Marine Biotechnology

Study Marine Biotechnology and graduate with a university degree

MSc, Postgraduate Diploma

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Marine Biotechnology
  • Type Part-time, Full-time, Campus based
  • Start date September

Dr Andrew Desbois University of Stirling
+ 44 (0) 1786 467871

This new MSc has been developed to satisfy the growing needs of individuals interested in the fast developing area of marine biotechnology. Marine biotechnology is the application of the science and technology of marine organisms and life processes to generate new knowledge, products and services that benefit us and our environment, and it also includes the use of technology that enhances the biological resources in our oceans. Marine biotechnologists are helping to address the key issues facing modern society: ensuring secure and sustainable supplies of food and energy; protecting and improving our natural environments; and maintaining and enhancing the wellbeing and health of an ageing population. 

A central ethos of marine biotechnology is recognition that the biodiversity in our oceans exceeds that of terrestrial habitats; however, this diversity has been relatively underexplored to date. This variety in micro and macro marine organisms exhibit a broad range of adaptations to the varied environments in which they prosper, and it is the role of marine biotechnologists to improve our understanding of these adaptations and in turn to exploit this new knowledge for the development of commercial products and services. Such innovations are aided by access to increasingly powerful approaches in molecular biology and next generation – omics technologies. To date, interest has focused on novel therapeutics (e.g. antibiotics, anti-cancer agents), biofuels, novel industrial chemistry (e.g. adhesives, surfactants, enzymes), genetic selection and bioengineering tools, as well as technical innovations for aquaculture. This skills-focussed MSc incorporates the key elements of marine biotechnology including biodiversity, cutting edge techniques and experimental approaches, and is presented within an interdisciplinary life science background.  


Course objectives

This course provides students with:

  • An awareness of the diversity of marine organisms and the adaptations that enable them to prosper in their natural habitats.
  • A thorough knowledge of the fundamental science and methodologies underpinning on-going developments in marine biotechnology.
  • An understanding of the latest advances and global opportunities that exist in the burgeoning field of marine biotechnology.
  • Training in practical, investigative and research skills, as well as commercialisation and intellectual property protection.

Entrance requirements

A minimum of a second class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject.  Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work experience are encouraged to apply.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence of your proficiency such as a minimum IELTS score of 6.0 (5.5 in all bands).

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard.

Our range of pre-sessional courses.

Modes of study

One year

Two years

Course start date


Application procedure

To apply follow the link to the right.

For further details on the course please contact the Marine Biotechnology team using the details opposite

Structure and content

The course is firstly divided into two 30 SCQF credit bearing taught modules running over Semester 1: Foundation module (September to December), and Semester 2: Advanced module (January to April). During these modules you will receive training in the following areas:

  • Marine Biodiversity: Explores the complexity of the biological and genetic diversity found in the marine environment in the context of the distinct habitats found within this ecosystem. The key interactions between the different life forms in the oceans are discussed.
  • Culture of Marine Organisms: Examines approaches to growing marine organisms in captivity, from their capture through to domestication and genetic improvement to realise a commercially important product. Methods to identify, isolate and produce new products and compounds are described.
  • Aquaculture Biotechnology and Marine-Omics: Explores genomics and gene discovery in marine organisms. Describes the development and implementation of diagnostic and therapeutic systems to detect pathogens of economically important species, toxic and invasive marine species, and environmental contaminants and toxins.
  • Recent Advances in Marine Biotechnology: Considers the latest developments in the exploitation of marine organisms for commercial and industrial applications. Identifies the challenges and future prospects for the development of new products from marine organisms, including intellectual property management and the preparation of R&D proposals, and case studies examine various successful marine-derived products

Students, who successfully complete Semester 1 and 2 taught course will qualify for the Postgraduate Diploma in Marine Biotechnology and may then proceed to the MSc. This involves completion of a four-month research project.

Summer (April to August) - students will undertake a Marine Biotechnology research project module (60 SCQF credits) that will focus on a particular area of research expertise within the School of Natural Sciences.

Module information

Delivery and assessment

The course is taught primarily by marine biotechnology staff, who are located in the Institute of Aquaculture, but additional seminars are provided by leading figures from industry.

Assessment is continuous via coursework, and may include teamwork and presentations. Examinations are held in December and May, and the external examiner may meet and interview students at the end of the research project module.

Course Director

Dr Andrew Desbois

RAE rating

RAE rating 2.4

Career opportunities

The course provides each student with the appropriate knowledge and practical experience important for a career in marine biotechnology. The course content has been developed by academic staff and senior industrialists from the marine biotechnology sector, and is designed to meet the needs of potential employers in this fast developing industry.



You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.


The Scottish Funding Council is funding Home/EU tuition fees for a number of places on the MSc Marine Biotechnology.  Funded places are open to applicants domiciled in Scotland and the EU.  More information 

Information on possible sources of funding