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FdSc Marine Conservation

Subject area
Conservation, Zoology and Animal Behaviour
Level 5: Foundation Degree
Course type
Foundation Degree
Cornwall College Newquay
Course code
UCAS code
Institution code
Seine Netting

About the course

There has never been a more pressing need to study this subject. The oceans cover 70% of the Earth, they are the largest habitat for life, supply over 50% of the oxygen we breath and are the only source of protein for one in six people on the planet. And they are under increasing pressure: overfishing, pollution, invasive species, climate change, offshore development, ocean noise, marine debris ... the list can seem overwhelming. We need a generation of knowledgeable passionate people who can work to protect this amazing environment. Marine Conservation is about exploring the wonders of our oceans and developing workable strategies for their conservation.

During the course you will gain an understanding of the science underlying conservation efforts in an exciting and vocationally relevant learning environment. This course has been designed in close consultation with the marine industry, to deliver the practical skills and knowledge that is highly relevant for a career in this expanding field

Have a look at our facebook  page here: FdSc Marine Conservation

Entry requirements

120 UCAS points from AS and A-Levels (at least 80 points must be at A2-level, preferably in a science subject) or relevant level 3 qualification i.e. BTEC National Diploma/BTEC Extended Diploma - PPP Grades required, specific unit grades may be required. Access to HE Diplomas - 45 credits at level 3.  Plus GCSEs at grade C or above in English language, mathematics and a science: 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.

Previous learning and experience may be credited. If in doubt, call 0845 22 32 567 or email


What will I do on the course?

Studying this course will provide you with a firm scientific background and enable you to learn the practical skills required to understand the marine environment and to minimise the harmful effects of human activities.

First year modules include Ecology of Aquatic Systems; Marine Science; Marine Survey Techniques; Diversity, Classification and Evolution; Personal and Employability Skills Development; and Cellular, Genetics and Reproduction Biology of Aquatic Organisms.

The second year includes Marine Conservation in Practice, which incorporates the requirement to gain 100 hours of work-related experience; Fish Ecology; Marine Vertebrate Biology and Conservation; Marine Invertebrates; Algal and Coral Biology and Culture; the choice of either Aquaria and Conservation of Aquatic Organisms or Contempory Issues in Marine Conservation.

Finally, there is the Individual Research Project. All academic modules are taught using lectures, workshops and practical work, both in the field and laboratory. Work-based study is an important part of all foundation degrees and whilst it is up to you to develop this in your field of interest, we have strong links with commercial partners e.g. Blue Reef Aquarium, the National Lobster Hatchery and Cornwall Wildlife Trust.

An important part of the second year will be your individual project which will enable you to carry out first hand research into an area that interests you. 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. These trips are of additional cost and are subject to change.

re taught using lectures, workshops and practical work, both in the field and laboratory. An important part of the second year will be your individual project which will enable you to carry out first-hand research into an area that interests you.


What can I do after the course?

The unique combination of academic and practical skills gained during a Foundation Degree in Marine Conservation enables you to become well qualified for employment in a range of marine conservation sectors. Other opportunities include working as an education officer, an employee of the Environment Agency, or within other industries related to the marine environment. You can also gain many useful contacts with potential employers, both nationally and internationally, during your studies. Marine Biology is a highly competitive field: you must be prepared to work hard and make the most of work related learning opportunities. However the marine environment has come to the forefront of the agenda for the European community so the demand for academically qualified and practically experienced people has never been higher.

Our Careers Service is available to give information, advice and guidance on all aspects of education, training and career progression. 


Tel: 01209 616270 Monday, Tuesday and Thursday (9am- 4pm)




Year 1 

  • Personal & Employability Skills Development (20 credits)
  • Marine Science (20 credits)
  • Ecology of Aquatic Systems (20 credits)
  • Biological Principles (20 credits)
  • Diversity, Classification & Evolution (20 credits)
  • Marine Survey Techniques (20 credits)

 Year 2


  • Marine Vertebrate Biology & Conservation (20 credits)
  • Algal & Coral Biology & Culture (10 credits)
  • Fish Ecology (20 credits)
  • Marine Invertebrates (20 credits)
  • Marine Conservation in Practice (20 credits)
  • Individual Research Project (20 credits)

 Optional modules (choose one)

  • Aquaria & Conservation of Aquatic Organisms (10 credits)
  • Contemporary Issues in Marine Conservation (10 credits)


Additional Information

This course is awarded by Plymouth University.

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.

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.

