The University of Plymouth is working with UK and international policy makers and NGOs to launch a masters-level qualification addressing some of the biggest challenges facing our marine environment.
The new MSc Marine Conservation, which will accept its first students in September 2019, is the first of its kind to be delivered in conjunction with a suite of regional, national and international practitioners.
It is also the only such programme where all students have the opportunity to gain direct experience working within these potential employers as part of their masters projects.
The course complements the University’s reputation for world-leading and award-winning research and teaching across the marine and maritime sectors.
And its aim is to equip students with the skills to both assess and manage the impact of human activity on our marine ecosystems, which has become more evident and high profile in recent years.
Martin Attrill, Professor of Marine Ecology in the School of Biological and Marine Sciences and former Director of the Marine Institute, is the programme’s coordinator, working closely with other academics across marine biology, marine policy, marine ecology and conservation biology.
“The focus on threats affecting the marine environment has never been greater,” Professor Attrill said. “But there has also never been a greater need for enhanced education about what is causing those problems and how we can prevent them. This programme aims to directly address those issues with the help of organisations working on the front line, identifying ways to preserve and recover marine habitats and species populations while allowing sustainable use of our seas.”
The course content will be based on state-of-the-art research and current experience, but primarily focusing on marine conservation in practice and how to maintain the health of marine ecosystems. Through interaction with programme partners, the course will explore the barriers, issues and solutions to the management of those ecosystems as well as wider topics such as public engagement, behaviour change how marine conservation charities are run.
For the final term of the one-year course, students will have the chance to be based with an external partner, undertaking a project developed over the previous two terms.
The course partners include Government and charity organisations such as the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs, the Marine Management Organisation, Marine Conservation Society, WWF, and the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre. There are also other partner organisations involved in current university projects, such as: the Shark Trust, the Ocean Giants Trust, the Blue Marine Foundation, and several Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authorities.
Professor Attrill added:
“This course is the first of its kind to offer students the chance to learn about marine conservation and at the same time work directly with those responsible for it. That combination will provide students with the very latest knowledge and appreciation of the challenges they might face both in the natural and organisational environment, and provide the next generation of ocean guardians with the skills our partners need.”