Undergraduate Frequently Asked Questions

FAQ's common to both courses.

What is the Institute of Aquaculture?

The Institute of Aquaculture is a department of the University of Stirling that has approximately 100 highly skilled and experienced staff. From a small research group in 1972, the Institute is almost certainly the largest organisation conducting research and teaching specifically about Aquaculture in Europe, and probably the world. Staff include trained marine biologists, animal physiologists and biochemists able to teach Marine Biology and Aquaculture. The department is active in both research and teaching in fields including production systems, livelihoods, international development, environment, biodiversity, climate change, nutrition, reproduction, genetics, disease, parasitology, virology, bacteriology, molecular biology and veterinary studies; covering all kinds of aquatic species, from fish to shellfish and algae.

The Institute has links with a large number of institutions around the world and collaborates on many research projects both nationally and internationally leading to the possibility of overseas research and experience during your degree.

The Institute offers undergraduate degrees in Aquatic Science, Aquaculture and Marine Biology; runs Masters level courses in various aspects of aquaculture and has a large international community studying for research degrees.

What Bachelor's degrees can I study at the Institute of Aquaculture

You will be able to study for either a degree in Aquatic Science, Aquaculture or in Marine Biology. Honours Degrees at Stirling require 4 years full time study, with the first three years offering an exit point of BSc Aquatic Science and successful completion of the 4th year for an Honours Degree.

I want to change my UCAS application. How do I?

If you have applied to, and accepted, an offer of a place at Stirling then it is relatively straightforward to switch courses. This requirement sometimes arises after applicants have visited the university on Open Days/Applicant Days and you just need to let us know so that we can amend your UCAS entry. Such enquiries should be directed to our main admissions office.

If you have not yet applied to Stirling, but wish to do so, you will need to contact UCAS directly. Details of how to do this can be found on the UCAS website.

I want to take a gap year after school. Should I delay my application?


Do not delay. Simply let Stirling know that you intend to defer your entry for 12 months and we will take care of the rest. It will certainly not affect your chances of gaining a place at Stirling. If the gap year allows you to earn money and gain practical experience towards your Aquaculture or Marine Biology career then this is clearly a bonus. However, there is also a lot to be said for having a good time and seeing the world and we recognise the value of such experience. Apply now and, provided you have met the conditions of offer, deferral means your place will be guaranteed.

How long is the degree programme?

4 years.

Honours Degrees at Stirling require 4 years full time study, with the first three years leading to a degree and successful completion of the 4th year for an Honours Degree. You may wish to leave after three years with a Degree in Aquatic Science but it is more likely that you will continue into the 4th year, complete a research project and other advanced modules to gain your Honours Degree.

Each year is split into two semesters of approximately 15 weeks duration consisting of teaching weeks, reading weeks, and the exam diet. Full semester dates can be found here. Though this may vary you will typically study three subject modules per semester. Each module will generally offer 3 lectures and 1 practical/workshop/field visit per week or two.

Can I change courses after the first year?

Stirling degrees are intended to be flexible, and many students change their mind about what their interests and aspirations are after starting at Stirling. With a specialist degree such as marine biology or aquaculture there is a less freedom to choose modules, but you can still switch.

Switching between our biology degrees is usually easy in the first year. Later changes or changes from/to beyond biology degrees may involve catching up on compulsory modules.

Marine Biology and Aquaculture BScs follow a common structure until semester 6, so changes between these two programmes are easy for the first three years. Although you may take slightly different modules, you can count these towards either degree. We do not have a fixed number of students specifically allowed on each course, so if you find that you are excited by Aquaculture but are registered for a degree in Marine Biology, or vice versa, you will be able to change programmes.

Can I study abroad during my Aquaculture or Marine Biology degree?

Yes, and plenty of students do.

The university participates in a “Study Abroad” programme with partners in Australia, Canada, Europe, Hong Kong, Japan and the USA and there is a an opportunity to participate in your 3rd year in 1 or 2 semester exchanges, studying related subjects in one of these countries.

In your final Honours year you may have the opportunity to conduct your research project at an overseas location. As an Institute with an outstanding international reputation we have many willing and active collaborators all over the world. If you have a particular interest, or have a defined project idea, then we may be able to support completion of this work at overseas locations including Europe, South or North America, Africa, Asia, Australia etc.