FdSc Marine Conservation FAQs

Yes you can apply through UCAS for any of our full-time programmes right up until Clearing starts at the end of June. For full details about the admissions process, and how Clearing works, please visit

The good news is that part-time learners can now apply for a loan to cover tuition fees. Find out more information at

No, if you are thinking of joining us as a part-time learner, a UCAS application is not required. Please call our admissions office on 0845 22 32 567 for an application and we will arrange an interview for you.

Living and studying in Cornwall puts you at the heart of one of the most popular destinations in the UK.

As well as being a mecca for land and sea-based adventure sports its reputation as a surfing hotspot means Cornwall has a burgeoning music and festival culture, including the hugely popular Boardmasters and Eden Sessions plus great bars and restaurants.

Find out more about Cornwall

Excellent links with local industry with great work placements and graduate employment opportunities

We have excellent links with local employers across all sectors of industry in the South West and a highly successful partnership with Plymouth University. Our graduates benefit from Cornwall College’s in-house recruitment company, Concorde Recruitment, which offers a recruitment service for businesses in Cornwall and Devon. We are also the home of Unlocking Potential which places graduates with local companies – 70% of graduates placed by them are offered a permanent position with their host company at the end of their placement.

Find out more about Concorde Recruitment

Find out more about Unlocking Potential

We are dedicated to ensuring enterprise and employability is at the heart of our programmes

Our dedication to enterprise and employability means you will studying a degree that is relevant to working life, designed with and supported by employers. Enterprise and employability are at the centre of all of our programmes and we pride ourselves on giving our graduates access to the best advice and help. We want you to gain experience as well as knowledge – so less time in lectures and more time on practical projects. All of our foundation degree courses include a Personal & Employability Skills Development module, developed in conjunction with international industry consultants Deloitte.

Find out more about our approach to enterprise and employability

A full and diverse range of subjects and qualifications delivered across our seven specialist campuses

We offer the widest range of foundation degrees in the South West. Our specialist campuses at Duchy College Rosewarne and Stoke Climsland are international renowned for their provision in horticulture, land-use, conservation, animal studies public services and sport. Our Falmouth Marine School campus has an excellent reputation for marine engineering, science and sport; our campus at Newquay works closely with Newquay Zoo and Blue Reef Aquarium to offer excellent hands-on experience in ecology, zoology and marine aquaculture. Sport is flourishing at St Austell and Camborne, which also offers creative arts, business and IT, health, early years and social sciences, hospitality and tourism plus science engineering and technology. Our campus at Saltash also specialises in early years and business and our School of Education and Training offers specialist qualification ins education at our Camborne, Duchy Stoke Climsland, Saltash and St Austell campuses.

Find our more about our courses

Our bursaries and scholarships will help to help ease your financial burden

As well as the nationally available loans and grants from the Student Loans Company and central Government we offer our own bursaries and scholarships to ease your financial burden. If you are planning to take a full-time foundation degree or bachelor’s degree at any of our campuses you may qualify for a college bursary or scholarship. Our Core Bursaries help with your transport, childcare, accommodation, specialist equipment and general living expenses. For those with a low household income we also offer National Scholarship Programme Bursaries and our own scholarships.

Find out more about nationally available loans and grants.

For the latest information on what is available click here or if you wish to talk to someone about your particular circumstances, please contact our Admissions team either via e-mail or call 0845 22 32 567.

We offer excellent value for money

We understand the importance of value for money when it comes to education. There is an increasing demand among undergraduates to ensure that education is not only of the highest quality but is also affordable. That is why we have fixed our full-time degree-level tuition fees for 2015 at £8,000 per year for all home and EU students.

Find out more about full and part-time fees

When you use the Unistats website you’ll notice our courses (including those at Falmouth Marine School and Duchy College) are listed under both Cornwall College and Plymouth University. This is because our foundation and bachelor’s degrees are awarded by Plymouth University. KIS uses information from courses with more than 23 students and because our average class size can be below this the information for some courses may not reflect the quality of our courses and our learners’ experience.

HEFCE used a number of sources to collate the data. Some was provided by the universities and colleges and some via centralised centres (for example the National Student Survey data).

Step 1 - Spend a little time thinking about what you want to study.

  • On A level results day, check to see if there are vacancies available on the course of your choice via our course vacancies list. This list will be made available from A-level results day until the end of Clearing.
  • Check that you meet or exceed the minimum entry requirements that are detailed within the course pages
  • If you do not meet the minimum entry requirements, you may still be accepted on to your chosen programme or an alternative degree programme within The Cornwall College Group . Please contact us to find out what your options are.

