fees

For details of post-graduate tuition fees relevant to our research degrees including the MSc(Res), please visit:
http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/study/pg/fees-and-funding/research-fees/

Application

Please apply via the University’s Post-Graduate Application portal: https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/pgr/home.htm

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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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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
-Maldives
-Bahamas
-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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