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Marine Geography (MESci)

Entry year


The four year MESci course at Cardiff involves hypothesis testing, critical analysis and problem solving whilst learning about the process and outcomes of research.

Book an Open Day

This course is available in Clearing and Adjustment for 2019 entry. Call us on +44 (0)33 3241 2800 to discuss your opportunities or view all of our vacancies.

Course overview

Cardiff is the birthplace of the discipline of marine geography in the UK. This degree programme has been running since 1976 and is an extremely successful training route for employment in the marine and coastal sector or for future academic study. The degree is an exciting blend of the physical and human geography of deep sea marine and coastal environments.

A major component of this programme is hands-on fieldwork including coastal and offshore mapping of the marine environment to understand its physical and biological characteristics. This work involves using some of the most advanced and exciting technology available.

The MESci builds upon the equivalent BSc course by means of a fourth year that provides specialist training in hypothesis testing, critical analysis and problem solving, whilst learning about the process and outcomes of research. You will undertake a specialist research project in a subject area of your choice, working with a member of staff in their area of expertise, and undertake research in the field during the MESci field course.  It is designed for highly qualified candidates who might aim to pursue a research career in academia, government or industry.

Situated in an estuary with a large tidal range and with access to a wide variety of coastal environments, Cardiff is an excellent base for both traditional fieldwork and innovative sea-time training. We operate our own research vessel, the RV Guiding Light, a 12-metre boat used by all undergraduates as part of its research-led teaching programme.

Aside from our current programme of local fieldwork, including the Severn Estuary and other locations along the South Wales coast, our fieldwork currently includes overseas field courses to Jersey, Malta and Spain, where aspects of physical geography (such as biodiversity, water quality and seabed mapping) are combined with applied use within human geography (such as legislation, management and science into policy).

For students interested in professional research careers in marine geography, the four year MESci provides a strong basis for investigation and research in this subject.

Distinctive features

This programme involves a common first semester allowing you to experience aspects of Earth Sciences and geography before finally deciding upon which honours degree course you wish to pursue.

We currently offer two overseas fieldtrips on each programme with travel and accommodation costs covered by your tuition fees.

You will be able to take part in residential field courses abroad in year two and the final year is taught by staff who are involved in national and international research projects and you can be directly involved in the research pathway, data collection, monitoring and mapping, and report writing.

Currently undergraduates also have the opportunity to apply for research-led summer placements in ecosystem research and port environmental management.

In year four you will complete a master's research dissertation, working on a topic of your choice, which provides a range of skills beyond that provided by the BSc, and can widen your career opportunities.

Accreditations

UCAS code1D79
Next intakeSeptember 2019
Duration4 years
ModeFull time
Typical places availableThe School typically has approx 150 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School typically receives approx 740 applications.

Entry requirements

ABB, including two sciences (from Chemistry, Physics, Biology,Geography, Geology, Mathematics, Applied Science, Environmental Studies, Archaeology, Computing, ICT, Physical Education (PE), Psychology, and Sports Science) and, where applicable, a pass in the practical element of the science A level. Please note, General Studies will not be accepted.  

Extended Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard A level offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.

The Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate will be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

DDD - DDM in Applied Science, Sports & Exercise Science, Health Science, Animal Science, or ICT.

32 points, including two sciences at HL from Chemistry, Physics, Biology, Geography, Geology, Mathematics, Applied Science, Environmental Studies, Archaeology, Computing, ICT, Psychology, Physical Education (PE), and Sports Science

Alternative qualifications may be accepted. For further information on entry requirements, see the School of Earth & Ocean Sciences admissions criteria pages.

IELTS (academic)

At least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each sub-score.

TOEFL iBT

At least 90 with minimum scores of 17 for writing, 17 for listening, 18 for reading and 20 for speaking.

PTE Academic

62 with a minimum of 51 in all communicative skills.

Trinity ISE II/III

II: at least two Distinctions and two Merits.
III: at least a Pass in all components.

Other accepted qualifications

Please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our other accepted language qualifications.

You will require GCSE Maths at grade B or grade 6 and GCSE English Language at grade C or grade 4. 

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2019/20)

Tuition feeDeposit
£9,000None

Visit our tuition fee pages for the latest information.

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Students from outside the EU (2019/20)

Tuition feeDeposit
£20,950None

Visit our tuition fee pages for the latest information.

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Additional costs

Fieldwork is free although a small contribution may be needed if food is provided.

Course specific equipment

Specialist equipment for working in the field and any other equipment appropriate for your degree will be provided by the School.

