As a field of biology the study of Freshwater Biology examines the life and ecosystems of freshwater environments; this includes lakes, rivers and ponds and covers microbial, plant and animal life. Freshwater habitats have a variety of factors acting on them such as light penetration, vegetation, temperature and other environmental factors, this makes their study both intricate and full of variety.
On Earth 97.5% of the water is salt water leaving only 2.5% as fresh water. Two thirds of this 2.5% is frozen as glaciers and ice caps and the remaining freshwater is largely underground; this leaves only the tiniest fraction of freshwater either above the ground or airborne. With demand for freshwater already exceeding supply and the global population increasing at an unprecedented rate, it is not difficult to understand how crucial it is to increase our understanding of freshwater habitats, their sustainability and the importance of the ecosystems they support. This becomes especially salient when considered in the context of sustainable fishing and the difficulties currently faced economically, nutritionally and socially by communities either with long fishing traditions or with a reliance on fishing as a main food source. Courses in Freshwater biology offer an often career orientated, and multidisciplinary study of the conservation, management and ecology of tropical and temperate regions lakes, rivers and wetlands.
Students complete their course with an in-depth understanding of biodiversity, ecology and the threats to our aquatic systems, you will become skilled at aquatic system management, species identification and diving-based research as well as gaining an appreciation of the history, future and complexity of the aquatic world. You could find yourself studying subjects as diverse as the effects of human activities on nearshore and estuarine systems and turtle ecology in Greece.
Teaching is delivered by a mixture of formal lectures, tutorial and seminars as well as practical classes and fieldwork and most courses are graded based on modular examinations and coursework.. Most courses will also offer the opportunity for study abroad and many students find themselves spending several months studying in areas such as the coral reefs of the Caribbean, Indonesia and the red sea as well as studying rainforests or embarking on various studies across places such as Europe, the Indian sub-continent and Australasia. Whilst diving is not a required element of the course students will often find that diving courses are made available to them through associated clubs and societies associated with their institution. Most courses in freshwater biology also require you to conduct an individual final project and this gives student the opportunity to focus on an area of specific interest and can also offer further opportunity for travel is this is something of interest.
Example areas of study
There are a range of courses in freshwater biology located throughout the UK as such courses do vary, so you will need to check with the institutions themselves that the course is right for you before you submit your application.
- The aquatic environment
- Comparative physiology
- Investigating the earth and environment
- Genetics and molecular biology
- Structure and function of biological molecules
- Mathematics, information and communication technology
- Marine ecology and biology
- Freshwater ecology and biology
- Invertebrate diversity
- Atmospheres and oceans hydrology
- Collection and analysis of experimental data
- Environmental impact of energy and chemical production
- Aquatic vertebrate biology and physiology
- Fisheries and aquaculture management
- Water resources management
- Conservation of aquatic environments
- Environmental pollution
- Cell biology and development
- Applied aquatic ecology
- Phytoplankton ecology
- Aquatic ecotoxicology
- Benthic processes
- Pelagic processes
Some career possibilities
Graduates of Freshwater Biology can expect to seek employment across a broad range of areas, these include government bodies and private laboratories involved research, conservation and exploration of Freshwater systems as well as environmental protection agencies, the water industries and conservation charities. There are also opportunities outside of the science arena for example in management positions and within the leisure and tourist industries where a knowledge and appreciation of freshwater environments can be utilized for instance in running diving courses and pleasure cruises. For those students not wishing to go directly into employment, there are also a large number of opportunities for further study at masters and doctorate levels.
What do I need to get on a course?
The entry requirements for Freshwater Biology courses vary a little between institutions so it is best to check the grades and qualifications you will need with the institutions themselves before submitting your application. The list below will give you an idea of the entry requirements that the institutions may expect:
- UCAS Tariff: 180-300 points
- A-levels: DDD-BB
- SQA Highers: BBBC-ABBB
- International Baccalaureate: 26-30 points
- Mature entry: Considered on an individual basis
- Foundation degree: In a relevant subject
- Work experience is taken into consideration
- Preference is given to achievements in biology, mathematics and other sciences
For your application or interview, the following may be useful:
- Further information is available from United Nations environment Programme - Fresh Water, United Nations International Year of Freshwater and International Water Management Institute
- For statistics on renewable water sources: Renewable water resources in the world by country
Content originally supplied by UCAS Course Discover.