BSc (Hons) Marine Environmental Science - University of Portsmouth
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BSc (Hons)

Marine Environmental Science

UCAS codeF912

full time3yrs

placement option1yr

Discover how the marine environment affects us and how we are affecting it

Course Overview

Why take this course?

From global warming through to the smallest plankton at the base of the food chain, you’ll discover how the marine environment affects us and how we are affecting it.

Studying with us means you will have a wealth of marine and coastal environments on your doorstep.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Use our state-of-the-art environmental labs for practical work
  • Get the chance to visit the tropical forests of Belize to study terrestrial, watershed and marine ecology
  • Carry out a field project in Malta to learn about the country’s coastal ecology

What opportunities might it lead to?

This course is accredited by the Institution of Environmental Sciences (IES) giving all students on these 2 courses automatic Student Membership status of this professional body during their undergraduate studies, allowing progression to Associate Membership upon graduation. Full Membership can usually be achieved within a year of working in a relevant environmental career, leading to Chartership normally within a further 4-5 years in industry. It’s the first step towards professional certification which is increasingly required for chartered career progression and for environmental scientists to work in the UK and throughout the EU.

Job opportunities are on the rise in areas such as conservation, coastal management and wildlife protection.

Here are some routes our graduates have pursued:

  • environmental consultancies
  • sustainability specialists
  • underwater exploration
  • conservation


Courtney Farthing, BSc (Hons) Marine Environmental Science student 2012

A trip is offered each year and used as credits towards the course.

Courtney Farthing, BSc (Hons) Marine Environmental Science student 2012



Find out what our students say about studying at Portsmouth, including:

  • Fieldtrips in the UK and abroad providing invaluable practical skills
  • The open-door approach of the lecturers, many of whom have industry experience
  • Superb careers advice and support that is part of your course

Browse all courses in Earth and Environmental Sciences

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Structure & Teaching

Year one

In the first year of your studies, you will be introduced to a wide range of environmental topics and issues. You’ll also have the option to transfer to BSc (Hons) Environmental Science after your first year.

Core units in this year include:

  • Science for Earth Systems
  • Environmental Systems
  • Quantitative Methods
  • Planet Earth
  • Introduction to Oceanography
  • Marine and Terrestrial Ecology

Year two

The second year allows you to focus upon particular areas of interest as topics become more specialised.

Core units in this year include:

  • Environmental Fieldwork and Analysis
  • Environmental Geochemistry and Analytical Techniques
  • Oceanography
  • Marine Organisms and Ecosystems

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Energy Resources
  • Hydrology and Freshwater Ecosystems
  • Environmental Forensics
  • Scientific and Technical Diving Techniques (PADI-accredited course)

Year three

Your third year will give you another selection of specialised units, as well as enabling you to develop environmental assessment techniques. This is also the year of your final project and there are plenty of opportunities for you to gain valuable research experience.

Core units in this year include:

  • Environmental Auditing Assessment
  • Environmental Science Project
  • Coastal Ecosystems

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Climate Change
  • Waste Management and Environmental Pollution
  • Applied Coastal Geomorphology
  • Environmental Science Study Tour

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.


The course provides a balanced structure of lectures, tutorials and laboratory work. You will generally be taught in small classes, providing an informal, friendly and supportive atmosphere for your studies.

The time you spend in teaching activities may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:

  • Year one students: 27% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 73% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year two students: 27% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 73% studying independently and 0% on work placement
  • Year three students: 21% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities, 79% studying independently and 0% on work placement


Assessment is a mix of coursework and exams. However, your coursework can take a variety of forms including:

  • fieldwork or lab notebook recordings
  • reports
  • site surveys
  • computer-based exercises
  • environmental data analysis
  • posters
  • projects
  • presentations

The way you’re assessed may depend on the units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year one students: 52% by written exams, 8% by practical exams and 40% by coursework
  • Year two students: 43% by written exams, 12% by practical exams and 45% by coursework
  • Year three students: 26% by written exams, 8% by practical exams and 66% by coursework

Tutor's view


Dr Gary Fones
Earth and Environmental Sciences

I try to ensure that I have research informed teaching embedded into all of my units and courses. I believe that this is an excellent way of enhancing your experience be it either in enhancing your research techniques, learning about new research findings or using equipment that current University of Portsmouth researchers are using to undertake their research.

