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Marine Geography (BSc)

Entry year


The ocean is arguably the last major frontier on Earth for exploration and discovery, with marine geographers instrumental in solving physical, hydrographical and managerial issues relating to the ocean and its coastlines.

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Course overview

The world’s oceans and coasts are full of amazing habitats and wildlife and they sustain many important and growing industries including shipping, tourism and renewable energy. As a marine geographer you will have the skills and knowledge needed to keep our oceans healthy and support traditional and emerging marine industries to be sustainable. 

On the only Marine Geography degree in the UK, you will study a unique mix of physical and environmental geography. You will explore the science behind the relationship between society and the sea and investigate global challenges like ocean acidification and rising sea levels.

We make the most of our location and take regular trips to the Bristol Channel, the Glamorgan Heritage Coast and the Gower. There will also be opportunities to do overseas trips, in the past we’ve been to Malta, Jersey and Greece. You will get involved in activities like offshore surveying, water quality monitoring, ecological mapping and beach profiling.

Students on this course are usually concerned about the health of the oceans and want to make a positive difference. Graduates leave with the skills to solve a range of complex marine environmental problems and with experience of hands-on fieldwork and cutting-edge research with world-leading scientists.

 

Distinctive features

Professional accreditation - our Marine Geography degree is accredited by international bodies IMAREST and RICS. These accreditations keep us well connected to industry, so students graduate with employable skills and up-to-date, industry-specific knowledge. You will also get the opportunity to work towards ‘chartered’ status.

Flexible degree schemes - all of the School’s degrees have a common first semester that introduces you to geosciences and geography. You can then decide whether to stay with your chosen degree or switch to another in the same School.

Hands-on fieldwork in the UK and overseas - you will get plenty of opportunities to develop your field and boat work skills with regular day trips and residential trips along the Welsh coast and overseas. South Wales has a rich and diverse marine environment including estuaries with large tidal ranges, islands thriving with wildlife, offshore renewable energy and the largest oil port in the UK in Milford Haven.

World-leading experts and facilities – you will be taught by world-leading scientists and have access to: the latest technologies in offshore surveying and mapping equipment, chemical laboratories, laboratories with GIS (Geographic Information System) and a 12-metre research boat, the RV Guiding Light.

Industry connections - we have excellent links with our alumni working across the world and with local organisations like Natural Resources Wales and the Severn Estuary Partnership. These connections help students to find relevant and highly topical research projects and will often offer practical help, advice and summer placement opportunities.

UCAS codeF845
Next intakeSeptember 2020
Duration3 years
ModeFull time

South Wales has a rich and diverse marine environment including estuaries with large tidal ranges, islands thriving with wildlife, offshore renewable energy and the largest oil port in the UK in Milford Haven.

Entry requirements

Grades ABB - BBB, including one science or grades BBB-BBC with two science subjects. Science subjects include Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Geology, Biology, Geography, Computer Science, Environmental Science. 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.

DDM - DMM in one of the following subjects: Applied Science, Sports and Exercise Science, Health Science, Animal Science or ICT.

34-32 points or 665 in Higher Level subjects, including one science at Higher Level. Alternatively 32-30 or 655 in Higher Level subjects with two science subjects. Science subjects include Chemistry, Physics, Maths, Geology, Biology, Geography, Computer Science, Environmental Science  

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

GCSE

Grade C or grade 4 in GCSE English Language.

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.

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. 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. You will require GCSE Maths at grade B or grade 6 and GCSE English Language at grade C or grade 4 or an accepted English Language equivalent www.cardiff.ac.uk/study/international/english-language-requirements/undergraduate.  

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2020/21)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Students from outside the EU (2020/21)

Please see our fee amounts page for the latest information.

Additional costs

The fieldwork costs for your core modules are included but you will need to contribute towards food if it is provided during the trip. You will need to pay for any optional fieldwork modules. The cost of these trips will be capped at an amount determined by the school. Students facing financial hardship may be eligible to apply to the Cardiff Financial Assistance Programme for help with these costs.

 

 

Course specific equipment

You will need suitable clothing including warm weather, wind and storm-proof jackets and walking boots. The school will provide all health and safety equipment as well as specialised field equipment.

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 three-year full-time degree. In your first year you will study core modules and get a strong foundation in physical geography. In year two and three there are core and optional modules so you have some flexibility to choose to study the areas that you’re interested in.  

 

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2020/21 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2020.

