AVAILABLE BRAND: Cornwall College | LEARNING AREAS: Marine & Natural Environment COURSES

FdSc Marine Conservation

For 2017 start - Available with a Science Gateway qualification

Cornwall College Newquay LEVEL: 5 Marine & Natural Environment

There has never been a more pressing need for trained marine biologists who understand the threats facing life in the oceans. This programme allows you to gain an understanding of the science underlying marine conservation; whilst our location on the beautiful wild coast of north Cornwall enables you to study a wide variety of aquatic habitats and marine wildlife at first hand. Designed in close consultation with the marine industry, this exciting and vibrant programme is highly relevant if you would like a career in the expanding field of marine biology and conservation.

The first year will give you a firm grounding in aquatic ecology, marine and biological science, as well as developing practical survey skills.
In the second year there are more specialised modules covering topics such as fish ecology and marine invertebrates.
There is a large element of work-related learning integrated within the programme and you will have the opportunity to talk to many experts in the field and visit professional institutions; we have strong links with commercial partners Blue Reef Aquarium, the National Lobster Hatchery and Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

Marine Conservation in Practice develops skills in stakeholder engagement and outreach activities.
It also incorporates the requirement to gain 100 hours of relevant work-based experience.
The combination of staff expertise and specialist equipment available to carry out fieldwork such as fish and seabed observations is an essential part of this programme.

Students are based at the Newquay campus and the course delivery takes full advantage of this spectacular location in the heart of North Cornwall. Much of the practical work will be carried out on local beaches. Whilst most teaching takes place in our new, state of the art, sustainable building on campus some lectures will be delivered at our marine classroom overlooking Towan Beach.

This is a full-time course with delivery spread over four consecutive days each week with occasional weekend workshops. Throughout the course, you will have the opportunity to gain first-hand experience working in the nearby Blue Reef Aquarium and the National Lobster Hatchery, gaining valuable practical experience which will help you in any future employment.

As well as traditional lectures, fieldwork and laboratory work, you will take part in workshops delivered by experts from organisations such as the Cornwall Wildlife Trust, Surfers against Sewage, the Marine Biological Association and the Environment Agency. The field trip to Portugal is an integral part of the Marine Conservation degree allowing students to experience a diverse range of ecosystems.

A first year optional field trip to the Algarve in Portugal explores human impact on one of the biggest and most beautiful lagoon systems in Europe. There is also the option of a second year field trip to locations like Egypt. The cost of these trips is additional to your fees and the destinations may change.

There are also activities and day trips to supplement the academic side of the programme and most of these are free, although some may entail small costs towards travel or entry fees.

You will also be encouraged to undertake some training in boat handling and diving, however this is entirely optional.
Possible careers available with this qualification:

  • Marine Biologist with an environmental organisation such as Natural England
  • Marine Officer with an environmental charity
  • Marine Science Officer with an expedition organisation
  • University Researcher
  • Marine Technician
  • Fisheries Officer
  • Marine Planning Officer
  • Marine Consultant
  • Education Officer or Teacher

Year 1

Personal & Employability Skills Development (20 credits)
The aim of this module aims to provide you with the underpinning skills necessary to be successful on a degree programme by developing your communication and study skills. This module will also allow you to enhance your IT skills for example in word processing, database handling and statistical analysis. Basic study skills will be addressed to allow you to develop an effective learning strategy and a foundation for your own personal and professional development. The module will also develop your career strategy and help you find suitable work experience placements. This module extends over the two years.

Marine Science (20 credits)
Providing you with an understanding of the key scientific concepts and practical skills which underpin the study of aquaculture and conservation. The module is delivered in an exciting range of lectures interlinked with practical sessions: topics covered range from basic molecular biology and chemistry to material science and basic electronics. You will develop skills in microscopy, practical use of resin systems and electrical circuits amongst others and learn how to carry out a scientific investigation on a topic of their choice.

Ecology of Aquatic Systems (20 credits)
This is one of our most popular modules. You will learn techniques for studying, surveying and monitoring wildlife in the field: along with the vital supplementary skills in data handling, analysis and report writing. This module aims to provide you with a sound basis of ecological relationships and food webs through to nutrient flows, competition and predator-prey relationships.

Biological Principles (20 credits)
Knowledge of genetics and the processes involved in reproduction is crucial in the management and protection of aquatic organisms. This module begins with an overview of the life histories of aquatic animals from several taxa. The molecular basis of reproduction is explored by looking at the structure of DNA and the processes involved in cell division. The principles of classic genetics that underpin breeding programmes are outlined and you will undertake some practical investigation of the inheritance of characteristics in aquarium fish. The practicalities, ethics and commercial realities of reproductive manipulation of aquatic species are explored through case studies and seminars.

Diversity, Classification & Evolution (20 credits)
This module explores the incredible variety of life on Earth and the process of evolution that produced this diversity. You will become familiar with the characteristics and classification of animals, providing a foundation for more detailed study of specific groups. Evolutionary processes that resulted in today’s species, and how those processes continue to impact, will be outlined. During the practical session of this module you will learn to accurately identify aquatic animals such as invertebrates living in rock pools or local fish species.

Marine Survey Techniques (20 credits)
A firm favourite with students, this module has a large practical component. You will learn how to use basic navigational skills in the marine environment for the purposes of marine surveying and how to identify, select and use appropriate surveying techniques and apply them to a survey taking, into account health and safety considerations.

Year 2

Marine Vertebrate Biology & Conservation (20 credits)
Exploring the functional biology of a range of marine vertebrate species, this module will focus and compare the extremes of physiological and anatomical adaptations shown by marine mammals and reptiles. It will also explore the challenges we face to conserve flagship species; such as turtles, marine mammals and sharks. A detailed understanding life history including feeding, migration, social and reproductive behaviour will be explored and related to their conservation. Newquay’s coastal location provides excellent opportunities to study at least one species – the grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) in the wild.

