Marine biology and technology

General information on the programme

Sea is an important resource for every maritime country as it can improve commercial prosperity of the country and standard of the citizens in a variety of ways, such as though exploitation of living and non-living resources, aquaculture, tourism, navigation, etc. Some of the above mentioned activities are not compatible and can potentially be harmful to each other. Because of that, specially trained experts, that would know how to sustainably exploit marine environment to the benefit of people and marine ecosystems, are necessary for creating and implementing developing strategy of the country. That task can be completed through systematic education that has following goals: (1) understand and explain physical, chemical and biological processes in the sea; (2) be able to predict changes in marine ecosystems that develop under different influences, and (3) to sustainably exploit marine resources.

Main purpose of Marine biology and ecology (MBE) study is a systematic education of personnel for work in area of marine biology and ecology, which includes a wide range of biological investigations from diversity of marine organisms to their distribution, characteristics, mutual relations and interactions with marine environment. Further on, due to increasing threat of marine pollution caused by dumping of various toxic and dangerous substances into the sea, and irrational use of marine resources, special attention throughout the study will be given to protection of endangered species and ecologically endangered areas. From all of the above, it is evident that work in the area of marine biology and ecology, besides strong biology background requires a wide knowledge of chemistry and physics, physical and chemical oceanography, as well as meteorology (physics of the atmosphere). Generally speaking, understanding of biological processes in the sea requires good understanding of functioning of the marine ecosystems, what requires high degree of multidisciplinary study that can be gained though this program. Practice of organizing studies that educate personnel in the science of the sea is well known in all developed maritime countries, and many such studies have a long tradition.

Estimate of purpose-serving regarding the labour market needs

Since this is the only Marine biology and ecology study in the Croatia, experts of this profile should, without larger difficulties, find the position in areas that are related to scientific investigation, monitoring and protection of marine ecosystems, as well as in the area of marine resource management

Connection of study with contemporary scientific findings

Undergraduate Marine biology and ecology study is a highly multidisciplinary, with a dominance of natural history sciences (especially biology, chemistry, physics and geology). Contents of undergraduate courses are in interaction with contemporary scientific findings in above mentioned disciplines. Study is organized in such a way that students are introduced to scientific work from the very beginning of their study, and at higher years spend more and more time in scientific laboratories.

Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries in Split is a leading scientific institution in Croatia for marine investigation and has great possibilities for direct involvement of students in scientific work. This is further enhanced by the fact that Marine biology and ecology study is planned to enrol small groups of students (at most 20 students at undergraduate level). Participation of students in scientific investigations cruises with research vessel Bios is scheduled for students enrolled in undergraduate study. Besides that, various research equipment is used during student laboratory practical. To enable efficient achievement of education goals on undergraduate level implementation of advisor system (one advisor per year) is planned.

Program comparability with other international universities

Programs of undergraduate and graduate study have been developed after comparison of various similar studies in Europe and the world (for example: Marine biology, The University of Rhode Island; Marine biology, University of California, Los Angeles; Marine biology, Florida Tech; Facultao de Ciencias del Mar, Universidad de Cádiz, etc.) and with incorporation of some specificities related to the Adriatic Sea.

Above mentioned programs are focused on delivering basic biological and other natural history knowledge during first two to three years of study. On 4th and 5th year of study, programs diverge, since each one of them specialises in problematic that is of special importance for given country or region (for example: focusing on tropical marine ecology and coral reefs, or on polar marine biology). Our Marine biology and ecology study has a similar structure, where at undergraduate level emphasis is given on gaining fundamental knowledge in the area of biological sciences, as well as related disciplines. Basic contents that are related to marine biology and ecology are introduced on 2nd and 3rd year of study. This structure of education at undergraduate level gives students great possibilities in election of further education, since besides continuation of their study on graduate study of Marine biology and ecology, they can, without difficulties, continue their education on other natural history graduate studies.

Previous experience in the field

Marine biology and ecology study started in Academic year 1998/99. Experiences gained so far are graded with high marks both by professors and their students. Analysis of past eight year, since study was initiated, shows trend in increase of quality of lectures as well as improvement in study conditions. Interest of high school students for this study has been constantly high (ratio between received student applications and accepted students is around 3:1). Structure of accepted students, in relation to their grades and achievements in high school is more than good – around 95% of all accepted students were either excellent or very good students while in high school. We are especially proud that this study grew out of the local framework, since students, besides from entire Dalmatia area, are coming from Pula, Rijeka, Zagreb, Osijek, as well as from other countries (Slovenia, Macedonia).

Results of pool conducted among last year students have shown that 13% of students think that entire study is excellent, 73% graded study as very good and 14% of students thought that study was good. So far, eight students have graduated from the program (out of which 4 are already employed). Average length of study is 5.2 years.

Adaptation of the study to Bologna process will further improve quality of study, especially in relation to speed and efficiency of study, higher mobility of students and professors and more intensive involvement of students in scientific work.

Student mobility scheme

Student mobility will be enabled using following ways:

  • One term courses; at undergraduate level 86% of courses last for one term
  • Fast passing of exams (year by year study)
  • Mobility will be encouraged within the University of Split (elective courses from other Departments and Faculties), between Universities in Croatia (first such case is an example of student from Marine biology and ecology that is in Academic year 2004/2005 taking courses at Department of Geology, University of Zagreb), and between University of Split and other Universities in Europe (contacts for cooperation have been established with similar studies in Italy, Sweden, and Poland).

One of the important elements in stimulating student mobility, as well for implementation of entire Bologna process, is speed of study (study year by year) what will be encouraged in several ways:

  • Appropriate student course load
  • Increased efforts of professors and students in relation to mandatory class attendance and participation, frequent checkups of student knowledge by exams, quizzes and other methods. Student will be encouraged to engage in constant study during the term and will have possibility to pass the exam immediately after they took the course.

Student mobility will be additionally stimulated though wide selection of elective courses.