BSc (Hons) Marine Biology

Our marine biology degree combines marine science lectures, practical training, field courses and research projects. Stirling is a superb place to start your career working with the oceans.

Marine Biology

Key facts

  • Award BSc (Hons)
  • Start date September 2024, January 2025
  • Application notes For students who need a visa: we are closed for January 2024 entry.
  • Duration 48 months
  • Mode of study full time, part 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 aquatic organisms and how they’ve adapted to the challenges of living in a marine environment. The course covers 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, you'll learn about the living world from the molecular level to entire ecosystems. It draws on other disciplines, including ecology and the physical and environmental sciences, to understand the aquatic environment that covers around 71 per cent of the earth’s surface.

You'll learn about the dynamics of aquatic systems and the biology of their organisms, the science of diving and other underwater techniques. We will also study the impacts and threats to the marine environments and the effects of climate change on the aquatic organisms. Our combination of lectures, 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 coordinates this course and it is a world leading centre, 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 in 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.

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 at Scottish Higher level or equivalent at Grade B, if HNC or Access course is not science related.

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 be possible depending on your qualifications. For more information, contact our Admissions Team at admissions@stir.ac.uk.

Other routes of entry

If you don't currently meet our academic requirements, INTO University of Stirling offers a variety of preparation programmes that can earn you the qualifications and skills you need to progress onto some of our courses. Explore INTO University of Stirling to see the Foundation and International Year 2 routes available.

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 a minimum of 5.5 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.

See our information on English language requirements for more details on the language tests we accept and options to waive these 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 underpinning function and dynamics of aquatic systems, and the biology, ecology, taxonomy and management of organisms inhabiting these systems from the molecular level to the entire ecosystem. Practical work is integrated into the course to 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 gain a practical and theoretical understanding of marine organism 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. During this semester you can choose to attend our marine mammals residential field course. It offers an excellent opportunity to learn more about these iconic animals and understand the UK's rich marine ecosystems.

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 2023). Modules and start dates are regularly reviewed and may be subject to change in future years.

Course details

Teaching

The University of Stirling was awarded five-star excellence for teaching in the QS Stars University Ratings 2021.

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, field courses, guided reading and research.

Fieldwork

There is one compulsory field trip in which you'll study seashore and inshore marine organisms. There is also an optional residential marine mammal field course in Millport, Scotland, where you will learn about the biology, behaviour, physiology and environment surrounding this iconic group of animals. An independent research project is a major component of the final year and often involves fieldwork, sometimes abroad.

There are also day trips or 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 combination 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 Service can help you secure placements and offer 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 relevant stakeholders.

Study abroad

The 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

Associate Professor Sonia Rey Planellas

sonia.reyplanellas@stir.ac.uk

Fees and funding

Fees and costs

Academic year: 2023/24 2024/25
Scottish students £1,820 £1,820
Students from England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland £9,250 £9,250
International students (including EU) £20,300 £21,300

Scottish students

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

Although you’re liable for annual tuition fees, if you are domiciled in Scotland you can apply to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have your tuition fees paid by the Scottish Government on your behalf.

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

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.

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 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 are eligible for a tuition fee loan of up to £9,250 from the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS).

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 section below for more information.

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.

International students (including EU)

Eligible students will automatically receive a scholarship worth between £8,000-£30,000 over the duration of your course. See our range of generous scholarships for international undergraduate students.

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

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

Students from Scotland

Find funding opportunities for Scottish students.

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

Eligible students will automatically receive our Undergraduate Welcome Scholarship, Undergraduate Merit Scholarship, and our Honours Year Scholarship, which are worth between £1,000 and £9,250.

International students

Eligible international students will automatically receive a scholarship worth between £8,000-£30,000 over the duration of your course. Find funding opportunities for international students.

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.

International (including EU) 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
  • eco-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

The course includes 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 international 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.