Threats to the goods and services within an ecosystem, such as clean drinking water and sustainable fisheries, are frequently appearing in the media and on the agendas of governments. Maintaining these goods and services requires us to have a fundamental understanding of the biodiversity and ecosystem processes responsible. Without this knowledge there can be no effective management of aquatic resources and multiple stressors to an ecosystem.
This programme has been designed to balance the latest in ecological theory with practical application in both freshwater and marine systems. Students will take part in three residential field-courses (Dorset, Cumbria and one from either the Western Isles of Scotland, Borneo or Crete) for practical ‘hands-on’ training.
You will be co-supervised by either established PhD students or a potential employer organisation and encouraged to publish your project work.
Research and teaching
Students will have access to ‘state of the art’ analytical research facilities within our Centre for the Aquatic and Terrestrial Environment, developed from an initial investment by SRIF of £3 million. You will also have access to the Freshwater Biological Association’s River Laboratory on the River Frome in Dorset, via our River Communities Group, and to mesocosm and temperature controlled facilities at QMUL.
By choosing to study at a Russell Group university you will have access to excellent teaching and top class research. You can find out more about our research interests and view recent publications on the School of Biological and Chemical Science's Aquatic Ecology Research group page.
Facilities and events:
Centre for the Aquatic and Terrestrial Environment (CATE)
Recent investment of over £1.8 million in analytical equipment and specialist laboratory facilities has established The Centre for the Aquatic and Terrestrial Environment (CATE) at Queen Mary, University of London. This is an exciting new interdisciplinary collaboration between the School of Biological and Chemical Sciences and the School of Geography.
CATE builds on existing research strengths in areas of environmental research such as biogeochemistry, freshwater and marine ecology, terrestrial ecology and conservation. These facilities are used either in the formal teaching of this programme or are available for individual research projects.
Dorset Field Facilities
The Aquatic Ecology Group has a complementary unit (the River Communities Group) who do more applied research, based at the River Laboratory of the Freshwater Biological Association in Dorset. For example, we have a suite of ponds, 50% of which are heated above ambient, in which we have long-term climate change experimentation running. Students have the opportunity to conduct both field and lab work for projects at this site.
Aquatic Science lectures in London
- Queen Mary Aquatic & Whole Organism Biology Group seminar series
- Queen Mary Geography seminar series
- UCL Centre for Ecology and Evolution
- London Freshwater Group
- Institute of Fisheries Management
- The Linnean Society
A programme of relevant lectures is communicated to students by e-mail.
The following modules are typically offered to students:
- Ecosystem Structure and Function: Ecosystems are under continued and growing threat from human activity (e.g. habitat loss, invasive species and diffuse pollution) and if we seek to preserve them then we need to understand how ecosystems function and how they respond to either enforced or natural change. Here we focus on the structural and functional elements of many ecosystems, from shallow lakes to tropical forests, with a particular focus on contrasting aquatic environments.
- Statistics and Bioinformatics: Covers core statistics methods, within the R statistical computing environment. R has become the de facto environment for downstream data analysis and visualisation in biology, thanks to the hundreds of freely available R packages that allow biological data analysis solutions to be created quickly and reliably.
- Quantitative Techniques for Surveying and Monitoring in Ecology: In the first week, there will be a series of lectures, workshops and practical data analyses classes where you will learn the theory behind designing and initiating surveys and monitoring campaigns for research projects and also for conservation & management. In the subsequent week, you will be able to put the theory into practice in the field at a location such as Lake Windermere and environs: here you will undertake electrofishing and hydroacoustic surveys for fish populations, zooplankton and benthic invertebrate surveys, a census for aquatic birds, and camera-trapping for aquatic mammals. Other skills such as the use of the modern telemetric tools will be demonstrated.
- Science into Policy and Management – includes week in Dorset: Here a broad spectrum of human environmental impacts and their mitigation will be explored. The first half of the module will bring the student ‘face to face’ with potential regulators, practitioners and potential employers (typically Defra, Environment Agency, Natural England) through a series of guest lectures. These topics are then explored and summarised through an unpacking and feedback workshop. The second half is field based with current practitioners working directly in the field of bioassessment and biomonitoring. National and international legislation and directives are introduced through a series of case studies to look at the link between successful science and policy.
