BSc (Hons)

Marine Biology

This is an ideal location to study the marine environment

C160UCAS code 3yrsfull time

Star Course Overview

Why take this course?

Over 95 per cent of organisms live within the earth’s aquatic systems, but we know very little about most of these species and the ecosystems they inhabit. Our close proximity to many marine habitats and internationally protected conservation areas will enable you to explore coastal and marine systems and the key issues facing them.

We have over 70 year’s experience of marine biological research which makes the University of Portsmouth the destination to start your marine biology career.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Use state-of-the-art equipment to explore marine ecosystems and study marine organisms
  • Carry out inshore or offshore practical work on our research raft or vessels
  • Take your research project overseas and perform fieldwork in another country via our links with many study abroad schemes


What opportunities might it lead to?

The Institute of Marine Sciences has an established international reputation for research and teaching, and receives funding from many sources including industry, research councils, and government agencies. These links produce various research opportunities for our staff and students, and could be a great route to future opportunities upon graduating.

Graduates are eligible to apply for Associate Membership of the Society of Biology. This entitles them to membership benefits which include access to professional networks and attendance at conferences. Associate members are awarded the post-nominal letters AMSB.

Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:

  • academic or industrial research
  • marine consultancy
  • conservation
  • science teaching
  • scientific writing


Transfer to the MBiol courses

You can apply to transfer onto the MBiol courses in your second year if you decide that you would like to continue with your studies after the third year. In order to be able to do this, you must satisfy the criteria for progression stated in the MBiol course handbook.


Robert Mansergh, BSc (Hons) Marine Biology student 2013

We have some of the best facilities in the UK and with access to the marine environment and our research vessel only metres away it is a fantastic place to do marine biology.

Robert Mansergh, BSc (Hons) Marine Biology student 2013

Apply for September 2016

If you're still considering your options, we’re here to help you make the right decision.

Key Facts

UCAS Course Code:
3 years full time
300 points from 3 A levels or equivalent, with A level Biology at grade B. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5. Other qualifications

UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students
2016/17 entry: full time: £9,000 p/a*

International students
2016/17 entry: full time: £13,700 p/a**

*Tuition fee may be subject to annual increase.
**Tuition fee is subject to annual increase.

View tuition fee terms and conditions
View additional course costs

+44 (0)23 9284 5550
School of Biological Sciences
Programme specification
Accreditations & Endorsements

Institute of Marine Engineering Science and Technology

Society of Biology logo


BSc (Hons) Marine Biology

Find out more about what it's like to study marine biology here at Portsmouth.

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Light bulb Structure & Teaching

Year one

Start your studies with a broad foundation in biology; essential for 21st century marine biology to understand all aspects from the molecular to the ecosystem. This also gives you a chance to change to another course in a biological science should you wish to change the direction of your studies.

Core units in this year include:

  • Introduction to Cell Biology and Biochemistry
  • Biodiversity and Evolution
  • Marine and Terrestrial Ecology
  • Microbiology and Molecular Biology
  • Experimental Biology
  • Graduate Skills

Year two

In the second year you will begin to specialise in marine biology topics including the Marine Research Skills unit to ensure you develop your full research skillset. You will experience offshore boat sampling as well as advanced molecular and morphological specimen identification, the latter delivered by taxonomists from Fugro Ltd, a global leader in marine consultancy.

Core units in this year include:

  • Marine Organisms and Ecosystems
  • Community Ecology and Residential Marine Field Course
  • Animal Science
  • Marine Research Skills

Options to choose from in this year include:

  • Oceanography
  • Microbiology
  • Plant Science
  • Basic and Scientific Diving
  • A foreign language
  • Practical Boating Skills

Year three

In this year you will gain an advanced understanding of marine systems and organisms including: physiology, aquaculture, fisheries and the management of coastal ecosystems. Then apply your skills and knowledge as you undertake an individual research project on your own research interests.

Core units in this year include:

  • Coastal Ecosystems
  • Applied Marine Biology
  • Marine Ecophysiology

Options to choose from in this year include:

  • Aquatic Microbiology
  • Ecology and Conservation
  • Global climate change

Teaching and Assessment

You will experience a variety of teaching methods, which include laboratory-based practical work and a number of field trips reinforcing the theory learned in lectures, workshops and tutorials. Also, our personal tutorial system ensures that you have someone to provide help with any academic or pastoral problems.

How are you assessed?

You will be assessed through a variety of ways, with the main examination assessment usually taking place at the end of the year, but with coursework throughout. Here’s how we assess your work:

  • written exams
  • course work in the form of practical write ups
  • posters and oral presentations
  • individual research project
Dr Simon Cragg

Tutor's view

Dr Simon Cragg
Marine Biology

From arctic to tropical, from high tide to the ocean depths: we explore marine ecosystems and the biology of the fascinating organisms that live there. Through general and specialist lectures, workshops, practicals and field courses, we equip you with the knowledge and skills needed for the range of careers open to marine biologists.

