The oceans of the world are teeming with life and are filled with a huge range of microscopic organisms, animals, and plant life. Marine biology is the study of these living organisms that inhabit 95% of the biosphere of our planet (the oceans).

These programmes will provide you with an integrated approach to the scientific study of organisms in the ocean or other marine or brackish bodies of water. You will study subjects such as the chemical makeup of water, the ocean’s geology, marine mammals, fish, plants, and biological habitats. The areas covered will range from the accessible coastal margins, where most of our fisheries are, right through to the deepest depths, that are only just now beginning to be explored.

This degree is appropriate for students who plan to pursue a career as a practicing marine biologist, or who want it to help them open doors in a broad range of career areas such as geology, coastal science, zoology and oceanography. Graduates will also find many job opportunities in sectors such as marine resource management, fisheries and aquaculture, government advisory bodies, the scientific media, ecotourism and other leisure industries and pressure groups.

Apart from developing your practical laboratory-based skills and transferable skills, student will also be introduced to the ethical issues resulting from technological advances in biotechnology, biomedicine and environmental technology.

Marine biology degree course overview

Courses can be quiet varied and will contain a lot of chemistry, physics as well as biology. Central to it will be the observational and experimental study of selected aspects of the ecology, physiology and evolution of marine organisms.

On most modules, students will be required to carry our research projects that will include fieldwork activities, including day trips, allowing them to see marine life in its natural environment. Much of the teaching on a course is supported by practical lab and field work, with students encouraged to undertake their own research projects and to go for publishing their projects as papers in scientific journals. All of this of course means that the course will not get boring as lectures are intermingled with exciting lab sessions, and countless field trips to explore the wild marine life. Most modules are assessed by a combination of coursework and end assessment.

Typical course modules and areas of study on a marine biology degree

  • Animal diversity
  • Marine ecology
  • Cellular and microbial biology
  • Ecology
  • Molecular ecology
  • Molecular ecology
  • Trophic dynamics: introduction to modelling
  • Marine Biology literature review
  • Marine plankton and pelagic invertebrates
  • Vertebrates
  • Coastal marine ecology
  • Oceanography
  • Ecology and Evolution
  • Introductory Research Skills
  • Marine Physiology and Behaviour
  • Estuary and Shelf Sea Processes
  • Tides, Waves and Sampling
  • Marine Vertebrates
  • Ice and Oceans
  • Marine Biology Intertidal Field Course
  • Marine Conservation and Exploitation
  • Marine Processes and Systems

Students will learn about

  • The origins of marine life.
  • Aquaculture.
  • Fisheries.
  • Marine biotechnology.
  • Scuba diving.
  • Underwater photography.
  • All forms of life, from the largest whale right down to the smallest marine bacteria.
  • The genetic makeup of marine organisms.
  • Effects of environmental changes on the ocean ecosystem.

Students will learn how to

  • Study saltwater organisms.
  • Study ecosystems.
  • Analyze the ways marine life interacts.
  • Analyse the effects of pollution and global warming on ecosystems.
  • Carry out complex practical and field work exercises.


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