Step 2 - If you meet the minimum entry requirements, and there are vacancies on the course of your choice, contact our Confirmation and Clearing call centre to register your course application interest:

  • telephone: 0845 22 32 567
  • email: 

Ensure you have the following to hand:

  • your UCAS number and/or Clearing number
  • your level 3 qualification results i.e. A levels, IB, BTEC
  • your GCSE Maths, English and Science grades

Step 3 - If you are eligible and space is available, you will be advised accordingly by the Clearing Actionline Call Centre. You will still need to submit an application via UCAS Track within an agreed timeframe (usually 24 hours) using the institution code (P60), the course code and by selecting the 'Add Clearing Choice' button.

Once we have received your application, it will be processed and the outcome communicated by the next working day. We reserve the right to decline your application if the course is full, so we encourage you to go online as soon as possible to make your Clearing application.

You must telephone the Cornwall College Group to find out whether we can make you an offer before referring yourself through TRACK.

If you don’t have access to your UCAS account, you can phone UCAS Customer Services on 0871 468 0468.

You can only enter details for one course choice. Only enter a Clearing choice if you want to accept the course we offer you. Only once you have made your application, can we confirm your place.

Step 4 - Once we have accepted you, we will send you enrolment information by email or post.

Need more advice from UCAS about Clearing? Have a look at thier videos on YouTube here, which has lots of advice about getting your results, clearing and late applications.

Treat Clearing as you would a job application. Take time to prepare and be professional:

  • Make a list of universities and their telephone numbers
  • Make the calls yourself.
  • Think about what you might say beforehand and write it down. Prepare honest answers as to why you are in Clearing. These calls are an opportunity to sell yourself. Be prepared to say why you want the particular course and institution and what you can offer. Be ready to answer questions on your exam results, your motivation and experience.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions. Make notes of the questions you want to ask. Not all university accommodation for first year students is guaranteed by the time Clearing comes around. Ask about the availability of accommodation and the cost; ask about any financial help available.
  • Have to hand your UCAS Clearing number (the six-digit number starting with the letter 'C' displayed in UCAS Track); your UCAS Personal ID (the 10-digit individual number assigned to each applicant when they register on UCAS Apply); your address and postcode; details of your results, including GCSEs or Scottish Standard Grades.
  • Students who have not obtained the grades required for a place from their firm and insurance choices.
  • Students who have applied after the 30 June deadline.
  • Students who have not yet applied to university, although you need to have completed a UCAS application in order to use Clearing.
  • If you haven't yet applied, apply online now via UCAS Apply. Remember that you will need a reference as well as your personal statement.
  • Bear in mind, also, that universities may not be enthusiastic about students making their initial university applications via Clearing, unless there are extenuating circumstances. Think carefully about whether you need to start higher education this year, or whether you can take a year out and apply to university for the following year.
  • UCAS advises that the best method of confirming whether or not you have got your place at university is to regularly check UCAS Track on the UCAS website, which will be updated as soon as UCAS receives updates from the universities.
  • Even if you have not obtained the required results for your firm or insurance choices, first check UCAS Track to see if you have been accepted anyway – you may still be offered a place even if you have not obtained the required grades.
  • If you become eligible for Clearing, an 'Add Clearing choice' button will appear on your Track Choices screen. You must use UCAS Track because UCAS will not send you confirmation via the post.
  • In the event that you are not offered a place, it may be worth telephoning the university as it may be flexible or be prepared to offer you a place on a similar course.
  • Make sure that you have your password and ID number to hand for UCAS Track and also that your email inbox is not full, and can accept bulk emails – many universities will send confirmation messages automatically to a list of their applicants.

Yes you can apply through UCAS for any of our full-time programmes right up until Clearing starts at the end of June. For full details about the admissions process, and how Clearing works, please visit

The good news is that part-time learners can now apply for a loan to cover tuition fees. Find out more information at

No, if you are thinking of joining us as a part-time learner, a UCAS application is not required. Please call our admissions office on 0845 22 32 567 for an application and we will arrange an interview for you.

Course Documents
DOWNLOADFdSc Marine Conservation Programme Quality Handbook DOCX 3.74 MB FdSc Marine Conservation Programme Quality Handbook
The statistical information below may be a combination of Plymouth University partner colleges
* KIS uses information from courses with more than 23 students. Our average class size can be below this so the information for some courses may not truly reflect the quality of our courses and our learners' experience.
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