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Marine Policy Masterclass

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This exclusive, fully-funded residential Marine Policy Masterclass is the first of its kind in the UK. It provides access to senior national and international advisers who will openly share their knowledge and experience of current and emergent political and scientific agendas, the challenges of communicating and handling uncertainty, and how to ensure your research is taken seriously at a policy level.

Applications are now open for just 15 PhD students and/or early career researchers who wish to take part in this intensive programme; designed to fast-track international collaboration and improve your knowledge and confidence in applying for international funding.

This trans-disciplinary Masterclass has been developed to enhance your career progression and bridge the gap between scientific knowledge and policy definition. Both theory and practice will be shared openly through the application of ‘Chatham House Rules’, enabling you to experience an honest reflection of real-world marine science and policy interaction. Topics covered will include:

  • Context: The changing perspective on use, value and conservation of oceans
  • What to tell the Minister? Status, threats, social and economic risks to the marine environment
  • An ecosystem approach to marine management
  • Marine law at the international, EU and UK levels
  • Designer seas. Marine spatial planning and the technogarden
  • The future of ocean governance
  • Whose values? Valuing marine ecosystems. Lessons from NERC’s Valuing Nature Networks
  • Uncertainty: Predicting the effects of climate change
  • The influencers: Communicating risk and uncertainty to policymakers


Just 15 researchers will have exclusive access to specialists in international policy, environmental research, socio-economics and marine law.

Price: This course runs from the 19th-23rd February and is free of charge for current PhD students and early career scientists with at least 50% NERC funding.  Accommodation, subsistence costs and reasonable travel within the UK will be funded by NERC for eligible students, but places are strictly limited and you must undertake an application process.  If funds allow, additional support may be available for overseas students.

This course has the following five expected learning outcomes for attending students:

  1. A comprehensive understanding of the current and emergent political and scientific issues on the global marine environmental agenda and an introduction to relevant international marine law.
  2. Knowledge of the challenges of implementing policies that deal with uncertainty and of the use of multidisciplinary science to address them.
  3. An understanding of the potential (and limitations) of current approaches for valuing marine systems and managing the uncertainties related to them.
  4. Best practice techniques for communicating risk and uncertainty in marine systems, particularly to policymakers/regulators
  5. International best practice techniques to apply science to policy


Please complete and submit this online application form to be considered for the course.   The closing date for applications is 12 noon on Monday 1st December 2014.  For further information, please contact 


Professor Kenny Black has been a researcher in marine science since 1991 and has published 59 ISI peer-reviewed journal papers on a variety of topics ranging from organic chemistry to modelling environmental impacts of aquaculture.  He has been awarded over 50 research grants as PI or co-PI, has edited and co-edited 6 books on environmental aspects of aquaculture and contributed chapters to several other volumes. He has supervised 9 PhD students to successful completion and co-ordinated six EU projects concerning the impacts of aquaculture. Professor Black is a member of the Scottish Government Working Group on Aquaculture and an accredited PRINCE2 Practitioner.

Dr Jake Rice: Chief Scientist and National Senior Adviser – Ecosystem Sciences, for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Canada.  Dr Rice has more than 200 publications in the scientific and technical literature covering many aspects of the ecosystem approach to integrated management.  He served on the NOAA Science Advisory Board and is currently vice-chair of the IUCN Expert Group on Fisheries and Sustainability.

Daniel Owen: Barrister at Fenners Chambers, Cambridge.  Mr Owen specialises in UK, European Union and international law regulating the use of the marine environment.  Daniel has practiced as a barrister in this field since 2000.  Prior to training as a barrister, he worked at the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) as a marine policy officer for 3 years and at the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation (ITOPF) as a technical adviser for 4 years.

Professor Dan Laffoley: Vice-chair – Marine, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s World Commission on Protected Areas (WCPA) and a Marine Consultant for Ocean Innovations.  Prof. Laffoley was formerly Marine Principal Specialist for the Chief Scientist’s Team at Natural England and has undertaken regular liaison with national government departments (such as Defra), the European Commission and many international organisations and specialists.

Dr Jasper Kenter: An Ecological Economist with experience as Project Manager on the National Ecosystem Assessment, Dr Kenter specialises in developing approaches to valuing ecosystem services. 

Professor Mike Burrows: A Principal Investigator in Ecological Processes, Prof. Burrows specialises in whole ecosystem assessment and climate change implications for marine systems. His primary research goal is to understand scaling up from the ecology of individual animals and plants to populations, communities and ultimately whole ecosystems.  Mike sits on various committees and working groups, including DEFRA, the US National Centre for Ecological Synthesis Marine Climate Impacts and Shetland Oil Terminal Environmental Advisory Group.

Dr Karen Alexander: A Post-Doctoral Research Associate and NERC Knowledge Exchange Fellow focusing on Environmental Governance, with extensive experience in Marine Spatial Planning and interactive stakeholder engagement.  Karen is a member of the ICES Working Group on Maritime Systems.

Lucy Greenhill: A Research Fellow in Marine Planning, Lucy brings 5 years’ experience working for the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) advising on offshore energy developments from a policy to project level. Lucy is currently developing inter-disciplinary research to support marine planning, including looking at incorporating socio-ecological modelling and ecosystem-based approaches in planning practices, and effective stakeholder engagement, to support risk management frameworks that are justified and inclusive. She works with scientists across SAMS, MASTS and wider to improve engagement of the scientific community with the evolution of marine planning policy.

Ruth Brennan is a marine social ecologist at SAMS. Originally trained as a lawyer, Ruth works on the social anthropology of maritime communities and on the arts/science interface, looking at cultural values. Her research interests include identifying and exploring the issues underlying conservation conflicts in coastal communities, with a focus on social history and cultural influences that shape relations between humans and nature. Over the last 3 years, Ruth has collaborated with a Glasgow-based visual artist to create an innovative online cultural map of the sea (Sea Stories: Barra) and a meditative film and audio-visual installation which explores the shifting nature of the relationship between people and place (Clyde Reflections).

Please complete and submit this online application form to be considered for the course.   The closing date for applications is 12 noon on Monday 1st December 2014.  For further information, please contact 

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Scottish Marine Institute
Oban, Argyll PA37 1QA, UK
T: +44 (0) 1631 559 000
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