BSc (Hons) Marine Biology

Our marine biology degree mixes science, practical training and research projects. Stirling is a superb place to kick-start your career working with the oceans.

Key facts

  • Award BSc (Hons)
  • Start date September 2022, January 2023
  • Duration 48 months
  • Mode of study part time, full time
  • Delivery on campus
  • UCAS Code C160
  • Study abroad opportunities

Overview

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

Marine Biology is the study of specialised plants and animals and how they’ve adapted to the challenges of living in a marine environment. It’s also concerned with the impact human activity has on the health of the oceans and their sustainable management, directly addressing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life below Water.

Our course is truly multi-disciplinary. It draws on other Biology disciplines, including Ecology and the physical and environmental sciences, to understand a habitat that covers around 71 per cent of the earth’s surface.

We teach you the dynamics of aquatic systems and the biology of their organisms. You’ll learn about the science of diving and other underwater techniques. Our mix of practical work, fieldwork and research projects will ensure that you’ll be ready for your career working with the oceans.

Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture – which coordinates this course – is a leading international centre in its field, with an excellent international reputation in teaching, research, innovation and consultancy. The Institute of Aquaculture has received the UK’s most prestigious academic honour – the Queen’s Anniversary Prize 2019. The honour recognises outstanding work that shows quality and innovation, and delivers real benefit to the wider world through education and training. It recognises our pioneering work in the world’s fastest-growing food production sector and our bid to tackle global hunger.

Top reasons to study with us

Prizes or awards

Every year, a research-based learning prize is awarded to one of our final year students based on performance in the dissertation or other engagement with research in the Institute.

Entry requirements

Year 1 entry – Four-year honours

SQA Highers
AABB – by the end of S5
AAAB – by the end of S6

GCE A-levels
BBB

IB Diploma
30 points

BTEC (Level 3)
DDM

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

Widening access students
Widening access students may be eligible for an adjusted offer of entry. To find out if this applies to you go to our widening access pages.

Care-experienced applicants will be guaranteed an offer of a place if they meet the minimum entry requirements.

Year 2 entry – Three-year honours

SQA Advanced Highers
ABB

GCE A-levels
ABB

IB Diploma
35 points

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

Other Scottish qualifications

Scottish HNC/HND
Year one minimum entry - Bs in graded units.

Access courses
University of Stirling access course - for mature students only. You must pass the course with 50% or above.

SWAP Access course - for mature students only. Please check the SWAP progression routes document for details.

Email our Admissions Team for advice about other access courses.

Foundation Apprenticeships
Considered to be equivalent to 1 Higher at Grade B

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

Other qualifications

English, Welsh and Northern Irish HNC/HND
Merits and Distinctions

English, Welsh and Northern Irish access courses
Access to Higher Education - 60 credits, minimum 45 at QCF Level 3, pass at 60% or above

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

International entry requirements

Advanced entry

Year 2 entry
Entry into Year 2 may be possible depending on your HNC/HND course. To find out more go to our articulation pages.

Other qualifications
Advanced entry may by possible depending on your qualifications. To find out more go to our advanced entry pages.

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

Additional information

General entrance requirements apply

If you’ve taken exams over two sittings, repeated an exam, or been upgraded, the entrance requirements may be higher.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS Academic or UKVI 6.0 with 5.5 in each skill
  • Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE) 169 overall with a minimum of 162 in each sub-skill
  • Cambridge C2 Proficiency (CPE) 180 overall with a minimum of 162 in each sub-skill
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 60 overall with a minimum of 59 in each sub-skill
  • IBT TOEFL 78 overall with a minimum of 17 in listening, 18 in reading, 20 in speaking and 17 in writing
  • IBT TOEFL Special Home Edition 78 overall with a minimum of 17 in listening, 18 in reading, 20 in speaking and 17 in writing
  • Trinity ISE II Pass overall and Pass in each sub-skill, ISE III Pass overall and in all sub-skills, ISE IV Pass overall and in all sub-skills
  • Aptis (4 skills) CEFR B2 overall and B2 in all sub-skills
  • Duolingo 95 overall with a minimum of 90 in all sub-skills
  • LanguageCert International ESOL B2 Communicator -  Pass with minimum 33 in each sub-skill

Last updated: 24 March 2022

You must also check the specific English language requirements for your country.