- Marine Mammals and Turtles – field course to Cape Verde: The module focuses on the diversity, behaviour, ecology, physiology, conservation and management of cetaceans (whales and dolphins), and marine turtles. It covers such issues as the life history and migrations of turtles, their diving ability and behaviours, the social behaviour of dolphins, and the conservation of whales. It also includes (even though they are not mammals or reptiles!) a brief look at the sea-birds and sharks that will likely also be seen during field excursions. For part of the module you will be taught in the archipelago of Cape Verde, with boat trips for whales and shark observations, sea turtle monitoring. Mornings will be dedicated to lectures and workshops while afternoons and evening will be dedicated to hands-on practical experience.
- Tropical Ecology and Conservation – field course to Borneo
If you have any questions about the content or structure, contact the programme director Dr Christophe Eizaguirre
Find out more about this programme in the Freshwater and Marine Ecology student handbook.
The remainder of your studies comprises of a 24-week Individual Research Project aligned to cutting edge research groups within the Centre for the Aquatic and Terrestrial Environment, or with external agencies and charities like the Environment Agency, Wild Trout Trust, Froglife, or the Broads Authority.
Examples of recent papers resulting from projects:
- Harvey GL, Henshaw AJ, Moorhouse TP, Clifford NJ, Holah H, Grey J, Macdonald DW (2013) Invasive crayfish as drivers of fine sediment dynamics in rivers: field and laboratory evidence, Earth Surface Proc Land DOI:10.1002/esp.3486
- Dossena M, Yvon Durocher G, Grey J, Montoya J, Perkins D, Trimmer M & Woodward G (2012) Warming alters community size structure and ecosystem functioning. Proc Roy Soc B doi: 10.1098/rspb.2012.0394
- Trimmer M, Maanoja S, Pretty JL, Hildrew AG & Grey J (2010) Potential carbon fixation via methane oxidation in well oxygenated river bed gravels. Limnol Oceanogr 55: 560-568
- Ravinet M, Syvaranta J, Jones RI & Grey J (2010) A trophic pathway from biogenic methane supports fish biomass in a temperate lake system. Oikos 119: 409-416
- Rawcliffe R, Sayer CD, Woodward G, Grey J, Davidson T & Jones JI (2010) Back to the future: using palaeolimnology to infer long-term temporal changes in shallow lake food webs. Freshwat Biol 55: 600-613
A minimum of an upper second-class BSc (Hons) degree (or equivalent international qualification) relevant subject such as environmental science, biology, chemistry or geography. Applicants with a good lower second class degree may be considered on an individual basis, taking into account relevant background and related achievements.
This programme includes one compulsory overseas field course. Students must choose one fieldwork option in Cape Verde or Borneo. Costs for flights, accommodation and meals are fully covered by the tuition fees - you will not have to contribute additional funds towards this field trip. Costs for compulsory fieldwork with the UK are also covered by the tuition fees.
English language requirements
All international students are required to provide evidence of their ability in English language.
The minimum level required for entry to our postgraduate programmes is:
- IELTS (International English Language Testing Service) - 6.5 (with a minimum of 6.0 in writing)
- WELT (Warwick English Language Test) – BBC/BCC
- TEEP (Test of English for Educational Purposes) – 6.5
- Cambridge ESOL Certificate in Advanced English – B
- Cambridge ESOL Certificate of Proficiency in English – C
For further information about our English language requirements please visit our international pages.
Am I eligible?
To check your eligibility contact our Postgraduate Admissions team:
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 3328
Learning and teaching
As a student at Queen Mary, you will play an active part in your acquisition of skills and knowledge. Teaching is by a mixture of formal lectures and small group seminars. The seminars are designed to generate informed discussion around set topics, and may involve student presentations, group exercise and role-play as well as open discussion. We take pride in the close and friendly working relationship we have with our students.
For every hour spent in classes you will be expected to complete further hours of independent study. Your individual study time could be spent preparing for, or following up on formal study sessions; reading; producing written work; completing projects; and revising for examinations.
The direction of your individual study will be guided by the formal study sessions you attend, along with your reading lists and assignments. However, we expect you to demonstrate an active role in your own learning by reading widely and expanding your own knowledge, understanding and critical ability.
