Biology of Water Resource Management

Postgraduate Diploma/MSc (Full-time: 32 weeks/48 weeks)


Stefan Bolam.
Marine Scientist with CEFAS

The course gave me an excellent introduction into the water industry; the holistic approach the course takes definitely works and after the taught course I felt as though I had a good grasp of the sources of aquatic pollution, its biological effects, how it was monitored, and the role of the regulatory authorities in controlling inputs to aquatic systems.

These skills were invaluable during my MSc project with the Environment Agency which was very rewarding. After completion of the MSc, I decided to focus on the marine environment and did a PhD at Napier - the experience I had gained from the MSc initially proved essential in allowing me to perform both the field and laboratory work. Both the PhD work and the MSc experience undoubtedly helped me get my current position with CEFAS, an applied position which involves the management of marine intertidal habitats: the work entails using the skills and experience of both degrees.

In general, I think the MSc at Napier is an important qualification for any graduate wishing to pursue a career in the water industry as it gives the applied knowledge and experience necessary, which tends to be lacking from many honours degree courses.

THERESA BAIRD (nee Bonner)
Senior Environmental Scientist with Posford Duvivier Environment

BSc (hons) Biological and Biochemical Sciences - Salford University 1992
MSc Biology of Water Resource Management - Napier University 1993
Diploma in Water and Environmental Management - CIWEM 1994

On completing the MSc BWRM course, with a three month placement at the Clyde River Purification Board, I joined the Tweed River Purification Board as Assistant Biologist. My primary role involved sampling the aquatic invertebrates of the rivers to ensure they were not polluted and to investigate the sources and impacts of pollution events.

After 1 year, I moved into environmental consultancy with Posford Duvivier Environment. Posford Duvivier Environment is a division of Posford Duvivier Engineering Consultants and is now part of the internationally renowned Royal Haskoning Group. Over a six year period, I have progressed from Graduate to Environmental Scientist to Senior Environmental Scientist, with increasing responsibility for project management, client liaison, marketing and staff appraisals.

I was essentially taken on for my freshwater skills and have developed specialisms in environmental impact assessment for fluvial flood defence schemes, river restoration projects, environmental training for contractors and public consultation. Key clients for my field include the Environment Agency, Councils (eg. Moray Council), nature conservation organisations (English Nature, RSPB, Wildlife Trusts, etc.) and contractors. However, the wider skills developed on the MSc BWRM Course have enabled me to contribute to other projects within Posford Duvivier Environment, such as port developments, coastal zone management, water quality projects and fishery studies. There are also increasing opportunities for overseas projects.

Environmental consultancy is a growth industry which promises ever more exciting projects and opportunities ahead. Posford Duvivier Environment regard high calibre MSc graduates as essential to our future success.

Susan Craig
Environmental Engineer, Loctite Ireland Ltd, Dublin, Ireland

I chose to study the MSc BWRM as I had thoroughly enjoyed my primary degree research in freshwater biolgy. Also, the practical aspects of the course appealed to me as, post-degree, I still felt highly ill-equipped for the workplace.

The course was tough and required constant effort but there were more than enough positive aspects, not least the great staff, well-developed and interesting modules (particlarly the field trips) and the chance to spend a year with a fabulous group of people from all over the world. The high point for me was the opportunity I got to carry out my research project in the Freshwater Institute, Windermere, Cumbria. At the risk of sounding over-sentimental, I will be forever grateful for that experience. Not long after completing the course I was offered a placement in industry (Loctite Ire Ltd). My role was to design a suitable waste-water treatment system. Three years on and I am still there and thoroughly enjoying my job. I have branched into many areas of environmental and safety management.

In conclusion, I am extremely glad I chose the MSc BWRM and I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.

Nathan Critchlow-Watton
Ecologist, Scottish Environment Protection Agency, Riccarton

Most environmentally based jobs now require a post-graduate qualification, and following a specialised degree in Aquatic Biology from Aberystwyth University and nine months working for the Environment Agency in Portsmouth as an Assistant Biologist, I decided to do an MSc.

When confronted by the many MSc. courses on offer, the one offered by Napier stood out as it seemed to give the most comprehensive overview of subjects related to water management and biology. Napier was my first choice academically as well as being recommended by colleagues at the Environment Agency who were familiar with the programme, two of whom had taken the course.

I began the course in 1997, and had a very enjoyable year, hard work tempered by hard drinking! Although at the time some of the subjects seemed a little esoteric, I have applied aspects of every module to my everyday work.

My MSc. project was based with the Environment Agency in Wales, and following completion I was offered a permanent job as a biologist in their multi-disciplinary scientific support team. The skills gained at Napier were vital, enabling me to communicate with colleagues in other departments and with the regulated community. The research and vocational skills I acquired provided a solid grounding for work that ranged from providing fisheries management and conservation advice to applying environmental regulation legislation and evaluating pollution incidents.

I have recently returned to Edinburgh to take up an ecologist's post with SEPA, which entails freshwater biological responsibility for the majority of Fife. I'm sure that the skills learnt on the MSc. will be prove to be as invaluable here as they were in the Environment Agency.

No course can create an Environmental Scientist. However, Napier provides you with a holistic overview and understanding of all the different disciplines involved in water management.

Kieran Fay.
Scientist, Euro Environmental Services, Drogheda

For me, personally, studying for the MSc Biology of Water Resource Management was one of the best choices I have made in life so far. But for it, I would not have the career I have now. I still seem to be reaping the rewards of all that hard work!