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Facilities & Features

Field Trips

Fieldwork is an important part of our courses. Our trips give you plenty of opportunities to put your sampling and surveying techniques into practice. Some of our previous trips have included:

  • Somerset
  • the Isle of Wight
  • Malta
  • Cyprus
  • Belize


Have the opportunity to get up close to some of the marine habitats you are studying with our optional PADI courses. Sub-aqua techniques are useful tools to have for marine scientists; nothing replaces direct observation.

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.

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

The cost of travel or accommodation for compulsory fieldwork is included in the course fee, but you will need to pay for meals and other subsistence costs.

For compulsory project work, normally in the UK in the summer between course years 2 and 3 of study, you will be expected to contribute travel, accommodation and meals. These costs are from £0 - £500.

For optional fieldwork, costs of travel, accommodation, meals and other subsistence are in the region of £2700 (Belize) and £700 (Portugal).


For 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 costs around £860 for tuition, transport and diving costs. The Scientific and Technical Diving B unit is available if you hold a PADI Open Water certificate. It includes an advanced diving course (e.g. PADI Advanced Open Water), Dry Suit course, combined with the Science and Technology Diving course, and costs around £800 for tuition, transport and diving costs.

The Practical Power Boating Skills unit will cost in the region of £500.

You will be expected to buy field equipment, (e.g. compass, hand lens and notebook) at the start of your first year. These costs are in the region of £50.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Career prospects
Where next?

As a potential inexhaustible resource there is a demand for scientists who understand how the marine environment works. The threat to our natural environment means that we need those with the specialised scientific knowledge to safeguard marine resources for future generations. This means that your job market is increasing annually and there is a wide variety of exciting roles within the environmental arena.

The majority of roles appear within environmental, engineering and ecological consultancies or regulatory authorities and government agencies. A significant proportion of graduates also go on to postgraduate study.

Roles our graduates have taken on include:

  • geographical information scientist
  • environmental consultant
  • spatial analyst
  • coastal process scientist

Example of what one of our graduates has gone on to do:

  • Terra Firma Ground Investigation, Second Man Drill Assistant – installing

Work experience

Work experience
Employment boosting opportunities

As well as many fieldtrips embedded throughout the course, we have exchange links with a number of universities in Europe and beyond, so you can take up the opportunity to study abroad for a few months. Current links include the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona (Barcelona, Spain), Universite du Havre, (Le Havre, France) and Adam Mickiewicz University (Poznan, Poland).

Not only will it be a fun and challenging experience, but you will also develop skills in languages, adaptability, resilience and the ability to communicate with a range of people. These qualities will undoubtedly stand you apart to future employers.

The opportunity also exists to undertake your final-year project at a location of your choice, either in the UK or overseas. In previous years, students have been to places further afield to complete exciting projects including Brazil, Canada, USA, Romania, Ukraine, Tenerife, Singapore, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Costa Rica, Zakynthos and Iceland.

Career planning

Career planning

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.

Peter DiCaprio, BSc (Hons) Marine Environmental Science student

After graduation, prospects look good, as there is a strong market for environmental scientists. My two main areas of interest are conservation and management of the marine environment and/or to further the work on microplastic fragments in the marine environment, which formed the basis of my year three project.

Peter DiCaprio, BSc (Hons) Marine Environmental Science student

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Apply now or visit us

Apply for 2018 entry

To apply, you'll need this course's UCAS code, which is at the top of this page, and the University of Portsmouth institution code – P80.

Apply now

After you apply, we'll invite you to an Applicant Experience Day where you’ll get to speak to lecturers and meet your future classmates.

Open Days for courses starting in 2019

Come to an Open Day and explore our course facilities, tour the campus and have a look around our halls of residence.

Book your Open Day

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

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