Acquired competencies and learning outcomes

MER MSc has been designed as a Research Masters, with students expected to continue on into a PhD programme. However, particular attention is paid to providing a sufficiently applied background, such that students can apply directly for employment, having completed the MSc.

In view of the needs analysis and future career prospects (both academic and non-academic), the learning outcomes prepare students to undertake integrated, multidisciplinary, research into the marine environment and marine resources, together with their interactions (ocean health, biodiversity conservation, resources exploitation, pollution control and coastal zone management). MER MSc graduates are/will be able to integrate into multidisciplinary teams, contributing expertise in a given marine discipline or at the overlap of distinct disciplines within the field. Students must be able to communicate with marine scientists and technologies of diverse expertise, facilitate communication between co-workers (e.g. between a coastal engineer and a marine biologist) and promote synergies. They must be able to accomplish transverse research (from nm/Ám scale, to km phenomena/data; from sec/min scale to decades/centuries). The general learning outcomes are summarised below. More details on specific competences and skills, corresponding to the diverse components of the coursework and research, are given in the Module Description Book.


Knowledge and understanding

Having completed successfully the MER EMMC programme, the student will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a wide range of topics (see below).

  • Ocean processes within all four main disciplines of oceanography (e.g. biological, chemical, geological and physical), at an advanced level.
  • The processes that shape the marine world at different temporal and spatial scales.
  • The terminology, nomenclature and classification systems used in marine environmental sciences.
  • Theory, practice, acquisition, analysis and interpretation of data, across a range of marine environmental applications.
  • The value and need for multi-disciplinary approaches in advancing knowledge.
  • The application of oceanographic knowledge to contribute to the sustainable management of the environment and the resources.
  • A wide selection of topics presently at the frontiers of research, together with many of the specialised techniques used to investigate them.

Subject specific skills

Having completed successfully the MER EMMC programme, the student will be able to put into practice the following subject specific skills (see below).

  • Understanding scientific processes.
  • Recognise and use of theories, paradigms, concepts and principles, to design and undertake primary research within the context of the marine environment and resources.
  • Critically analyse, synthesise, interpret and summarise complex scientific information.
  • Collect, record, and analyse marine environmental data (field/lab), using state-of-the-art techniques and equipment.
  • Read, use and reference the marine environmental work of others, in an appropriate manner.

General and transferable skills

Having completed successfully the MER EMMC programme, the student will possess various general and transferable skills (see below).

  • Apply and further develop computing, statistical and mathematical skills.
  • Appreciate statistical issues of sample selection, accuracy, precision and uncertainty during collection, recording and analysis of data in the field and in the laboratory.
  • Prepare, process and present data, using appropriate qualitative and quantitative techniques and computer software packages, and solve numerical problems using computer and non-computer-based techniques.
  • Develop, where appropriate, advanced skills in computer programming.
  • Collect and integrate several lines of evidence, to formulate and test hypotheses.
  • Apply knowledge and understanding, to address familiar and unfamiliar problems.
  • Design, implement and report on scientific research projects, including a major research project at the forefront of marine environmental knowledge.
  • Undertake field and laboratory investigations in a responsible and safe manner, paying due attention to risk assessment, rights of access, relevant health and safety regulations and sensitivity to the impact of investigations on the environment and stakeholders.
  • Critically use the Internet as a mean of communication and data dissemination, and as a source of information.
  • Identify individual and collective goals, take responsibilities and perform in an appropriate manner.
  • Recognise and respect the views of other team members.
  • Evaluate performance as an individual and as a team member.
  • Understand the roles of individuals in teams and how individuals learn in team groups.
  • Continue to develop the skills necessary for self-managed and life-long learning (such as working independently and within groups, time management and organisation).
  • Identify and work towards targets for personal, academic and career development.
  • Develop an adaptable and flexible approach to study and work.

Successful completion of this degree will prepare the student for a leadership role in various marine sectors, such as: conservation and environmental management; fisheries; non-governmental organisations; and all levels of government, from local to global. This pattern can be derived by comparing the professional profiles depicted in the needs analysis, with the competences and skills summarized above.