For more information on ways that you can meet our English language requirements, including options to waive the requirement, please read our information on English language requirements.

Pre-sessional English language courses

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.

Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses

Course details

This course will enable you to understand the form, function and dynamics of aquatic systems, and to understand the biology, ecology, taxonomy and management of organisms inhabiting these systems. Practical work is integrated into the course to help you translate theory into practice.

You’ll learn to design and perform a range of aquatic survey techniques and use the information to assess the quality of marine habitats. You’ll also have practical and theoretical understanding of taxonomy using traditional and molecular techniques.

The final year of study involves an independent research project, often carried out with external organisations. Overseas projects in Semester 8 are encouraged and have previously been located throughout Europe, North and South America, the Indian subcontinent, Asia and Oceania.

Our course is run by one of the leading international centres in its field. With an excellent outcome in the most recent Research Excellence Framework 2021 and the Queen’s Anniversary Prize 2019, we bring together cross-disciplinary, world class researchers and have built up a first-class international reputation in teaching, research, contract research and consultancy for aquaculture. We collaborate with academic research institutions throughout Europe and beyond, including Spain, China, Brazil, Norway and Thailand.

Modules

The module information below provides an example of the types of course module you may study. The details listed are for the current academic year (September 2021). Modules and start dates are regularly reviewed and may be subject to change in future years.

Course details

Teaching

The University of Stirling have been awarded five star excellence for teaching by the QS World University Rankings 2020.

Our academics use their international research activities to teach you the latest thinking and trends in marine biology. Our teaching is delivered through lectures and practical classes, tutorials, seminars, computer-based learning and online materials, fieldwork, guided reading and research.

Fieldwork

You’ll take part in two fieldtrips in which you’ll study seashore and inshore marine organisms and marine mammal biology. An independent research project is a major component of the final year and often involves fieldwork.

There are also day field study visits to external sites and facilities, where you’ll get relevant experience and a practical grounding in marine biology.

Assessment

Modules on the course are assessed by a mixture of written assignments, exams, practical, team and individual projects. A 40% exam, 60% coursework split would be typical for a module on this course.

Work placement opportunities

Students can build strong links with industry through summer placements with local employers and large corporates. Our Careers and Employability Service is ranked 1st in Scotland and Top 5 in the UK (UK International Student Barometer (ISB) Benchmark and Global ISB Benchmark 2018). They will not only help you to secure placements but also offer all the support and advice you need to plan your career, develop your employability or think about further study.

An independent research project is a major component of the final year and is often carried out in association with external bodies.

Study abroad

 

An option to study abroad is available in year 3. Marine biology students benefit from our study abroad links to countries such as the USA (including Hawaii, California, and Alaska), Canada, and Australia.

Find out more about studying abroad.

We encourage overseas projects in Semester 8. Past student projects have been located throughout Europe, North and South America, the Indian subcontinent, Asia, Oceania and Australasia.

Contact

Dr Michaël Bekaert

michael.bekaert@stir.ac.uk
+44 (0)1786 467870

Fees and funding

Fees and costs

Academic year: 2021/22 2022/23
Scottish students £1,820* £1,820 *
Students from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland £9,250 £9,250
European Union students £17,900 £18,800
Overseas students (non-EU) £17,900 £18,800

Scottish students

* This fee is set by the Scottish Government and is subject to change.

You will be charged the annual tuition fee each year when you enrol.

Although you’re liable for annual tuition fees, students domiciled in Scotland can apply to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish Government on their behalf. If you’re unsure of your fee status, you can check your eligibility.

If you need to take additional modules or resit modules, you’ll be liable for an additional fee.

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Students from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland

This tuition fee may be subject to change depending on guidance provided by the UK Government.

You will be charged the annual fee each year when you enrol. Your fees will be held at the same level throughout your course.

You can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of your tuition fees, from your relevant funding body. Students from the Republic of Ireland who are living in the Common Travel Area of the UK, Islands or Ireland and are starting a course of study in Scotland in session 2021/22 will be entitled to apply to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for funding. See more information on the SAAS website.