Susanna Fernandez-Rocha.
Scientist with ADASA Sistemas (AGBAR Group), Valencia.

I work at the Confederación Hidrográfica del Júcar which is the equivalent of the British Rivers Authority. This organisation is responsible for rivers water quality control and also for the management of reservoirs, hydrology and prevention of floods, discharges, etc, in an area of about 43.000 km2. I work for the SAICA network, which consists of a number of automatic sampling stations. I have to monitor all the data that is received in real time, and am also in charge of the management of data from the 238 sampling stations belonging to the ICA network, that provide data on water quality following the quality objectives described by our Environmental Agency under Spanish and European laws.

As you can imagine, I am very happy because I eventually got a job in the water field. I am grateful to the MSc because I couldn't be doing this job if I hadn't done the course. I now need the good knowledge on many different aspects of water quality control that were included in the MSc programme and also the wider vision the course provides on water resource mangement.

Paul Hyatt.
Fisheries Scientist with the Environment Agency

After having gained a 2i BSc Honours degree in Environmental Science at Derby University the world was supposedly my oyster. However, having started my further education somewhat later in life and having left my welding career behind I was concerned about the lack of opportunities in the environmental field that paid a decent salary. Environmental science based degrees are commonplace and it became apparent that an extra edge to my qualification was required. Financial conditions at the time dictated that low paid or voluntary work was not an option. Advertisements also required practical experience that was not available from degree studies.

I trawled through various advertising mediums looking for an MSc that fitted in with my first degree experience and offered some funding. Bingo, the Biology of Water Resource Management masters degree at Napier University offered an opportunity that fitted the required criteria and they accepted me - marvellous!!

The comprehensiveness of the course was initially slightly overwhelming but dedication, interest, enthusiasm and team spirit came into play. The small study group, helpful staff and excellent facilities made the novel modules (to me) easier to grasp. The students' background was wide and varied which helped enormously with the practical and theoretical aspects of the course. Students that were perhaps initially a tad shy helped advise in areas with which they were familiar and others weren't and vice versa. This helped bring us together into a close knit group that worked hard and sometimes played hard. Study tours also helped things along in this respect - never a dull moment, I can tell you!!

Exams over, the sad day came when we left each other to undertake our summer placements and with them, final projects. This was the big one - all thoughts of sadness disappeared when the thought of a Masters Degree was brought that step closer. I chose to work with the Environment Agency studying the ecological implications of water abstraction in an area of the Peak District. My project supervisor made available various ecological software packages and field techniques to assist with my project, which meant learning new tricks of the trade. T hese proved to be invaluable when on successful completion of my final project, the Environment Agency kept me on for a consecutive series of temporary contracts. All the time I was gaining more experience and becoming involved with issues that involved environmental aspects other than ecology. This is where the comprehensive nature of the coursework came in. Working for an environmental regulator such as the Environment Agency which is multi-functional means that different hats have to be worn with different departments and people, both internally and with external groups, ranging from specialists to the public. I've now managed to secure a permanent position as a Fisheries Scientist with the Environment Agency and was selected for the job because of my holistic background and the more specialist skills I had acquired whilst working. My work ranges from undertaking fish population surveys, scientific investigations, initiating and co-ordinating habitat enhancement schemes, and acting as a consultee on catchment planning and sustainable development. Not bad for an ex-welder!! Thank you Napier.

Tim Pickering.
Fisheries Management Officer with the Environment Agency, Midlands Region, in Nottingham.

I undertook the MSc Biology of Water Resource Management in 1988/89, after completing a BSc in Environmental Studies. After such a broad based first degree the masters enabled me to specialise in hydro-biology and enter a career in the water industry.

Following a two year contract with the consultant WRc, monitoring the impact of agricultural pollution in South West Wales, I became a Biologist with the National Rivers Authority based in Manchester. When the Rivers Authority became part of the newly formed Environment Agency I began to undertake conservation work as well as monitoring, and following relocation to the Midlands I moved into fisheries management work where I am at present.

Throughout the last ten years all the different areas of work I have undertaken have been underpinned by theory initially taught to me as part of Napier's Biology of Water Resource Management course.

Adrian Worley.
Environmental Consultant, Posford Duvivier Environment Scotland

How did the BWRM MSc help me? Well, I wouldn't be in my current position if a former BWRM student hadn't thought to contact the course leader in early September of 1996 and ask if there were any suitable marine biological graduates on the course that year. Four years later and I'm with the same company and, most importantly, back in Edinburgh; with responsibility for all of our company's environmental consultancy work in Scotland.

The unique element of the Napier MSc is the hands on, practical approach it has to teaching and vocational education. Throughout the various modules, constant reference and application is made to the industry which, ultimately, you hope to work in. This is superb experience for when you really get out there!

Not only do you gain relevant industrial experience, but you are also able to hone and develop any specialisms that you may have from first degrees. Additionally, you commence a rapid roller coaster ride that covers everything from engineering to economics and these other modules are so important in your career. On a daily basis, I have to understand the engineering aspects of a coastal defence scheme or long sea outfall for example, and balance these technical needs with those of the natural and built environment. Having engineering knowledge enables me to address this balance from both sides, without compromising the needs of either.

Yes, the course is hard work. Yes, the deadlines can be a struggle. No, its not fun staying up all night to meet them. Is it worth it? Definitely (especially for the field trips?)!


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Last modified on 7 October, 2002