It is, first and foremost, a course in quantitative marine ecology. The degree aims to address the unique scientific challenges of marine mammal physiology and behaviour with strong components of analytical techniques, laboratory work, and research methods. The course is led by members of the world renowned Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU).
Whether because of their sheer size, complex behaviour, intriguing social structures or historic persecution, marine mammals in particular have come to symbolise issues in marine ecology. Conservation of endangered marine mammal species and management of their populations, especially those interacting with the human food chain, often attain prominent positions in the news, and in the attentions of both governmental and non-governmental agencies.
The need to know more about the lives and behaviours of marine mammals, driven by many agendas, coincides with a period in which improving technology is making it increasingly possible for us to probe the marine environment, and learn more about its inhabitants.
As a result, the rapidly developing, and highly topical, discipline of marine mammal science is an area in which many excellent biology graduates seek to conduct research.