We also have study abroad students who come to Stirling to, so you will meet and work with them, from places such as Brazil and the USA.

Can I learn to scuba dive at Stirling?

The short answer is yes, lots of students do.

Stirling has an active and friendly sub-aqua club within the which is affiliated to ScotSAC and part of the University' s sports union. Here you can learn to dive and have fun with your fellow students. They have regular social meet-ups as well as dives on weekends and in mid-semester breaks.

In semester 4, students can take a module called Science of Diving. This is all about the science and physiology of diving, as well as other forms of underwater research and observation, but is not a practical course in SCUBA in itself.

I am fed up with Testing at school. How will my work be assessed?

A complex question to answer.

Testing what you have learned and what you still need to understand is a vital component of any degree programme. Each module is assessed separately and we use a combination of coursework assignments and examinations. Coursework includes essays, practical lab or field reports, writing experimental designs, responses to set questions, oral presentations and other forms of assessment. Although we cannot completely avoid the requirement for formal examinations, the variety of assessment methods used will provide you with invaluable transferrable and teamworking skills as well as testing what you know and have learned.

How much support will I receive with my studies?

A lot.

We take special pride in the level and quality of our student support and services on offer, whatever your needs may be. Degree programmes advice, careers advice, accommodation advice and wellbeing advice and counselling are just some of the services offered to students at Stirling.

Marine Biology and Aquaculture staff are friendly and very approachable. Expert advisors will help you if you have any difficulty with your studies and selection of modules. The Institute has an open door policy and you will be able to access staff to discuss your learning, any problems you are having and for your personal development.

More specifically, all students have access to their individual academic Personal Tutor who can signpost services available and provide general advice. For more technical academic enquiries, you can ask one of the Advisors of Studies or the Programme Director for your degree programme. There is also a named contact for you for enquiries about Study Abroad.

Additionally, there are a broad selection of University Services covering issues such as disabilities, counselling and wellbeing, or money advice.

Our virtual (online) learning environment is called Succeed, which works in conjunction with Listen Again, where students can go back through lectures recorded live. This makes learning user friendly, accessible, and it ensures that you have up to date information and all course support materials presented in an accessible way. It may also be used as a discussion forum to discuss modules with staff and fellow students and in numerous other ways.

For students with particular requirements, such as mobility restrictions or dyslexia, Stirling prides itself in our support structures and we will work with you to make alternate arrangements as necessary.

What if I have problems?

Simply put; just ask for help!

As we are not mind readers it is up to you to ask questions. No question or problem is too small to raise.

The University has excellent staff who will help you decide which degree is right for you and to advise you before you come to Stirling.

When you are here we have experienced staff teams within academic departments, in the central administration and in student services who will be able to help you sort any problems out, offer advice or point you to specialist help if this is necessary.

What attributes do I need to study Marine Biology or Aquaculture?

The nature of Marine Biology and Aquaculture as science subjects can be different from many other areas of science. They require fieldwork, where you will have to collect samples and make observations in all weathers. You will study rocky shores one day and muddy sediments the next and should not be concerned about getting wet and dirty. Like other sciences these disciplines require accuracy, an eye for detail and the ability to be critical of your results and observations.

Marine Biology and Aquaculture are multi-disciplinary subjects that require you to work with a range of scientific and technical staff from a number of disciplines, so inter-personal skills are a great asset. If you are someone who is committed and energetic, then these will be suitable programmes for you.

What will the course cost me?

Information on undergraduate tuition fees can be found here.

In addition to budgeting for your everyday travel, subsistence, and accommodation, there are some additional course-related extra costs that are not included in the tuition fees. We appreciate budgets are tight and therefore strive to keep these to a minimum.

General costs for all students include such things as books, stationery, and printing. However, Stirling has a well stocked University Library, and we increasingly stock ebooks such that multiple students can access the same resource at the same time, and remotely from campus.

Subject-specific costs for Aquaculture and Marine Biology BSc students include the purchase of a lab coat and basic dissection kit for use in practicals.

In addition, there are extra charges for residential field courses and some day study visits. Again, we try to keep these as low as we can.

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