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MSc Marine & Freshwater Management

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  • Delivery:
    Full time according to Funding Council definitions, Part-Time

Species identification skills are in critical shortage by environmental scientists. This in-depth Master’s programme is for those wishing to apply their existing knowledge of ecological, environmental, geographical or biological sciences to the management of marine or freshwater environments.

You will apply scientific, legal and management techniques to rivers, estuaries, coasts and oceans; covering a diversity of key species, from shellfish to finfish. Effective management and conservation techniques for charismatic species such as whale sharks or manta rays which are targeted as part of traditional medical trades will also be explored.

You will learn industry standard techniques and software to deal effectively with data as well as learning the skills to effectively identify species. The programme will also directly address the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC) ‘most wanted’ skills sets by providing quantitative skills using the industry standard R software and taxonomic skills.

You will also get the opportunity to examine the need for management of cultural heritage of our aquatic systems and coastline. Overall, the programme will provide you for a career in aquatic management, and you will be supported by leading academics and professionals in achieving this goal.

Key information

Next start date:

September 2018, September 2019


Bournemouth University, Talbot Campus


1 year full-time, or 2 years part-time

Required subjects:

Marine or Freshwater Ecology, Marine Biology, Ecological Sciences, Environmental Sciences, Geographical Sciences or Biological sciences

Entry requirements:

A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:2 or equivalent in a required subject. If English is not your first language you'll need IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component of writing, speaking, listening and reading. For more information check out our International entry requirements.

Course details

Core units (Compulsory)

  • Quantitative & Spatial Analysis: Core skills for environmental scientists in data handling, processing, statistical techniques and spatial analysis (GIS) are taught on this unit. You will learn these techniques through the industry standard programming and statistical environment of R.
  • Integrated Coastal Zone Management: Examining key issues concerning current and future uses and environmental conditions found in coastal and marine areas, and the challenges and benefits associated with a range of approaches used to promote the sustainable management of related renewable and non-renewable resources. Content and discussions will focus on the application of the principles and concepts of integrated coastal zone management (ICZM), marine spatial planning and their interactions to formulate solutions to coastal and marine problems.
  • International Law of the Environment: International law of the environment is a comparatively new field of international law. It has seen a rapid evolution over the past 30 years, as a result of the widespread recognition that many environmental problems must be addressed at the international level if satisfactory solutions are to be found. This unit will examine the particular sectors of environmental policy that are the subject of international legal regulation and obligations. This will involve an appraisal of how international legal regulation has developed in these areas, taking into account various challenges, legal and political, that have been influential in shaping their respective evolution. It will also focus on selected legal topics concerning the implementation of international environmental law. In particular, it will consider various relatively recent developments in international environmental law that have served to broaden participation beyond the level of the nation state as regards the monitoring and enforcement of international environmental protection obligations.
  • Fisheries Ecology and Management: Providing you with a framework to actively make managerial decisions, this unit enables problems to be identified, analysed and solutions to be proposed including the promotion of sustainable communities and public participation in the planning process and environmental assessment. You will cover a range of aspects of freshwater resource management including sustainable development, conservation and key issues from a planning policy and decision making perspective.
  • Research Project: Develop your expertise in research methods, data collection, analysis, interpretation and synthesis and explore in detail core aspects of your subject area, with a view to generating new practical or theoretical insights. You will develop methodological, research, presentation skills and advanced communication skills by producing an extensive dissertation or report on your research.

Option units. Choose 2:

  • Marine Environment, Heritage & Spatial Planning: Environmental changes in the marine environment have affected the degradation and preservation of underwater heritage. This unit, which may involve field trips, will help you understand the effect of physical, chemical and biological damage to the historic environment and natural hazards to historical and archaeological sites in coastal and shallow marine environments. After completing this unit, you'll be able to manage in situ degradation and the protection of underwater archaeological sites, and appraise mitigation methods for preserving our underwater cultural heritage in situ.
  • Advanced Quantitative & Spatial Methods: Giving you advanced data analysis skills, we will ensure you have an understanding of advanced contemporary statistical methods that will allow you to select and apply appropriate analytical techniques when working with complex data sets. A tool kit of analytical methods that may be used in a broad spectrum of research projects will be demonstrated and illustrated using real world examples. Methods taught will range from data visualisation through to contemporary model-based analyses, multivariate techniques and spatial statistics. Emphasis will be placed on choosing the most appropriate analysis for the available data, in order to ensure scientific rigor in the presentation of research results.
  • Biodiversity & Ecosystem Services: This unit will examine the scientific principles relating to the provision of ecosystem of services, their linkage with ecosystem function, and the relationships with biodiversity. Key ecosystem services that will be considered include provisioning services such as food and water; regulating services such as flood and disease control; cultural services such as spiritual, recreational, and cultural benefits; and supporting services such as nutrient cycling. The unit will examine how the production of ecosystem services can be measured and mapped; the distribution of beneficiaries; different approaches to valuation; and potential links with the green economy. Key emerging issues include potential trade-offs between different ecosystem services, and between ecosystem services and biodiversity.
  • Field Ecology Skills: Develop field observation and survey techniques that will equip you with skills that are relevant to professional biodiversity conservation, monitoring and research. You will explore how such skills may be applied to support practical conservation management. Based around a field course, you will develop your skills in a variety of terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments, supported by seminars and demonstrations.

Please note that option units require minimum numbers in order to run and may only be available on a semester by semester basis. They may also change from year to year.

