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Save our oceans: The UK universities leading the fight

It’s time to get serious about saving the environment. According to scientists, oceans are heating up 40 percent faster on average than previously thought. Having absorbed 93 percent of the heat trapped by greenhouse gases humans pump into the atmosphere, the ocean is saving us from fatal temperatures. But it’s no long-term solution. The increased warmth is causing marine ecosystems to die, sea levels to rise and hurricanes to be more intense.

This is a wake-up call. We have 12 years left to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees, beyond which civilization faces extreme threat. Despite what science deniers and major polluters have to say, this is the situation we face every hour, every minute and every second of every day. Sustainability is the only solution. The world needs to shift drastically from coal, oil and gas to renewable energy by 2050 if we are to limit warming to “well below 2ºC”.

“We need a new kind of politics that starts with a clear global goal: environmental safety for the planet’s people, by fulfilling the Paris climate agreement, protecting biodiversity, and cutting pollution, which kills millions each year,” said Jeffrey D Sachs, special adviser to United Nations (UN) Secretary-General António Guterres, on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This new strategy will depend on scientific and technological experts, the people best trained to steer us towards a future of zero-carbon energy, forestation and clean oceans. These three leading UK universities are working against the clock to produce graduates who can make this possible:

SCHOOL OF OCEAN SCIENCES – BANGOR UNIVERSITY

In this world-class, research-led environment, educators are hard at work training a new generation of socially- and environmentally-conscious scientists. As one of the country’s leading centres for teaching and research, it has an extensive range of science subjects spread across three academic schools: School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering, School of Natural Sciences and School of Ocean Sciences.

Located on the shores of the Menai Strait, North Wales, the School of Ocean Sciences is one of the largest Marine Science departments in Europe. In the most recent UK-wide assessment of teaching quality, the school was rated “excellent” and gained 4 out of 5 in the Research Assessment Exercise.

Bangor University

A range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees are on offer at this multi-disciplinary department, such as BSc Marine Biology BSc, BSc Marine Vertebrate Zoology BSc, BSc Ocean and Geophysics BSc,  MSci Geological Oceanography MSci, MSc Marine Renewable Energy and MSc Physical Oceanography MSc. Situated within a few metres of the sea, this university is the prime spot for aspiring scientists to develop their skills in collecting data from estuaries, on the sea shore and at sea. If there’s an ideal place to study terrestrial and aquatic habitats, with easy access to both the mountains and the ocean, this is undoubtedly it.

Bangor employs an innovative approach to teaching – including plenty of ‘hands-on’ practical work. When all is examined, this is ultimately an institution of “ready access to expertise in all aspects of marine science”.

SCHOOL OF LIFE SCIENCES – UNIVERSITY OF GLASGOW

Expertise in marine science cut across several departments at the University of Glasgow.

Research programmes in biological, physical and social sciences are supported by specialist technical support and facilities, such as the Marine Biological Station at Millport, Cumbrae. Its research in the Earth Systems Research Group and Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre was ranked first in Scotland for world-leading publications and research environment in REF2014.

It’s this cutting-edge research that informs the school’s undergraduate and postgraduate offerings.

Studying for a BSc in Marine and Freshwater Biology at Glasgow means gaining a range of practical skills and experience across multiple field courses, including exotic locations and its own field station at Loch Lomond, the Scottish Centre for Ecology and the Natural Environment. There are also annual and independent expeditions to Sri Lanka, Egypt, Trinidad, Iceland, Tobago, Guyana and remote parts of Scotland, conducted by the Glasgow University Exploration Society.

University of Glasgow

At postgraduate-level, the MSc in Sustainable Water Environments is the course for aspiring water experts. Students learn about river catchment, lake and coastal environments, with a focus on the impact of and adaptation to changing environments. Students with interests in surveying water environments benefit from access to the latest surveying equipment and software including RTK GNSS, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and terrestrial laser scanners.

Other relevant courses offered at Glasgow include BSc Environmental Science and Sustainability, MSc Environment & Sustainable Development, PhD/MPhil/MSc (Research) Environmental Research and PhD Animal Ecology (Environmental Change).

SCHOOL OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES – UNIVERSITY OF PORTSMOUTH

This university knows there’s never been a greater need for experts in marine biology. There’s a high demand for people with the practical, theoretical and professional skills in this field, and the University of Portsmouth is determined to supply it.

This institution has carried out marine biological research for more than 70 years, BSc (Hons) Marine Biology students get to learn about marine organisms, as well as how to protect the oceans and their delicate ecosystems against the growing threats of climate change, habitat destruction and resource exploitation. Accredited by the Royal Society of Biology, Portsmouth graduates can apply for membership after the course which will open doors to a host of benefits, including access to a professional network of biologists and the opportunity to go to conferences.

University of Portsmouth

The MSc Coastal and Marine Resource Management is a blend of fieldwork, lab time and various research methods. It’s a challenging course but perfect for the new generation of ocean enthusiasts seeking the skillset to protect our coasts and oceans. Students also unpack solutions to conservation of coasts and oceans, as well as management of environmental, socio-cultural and institutional resources. Career prospects for Portsmouth graduates are plenty. From government agencies to the environmental consultancies to research institutions, graduates are well positioned for a variety of positions in marine sciences. Saving the oceans and our planet is a top priority at Portsmouth, and this university’s determination is obvious through the multi-channel support offered to students to find the right job through their industrial contacts, careers events and recruitment fairs.

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

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