Master of Research in Marine and Freshwater Ecology and Environmental Management

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  • Objectives
    The course aims to provide students with: * a set of transferable skills appropriate to a prospective researcher: Bibliographic and scholarship skills, Data analysis and statistics; Research skills (planning, experimental design, working as a team member, reporting (including scientific writing skills), presenting, ethics, field and laboratory safety, legislation); ICT skills (word processing, data entry from spreadsheets to automated electronic data capture, data storage and manipulation, statistical packages, graphics, presentation); Experience of the research environment through participation in research group seminars and discussion in a highly research-active and large multidisciplinary institute; Planning research in Applied Ecology and Environmental Biology; Ecological mathematics and modelling. Bioinformatics; Entrepreneurship; Time management and achieving set goals. * an opportunity to study selected aspects of Ecology and Environmental Biology to an advanced level - Students select one module from a series - lectures and tutorials act as foundation material for students in the MRes course and they will also carry out personal study/scholarship in the subject areas and will prepare review essays on each subject. Recommended topic modules for each student will be in relevant subjects that they will probably not have studied in detail at undergraduate level, with emphasis on mathematical ecology and population modelling at an advanced level. * extended research experience in Ecology and Environmental Biology. This forms the core of the MRes degree. Students take two 20-week research projects, with a nominated research supervisor. One or both of these may be linked to research groups within FBLS or University Marine Biological Station Millport (UMBSM); one may be with an external organisation within the subject area (such as SEPA, SNH, RSPB research dept. etc). Students will be strongly encouraged to take one research project placement in the research division of an external (industrial) organisation, to gain valuable industrial experience. Students will be encouraged to take one fieldwork and one laboratory-based research project in order to achieve breadth of research experience. Overall, the MRes curriculum provides training aimed at preparing students for PhD level research within Ecology and Environmental Biology or for a career in industry based on ecological research. Our course particularly emphasises several of the areas specifically identified by NERC for support, including mathematical ecology, population modelling, bioinformatics. Two particular strengths of this course are that the students will be working in generic modules alongside MRes students in other biological disciplines (including Bioinformatics and Biomedical Science), and PhD students (funded by NERC, BBSRC, MRC, Wellcome Trust and others) in all areas of Life and Biomedical Sciences, which will expose them to high calibre students with highly diverse interests and experience, and the students will carry out their studies focused on research in Ecology and Environmental Biology alongside a large number of staff and postgraduate students (many NERC funded) with highly successful and enthusiastic research ethos and achievement. The aim is to use this excellent environment to develop strong research skills, learning abilities and innovative thinking among our MRes students.
  • Academic title
    Master of Research in Marine and Freshwater Ecology and Environmental Management
  • Course description
    Course Description

    This one-year Master of Research in Marine and Freshwater Ecology and Environmental Management provides training in research skills and principles within the general area of marine, coastal and freshwater ecology and environmental management. It is thus suited for those who are or expect to be professionally involved in this area, working for research laboratories, government departments, international agencies, non-governmental organisations or consultancy businesses. It is also ideal for students who hope subsequently to study for a PhD, an MRes qualification increasingly giving candidates an edge in competing for a research studentship. The course also serves as an excellent training and introduction to research in the UK for overseas scientists and students.

    Course and project work is divided between the Faculty of Biomedical and Life Sciences (FBLS) in Glasgow, the Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment (SCENE) at Rowardennan (Loch Lomond), and the University Marine Biological Station at Millport (Isle of Cumbrae). The FBLS includes all the biological departments/divisions in Glasgow University, but the course draws principally on the excellent research facilities and research expertise of the Division of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. The Division includes a large number of staff with expertise in relevant topics including Aquatic Ecosystems, Fish Biology, Seabird Biology, and Biodiversity and Taxonomy.

    UMBSM's Research Vessel AoraThe University Marine Biological Station Millport (UMBSM), which is managed jointly with the University of London, is located on the Isle of Cumbrae, off the Scottish south-west coast between Largs and Arran. Besides being a highly popular location for marine field courses, it has staff specialising in benthic communities, marine biodiversity, fish and shellfish resources and management, marine microbiology coastal zone management and tropical marine biology. The UMBSM has two research vessels and undertakes more scientific diving than any other institution in the UK.

    The course runs for 52 weeks (bar Christmas and Easter breaks), starting in mid September. It consists of a taught component and research projects carried out in staff research laboratories and in the field. The taught component includes topics such as research skills, statistics and computer use. In addition, each student is required to complete one Advanced Option Module, each consisting of about five weeks of a varied mixture of lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work and independent study.