We also offer additional funding – such as our Honours Year Scholarship – for students from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland. See our funding opportunities below for more information.

If you need to take additional modules or resit modules, you will be liable for an additional fee.

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

European Union students

For EU students starting studies in academic year 2022/23, we will award an automatic scholarship of up to £30k over the duration of your course. This is subject to eligibility criteria.

Students from the Republic of Ireland should see the fee and funding information under England, Wales, NI and Republic of Ireland.

You will be charged the annual fee each year when you enrol. Your fees will be held at the same level throughout your course.

If you need to take additional modules or resit modules, you will be liable for an additional fee.

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Overseas students (non-EU)

You will be charged the annual fee each year when you enrol. Your fees will be held at the same level throughout your course.

If you need to take additional modules or resit modules, you will be liable for an additional fee.

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Additional costs

There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.

We subsidise costs for fieldtrips but you’ll be required to make a financial contribution.

Funding opportunities

See what funding opportunities and loans are available to help you with tuition and living costs.

Students domiciled in Scotland

The University of Stirling offers undergraduate funding opportunities for students domiciled in Scotland. To find out if you’re eligible to apply for an award, use our scholarship finder.

EU students

For EU students starting studies in academic year 2022/23, we will award an automatic scholarship of up to £30k over the duration of your course. This is subject to eligibility criteria.

Students domiciled in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland

The Undergraduate Choice Scholarship provides a £1,000 cash award to all students from England, Wales, Northern Ireland or Republic of Ireland who meet the conditions of their offer and select the University of Stirling as their Firm or Insurance choice on UCAS.

The University also offers the Undergraduate Merit Scholarship, which is awarded to selected students and provides a £1,000 cash award per year for years 1-3 of study. To be considered for the Merit Scholarship, students require a minimum of AAB at A-level or equivalent.

In addition, students from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland who enter in year 1 and progress successfully through years 2 and 3 will receive our Honours Year Scholarship, which covers the cost of undergraduate tuition fees in the Honours year of study.

You don’t need to apply for the awards listed above - we'll automatically identify your eligibility as part of the admissions process.

To explore other scholarships and learn more about funding opportunities, use our scholarship finder.

Students domiciled overseas

The University of Stirling offers generous undergraduate funding opportunities for overseas students. To find out if you're eligible to apply for an award, use our scholarship finder.

Cost of living

If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.

EU and overseas students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support.

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling.

Payment options

We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay.

After you graduate

What jobs can you get with a Marine Biology degree?

Our graduates are sought after in relevant areas of employment, in both public and private sectors, such as:

  • environmental protection
  • environmental impact assessment
  • environmental and conservation fields
  • pollution control
  • water companies, tourism
  • fisheries management
  • governmental regulatory departments
  • the fast-growing aquaculture sector.

In addition, there is a wide range of more general graduate employment, which includes:

  • biotechnological companies
  • bioinformatics
  • health and clinical sciences
  • forensic science
  • medical sales and marketing
  • science journalism
  • teaching

We include an aquaculture module as the aquaculture sector is a major Scottish industry and employer of marine biology graduates.

A second degree (MSc or PhD) is often needed if you want to advance your career to more senior research posts, and many of our graduates go on to pursue further study at Stirling or other UK and overseas universities.

Students benefit from their close association with a strongly research-led department in the aquatic sciences, particularly in the more advanced and project modules.

Employability skills

This course will enable you to:

  • Use biological lab skills, including: lab safety, microscopy, biological drawing, live-animal observation, wet-lab work, and aquatic/marine field skills.
  • Use scientific methodology, including: hypothesis-driven science, experimental design, report writing and practical biostatistics.
  • Assess the scientific literature with critical appraisal and synthesise multiple sources.

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What our students said

Niru Neil  Dorrian
Niru Neil Dorrian
Scotland
BSc (Hons) Marine Biology
Having a degree in marine biology has opened so many doors for me and launched me on an incredible career where I travel the world almost non-stop since 2006. I have worked on over 50 marine and coastal projects in Russia, South America, New Zealand, Africa and Asia.
Read Niru Neil's story

Flexible study

This course is not available as a combined degree.