Independent study will foster in you the ability to identify your own learning needs and determine which areas you need to focus on to become proficient in your subject area. This is an important transferable skill and will help to prepare you for the transition to working life.
Students are assessed by a combination of coursework and exams. A few modules are assessed by coursework only. If a module is assessed by means of coursework alone, this is usually in the form of a research project or dissertation, and the tutor project supervisor offers guidance and support in the researching and writing of this piece of assessment.
You will also be assessed on a supervised 10,000-word dissertation.
Tuition fees for Home and EU students
Full time £9,700
Tuition fees for International students
Full time £18,450
There are a number of sources of funding available for Masters students.
These include a significant package of competitive Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) bursaries and scholarships in a range of subject areas, as well as external sources of funding.
Queen Mary bursaries and scholarships
We offer a range of bursaries and scholarships for Masters students including competitive scholarships, bursaries and awards, some of which are for applicants studying specific subjects.
Find out more about QMUL bursaries and scholarships.
Alternative sources of funding
Home/EU students can apply for a range of other funding, such as Professional and Career Development Loans, and Employer Sponsorship, depending on their circumstances and the specific programme of study.
Overseas students may be eligible to apply for a range of external scholarships and we also provide information about relevant funding providers in your home country on our country web pages.
Download our Postgraduate Funding Guide [PDF] for detailed information about postgraduate funding options for Home/EU students.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 5079
Other financial help on offer at Queen Mary
We offer one to one specialist support on all financial and welfare issues through our Advice and Counselling Service, which you can access as soon as you have applied for a place at Queen Mary.
Our Advice and Counselling Service also has lots of Student Advice Guides on all aspects of finance including:
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 8717
With aquatic ecosystems under threat from multiple stressors, we have designed a programme to equip you with the necessary interdisciplinary practical skills and theoretical understanding for employment in this area or further research.
Careers in research-focused positions
Some of our graduates apply their degree knowledge directly, working in research-focused positions such as chemistry consultants, molecular microbiologists and conservation officers in labs as far afield as Australia, South Africa and the USA. Many others pursue their academic interests from MSc to PhD-level, or from PhD to postdoctoral research associate or research fellows, and eventually to lectureships.
What are our graduates doing now?
Recent graduates from our masters degrees have gone on to do further research in the UK and abroad, including PhD positions at Queen Mary, Oxford University, University College London and at universities in the USA and New Zealand. Others have secured employment in industry and academia, including environmental consultancies, UK and overseas government agencies, the pharmaceutical industry, a global oil field services provider and as the head of a department at a university in Guyana.
The range of skills gained through our programmes, coupled with opportunities for extra-curricular activities, has enabled students to enter careers such as:
- NERC funded CASE PhD studentship - Environment Agency
- Internship - NERC
- Curator - Natural History Museum
- Community Learning and Engagement Officer - London Wildlife Trust
- Aquatic Ecologist field post - Consultancy firm Ahern
- Ecology Fisheries Ecologist - Brown May Marine
- Research Chemist - Xention Research
- Scientist - Phosphonics
- Ecotoxicologist - ADAS UK Ltd
- Consultant - HR Wallingford
- Technical Officer - Environment Agency
- Research Intern - Zoological Society of London
Career support at QMUL
Throughout the course, postgraduates have access to a careers programme to prepare them for applying for work after graduation. This programme includes workshops on job hunting and job applications as well as employer events to facilitate networks and help students to explore their options. Recent career events open to the School’s postgraduates include the SBCS Industrial Liaison Forum featuring small and medium sized employers, and workshops on applying for and doing a PhD.
Queen Mary’s location between Canary Wharf, the City and the Olympic Village redevelopment means that there are substantial opportunities for on campus and local part time work and work experience. On campus there are 1200 job and volunteer opportunities ranging from E-learning Assistant to Website Administrator and from Society President to Student Mentor. QTemps job agency offers work suitable for current students and recent graduates, QMSU Volunteering facilitates volunteering and QM JobOnline hosts over 800 part time and full time job vacancies.
Read more about our careers programmes and range of work experience opportunities on the QM Careers pages.