Marine Biology

Study Marine Biology and graduate with a university degree

Are you fascinated by the oceans and the rich diversity of organisms that inhabit their depths?

Marine Biology involves studying these specialised plants and animals, and how they solve the unique problems imposed by the sea’s physical and chemical environment.

This course is truly multi-disciplinary. It draws on other biology disciplines, such as ecology and the physical and environmental sciences, to answer questions such as: what determines the distribution of individual organisms and populations? Why are some ocean provinces more productive than others? What impact does human activity have on the health of the oceans? Why are some fisheries sustainable and others not?

Entrance requirements

Four-year Honours degree

SQA Higher:
ABBB - one sitting.
AABB - two sittings.

GCE A-level:

IB Diploma:
32 points.

Essential subjects:
To include one of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics or Physics.

Three-year Honours degree

SQA Adv. Higher:

GCE A-level:

IB Diploma:
35 points.

Essential subjects:
To include Biology and one of Environmental science, Geography or Geology.

Other qualifications

Year one minimum entry
Scottish HNC/D - Bs in graded units
English, Welsh and NI HNC/D - Merits and Distinctions.

Advanced entry
Year 2 entry may be possible with HND in a Science based subject.
For information on accepted courses please consult our Advanced Entry pages.

Access courses:
Access courses and other UK/EU and international qualifications are also welcomed.

Essential subjects:
As listed above or equivalent.

Additional information

General entrance requirements apply
Mathematics Standard Grade (2), Intermediate 2 (C), GCSE (C) or equivalent.

If examinations are taken over two sittings, or there are repeats or upgrades, the entrance requirements may be higher.

INTO University of Stirling offers an International Foundation programme for those students who do not meet the required criteria. This course offers a route to study at University of Stirling through an excellent teaching and learning experience located in the high-quality study facilities on campus. Successful completion of the International Foundation in Science, Computing and Engineering to the required standard provides guaranteed progression to this degree.

English language skills

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Modes of study

Full-time (three modules per semester). Part-time (one or two modules per semester).

Course contact

Dr Darren Green University of Stirling
+ 44 (0) 1786 467872

Course Director

Dr Kim Jauncey

Find out more

Degree course

Semesters 1 - 3

During Year 1 and half of Year 2 (Semesters 1 – 3) you will take core modules such as:

  • Our Blue Planet
  • Our Thirsty Planet
  • Principles of the Aquatic Environment
  • Cell Biology and Physiology
  • Ecology and Evolution
  • Practical Skills in the Natural Sciences

Semesters 4 - 8

Honours students take the following core modules:

  • Science of Diving
  • Managing Aquatic Resources
  • Issues in Marine Biology
  • Biodiversity
  • Genes and Evolution
  • Animal Physiology
  • Experimental Design and Statistical Techniques
  • Aquaculture
  • Marine Biology Field Course
  • Marine Biology Assignments
  • Marine Biology Project (Final Year)

Specialised modules in:

  • Marine Mammal and Turtle Biology (Field Course)
  • Marine Systematics and Taxonomy

Module titles

Teaching and assessment

The Marine Biology degree at Stirling is taught by one of the largest groupings of aquatic scientists in the world and shares a common foundation with the degree course in Aquaculture. Teaching is delivered through formal lectures and practical classes, tutorials, seminars, computer-based learning, fieldwork and guided reading and research. Each semester module is assessed by a combination of coursework (usually 50 percent) and written examination.

Final degree classification is derived from your performance in Semesters 5 – 8 and does not involve a large final examination. Scuba diving, although not a compulsory part of the course, is available both through the University’s Sub-Aqua Club and an option to gain an HSE Professional SCUBA diving qualification, or a PADI sports diving qualification, through articulation with a professional diving company.

In addition to day visits to nearby facilities, you will take part in two residential field courses in which you will study seashore and inshore marine organisms and marine mammal and turtle biology. An independent research project is a major component of the final year and is often carried out in association with external bodies.

