Page last updated at 13:23 GMT, Wednesday, 16 September 2009 14:23 UK

Surf science graduates ride high

by Jonathan Morris
BBC News South West

Dean Bennett
Dean Bennett has his own sports brand marketing company

Ten years ago the new Surf Science and Technology degree at Plymouth University was derided as a Mickey Mouse option for students.

Critics, including the Professional Association of Teachers, ranked it among "hobby degrees" lowering the quality of university courses and warned that students could be wasting their three years.

Now it has come of age and gets hundreds of applications each year from people attracted to a course that combines business, marketing, event management and ocean science.

The course has led to successful careers for many, including Dean Bennett who now is co-owner of a brand marketing company with offices in Plymouth and London.

Mr Bennett, 31, was spotted by French surf-clothing firm Quiksilver and after he graduated in 2003 he joined their training scheme in France.

It set me up for what I am doing and I would argue that it is one of the best jobs in the world
Ernie Capbert, course graduate

"I could see that the industry was flourishing quite rapidly and there were different careers that would be possible," he said.

After eight months working in the UK he was made a brand director.

"Without the course, there wouldn't have been that opportunity and I wouldn't be where I am today, so I have the course to thank for that, one hundred per cent."

He is now running his own sports brand marketing company, Coffin on Cake.

He said: "The industry is getting bigger and bigger and more and more jobs come out of it.

"If you look at all action sports it is massive.

"It is a lifestyle thing and it is about making a career out of a lifestyle."

The course was thought to be the first of its kind when it started.

'Very progressive'

Mr Bennett said: "When I started, the course was in its second year and there were yet to be any graduates, so I think people were still looking at it with raised eyebrows.

"Ten years on it is quite obvious that the course is a success and the opportunities are there for the graduates.

"The employment rate from the course has been fantastic and I can't see how it can do anything else other than improve."

American-born Ernie Capbert, 31, graduated from the surf science course a year after Mr Bennett.

He is now marketing director of technical sports clothing firm Finisterre in St Agnes.

Ross Pomeroy
Graduate Ross Pomeroy is now a course lecturer

"I saw a story about it in the Washington Post," he said.

"I always had an aptitude for business, but I didn't want to go down the traditional route.

"It had a touch of business and science which appealed to me.

"But it was grabbing a series of different modules and smashing them into one so it was very progressive.

"It set me up for what I am doing and I would argue that it is one of the best jobs in the world."

Ross Pomeroy who graduated in 2004 and went on to study at PhD level, is now a lecturer on the course.

He said: "Our graduates have gone on to become marketing and brand directors of leading surf, skate and snowboard companies, surf media journalists and sponsored professionals.

"Many have also gone on to set up their own successful enterprises.

"The list goes on, but most important is our mission to develop true problem solving graduates with knowledge, experience and expertise in their chosen areas of interest and a strategic approach to their futures."

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