Marine Mammal Science (MSc) 2019 entry

The MSc in Marine Mammal Science prepares students for professional careers in the research and conservation of marine mammals. It is the only research-focused MSc degree in this popular subject worldwide, and is taught by leading experts at the Sea Mammal Research Unit and the Scottish Oceans Institute.

The application deadline for this programme is 5 April 2019. It was previously incorrectly published as 12 August 2019.
Apply now

Course type

Postgraduate; leading to a Master of Science (MSc)

Course dates

  • Start date: 9 September 2019
  • End date: 30 September 2020

If you started this programme in 2018, you can find information about 2018 entry on the 2018 Marine Mammal Science page. Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

Course duration

One year full time

Entry requirements

A 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 or statistics modules at university level.

The qualifications listed are indicative minimum requirements for entry. Some academic Schools will ask applicants to achieve significantly higher marks than the minimum. Obtaining the listed entry requirements will not guarantee you a place, as the University considers all aspects of every application including, where applicable, the writing sample, personal statement, and supporting documents.

Apply now

Tuition fees

UK and EU: £9,000
Overseas: £21,990

Application deadline

5 April 2019. Applicants should apply as early as possible to be eligible for certain scholarships and for international visa purposes.

Application requirements

For more guidance, see supporting documents and references for postgraduate taught programmes. However, please note that Marine Mammal Science applicants should not submit a cover letter, CV or writing sample with their applications.

Course information

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)

Highlights

  • Although focused on marine mammals this programme covers advanced topics in quantitative marine ecology and animal behaviour.
  • Modules include intense training in quantitative techniques (for example, statistical modelling 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 fieldwork 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.

Teaching format

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. 

The modular curriculum is designed to be coherent, providing integrated training for future careers in scientific research, management or conservation. Teaching takes the form of lectures, seminars, debates, workshops and tutorials. Practicals involve lab work, field work, modelling and computer-based data analysis. Class sizes range from 5 to 30 students, depending on the module. There is a strong focus on small-group teaching so that students are individually supported and can ask for help when it is needed.

Further particulars regarding curriculum development.

Modules

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 which is for the 2018–2019 academic year; some elements may be subject to change for 2019 entry.

  • Conservation and Management of Marine Mammals: explores human-marine mammal interactions.
  • Principles of Marine Mammal Biology: introduces the zoogeography of marine mammals and the morphological, physiological and behavioural adaptations that have enabled this diverse group to successfully colonise all of the world's oceans and some freshwater systems
  • Mathematical and statistical modelling for Biologists: applies mathematical ideas to questions in biology, 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).

  • Advanced Bioacoustics for Marine Mammal Science: theoretical and practical application of techniques used to study marine acoustics.
  • Current Issues in Biologging: presents an introduction to the theory and practice of logging and relaying physical and biological data using animal-attached tags.
  • Current Issues in Marine Mammal Behaviour: current views and recent advances in the study of marine mammal social behaviour and cognition.
  • Estimating Animal Abundance: introduces the main types of survey methods for wildlife populations; taught by experts from CREEM and the School of Mathematics and Statistics.
  • Population Biology of Marine Mammals: population dynamics, population genetics, trophic interactions and spatial dynamics.
  • 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.

Throughout the academic year, 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. Students can choose from a range of projects suggested by supervisors and also take an active role in designing their own project plan. 

Find out more about Marine Mammal research projects at St Andrews.

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.


The modules listed here are indicative, and there is no guarantee they will run for 2019 entry. Take a look at the most up-to-date modules in the module catalogue.

Visit St Andrews

If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us at an open day to explore the town, find out about our courses and meet current students.

Postgraduates

Upcoming visiting days:

  • Wednesday 14 November 2018
  • Wednesday 13 March 2019

Sign up

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.

Students on the course are encouraged to attend (and present a poster or talk at) the annual student conference of the Society for Marine Mammalogy in the UK which takes place in varying locations every year. See the UK and Ireland Regional Student Chapter website for more details.

Be sure to check out the Marine Mammal Science blog for programme news and highlights as well as the biology research blog for up-to-date information and events.

Funding

Recent Graduate Discount
The University of St Andrews offers a 10% discount in postgraduate tuition fees to students who are eligible to graduate or who have graduated from St Andrews within the last three academic years and are starting a postgraduate programme with the University of St Andrews.

Find out more about postgraduate scholarships. 

After the MSc

Research degrees

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).

PhD in Biology

Careers

Graduates of the course have gone on to complete PhDs or work as research scientists for government agencies, industry, environmental consultancies or marine conservation organisations as well as in academic institutions worldwide.

Graduates also become part of a large and growing alumni network, with many students continuing on to become research scientists, either at St Andrews or as part of international collaborations. SMRU has held noteworthy alumni gatherings at professional conferences, and graduates stay in touch with each other using a Master course specific Facebook group.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students on a taught postgraduate course and offers a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.

Contact information

General inquiries
Biology postgraduate taught secretaries
Katrina Gatherum and Louise Docherty
Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI) 
University of St Andrews
St Andrews
KY16 8LB

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 3441
Email: pgtaughtbiology@st-andrews.ac.uk

Course organiser
Dr Luke Rendell
Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 3499
Email: ler4@st-andrews.ac.uk

Biology website

SMRU website

Policies

Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our Admissions policy.

Curriculum development

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).

Tuition fees

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).