    The main part of the degree, however, is devoted to the actual experience of planning, undertaking and reporting on two 20 week research projects undertaken within different research groups or laboratories. The placements are chosen to reflect each student's interests and the skills they wish to acquire. Normally, students will select one project to be undertaken at Glasgow or at SCENE, and one at the UMBSM. A feature of the course is that students are encouraged to tailor the course to their own specific requirements and interests, within the limitations of the courses and projects offered.

    Students have the possibility of doing one project at a tropical location, such as Sharm El Sheikh in the Egyptian Red Sea, where the local marine biological station has a cooperation agreement with the University of Glasgow and the UMBSM. Students from EU countries (including the UK) also have the possibility of doing one of their projects in another European university under the SOCRATES (ERASMUS) exchange scheme. FBLS is part of a network of about 20 such universities in 10 countries from Finland to Italy.

    The MRes group meets on a regular basis and is able to participate in specialist research discussion groups to allow the students to discuss their own work. This is considered to be a vital part of the training of postgraduate students. Care is taken to ensure that overseas students have full access to training in the use of written and spoken English.

    Course Components

    Assessment by continuous assessment of practical class work. Teaching staff names are given beside each element title. The elements within this module are: Basic statistical methods, Advanced statistical methods. The teaching of these elements will be in common with postgraduate students taking higher degrees by research and with MRes students from existing and other new MRes courses within FBLS.

    Assessment by continuous assessment of practical class work, tutorial and seminar performance. The elements in this module are selected from: Planning, Experimental design, Scientific writing, Presentation, Ethics and legislation, Field and laboratory safety, Bibliographic skills, The research environment, Ecological modelling, Molecular and isotopic techniques, Monitoring strategies, Bioinformatics, Entrepreneurship, Time management. The teaching of these elements will be in common with MRes students from existing and other new MRes courses within FBLS, and some will be shared with postgraduate students in FBLS registered for a higher degree by research.

    Assessment of performance will be available to the students as self-test exercises. Performance will not be directly assessed towards the MRes final assessment, but will be assessed in the extent to which it influences student performance in preparing the reports on their two research projects. Teaching by staff of the University of Glasgow Computer Service. 3.1 www and email, 3.2 WORD, 3.3 EXCEL, 3.4 Electronic data capture, 3.5 Data storage and manipulation, 3.6 SPSS and GLIM, 3.7 Powerpoint. Students can choose those courses they consider to be most useful to their training needs and aspirations.

    The teaching of these elements will be in common with MRes students from existing and other new MRes courses within FBLS, with postgraduate students registered for a higher degree by research throughout the university.

    Students select two options from a list which may include all or most of the following topics: Marine ecosystems, Marine microbiology, DNA, Animal design, Plant ecology, Population biology modelling, Freshwater ecology, Behavioural ecology, Evolution: pattern and process, Applying ecological principles, Plant biotechnology. However, for this MRes degree we very strongly recommend that students select two options from the following four: 'Evolution: pattern and process', 'Animal Design', 'Population biology modelling', and 'Behavioural Ecology'. All options follow a standard format of 30 hours of tutorials/ lectures/ seminars, 10-30 hours of field or laboratory practical work and ca.100 hours of self-directed learning. Student performance will be assessed by marking of review essays written by each student on an aspect of each of the two selected advanced study options. The options will be shared, where appropriate, among different MRes courses run within IBLS. Teaching format will depend to an extent on student numbers opting for particular options.

    Compulsory component; students will carry out two research projects, each under supervision of a named member of staff within FBLS or UMBSM, or under supervision of an appropriate person in industry or public service together with a named member of staff within FBLS or UMBSM as co-supervisor. Teaching will be 100% by supervision of research by the student, with specific training in techniques as required for particular projects. In general, students will work within research groups, alongside postgraduate research students and research assistants/research fellows. Allocation of projects to students coordinated by Prof. Bob Furness.
    Infrastructural Support

    The Faculty of Biomedical & Life Sciences (FBLS) consists of 4 research divisions, including the Division of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology (DEEB) which contains most, but not all, of the staff with research in areas within the NERC remit within biology. FBLS researchers were graded 5 and 5* in the 2001 RAE and teaching in FBLS was classed as "excellent". FBLS has 120 full-time academic staff, over 200 contract researchers and over 200 postgraduate students. It is well supported by technicians. The income from the Scottish Higher Education Funding Council is £17M p.a., with a further £12M p.a. from research earnings. Training of postgraduate students is administered by the Graduate School. Several computer clusters are provided, dedicated for the use of postgraduate students. The university library is one of the largest university libraries in the UK. We are also fortunate in having excellent departments of Computer Science and of Mathematics and Statistics, which can provide specialist training for our postgraduate students. The Graham Kerr Building in which the course is based is also home to a newly built Bioinformatics Laboratory, to a large and modern Herbarium, and to the Hunterian Zoology Museum and collections.

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