Year one

In your first year, you will study core modules designed to give you a strong foundation in marine geography. Topics include oceans, climate, earth processes and global environments.  You will develop essential geographical skills like map and chart work, GIS and basic geographical data analysis.

We will go on a residential field course to a coastal national park within Wales (either Pembrokeshire or Snowdonia) to learn key field skills including mapping and surveying.

All of the degrees in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences study the same first semester. After semester one you can decide whether you want to continue with your original choice or switch to one of the other degrees (e.g. Environment or Physical Geography).

You earn 120 credits for the year with each core module worth 20 credits.

Year two

In your second year, you will build on the knowledge from year one and start exploring more advanced concepts like marine ecology, coastal processes and the ocean-atmosphere system. You will gain skills and experience in sampling, data collection and analysis ready for your dissertation in year three.

We will go on an overseas residential field course to a coastal location in Europe where you will develop your skills in environmental monitoring and surveying. In the past we’ve been to the Jersey and Malta.

In the summer between year two and three, you will do five weeks of independent research to prepare for your dissertation in year three. In the past students have looked at issues like the disturbance of bottlenose dolphins, fish feeding habits on coral reefs and new marine surveying techniques (e.g. using drones and new technologies), as well as exploring the need for new legislation and policy for addressing topical issues including marine litter.

You earn 120 credits for the year. This is made up of 40 and 20 credit core modules and a choice of 20 credit optional modules.

Year three

In your third year you will have more freedom to shape your degree and choose modules that fit with your career ambitions. You will also develop essential professional skills and knowledge that all employers are looking for.

You earn 120 credits for the year. The core modules include your dissertation, and topics covering marine environments and offshore surveying. For your optional modules you can choose to do a further residential field course and study a range of specialist subjects like Extreme Environments or Global Climate Change.

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.
Identification of zooplankton in water samples on Samos
Identification of zooplankton in water samples on the Greek island of Samos.

Learning and assessment

How will I be taught?

We are a friendly and informal school and you will be taught by world-leading experts involved in cutting-edge international research.

Our teaching approach is a mix of theory and practical and includes: lectures, laboratory work, fieldwork, tutorials, workshops and seminars. You will also be encouraged to learn independently and within groups throughout the course, developing a wide range of skills which will be essential for your future employment including project management and organisational skills as well as developing your competence in applying information technology and using state-of-the-art field techniques and equipment.

 

How will I be supported?

Supervision

At the start of the course you will be allocated a personal tutor who you will meet with regularly for tutorials. Tutorials are fortnightly in the first year and then monthly in year two and three. Your personal tutor will be a specialist in your chosen degree course and can offer advice on academic and personal matters. In year three and four you will also be allocated a supervisor for your third-year dissertation and final year projects.

Facilities

We have a Learning Central website where you can access videos, images, presentations, lecture handouts, bibliographies, links to further reading, electronic exercises and discussion circles. Where possible, lectures will be recorded so you can watch and study in your own time.

The Learning Central website also has a ‘Personal Development Planning’ module that supports you in regularly assessing your progress and meeting your development needs.

Support services

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

Diversity

We aim to create an inclusive, supportive and welcoming environment that respects the dignity of staff and students of all ages, ethnicities, disabilities, family structures, genders, nationalities, sexual orientations, races, religious or other beliefs, and socio-economic backgrounds. Read about our commitment to the Athena SWAN principles and our Bronze status (https://www.cardiff.ac.uk/earth-ocean-sciences/about-us/equality-diversity-and-inclusivity).

                     

How will I be assessed?

We will be assessing your level of knowledge and understanding in each module through a combination of assignments, presentations, fieldwork, examinations and a dissertation. You will receive written and oral feedback on your coursework and there are opportunities for informal feedback throughout the course.

You will complete a wide range of assessments, from traditional essays, data interpretation exercises and posters on topical themes to more interactive assignment experiences including group presentations, technical reports and briefing papers. These different assessments are designed to give you professional assessment experience and help you prepare for employment.

NOTE: The University welcomes applications from students with disabilities and we endeavour to offer reasonable alternative assessment methods wherever possible.   We have an Alternative Fieldwork Policy which is adopted in cases where a student cannot attend a scheduled, taught field course, or part(s) thereof, because of extenuating circumstances.

 

What skills will I practise and develop?

