Concerns over environmental issues have skyrocketed in recent years, which means there’s never been a better time to study topics relating to the Earth at the tertiary level. Environmental concerns are high on the political agenda; awareness serves as a catalyst for environmental change, paving the way for the implementation of more sustainable practices and policies.
Individuals who are passionate about the environment and sustainability-related issues and are looking to carve themselves a rewarding career that helps them make positive contributions to the world, may want to pursue an ocean sciences or marine sciences degree.
Pursuing an ocean science degree entails learning about the ocean and seas in detail, and how the resources they provide can be used in a responsible and environmentally-sustainable way. Water covers a whopping 71 percent of the Earth’s surface; much of it is still largely unexplored, despite playing a crucial role to humankind. A qualification in ocean sciences can lead to many fulfilling areas of work, some of which directly or indirectly impact communities.
For instance, scientists have been uncovering how climate change is accelerating the acidity in our oceans, as well as its impact on marine life and ecosystems. Such findings have wide implications, including food security, and how it affects communities around the world from an economic or even political perspective. Professionals in the field can find themselves working with the government and/or government agencies, private organisations, non-profits and educational institutions.
If your interest is piqued, here are four UK universities worth considering if you’re eager to pursue an ocean science degree:
Climate change is a global issue that’s causing undue damage to the environment, including marine life. As a problem that affects the health and food security of every living being, this makes it an issue that transcends geographical borders.
Climate activists such as Greta Thunberg have galvanised the youth voice across the globe, urging people to strike for more action over global warming; simultaneously, her efforts have contributed to a growing interest in preserving the environment, drawing attention to problems such as the rising water temperatures which are causing coral bleaching (when corals lose the highly productive algae from their tissues), to plastic pollution in the ocean that’s not only threatening marine wildlife, but also the food chain.
This makes it an opportune time for students to pursue ocean or marine science study. Bangor’s School of Ocean Sciences in Wales is one of the largest university Marine Science departments in Europe. Ocean science covers a vast area of study, and the university has well-resourced groups in the principal disciplines of biology, chemistry, geology and physics. Emphasis on multidisciplinary research effectively ensures ready access to expertise in all aspects of marine science, as there is often a great deal of overlap between the disciplines.
Bangor offers a wide range of undergraduate programmes related to the field, including BSc (Hons) Ocean Science, BSc (Hons) Applied Marine Biology and BSc (Hons) Geological Oceanography. Students of the ocean science programme will gain the knowledge and skills needed to embark on a scientific career applied to the sea. Bangor also grants students the opportunity to pursue both a Master’s and PhD degree.
Plymouth is a public university in England. Its School of Biological and Marine Science, which aims to equip students with the skills needed to make a positive impact on the environments’ sustainability and society, offers three teaching areas, namely biological sciences, marine biology and marine science.
The school boasts of over 70 academics, 40 technical staff and over 1,200 students. It has six world class research studies from internationally renowned researchers, as well as a £4.65 million Marine Station – an exceptional teaching and research facility that serves as the base for marine expeditionary work. Classrooms extend into the natural environment, ensuring students get a taste of theory and practical experience.
Undergraduate programmes include BSc (Hons) Marine Biology, BSc (Hons) Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology, BSc (Hons) Marine Biology and Oceanography and BSc (Hons) Ocean Science and Marine Conservation. It also promotes a range of field work activities – both locally and internationally – for students, depending on their area of study.
For instance, marine biology students can enjoy trips abroad to Portugal, South Africa, Sweden and France. Marine science students stand to go to South Africa, the Isles of Scilly and the Bahamas. This ensures students enjoy extensive local field practice and hands-on experience. Upon successful completion, students can also continue to progress onto Master’s and PhD programmes at the same institution in their area of interest.
Outstanding facilities. Global partnerships. Exceptional staff. These are some of the hallmarks of Newcastle, a public university in England.
Newcastle’s undergraduate marine sciences programme serves as a vital subject in protecting the planet. Prospective students can expect to learn about marine biology and ecology, sustainable use of the seas, coastal management, the conservation of marine animals, oceanography and marine zoology as well as marine management. The university conducts cutting-edge research of global importance, addressing pressing issues such as climate change, biodiversity and habitat loss, ocean acidification and marine species invasion.
Becoming a student of the school entails learning from a stellar faculty, come of which include research active and internationally recognised scientists. Among them is Dr Alan Jamieson, who has discovered many of the deepest-living ocean species and identified threats to them.
Degrees here are accredited by the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST), which means the programmes meet the knowledge, understanding and skills required for professional registration.
The university also boasts of strong employability; 96 percent of its 2016 UK-domiciled graduates progressed to employment or further study within six months of graduating. Meanwhile, more than three quarters (85.5 percent) of graduates who entered employment achieved a professional or managerial position.
This English university is a member of the Russell Group of leading research-intensive universities. Becoming a student at Exeter means studying in a diverse student community, with 22,085 students from more than 130 countries.
The College of Life and Environmental Sciences’ areas of expertise includes biosciences. Students in this field will be taught by world-leading experts in subjects at the frontiers of systems biology, conservation and ecology, whole organism biology and microbiology, molecular and cellular biology, computational biology and biological chemistry.
Prospective students can study BSc Marine Biology, which focuses on understanding the biology of marine organisms and their ecosystems. Special emphasis is placed on whole animal biology, biodiversity, ecology and behaviour. The programme is delivered by internationally recognised, research active staff who work at the cutting-edge of applied and pure research on whole-organism biology, with particular focus on large marine vertebrates, including fish (bony fish and sharks), marine turtles, seabirds and cetaceans.
Students enrolled in the programme will be armed with the skills, concepts and experience to understand all aspects of marine ecosystems and the pressures they face, ranging from overexploitation to climate change. An interdisciplinary approach to the study of marine ecosystems allows students to learn about a wide range of theoretical and practical techniques. This interface between research and learning provides critical skills for career opportunities across a wide range of scientific disciplines.
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International