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Monitor Facilities & Features

Institute of Marine Sciences

The internationally-renowned Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS) is located at the mouth of Langstone Harbour providing easy access to the varied marine ecosystems of the Solent. In addition to our extensive teaching labs, you will have access to advanced scientific and field equipment including a large experimental raft moored in the centre of the harbour and a six metre high-speed shallow draft launch for inshore work including a suite of sampling systems including dredges, grabs and nets. Overall, our aim is to introduce you to research at the highest level.

Petersfield Field Centre for Environmental Technology

Undertake some microbiological testing or investigations at the Petersfield Sewage Works. There’s a variety of research and test facilities. A chemistry lab for water analysis, a greenhouse and hydroponic experimental beds for plant trials, and there is even a supply of sewage and effluent from pipelines at 3 stages of the treatment works (raw, primary settled and final effluent).


The IMS and the School of Biological Sciences have a well-established, world-wide reputation for both fundamental and applied research in marine sciences. Attracting funding from many sources including industry, Research Councils, Leverhulme Trust, the European Union and government agencies, our research activities cover a wide range of interests from the molecular to the ecosystem. Our six research themes reflect the complexity of the modern marine biological sciences:

  • biodiversity and evolution
  • epigenetics and developmental biology
  • ecotoxicology and environmental monitoring
  • marine resource management
  • environmental microbiology and biotechnology
  • molecular biophysics

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online ejournals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Jonathan Smith, BSc (Hons) Marine Biology student

The facilities are excellent, especially the aquarium and research labs at the Institute of Marine Sciences.

Jonathan Smith, BSc (Hons) Marine Biology student

Budgeting for your studies

There are extra costs associated with studying, which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Recommended texts:
If you wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow from the University Library, the average price is £50-£60. You may be studying up to 6 units a year, each with a standard recommended text.

General costs:
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for costs of photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.

Final year project:
If your final year includes a major project, there could be cost for transport or accommodation related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose to develop.

Other costs to consider

Travel or accommodation for compulsory fieldwork is included in the course fee, but you will be expected to pay for meals and other subsistence costs. These costs will be in the region of £60.

There are two optional diving skills units:
The Scientific and Technical Diving A unit is available if you have not dived before. It includes a PADI Open Water course, Dry Suit course, combined with the Scientific and Technical Diving course, and has extra costs in the region of £860 to cover tuition, transport and diving costs.

The Scientific and Technical Diving B unit is available if you hold a PADI Open Water certificate (or equivalent). It includes an advanced diving course (e.g. PADI Advanced Open Water), Dry Suit course, combined with the Scientific and Technical Diving course, and costs in the region of £780 to cover tuition, transport and diving costs.

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Mortarboard Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Where next?
Where next?

We give career development high priority. Many graduates continue with their studies but as a newly qualified modern marine biologist, you may find employment in diverse areas like the biotechnology or environmental consultancy, science administration and communication, pure research, and teaching.

Roles our graduates have taken on include:

  • academic or industrial research scientist
  • marine environmental consultant
  • marine planner
  • science writer
  • conservation ecologist

Work experience

Employment boosting opportunities
Employment boosting opportunities

Our course is flexible allowing you to study for your honours project or part of your degree abroad. You may get the chance to study in Europe under the Socrates scheme and we have strong links with many European universities, particularly in France, Spain and Italy. You also have the opportunity to complete your fieldwork for a project during the second year summer break at other research facilities outside the UK, and with various conservation and research schemes including Operation Wallacea, Global Vision and Oceans Research.

Living and working abroad is the best way to learn a new language or improve existing skills. You will gain confidence, language skills, the ability to adapt to new environments and communicate with people from different cultural backgrounds. Make yourself more attractive to employers in a global market and prove you’re not afraid to take on a new challenge.

Career planning

Career planning
Career planning
6.04 minutes

To make sure you take the right steps on your career path, we’re here to give you help, support and advice throughout your study. Even after you’ve graduated, we continue to give you support for up to five years.

Employers tell us that they want graduates to be able to demonstrate certain skills when they come out of university. Our courses take account of this. We make sure we prepare you for employment through work-related learning, projects, placements and working in simulated environments that are designed to prepare you for the working world.

Gabriella Brown, BSc (Hons) Marine Biology student 2013

The 2nd year residential marine field trip was great fun, and also developed my skills for a future career in marine sciences.

Gabriella Brown, BSc (Hons) Marine Biology student 2013

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