Staff members involved in the Marine Biology course have considerable overseas research experience, contacts and current projects. Overseas projects in Semester 8 are encouraged and past projects have been located throughout Europe, North and South America, the Indian subcontinent, Asia, Oceania and Australasia.

Example timetable

The timetable below is a typical example, but your own timetable may be different.

  Mon Tue Wed Thur Fri
1100   AQU5AR AQU5AR(P)   BIO5MI(P)
1300   BIO5AP      
1500   BIO5AP      
1600   BIO5AP      

Combined degrees

Marine Biology is not available as a Combined Honours degree. However, the option to take a degree in Marine Biology is retained until mid-way through Year 3.

Related degrees

This is a highly applied Marine Biology Honours degree course delivered by a team of highly experienced practitioners. We also allow movement between this course and the Aquaculture stream until mid-way through Year 3.

Study abroad

In recent years a small number of Marine Biology students have made successful applications to complete some of Year 3 in the USA and Sydney, Australia


Teaching provision in Marine Biology has been assessed by the Scottish Funding Council and rated as 'highly satisfactory'. The Institute of Aquaculture was ranked top in Aquaculture with 90 percent of the research output rated as 'internationally recognised' in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).


The Institute of Aquaculture is the leading international centre in its field and is the largest of its kind in the world. With an excellent outcome in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, we bring together cross-disciplinary, world class researchers to meet the wide range of challenges faced as aquaculture grows to meet global demands.

We have built up a first class international reputation in teaching, research, contract research and consultancy, with an annual operating budget of almost £5 million. Our core-funded is from Scottish Higher Education Funding Council via the University and we also receive substantial research and project funding from Research Councils, UK Government departments (Department of International Development, Department for Environment, food and Rural Affairs), the European Community and from a wide variety of national and international research organisations, foundations and trusts and industry.

We have links with many other academic institutions, throughout Europe, and also with the Asian Institute of Technology and the Aquatic Animal Health Research Institute (Thailand); the National Agricultural University, Mymensingh (Bangladesh); the College of Fisheries, Mangalore (India); the Universidad Michocana, Morelia (Mexico); and Myazaki University (Japan). We have had considerable direct involvement with the industry during its rapid expansion and we provide disease and environmental management services to industry as well as project design, development and management through Stirling Aquaculture for which we received the Queens Award for Industry in 1990.

Academic strengths

Research focuses on fundamental questions relating to strategies for sustainable aquaculture, whether in modern commercial markets or in feeding poor communities in developing countries. Fundamental research on environments, reproduction, genetics, aquatic health, nutrition and feed supplies, on production systems, on markets, and on social and economic impacts all play significant roles. We have grown steadily over the last 35 years to our present size of more than 110 staff and 120 postgraduate students.

94% of our students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating (Destination of Leavers from Higher Education, 2012/13).

Career opportunities

A graduate in Marine Biology can expect to seek employment in government and private laboratories, including Environmental Protection Agencies and consultancy organisations.

A second degree (MSc or PhD) will often be required for career advancement to more senior research posts and many of our graduates go on to pursue further study at Stirling or other UK and overseas universities. Alternatively, a wide range of more general biological posts are available including those in the aquaculture and fisheries industries, ecotoxicology, and environmental impact assessment. A degree in Marine Biology is also an excellent passport to careers outside of science, such as those in management and finance, computing, and the leisure and tourism industry.

Fees 2016/7

Overseas students (non-EU) £ 13,760.00
Scottish and EU students TBC
Students from the rest of the UK £6,750 per year for a maximum of 4 years


Fees 2015/6

Overseas students (non-EU) £ 13,425.00
Scottish and EU students £ 1,820.00
Students from the rest of the UK £6,750 per year for a maximum of 4 years


Please note: Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish government.

Please note: Students from the rest of the UK can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loan Company.

Marine Biology
  • Degree award BSc (Hons)
  • UCAS Code C160
  • Type Full-time, Part-time
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