Accommodation

We have a range of residences to suit your needs and budget. Find out more on our accommodation pages.

Course structure

This is a full-time four-year programme which follows the BSc route with the equivalent title for the first three years, but with additional small-group teaching on the methodology and philosophy of research. In year four you will undertake a major research project as well as taking specialised optional modules. 

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2019/20 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2019.

Year one

The degree structure is very flexible. All of our Earth and ocean science degree programmes share a common first semester. This is designed to give you a sound foundation in earth sciences and geography upon which to build. In total you will earn 120 credits for the year, through a mixture of 10-credit and 20-credit modules.

At the end of your first semester you will decide whether to continue with your original degree choice or choose another of our Earth science degrees.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Planet EarthEA120110 credits
Earth Surface ProcessesEA120220 credits
Dangerous EarthEA120310 credits
Geographical Information SystemsEA120410 credits
Marine Geography Field SkillsEA120720 credits
Chemistry of the EnvironmentEA121210 credits
Biological EnvironmentsEA121310 credits
Geographical Data AnalysisEA121410 credits
Science and Policy for GeographersEA121510 credits
Exploring the OceansEA121710 credits

Year two

In year two the modules you will take are chosen to provide a wide knowledge base and transferable skills base to make you as employable as possible in a competitive job market. In total you will earn 120 credits for the year, through a mixture of 10-credit and 20-credit modules.

Module titleModule codeCredits
BiogeochemistryEA221410 credits
Environmental PollutionEA221510 credits
Ocean Atmosphere SystemEA221620 credits
Marine EcosystemsEA221710 credits
Coastal Processes and GeomorphologyEA221810 credits
Coastal HydrographyEA222020 credits
Marine and Coastal Resource DevelopmentEA222110 credits
Marine Field and Data Skills and Research TutorialEA222530 credits

Year three

In your third year you choose from a range of modules to best tailor the degree to align with your future career choice, whether that be more marine or coastal or more human or physical geography.

You can also choose specialist third-year modules, although these will vary from year to year and there are sometimes restrictions in availability due to lack of demand, oversubscription, timetable clashes or the need for you to have taken certain other modules first.

The MESci research tutorial on-line module demonstrates how research is initiated, funded and executed.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Marine Geography Field CourseEA321020 credits
Research SkillsEA323710 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Marine Geography DissertationEA310530 credits
Environmental Management, Science and PolicyEA311010 credits
Integrated Coastal ManagementEA311410 credits
Water ResourcesEA311710 credits
GeomicrobiologyEA313210 credits
Environmental LawEA313410 credits
Coral Reef SystemsEA314510 credits
GlaciologyEA314610 credits
PaleoclimateEA314710 credits
Marine Geography Placement ProjectEA314930 credits
Marine MicrofossilsEA322710 credits
Marine Conservation ScienceEA323310 credits
Marine GeomaticsEA323520 credits

Year four

You will complete a master's research dissertation in any marine related topic that can be supervised in the School. You will work one-to-one with a research supervisor and may interact with a research group.

Since the School is large and of international research standard, this means you have a wide choice of dissertation topic. Many students develop their own topics and contact a researcher to see if they can supervise it. Alternatively a list of projects is published each year for you to choose from.

In consultation with staff, you may seek to publish the principal results of your research project in the scientific literature.

In addition the Research Project module, you will take the year four field course, where you design and carry out a field study, learn how computer modelling can be used in Earth sciences, and participate in a student-led module on the science and impacts of climate change.

Module titleModule codeCredits
MESci Research ProjectEA420170 credits
MESci FieldcourseEA420220 credits
Numerical Modelling in Earth and Ocean SciencesEA420310 credits
Climate Change: from science to policyEA420520 credits
The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

The School of Earth and Ocean Sciences has an excellent tradition of teaching, delivered by lecturers who are experts in their field. In addition the School is able to maintain a friendly and informal approach brought about by staff-student interactions during fieldwork.

The modular course structure enables the School to offer an exciting and relevant spectrum of vocational degree courses. These cover a wide range of modern geosciences from traditional geology to the more industry-focused exploration and resource geology through to the equally applied environmental geoscience and water-borne marine geography.

The first semester is common to all degree schemes and you then confirm your chosen course in January of your first year. This offers you a chance to sample university teaching styles before committing to a particular degree or pathway.

Teaching in the School is conducted by a variety of methods:

  • formal lectures
  • laboratory practicals
  • IT practicals
  • fieldwork – on land and for Marine Geography students on the sea in the School’s own research vessel.

Formal lectures and practical classes have an emphasis on students taking ownership of their own learning programme and ‘learning how to learn’.

