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Masters Degrees (Marine Mammal Science)

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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 Biological Science with a specialisation in Conservation Biology will allow you to help mitigate the increasing pressures of human activity and population growth on threatened species and communities, and prepares you for a wide range of jobs in conservation and restoration science. Read more
The Master of Biological Science with a specialisation in Conservation Biology will allow you to help mitigate the increasing pressures of human activity and population growth on threatened species and communities, and prepares you for a wide range of jobs in conservation and restoration science.

The Conservation Biology specialisation focuses on the ecology, conservation, evolution and management of plants and animals and the ecosystems in which they occur. A graduate will have advanced knowledge of the evolution of our flora and fauna and the ecosystems in which they occur and are well-prepared to engage in field as well as desktop studies to analyse and mitigate species and ecosystem threats.

UWA is well equipped for teaching and research in conservation biology. Our teaching is supported by the world class research of the Kings Park and Botanic Gardens Biodiversity Conservation Centre, the WA Biogeochemistry Centre, the Ecosystem Restoration Laboratory, the Centre for Evolutionary Biology, The Oceans Institute and the Centre of Excellence in Natural Resource Management.

Why study Biological Science in Western Australia?

Western Australia is widely renowned as one of the world's hotspots for terrestrial and marine biodiversity. There are about 13,000 species of plants in Western Australia, with more being discovered all the time. About 3,000 of these species are yet to be formally named. Nearly 70% of Australia's mammal species are found within the state, with 25 species being found nowhere else. Reptile species are even more diverse with higher endemism. Up to 80 per cent of the region's fish and invertebrates found nowhere else in the world. All of this biodiversity means that Western Australia is the ideal place to study biological sciences at all levels of organisation from ecosystems to molecules.

Career opportunities

Conservation Biology graduates are employed in private sector companies (consultancies, the resources sector), in government departments (for example, Parks and Wildlife, State Fisheries), in public agencies (such as botanic gardens, conservation groups), and in environment and conservation research agencies (CSIRO), while others join academic institutions.

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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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