Programme specification

Programme specifications provide definitive records of the University's taught degrees in line with Quality Assurance Agency requirements. Every taught course leading to a BU Award has a programme specification which describes its aims, structure, content and learning outcomes, plus the teaching, learning and assessment methods used.

Download the programme specification for MSc Marine & Freshwater Management

Whilst every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the programme specification, the information is liable to change to take advantage of exciting new approaches to teaching and learning as well as developments in industry. If you have been unable to locate the programme specification for the course you are interested in, it will be available as soon as the latest version is ready. Alternatively please contact us for assistance.

Selection criteria

Background and experience

For Marine & Freshwater Management we are looking for applicants who:

  • Are keen to acquire advanced knowledge across the broad range of disciplines relevant to the management of marine and freshwater environments
  • Wish to build on their skills base through seminar style learning and field experience, whether they are new graduates or experienced practitioners
  • Are keen to apply the advanced skills to real working environments in the practice, policy and management of aquatic environments
  • Can demonstrate a high level of academic interest and aptitude in sciences relevant to marine & freshwater ecology, either through evidence of good degree level qualifications or through equivalent experience
  • Have the capacity for creative thinking to conduct a research project with the guidance of experts.

Applicants may come from a range of backgrounds including new graduates or experienced practitioners. For all of these backgrounds the aptitude and enthusiasm to develop advanced skills across the relevant disciplines are the key requirement. We particularly encourage applications from people who are keen to develop skills in the rigorous planning of marine & freshwater management and the interpretation and dissemination of information to the many different relevant target audiences. These are skills widely sought by employers in all sectors including the non-government, government and consultancy areas.

Selection methods

We'll be selecting applicants by looking at their application forms - formal interviews are not generally required, although applicants that do not meet the standard academic requirements, but have additional relevant experience, may be called for interview as part of the selection process.

For that reason, make sure your application really stands out from the crowd, and leave us in no doubt as to why you should be joining BU. For more information, take a look at our postgraduate how to apply pages.

Full entry requirements

The normal requirements for this course are:

  • A Bachelors Honours degree with 2:2 or equivalent in a required subject 

If you lack the formal academic qualifications needed to enter a postgraduate or post-experience degree, there are several alternative routes to follow. Some of these are based on experience. Contact the Future Students Enquiry Team for more information.

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide evidence that you can understand English to a satisfactory level. English language requirements for this course are normally:

IELTS (Academic) 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component of writing, speaking, listening and reading, or equivalent.

View further information about our English language requirements.

A number of pre-sessional English and preparatory programmes are offered through our partner institution, Bournemouth University International College, and will get you ready for study at BU at the appropriate level.

You can also find further details of the international qualifications we accept, and what level of study they apply to, on our postgraduate entry requirements page.

No hidden extras

As a student at BU we will provide many things to support you and there will also be additional costs you may encounter whilst studying at BU. The information below will help you understand our provision and what you need to budget for.

What you can expect from us

All of your teaching and assessments are included in your tuition fees, including, lectures/guest lectures and tutorials, seminars, laboratory sessions and specialist teaching facilities. You will also have access to a wide range of support and services, many of these are included on the Next Steps insert enclosed with your offer letter.

One set of study-related consumables such as a memory stick/ DVD
Materials for laboratory and field-based teaching activity
Support for placements (UK or abroad) and fieldwork
A range of student services – advisors, help desks, counsellors, placement support and careers service
The Library – access to a wide range of electronic resources (databases, e-journals and e-books), print and multimedia collections, subject librarians and study spaces
IT labs (some open 24/7), wireless network, AV equipment to borrow
Peer Assisted Learning (PAL) scheme
Disability and additional learning support
The BU Language Centre to help you develop/improve foreign or English language skills
24 hours a day, 365 days a year security team.

Costs of living and other expenses you need to consider

Accommodation and living costs: view our price guide
Text books: remember that our award-winning library is stocked with a large range of text books for all courses, as well as online resources such as industry journals, free of charge
General stationery and other supplies such as print and presentation materials: the Students’ Union shops stock a wide range of stationery supplies on both campuses
Travel to, from and between BU campuses: our bus service operates in the local areas offering a subsidised travel rate; we also have a large number of secure bike storage compounds
SportBU membership: check out our student membership packages, sports events, varsity teams, information about our new facilities and more on the SportBU webpages
Fieldwork travel, outdoor wear and footwear (where applicable)
Telephone and travel costs incurred when undertaking interviews for coursework/securing placements.
A fee will be payable towards the cost of an Educational Psychology Assessment if this is required in connection with additional learning support. BU pays for approximately two-thirds of the cost of this assessment for UK students. For more details and current pricing please visit the Students section of the website.

Repeat Units

If you need to repeat one or more units during the course of your studies, you may be required to pay additional fees equivalent to one ninth of the tuition fee per 20 credit unit.

Financial help available from BU

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to students who are beginning their studies at BU. Our website also provides details on living costs, budgeting and paying your tuition fees.

Meet our staff

Dr Luciana Esteves is the programme leader for the course. Luciana's research interests are related to environmental change in coastal areas driven by natural and human-induced process and the implications to coastal management. In particular, I am interested in the implications of coastal change (at scales relevant to coastal management) on coastal flooding and erosion hazards, risks and vulnerability. I have worked closely with researchers and practitioners concerned with coastal management in the UK, South Africa, Brazil and across Europe.

Read more about the specialist interests of our Life & Environmental Sciences staff online, or register now to meet us!

Simon Phelps

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