Fieldwork is a vital format for understanding the Earth sciences and all students go on at least one residential field trip each academic year as well as numerous specialist day trips.

Year 1

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

34%

Guided independent study

67%

Placements

0%

Year 2

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

30%

Guided independent study

70%

Placements

0%

Year 3

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

42%

Guided independent study

58%

Placements

0%

Year 4

Scheduled learning and teaching activities

34%

Guided independent study

66%

Placements

0%

How will I be supported?

All students are assigned a personal tutor who will hold timetabled tutorials: fortnightly in year one and monthly during other years. Your tutor will be a specialist in your degree course and will advise you on both academic and pastoral matters.

You will have a nominated supervisor for your major final year project.

You will have access through the Learning Central website to relevant multimedia material, presentations, lecture handouts, bibliographies, further links, electronic exercises and discussion circles. Opportunities for you to reflect on your abilities and performance are available through the Learning Central ‘Personal Development Planning’ module.

Where facilities exist your lectures will be videoed for you to further study in your own time.

The University offers a range of services including the Careers Service, the Counselling Service, the Disability and Dyslexia Service, the Student Support Service, and excellent libraries and resource centres.

Feedback

You will receive written feedback for written coursework assignments and oral feedback for assessed presentations.

How will I be assessed?

Modules will be assessed to test knowledge and understanding through:

  • practical assignments
  • essay assignments
  • fieldwork
  • oral presentations
  • dissertation
  • formal examinations

NOTE: The University welcomes applications from students with disabilities and we may be able to offer alternative assessment methods.

Assessment methods (2017/18 data)

Year 1

Written exams

53%

Practical exams

6%

Coursework

41%

Year 2

Written exams

37%

Practical exams

5%

Coursework

59%

Year 3

Written exams

33%

Practical exams

3%

Coursework

63%

Year 4

Written exams

12%

Practical exams

8%

Coursework

80%

What skills will I practise and develop?

The Learning Outcomes for this Programme describe what you will be able to do as a result of your study at Cardiff University. They will help you to understand what is expected of you. 

The Learning Outcomes for this Programme can be found below:

Knowledge & Understanding:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • A rigorous understanding of the scientific process, including the design and testing of hypotheses, and the formulation of new concepts
  • A comprehensive understanding of the laboratory, field, and/or computational methodologies relevant to marine geography
  • A systematic knowledge of the processes and interrelationships involved in ocean, atmosphere, marine physical geographical and environmental systems
  • A systematic knowledge of interactions between the human and Earth systems.
  • An understanding of resources, associated risks and impacts, and the governance and management of marine and coastal environments.

Intellectual Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • The ability to critically analyse the scientific literature, and synthesise current knowledge and understanding of geographical topics
  • The ability to design appropriate methodology to tackle a research question, including an appreciation of the limitations, logistics and safety aspects of gathering data in the marine environment
  • The ability to critically analyse and interpret data associated with marine and coastal environments, and to use the data to support the development of new concepts
  • The ability to solve complex scientific problems both creatively and independently
  • The ability to use knowledge and scientific, evidence-based methods in data assessment and problem solving

Professional Practical Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • The ability to independently plan complex projects
  • The ability to rigorously and effectively communicate scientific results in both oral and written formats
  • Practical skills in information technology, geographical information systems, fieldwork, data and project management
  • A systematic knowledge of the means of acquisition, handling and presentation of information including remote sensed data and the use of Geographical Information Systems
  • The ability to execute field and offshore surveys

Transferable/Key Skills:

On successful completion of the Programme you will be able to demonstrate:

  • Collection, evaluation, synthesis and interpretation of qualitative and quantitative data
  • The ability to work effectively in a team and as an individual
  • Effective time management and organisational skills
  • Independent learning and research skills through your major research project and other modules
  • A commitment to lifelong learning through engaging in the process of personal development planning and ownership of your own learning
  • Personal and professional attributes consistent with a research career in academia, industry or government.

Careers

Career prospects

Based on responses from the 2016-17 Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey 90% of Earth and ocean science graduates were in employment or engaged in further study within six months of graduation, with others taking time out to travel.

Graduates are typically employed in marine conservation, hydrographic surveying, marine environmental consultancy, waste management, marine research, the water industry, and oceanographic surveying.

Employers include local government plus companies and organisations such as the Environment Agency, Titan Environmental Surveys and Osiris Projects.

Jobs

  • Hydrographic Surveyor
  • Marine Conservation Officer
  • Marine Environmental Consultant
  • Oceanographic Surveyor
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