Further background

Topic selection

The organisation can propose:

  • a specific project title or topic for the student to deliver;
  • a general idea of a business need which requires further development;
  • a core research theme to be developed by the student into a bespoke project;
  • an intended outcome for the organisation, thus leaving the design of the research entirely to the student.

Projects should typically be achievable within an 8-16 (including write up) week time frame.

Projects that are available for the 2018/19 year:

We have teamed up with a number of partners who have Masters projects to offer. Titles are below, and more details here. Interested students/supervisors should get in touch with the relevant partner (contact details have been provided).

  • Various projects available at Tentsmuir NNR
  • Comparison of sediment vs water sampling of faecal indicator organisms  (JHI)
  • Measuring the mink menace (DBIRCT)
  • Mink, otter and water voles – conservation through indirect competition (DBIRCT)
  • Environmental drivers of salmon smolt migration (DBIRCT)
  • Understanding the distribution and potential effects of seafloor litter in the UK’s offshore marine environment (JNCC)
  • Razor fish biological parameters (Marine Scotland)
  • Development of a low cost monitoring buoy for coastal applications (Partrac)
  • Evaluation of a new generation of biodegradable tracers for use in sediment transport and sediment bio-mixing studies (Partrac)
  • Testing of a prototype time series suspended sediment trap for coastal research (Partrac)
  • Examining the impact of onshore wind farm developments on salmon and brown/sea trout populations(Marine Scotland)


Scottish Natural Heritage have the following projects on offer and are running their own application round for these. Titles below, and see here for further details. A completed EoI application form should be returned to Carol Hume by email before 10/1/19.

  1. Fair Isle Demonstration and Research Marine Protected Area (D&R MPA) (SNH ref. P48)
  2. MPAs and Climate Change (SNH ref. P50)
  3. Investigate porpoise numbers, distribution and movements in tidal sounds in Shetland (SNH ref. P60)
  4. Connectivity amongst marine ecosystems (SNH ref. P61)
  5. Feasibility of a creel accreditation scheme in Scotland (SNH ref. P64)
  6. Various projects from Coastal Community Network partners (SNH ref. P63). Titles below, but more information is available here.
  • A proposal to map the habitat, extent, abundance and biodiversity of Ascophyllum nodosum ecad. mackaii in the MPA of Loch Sunart
  • Testing the efficacy of ROV survey, for mapping the extent and distribution of northern sea fan (Swiftia pallida) in the Sound of Jura MPA
  • Underwater camera sled for benthic surveys
  • Wester Ross Marine Protected Area maerl bed recovery monitoring project
  • Maerl bed relationship with Fisheries (Summer Isles study within Wester Ross Marine Protected Area)
  • Developing methods for the assessment and monitoring of (1) maerl habitat recovery and (2) wild fish populations in areas of maerl in Loch Ewe, Wester Ross Marine Protected Area.
  • Development of a methodology for monitoring the health and biodiversity of seagrass beds in and around the Wester Ross MPA.
  • Develop the concept of Marine Crofts providing environmental benefits and socio-economic opportunities for Coastal Communities along Scotland’s west coast.
  • Survey of Native Oysters in Southannan Sands
Previous projects:

Projects that were available with Scottish Natural Heritage for 2017/18 (see here for project details with SNH):

Projects that were available with other organisations for 2017/18 (see here for project details with other organisations):

Projects that were available in 2016/17 can be found here.

Example feedback:

As part of the MMM MSc a GIS based model has been developed to examine the spatial and temporal variability in noise levels around the Shetland Islands, and whether these levels are sufficient to impact marine mammals and whether they exceed levels permitted under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Whilst this approach has been trialled elsewhere, including Canada and Australia, it is the first time this modelling approach has been used in the UK.

Project suitability

The relevant Course Director/academic supervisor will help to to refine the proposed topic, ensuring that it meets both the requirements of the organisation and the academic needs of the student.

Organisation and University Supervisors

The organisation is required to provide a supervisor to:

  • oversee delivery of the project to ensure objectives are being  met;
  • provide the student with a project briefing and expected outputs;
  • ensure the student is aware of, and complies with legal requirements related to being based in the workplace (if applicable).

The academic co-supervisor is required to:

  • be available throughout the project for input;
  • ensure the project is on track via regular contact with the student;
  • oversee the write-up stages.
Project agreement

All  terms are defined by the organisation, university and student at the outset to ensure all parties have agreed the key parameters.These include (but are not limited to):

  • project title, start date and delivery deadline;
  • location - will the student be based in the work place, at university or both?
  • operating procedures and workplace regulations (working hours, health and safety procedures etc;
  • outputs of the project;
  • Intellectual Property rights, Non-Disclosure Agreements and project ownership on completion.
Project Delivery

The student is responsible for project completion and delivery to meet the agreed deadline. Assessment of the final academic output remains the responsibility of the University and no input is required from the host in this respect, unless previously agreed.  However, hosts may request additional outputs, for example, an executive summary or technical report.