The course consists of six taught modules (5 ECTS each) and a major research thesis (60 ECTS).
The taught modules are:
Studies in Conservation Behaviour: Through guided and independent study, students will produce a literature review on a selected topic in Conservation Behaviour, thereby gaining an in-depth knowledge of that topic, while also learning effective techniques for reviewing the scientific literature. Practical skills in conservation will also be taught, giving students a good overall knowledge in collection and analysis methods.
Data Analysis using R and RStudio: The powerful, free and open-source R statistical environment is becoming the statistical tool of choice for increasing numbers of scientists. Students will learn how to easily import their data into R, and how to then manage, manipulate, explore, graph and statistically analyse their data using R and RStudio.
Residential Field Course: The residential field course provides students with opportunities to develop practical field skills and independent learning. The location for the residential field course (e.g. Aran Islands/Inishbofin, Co. Galway; the Burren, Co. Clare; the Dingle Peninsula, Co. Kerry) will provide opportunities to study a range of animals in a variety of habitats.
Applied Geographic Information Systems: This module covers the use of geographic information systems (GIS) as a tool for field biologists. Students will learn to store, manage, analyse and display data that has both spatial and attribute components, using ArcGIS.
Animal Behaviour: Recording and Analysis: Students will learn to address conservation questions within a behavioural framework, observe and record the behaviour of animals in the field and laboratory using appropriate equipment and techniques, and analyse behavioural data using dedicated behavioural software and suitable statistical methods.
Acoustic Monitoring as a Marine Conservation Tool: Cetaceans use sound for navigating, finding food and communicating. Therefore, through the study of underwater acoustics we can get an insight into cetacean occurrence and behaviour. This module will train students in acoustic monitoring technologies, and the analysis and interpretation of acoustic datasets.
The research thesis:
Students will undertake an approved research project under the direction of an internal supervisor and, if appropriate, a supervisor from a relevant external organisation.
Research projects may be drawn from any area within the course, or from an area of expertise of the supervisors, while also taking the interests and future career of the student into account.
Research projects to be carried out in 2019 involve collaborations with the Marine Institute, Inland Fisheries Ireland, and the Coral Restoration Foundation (Florida, USA), among others.