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The impact of human activity on our marine ecosystems has become more evident and high profile in recent years, such as from overfishing, habitat destruction, pollution, coastal development, plastics and climate change. So what do we do about it – how can we preserve and recover marine habitats and species populations while also allow sustainable use and exploitation of our seas?

This new MSc programme, taught by leading experts in the field, focuses specifically on marine conservation in practice and is targeted at producing the next generation of ocean guardians with the skill set to address this question. The MSc Marine Conservation programme does not have any exams within its range of assessments.

Employer partnership

We will uniquely be working in partnership across the course with a suite of leading external marine conservation and management organisations from the UK and internationally, including government bodies, NGOs, environmental charities and global foundations. You will work directly with one of these partners during your degree, getting true hands on experience of the issues, hurdles and complexities they face, and be part of the solutions they devise, in order to create for the future healthier oceans and a sustainable livelihood for the humans dependent on them.

Key features

  • The only UK MSc programme in existence to focus on marine conservation in practice
  • The only marine conservation masters programme in the UK to be delivered in partnership with a suite of regional, national and international marine conservation practitioners.  
  • The only such programme where all students, if they wish, can directly gain experience working for their masters project embedded within these potential employers.  
  • The 60 credit masters project is not specifically a typical research project resulting in a scientific paper, but allows a diversity of options depending on collaborative work with the partner (e.g. policy review, option appraisal, etc)
  • Students will draw on the cumulative knowledge and expertise of one of the largest concentrations of marine conservation researchers in Europe.
  • Taught modules are designed to feature dynamic and contemporary content based on both state-of-the-art marine conservation research and current experience and practice of implementing marine conservation in the 'real world'.  
  • Unusually for such a programme, there will be a true integration of natural and social science underpinning and skills.  
  • Students can choose between two career destinations, policy and advocacy, through taught components, working with relevant partner(s) and option module choice. All students will cover aspects of both themes, however.
  • The programme provides opportunities for students to work on marine conservation projects in the UK and abroad.  

Course details

The course starts in term 1 with background information on research methodology and the science behind marine conservation, while also focusing on marine conservation in practice through a module that spans 2 terms. This will involve day workshops, often with external conservation organisations, to gain experience of the hurdles, issues and barriers faced in the 'real world' and solutions to marine conservation issues that our external partners are developing. We will also be exploring key methodologies from assessing the health of sea floor ecosystems to how marine conservation charities are run and you get the opportunity in teams to develop and present issues and solutions for a topic of your choice. In term 2 we will also look more closely at how we manage marine ecosystems, and you have a choice of modules either focusing on environmental economics or conservation of small populations. The final term is spent with an external partner undertaking your marine conservation project, which you have developed with the partner over the previous two terms.


Visit the Marine Renewable Energy - MSc page on the University of Plymouth website for more details!

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