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Course content

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.

Visit the Marine Mammal Science (MSc) page on the University of St Andrews website for more details!

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