Marine Mammal Science (MSc) 2016 entry
The MSc in Marine Mammal Science prepares students for a professional career in the research and conservation of marine mammals. It is the only research-focused Masters degree in this popular subject worldwide, and is taught by leading experts at the Sea Mammal Research Unit and the Scottish Oceans Institute.
Postgraduate; leading to a Master of Science (MSc)
One year full time
At first or upper 2.1 (Honours) undergraduate degree or equivalent in a biological science. Other scientific, engineering or mathematics degrees may be acceptable; please contact the School if you are unsure about your qualifications. If you studied your first degree outside the UK, see the international entry requirements.
Training in advanced mathematics and statistics (at least to UK school AS/A-level, Higher, International Baccalaureate or equivalent).
Very good baseline IT skills including word-processing, spreadsheet use, email and Internet.
English language proficiency. See English language tests and qualifications.
In addition to the above minimum requirements, it is highly desirable for applicants to have:
- relevant field or lab experience from previous employment, project or volunteer work.
- further IT skills, e.g. programming, database software and statistical packages for analysing (such as MATLAB, SPSS, SAS or R).
- dedicated calculus and/or statistics modules at university level.
UK and EU: £8,000
- completed Supplementary application to MSc Marine Mammal Science (Word)
- two original signed academic references
- academic transcripts and degree certificates
- English language requirements certificate.
For more guidance, see supporting documents and references for postgraduate taught programmes.
If you are looking to start this programme in 2017, you can find information about 2017 entry on the 2017 Marine Mammal Science MSc page. Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in our archive.
- Modules include intense training in quantitative techniques (for example, statistics and GIS) and applied research methods, including a field course to practice survey techniques (at no additional cost).
- Students have the exciting opportunity to conduct field work and training in Antarctica as part of the optional module in polar ecology (requiring additional payment of a substantial expedition fee). See the students' Antarctic expedition blog.
- The core curriculum is complemented by advanced optional modules in topical research areas of biologging, bioacoustics, behaviour and cognition, and population biology.
- Stimulating, small class sizes with a focus on student-led, experiential learning.
The MSc in Marine Mammal Science is a one-year taught programme run by the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU), the only UK institution dedicated exclusively to marine mammal research, and draws on the quantitative and diverse academic expertise within the University's Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI).
The course consists of two taught semesters followed by an independent research project culminating in a 15,000-word dissertation and poster presentation. The research project takes place during the entire year with particular focus during the last three months from June to August.
Teaching takes the form of lectures, seminars, debates, workshops and tutorials. Practicals involve lab work, field work, modelling and computer-based data analysis. Assessment comprises coursework and end-of semester written examinations. Class sizes range from 5 to 20 students, depending on the module.
The modules in this programme have varying methods of delivery and assessment. For more details of each module, including weekly contact hours, teaching methods and assessment, please see the latest module catalogue.
- Biology of Marine Mammals: the zoogeography of marine mammals and the morphological, physiological and behavioural adaptations of this diverse group.
- Conservation and Management of Marine Mammals: human-marine mammal interactions.
- Case Studies in Marine Mammal Biology: the aspects of diving, foraging, and social behaviour of marine mammals.
- Quantitative Methods for Biology: basic numerical and computation skills necessary for visualising and summarising data sets, mainly using R software.
- Statistical Modelling of Biological Data: introduces methods for fitting models to biological data, mainly using R software.
Students choose three optional modules in Semester 2. Optional modules require a minimum number of five students to be offered (see the University’s position on curriculum development).
- Population Biology of Marine Mammals: population dynamics, population genetics, trophic interactions and spatial dynamics.
- Current Issues in Marine Mammal Behaviour: current views and recent advances in the study of marine mammal social behaviour and cognition.
- Current Issues in Biologging: the theory and practice of logging and relaying physical and biological data using animal-attached tags.
- Predator Ecology in Polar Ecosystems: field course located in southern Argentina and Antarctica (requires payment of an expedition fee which covers all costs, including travel and accommodation). See the students' Antarctic expedition blog.
- Advanced Bioacoustics for Marine Mammal Science: theoretical and practical application of techniques used to study marine acoustics.
The modules listed ran in the academic year 2015-2016 and are indicative of this course. There is no guarantee that these modules will run for 2016 entry.
Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.
Research project and dissertation
During the final three months of the course, students complete a research project which will culminate in a 15,000-word dissertation and the presentation of a poster at the MSc student conference. Projects may involve some fieldwork but will be primarily focused on the analysis of existing data. Projects will be supervised by SMRU staff but may be carried out with joint supervision from staff in other institutions.
If students choose not to complete the dissertation requirement for the MSc, there are exit awards available that allow suitably qualified candidates to receive a Postgraduate Diploma. By choosing an exit award, you will finish your degree at the end of the second semester of study and receive a PGDip instead of an MSc.
Conferences and events
The MSc is enhanced by a busy programme of conferences, seminars and visiting speakers from universities in the UK and abroad. This includes regular departmental seminars in the Scottish Oceans Institute, the Centre for Research in Ecological and Environmental Modelling and the St Andrews BioNetwork, a great social and academic forum bringing together PhD and Masters students at different stages of their training.
After the MSc
After successful completion of the taught Masters component in Marine Mammal Science, students can change from the MSc degree route to a Master of Philosophy (MPhil) degree, which requires a further year of dedicated research.
Many of our MSc graduates continue their education by enrolling in PhD programmes at St Andrews or elsewhere. PhD students at the School of Biology at St Andrews have the opportunity to undertake a research degree in their chosen subject area where research interests span the breadth of biological science.
PhD studentships are offered by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
Graduates of the course have gone on to complete PhDs and/or work as research scientists for government agencies, industry, environmental consultancies or marine conservation organisations as well as in academic institutions worldwide.
Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our Admissions policy.
As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online. (PDF, 72 KB).
The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online. (PDF, 84 KB).