Bengal offers first earth science course
The Indian Institute of Science Education and Research (IISER) in West Bengal is set to become the first such institute in the country to offer an integrated masters degree in earth science.
There are five IISERs in the country, set up on the lines of the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.
The earth science course will be introduced in the next session and will cover subjects such as palaeontology, geo-chemistry, seismology, climatology and space science.
“Geo-chemistry will be a topical subject in Bengal. It will cover arsenic contamination, which is a major problem in the state. Space science, too, is neglected in Bengal,” said Dibyendu Nandi, an assistant professor at the IISER in Nadia.
Other subjects taught in the five-year integrated MSc programme are physics, chemistry, mathematics and biology. All the subjects are compulsory for the first two years, after which students opt for a major in one subject.
In the fifth year, students have to undertake research and project work and submit a dissertation. “The idea is to impart holistic knowledge on science,” said Nandi.
The institute will also offer an integrated PhD programme from August 2009 that will be open to graduates. The course duration will be five-seven years.
“The first two years will be for a masters course. A doctorate usually takes three to four years but may take longer in the field of science. Students will have up to five years to complete their PhD,” said Nandi.
In 2009, the PhD aspirants will be selected on the basis of their applications and interviews but from the next year there will be an all-India entrance test.
Both courses will be offered on the IISER’s new campus in Mohanpur in Nadia. “The 200-acre campus should be ready by the end of 2010,” said Nandi.
In keeping with its objective of making education and careers in basic sciences more attractive, the institute is also reaching out to students in schools and colleges.
“We recently organised a public lecture by Nasa astronaut Loren Acton, which was attended by students from over 300 schools. We want to hold such events on a regular basis so that more students develop an interest in science,” said Nandi.
The institute is also planning to visit colleges across Bengal to spread awareness about science and research.