MSc in Marine Environmental Protection


The emergence of the Law of the Sea Convention and establishment of Exclusive Economic Zones has given coastal states extensive and comprehensive rights and obligations over marine resources in vast areas of ocean. Wise management of ocean resources is essential if the full economic potential of these new entitlements is to be realised. To ensure the continuing biological productivity of these areas, the level and type of development of activities such as waste dumping, mineral extraction, recreation, industrial and urban growth, fisheries and aquaculture, need to be controlled, and interactions of these often conflicting activities resolved by management.


This MSc is a full-time one-year course, consisting of 9 months taught course and 3 months research project, and examined by continuous assessment. The course provides theoretical and practical training in measuring and quantifying marine resources and the effects of conflicting usage upon them. It provides a sound scientific basis on which to develop policy and make decisions on marine resource exploitation and protection around the world.

Course aims

To broaden the student's awareness of the economic potential of the ocean, to generate an understanding of the major marine biological resources and the physical processes controlling these resources, to provide theoretical and practical training in measuring and quantifying these resources and the effects of conflicting usage upon them, to enhance those skills necessary to manage effectively the sea area of national jurisdiction, and to produce graduates with appropriate experience for developing policy and making decisions on marine resources and other marine uses for their individual countries or regions. To date, most graduates have taken up employment in the field of marine environmental protection in the UK and abroad.

The course provides training addressing the following major themes:

  • Marine Ecology Skills
  • Marine Fisheries
  • Coastal Habitat Ecology and Survey
  • Marine Environmental Impacts and their Assessment
  • Marine Conservation and Coastal Zone Management
  • Research Project design and Planning
  • Research Project and Dissertation
The programme is achieved through a series of compulsory modules encompassing theory, practical, private study and practical research.

Module content

The broad areas covered in each module are outlined below. For more detail on what our current students are studying you can take a look at our online module information.

Marine Ecology Skills

  • Experimental and survey design
  • Statistical techniques
  • Ship work
  • Taxonomic Workshop
  • Marine benthos survey
  • Statistical analysis
  • Report writing

Marine Fisheries

  • Fisheries biology
  • Fisheries resources
  • Fisheries survey at sea
  • Population dynamics of fin fish

Coastal Habitat Ecology and Survey

  • Coastal habitat ecology
  • Survey techniques
  • Planning biological surveys
  • Risk assessment
  • Team field survey

Marine Environmental Impacts and their Assessment

  • Physical and chemical processes causing impacts
  • Development of the coastal zone
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement
  • Consultant / Developer interviews
  • EIA public meeting

Marine Conservation and Coastal Zone Management

  • Environmental remote sensing and Geographical Information Systems
  • Coastal Zone Law
  • Socioeconomics
  • Biodiversity
  • Conservation
  • Sustainability
  • Integrated Coastal Zone Management
  • Coastal Zone Management Conference

Research Project Design and Planning

  • Literature review
  • Project proposal development
  • Scientific peer review

Research Project and Dissertation

  • Health and Safety
  • Practical research at home or overseas
  • 20,000 word dissertation


Applicants are normally expected to have a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree for admission and to have a background in marine, environmental, zoological, or biological sciences, although we have accepted students with subjects as diverse as geography and mining engineering. We also accept mature applicants (age 25+) without formal qualifications, but with suitable relevant experience.

Career Destinations

  • Public Sector, e.g. Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Waterways Board, County Councils,  Fisheries Protection Committee, National Rivers Authority/Environment Agency, EEC Environmental Commission.
  • Private Sector, e.g. Aquatic consultancies specialising in survey and environmental impact assessment, aquaculture, oil industry, mining, instrument development, informatics and computing.
  • Voluntary organisations such as World Wide Fund for Nature, Greenpeace, Wildlife Trusts, RSPCA, Royal Geographical Society.
  • Higher Education and Research, e.g. Doctorate Research, Research Assistants, University Lecturing, British Antarctic Survey, Field Centre teaching assistants.
  • Overseas students return to comparable posts overseas.
  • UK students employed overseas in comparable posts.


Funding is available for eligible applicants. Please contact the School for details prior to application.


Dr Martin Skov


01248 383846