Knowledge & Understanding:

On successful completion of the entire Programme students will be able to demonstrate the following:

  • A systematic understanding of spatial and temporal processes relating to marine and coastal environments, and a broad, critical comprehension of the inter-relationships between ocean, coastal and catchment systems
  • A broad understanding of marine and coastal resources and associated global challenges, including approaches to the governance of these
  • A systematic understanding of the multi-disciplinary nature of Marine Geography, including its content, methods and philosophy, and an associated practical understanding of the need for integration of knowledge from cognate sciences, including those related to ocean, atmospheric, physical and environmental sciences

 

Intellectual Skills:

On successful completion of the entire Programme students will be able to demonstrate the following :

  • Debate, interpret and explain the causes, scales and impacts of contemporary and future marine environmental issues whilst critically applying relevant ideas, concepts and methods.
  • Collect, collate, synthesise and critically evaluate a wide variety of data and information associated with marine and coastal environments, drawing from relevant approaches in cognate areas of environmental science.
  • Evaluate current research on selected aspects of the marine environment, demonstrating an appreciation of the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of associated scientific understanding.
  • Work across disciplines to link knowledge and experience from allied sciences to understand the marine environment including its relationship with society

 

Professional Practical Skills:

On successful completion of the entire Programme students will be able to demonstrate the following:

  • Critically analyse and interpret a range of different types of data related to the marine environment as part of research processes to investigate a range of topical marine environmental issues and theoretical concepts
  • Plan, design and execute research related to the marine and coastal environment, critically using a range of qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection and analysis in field, offshore, laboratory and desk-based studies
  • Understand and apply methods used to acquire geospatial data and represent such data in appropriate cartographic and graphic formats using appropriate platforms, including GIS
  • Address research problems involving the integration and analysis of diverse and often incomplete and uncertain data using appropriate qualitative and quantitative methodologies and approaches
  • Demonstrate practical skills and competence in information technology, geographical information systems, cartographic, statistical and other analytical techniques
  • Demonstrate basic skills and competence in GIS, cartographic and basic statistical analysis
  • Apply appropriate IT, GIS, cartographic and statistical analytical techniques to a range of geographical enquiries
  • Undertake effective project management and organisational skills through independent working and team work
  • Understand and the practical limitations, logistics, safety and ethical aspects of data gathering in marine and coastal environments, and apply this understanding, as appropriate to applied research

 

Transferable/Key Skills:

On successful completion of the entire Programme students will be able to demonstrate the following:

  • An ability to effectively communication of knowledge, ideas and arguments in a variety of formats using oral, written, and visual media to both specialist and non-specialist audiences
  • An ability to work competently individually or as part of a team in both problem-setting and problem-solving within a range of applied research environments where decision-making is complex and multi-disciplinary
  • An ability to undertake independent study and personal scholarship, fostered through enhanced personal responsibility, initiative and self-learning experiences
  •  An understanding of the skills and competencies needed to secure employment and support ongoing professional development, and be able to apply this to self-reflect, assess and articulate individual employability skills and needs

 

Marine Geography students carrying out survey work during field course in Jersey
Marine Geography students carrying out survey work during field course in Jersey.

Careers and placements

Career prospects

Keeping our oceans healthy is critical to our future. The sea produces around half of all the oxygen we breathe and absorbs half of all man-made carbon dioxide. The skills and knowledge of marine geographers are needed to tackle current and future marine challenges to make sure that important habitats and wildlife are protected and that maritime industries like fishing, tourism, shipping and renewable energy are developed sustainably.

You can choose to work in a variety of different industries and roles including conservation and marine management, as an environmental consultant or marine geospatial analyst. You will also have many skills that other sectors like insurance, finance, education and planning are looking for.

Our past students now work for a wide range of employers both in the UK and further afield. Recent employers include the Hydrographic Office, Titan Environmental Surveys, the Environment Agency, in the port sector and marine conservation organisations around the world.

In 2016-17, 92% of the School's graduates who were available for work said they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduating.

Jobs

  • Hydrographic Surveyor
  • Marine Conservation Offficer
  • Marine Enviornmental Consultant
  • Port Authority Officer

Placements

No

Fieldwork

Explore the oceans and coastal environments on land-based fieldwork, as well as completing sea-time training on the Guiding Light research vessel in order to gain essential boat skills. From local fieldwork visiting locations such as the Severn Estuary and the South Wales coast, to overseas field courses to locations such as Jersey, Malta and Greece.

Marine Geography students in Greece
Marine Geography students studying marine ecology on their field course to Greece
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Next Undergraduate Open Day

Spring 2020

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