MSc Marine Resource Management and Policy

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    Key information

    Mode of delivery
    Delivery type
    Full-time, Part-time
    Start date
    1 year


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    This MSc degree at one of Europe's leading centres for marine sciences is taught by a team of internationally recognised experts to focus on the critical synergy between marine natural resources, fisheries, ocean conservation and society.

    As global populations continue to grow and climate change alters the marine environment, marine fisheries will come under increasing pressure, especially considering that the majority of people in coastal developing nations depend upon fisheries as their main source of protein. However, fisheries also have negative impacts on marine species, habitats and ecosystem processes, and on other species such as marine mammals, seabirds and reptiles. For this reason, conservation of the marine environment is essential if we are to succeed in achieving sustainable use of marine natural resources and needs to be integrated into an ecosystem-based approach to management. These issues are central to international and national policy and law focused on the sustainable development goals, and address, food security, human welfare, life below water, poverty, health and safety

    This course will provide students with the broad training necessary to develop a systems-based perspective and understanding of the key elements of contemporary natural resources, fisheries and conservation science and how these disciplines are inter-related, integrating both natural and social science approaches. 

    Marine conservation and fisheries sit within an international policy framework underpinned by the UN Sustainability Development Goals. You will develop an understanding of the policy and legal context that shapes the global marine agenda, you will be introduced to the concept of 'social license to operate' and will understand the current challenges and remedies, accreditation around illegal fishing and social welfare issues in seafood supply chains, for example.

    The skills of communicating science to the wider world (so called 'Ocean literacy') will introduce you to the use social media in science, blogging, policy brief development, interview skills and practical skills such as development of public facing displays and TV and radio interview techniques.

    Field work occurs throughout the taught part of the course, providing first-hand experience of current marine vertebrate conservation and fisheries issues and techniques. Guest lectures from practitioners in Government, industry, the NGO and consultancy sector will bring theory to 'life' in a shared experience of real-world challenges.

    Finally, students will undertake their own large research project either with external organisations, overseas partners or at any of Heriot-Watt University's five campuses. These research projects will be designed with the aim of leading to publishable papers as the final output. 

    Course content

    Year 1

    Eight taught courses (seven mandatory and one optional) 

    • Applied Laboratory, Field and Data skills
    • Environmental evidence synthesis in conservation and fisheries
    • Marine planning 
    • Operational fisheries management
    • Conservation and ecology of marine vertebrates
    • Marine policy, law and trade
    • Delivering sustainability
    • Science communication and engagement

    Field course

    Plus one week field course focused on coastal fishing communities, seabird and marine mammal ecology.

    Research project dissertation

    A three month research project either lab or field or computer based leading to an original piece of research, written and presented as a scientific paper ready for submission to a journal for publication. (60 credits)

    Go Global

    Some of our Postgraduate Taught Masters Programmes are eligible for Inter-Campus Transfer. Please contact for further information.

    Fees and funding

    Tuition fees

    Additional fee information

    Tuition fees
    Status Full-time
    UK tbc
    Overseas tbc
    1. Your residency 'status' is usually defined as the country where you have been ordinarily resident for the three years before the start of your course. Find out more about tuition fees.
    2. Overseas includes applications from European Union countries who do not hold Pre-Settled or Settled status in the UK. Read more about the application process for EU nationals.

    Scholarships and bursaries

    We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.

    View our full range of postgraduate scholarships.

    Entry requirements


    Masters (MSc) level entry applicants must have one of the following:

    • Minimum of 2:1 honours degree in related field i.e. ecology, biology or marine science or 2:2 with relevant career experience from any relevant background e.g. marine science, economics, social anthropology.
    • For postgraduate conversion courses, non-related degrees will be considered.
    • Corporate (or chartered) membership of relevant professional institutions will also be considered. 

    PG Diploma level entry applicants must have an ordinary degree in a related subject area and relevant post qualification industry experience.

    Candidates who do not meet the above entry requirements or have no formal academic qualifications will be considered individually based on their CV and possibly interview. Admission via this route will be at the discretion of the Director of Recruitment.

    English language requirements

    If English is not your first language a minimum of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent is required with all elements passed at 6.0 or above. Please refer to English language requirements for further details.

    Some applicants may be asked for alternative evidence in line with UKVI recognised English speaking countries. Applicants who have previously successfully completed courses delivered in the medium of English language may be considered and will be required to provide documentary evidence of this. Examples would be secondary school education or undergraduate degree. A minimum of at least one year of full time study (or equivalent) in the medium of English language will be required.

    All evidence of English language needs to be dated within two years of the commencement of study.

    We also offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your master's programme:

    • 20 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.0 with no skill lower than 4.5)
    • 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.0 with minimum of 5.0 in writing and no skill lower than 4.5)
    • 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.0)
    • 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with no skill lower than 5.5)

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