We collaborate with students on Plymouth University's Master of Science in Marine Conservation. Every year we offer a selection of broad research projects to students. We supervise students as they develop, conduct and complete the research projects for their Masters thesis.

Past projects have explored many different topics. From exploring our Great Eggcase Hunt data to analysing shark content on TikTok. You can find out more about the past students and their projects below.

Past Student Researchers

Chloe Flood - 2022

This research project was completed in collaboration with the Shark Trust and assessed the effectiveness of the Shark Trust’s communications toolkit on social media advertising. By comparing two video advertisements, one which followed the communication toolkit guidance and one which did not, this study measured whether or not the communication toolkit increased public online engagement. This study also looked at how each department within the organisation felt about the implementation of the communications toolkit, and how it might impact their work within the NGO in the future. This project was significant for the Shark Trust, as they aim to increase their focus on creating effective communication techniques and want to implement the toolkit throughout the global marine conservation NGO community moving forward. Data from this study therefore provides a useful insight into both the overall effectiveness of the toolkit and its implementation within an NGO.

Gabriele Frigerio - 2022

Extensive research has already been carried out looking at the deviation between media portrayals of sharks and scientific research. The negative effects of films like Jaws are still present today. However, sharks now face new issues with the mainstream media focusing on issues such as finning, instead of the bigger issues such as overfishing. On the other hand, the mainstream media has also been observed to have positive effects towards marine conservation with documentaries such as Blue Planet, which seem to lead to almost overnight changes in the use of plastic straws. Little research has been carried out to explore how media impacts attitudes and beliefs. New documentaries such as My Octopus Teacher and Seaspiracy bring the topics to new audiences so there is potential to explore how documentaries and other forms of media, like virtual reality, may influence the public’s perception of sharks and conservation.

James Harris - 2021

This study used an adapted version of the media analysis methodology developed by Shiffman et al. (2020) to establish  if the same misrepresentations and inaccuracies in the popular press are present on the TikTok platform when it comes to shark conservation content. This study found that the priorities of shark conservation scientists are poorly represented on the TikTok platform, worse so than in the popular press. The attention given to certain shark threats is misaligned with the priorities of scientists and discussion of conservation solutions is negligible. The accuracy of content presented varies but there are a number of incorrect or misleading facts that were found throughout the dataset. Overall, someone learning about the state of shark conservation from this platform alone would be grossly misinformed on the priorities of scientists as published in peer reviewed literature


Emily Bunce - 2021

Conservation psychology has become increasingly recognised as an important component of conservation. However, research in this field has been biased towards terrestrial rather than marine conservation (Selinske et al., 2018; Wallen & Landon, 2020). This paper aims to contribute to filling this knowledge gap, by creating a framework that can be used by conservation charities to integrate conservation psychology into their communications, using a case study of shark conservation on behalf of the Shark Trust.

Taylor Irwin - 2020

This study used public perception research to investigate the various frames used when informing the public about shark threats, solutions, ecology and conservation. Through the use of questionnaires, the work attempted to determine whether there is a distinction in public response to negative and positive frames on sharks and if this has an influence on public participation in shark conservation.

Rachael McEvoy - 2020

Citizen science is a hugely valuable tool, particularly in the conservation sector where resources are often stretched. The Shark Trust is a non-governmental organisation who have recognised the potential of collating data from the eggcases of oviparous elasmobranchs, that often wash ashore. The Great Eggcase Hunt has seen huge successes, with results having already been used to inform Marine Conservation Zones on the south coast of England. However, until now, no effort has been made to investigate the participants engaging with the project. This research is centred on an analysis of the participant information in the Great Eggcase Hunt database, as well as generation of new information regarding participant demographic and motivations, through an online questionnaire. Results have shown that, despite increasing participant numbers, several areas of the project would benefit from improvement, particularly to help maintain volunteer engagement. Alongside an evaluation against the Ten Principles of Citizen Science, results were used to make recommendations on how the project may be improved and ways to encourage continued participation.