Marine Biotechnology

MSc, Postgraduate Diploma


This skills-focussed MSc provides students with a thorough knowledge of the biodiversity in our oceans while receiving practical training in cutting-edge techniques and experimental approaches underpinning on-going developments in marine biotechnology.

Students learn about existing products developed by marine biotechnologists and gain insight into new and emerging global market opportunities. Seminars led by distinguished industrialists and commercial marine biotechnologists encourage the entrepreneurial spirit, provide inspiration and allow for appreciation of commercial realities.

In addition, students are equipped with key employability skills, including:

  • problem solving and critical thinking
  • information retrieval, evaluation and presentation
  • data interpretation and report writing
  • group working, organisation and leadership

Through an active approach to learning, students develop confidence to work independently and are encouraged to pursue their main interests.


Key information

EU Applicants
EU students enrolling for a postgraduate taught degree in the 2017/18 and 2018/19 academic year will be admitted as Scottish/EU fee status students and will be eligible for the same tuition support as Scottish domiciled students.

  • Qualification: MSc, Postgraduate Diploma
  • Study methods: Part-time, Full-time, Campus based
  • Duration: 12 months full-time
  • Start date:


  • Course Director: Dr Andrew Desbois
Download postgraduate prospectus

Dr Andrew Desbois

University of Stirling
Pathfoot Building

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.

What makes us different?

World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

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Life at Stirling

Of the many reasons students come to Stirling, such as academic reputation and research standards, one factor is always cited: the outstanding beauty of the University's Stirling campus. View our online films to get a picture of what it's like to live and study on our beautiful campus.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

Second class Honours degree, or equivalent, in a relevant subject. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with appropriate/relevant work experience are encouraged to apply.

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: 6.0 with 5.5 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade C
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 54 with 51 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 80 with no subtest less than 17

For more information go to English language requirements


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. View our range of pre-sessional courses.

Flexible Learning

If you are interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email to discuss your course of study.

Fees and costs

2018/19 Overseas £18,970
2018/19 Home/EU £6,300

Fees for all new applicants to postgraduate taught courses are held at the level set upon entry.

Please note there is an additional charge should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

The MSc is achieved through the satisfactory completion of 180 SCQF credits. There are two 30-credit taught Foundation modules in Semester 1 (September to December) and two 30-credit taught Advanced modules in Semester 2 (January to April). The remaining 60 credits are achieved by undertaking a Research Project (April to August) on an area of expertise within the Faculty of Natural Sciences. Students completing just the taught modules qualify for a Postgraduate Diploma.


Delivery and assessment

The course is taught primarily by staff at the Institute of Aquaculture, with numerous seminars given by leading figures from industry. Student performance is evaluated by continuous assessment via various coursework tasks, including written and oral presentations. 


Foundation modules:

  • Marine Biodiversity This orientation module describes the complexity of biological life found in marine systems and how unique habitats have driven this remarkable genetic biodiversity. Examples of how organisms have been used by marine biotechnologists are highlighted and the need for a considerate approach to exploiting marine resources is discussed. Attention is also paid to identifying new business opportunities and commercialisation strategies.
  • Methods for Marine Biotechnologists This module equips students with the range of practical bioinformatics skills needed to manage large datasets and make most effective use of contemporary ‘-omics’ technologies. Such approaches are underpinning advances in the life sciences. This module is delivered mainly through computer-based tutorials and in silico practical sessions. Consideration is also given to the use of model systems and organisms.

Advanced modules:

  • Aquaculture Biotechnology This practical module allows students to put their newly-acquired bioinformatics skills and knowledge into practice by executing a gene discovery program that leads to the production of a recombinant antigen and the development of a diagnostic detection kit. Such kits are used to detect pathogens in aquaculture; toxic and invasive marine algae; and harmful environmental contaminants.
  • Recent Advances in Marine Biotechnology Here, students are exposed to the latest developments in the commercial application of marine organisms and their metabolites. Case studies are examined to highlight successful marine-derived products. Meanwhile, research proposals are prepared to consider future prospects for developing new products to address emerging market needs. A package of workshops aims to raise awareness of intellectual property, bibliometrics, science communication and peer-reviewed publishing.

Research Project:

  • Each student undertakes a supervised four-month Research Project in a chosen field of interest and this helps to develop investigative and research skills. Projects may be performed in collaboration with industrial and academic partners from outside Stirling. An assessed portfolio of manuscript, press release and oral presentation is prepared for assessment and to communicate the project findings.

Modes of study

One year

Two years

Study method

Part-time; Full-time; Campus-based

Why Stirling?


In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.


RAE rating 2.4

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes students from around the world. Find out what studying here could be like for you .

Careers and employability

Career opportunities

The course provides each student with knowledge and practical experience important for a career in marine biotechnology. The course content has been developed by experienced academic staff in partnership with industrialists from the marine biotechnology sector and is designed to meet the demands of employers in this rapidly expanding industry.


98% of our postgraduate leavers are in employment or further study withing six months of graduating - Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey 2015/16

Students are equipped with key employability skills, including:

  • problem solving and critical thinking
  • information retrieval, evaluation and presentation
  • data interpretation and report writing
  • group working, organisation and leadership. 

Through an active approach to learning, students develop confidence to work independently and are encouraged to pursue their main interests.

Industry connections

Research projects may be performed in collaboration with industrial and academic partners from outside Stirling. In addition to study tours to commercial biotechnology operations, numerous seminars are give by leading figures from industry.

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