Algal & Coral Biology & Culture (10 credits)
Delivered with a large practical component at Blue Reef Aquarium, this module considers the scientific principles required to keep and propagate coral and algal species in captivity. Alongside this the problems of conserving the local Cornish pink sea fan and its habitats are also explored through a series of case studies and site visits.

Fish Ecology (20 credits)
Fish are extraordinary animals, demonstrating some of the most extreme adaptations to a sometimes particularly hostile environment. Through this module you will explore the fundamentals of fish physiology and taxonomy. You will compare the anatomy of different fish species and relate form to function. This module also explores the complexity of fish behavioural ecology which has enthralled biologists for centuries and through a series of detailed case studies reveals how some species are being protected and conserved. You will develop practical skills in observing and handling fish and analysing their behaviour.

Marine Invertebrates (20 credits)
In this module you will study the main invertebrate groups such as cnidarians (jellyfish and coral), echinoderms (starfish), molluscs (shellfish and octopus) and crustaceans (lobsters and crabs) amongst others. Aspects that will be explored are taxonomy (how are they all related?), biology, physiology (does an octopus really have three hearts!), form and function (how does a jellyfish sting!), ecology, special adaptations (how does a cuttlefish change colour!), life cycles and conservation issues. This module is taught between the classroom and the laboratory with many opportunities to dissect and investigate this intriguing and diverse group of marine animals.

Marine Conservation in Practice (20 credits)
Throughout your studies you are encouraged to undertake 100 hours of work-based learning. This module allows you to contextualise and evaluate those experiences. You will also appreciate contemporary methods for engaging the general public in marine environmental conservation. Finally, you will learn how to negotiate between stakeholders and to source funding for marine conservation projects.

Individual Research Project (20 credits)
This module gives you the chance to conduct your own research on a topic of your choice. Newquay’s coastal location provides excellent opportunities to study a variety of aquatic animals in the wild. Guided by tutors, you will produce a research proposal and project: from researching relevant literature, to day-to-day management of the project, analysis and interpretation of data, report writing and presentation. If you intend to go on to take the final top up year of an honours degree you may wish to use this as an opportunity to start a project that you can carry on during the final year of your honours degree.


Aquaria & Conservation of Aquatic Organisms (10 credits)
Delivered with a large practical component this module considers the scientific principles required to establish and maintain aquaria. Alongside this, the problems of conserving aquatic organisms and their habitats are also explored through a series of case studies and site visits.

Contemporary Issues in Marine Conservation (10 credits)
This module will reveal contemporary issues concerning marine resources, the effects of pollution and purpose of biological monitoring of marine ecosystems to enhance and develop an understanding of holistic approaches to addressing and solving environmental problems. It will contribute to your capacity to work as a professional in conservation.

The application process for full-time and part-time degree level courses with The Cornwall College Group starting in September 2017 is still open and we are taking applications.  Full-time applicants should apply via UCAS and part-time applicants directly via the College website.


Key Facts

  • UCAS Code: F711
  • Institution codes: CORN C78
  • Awarded by: Cornwall College & Plymouth University
  • Course Fee (per annum): £7500
Entry Requirements

48 UCAS points from AS and A-Levels (at least 32 points must be at A2-level) or relevant level 3 qualification, ie BTEC National Diploma / BTEC Extended Diploma - PPP Grades required. Access to HE Diplomas - 45 credits at level 3. Plus GCSEs at grade C/grade 4 or above in English Language, Science and Mathematics: alternatives at Level 2 may be considered. Mature applicants with relevant experience but without the stated qualifications will be considered individually and are encouraged to apply.

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) Silver Award


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Course Documents

FdSc Marine Conservation Handbook


Indicative Modules Year 1

- Marine Vertebrate Biology & Conservation

- Biological Principles

- Marine Science

- Ecology of Aquatic Systems

- Diversity, Classification & Evolution

- Marine Survey Techniques

- Personal & Employability Skills Development

Indicative Modules Year 2

- Marine Vertebrate Biology & Conservation

- Algal & Coral Biology & Culture

- Fish Ecology

- Individual Research Project

- Marine Invertebrates

- Marine Conservation in Practice

Options (Choose one)

- Aquaria & Conservation of Aquatic Organisms

- Contemporary Issues in Marine Conservation

*Modules are subject to change and availability


FdSc Marine Conservation

Start Date

September 2017




2 years full-time

Extra Information

Annual tuition fee is £7500

FdSc Marine Conservation

Start Date

September 2017




3 years part-time

Extra Information

Annual tuition fee is £5000

FdSc Marine Conservation - with Science Gateway

Start Date

September 2017




3 years full-time

Extra Information

This option includes an additional Science Gateway year which is ideal if you don’t have the right qualifications to apply for a degree programme straight away. If you are applying for the FdSc Marine Conservation - with Science Gateway route on UCAS you will need to use UCAS code: C184. Please note that when studying the Science Gateway programme, you will be based at Cornwall College Newquay. Annual tuition fee is £7500

*Courses listed on this website are indicative of the subject, nature and level of study. The college reserves the right to alter specific qualifications titles, awarding bodies and levels of qualification, which can change in year. Any cost may also vary, based on personal funding eligibility.

Careers advice available

If you are considering an undergraduate programme with us, you may wish to access our free Careers and Employability advice service. This gives you the opportunity to talk with an advisor about career options before, during and after your study with us. To make an appointment, please e-mail: H.E.Advice@cornwall.ac.uk

If you come into the International category (non EU*) and Channel Island (inc. Isle of Man) the tuition fee may vary – click here for full fee information