Marine Biology BSc (Hons)
BSc Hons Marine Biology
Our oceans are under threat, so there's never been a greater need for experts in marine biology. Do you have the ambition to combat the challenges facing this diverse environment and play an active and positive role in understanding and protecting marine biodiversity and the future of our oceans?
On this BSc (Hons) Marine Biology degree course, you'll learn the practical, theoretical and professional skills to start a career as a marine biologist.
You'll develop your knowledge of marine organisms, from phytoplankton to cetaceans, as well as how to protect the oceans and their delicate ecosystems against the growing threats of climate change, habitat destruction and resource exploitation. All at a university that's been carrying out marine biological research for more than 70 years.
90% Graduates in work or further study (DLHE, 2017)
96% Overall student satisfaction (NSS, 2019)
What you'll experience
On this course you'll:
- Conduct fieldwork in a range of intertidal habitats, including rocky shores, estuaries, saltmarsh and mangroves
- Be based in the heart of the internationally important Solent European Marine Site
- Learn from researchers who are members of the Institute of Marine Sciences, with expertise in subject areas such as ocean acidification, plastic pollution and cetacean behaviour
- Learn to drive a powerboat, scuba dive and conduct research in a tropical environment
- Get practical marine skills on our research vessels, including a large experimental raft, a 6-metre high-speed shallow draft launch for inshore work and a suite of sampling systems including dredges, grabs and nets
- Use our laboratory facilities, state of the art microscopes, experimental research platform and aquatic centre to explore marine ecosystems and study marine organisms
You can also:
- Experience research and fieldwork overseas including the option to study seagrass, coral reef and mangrove ecology
- Get involved in local research projects such as the Solent Native Oyster Regeneration Project
- Spend time studying abroad at one of our partner institutions
Careers and opportunities
When you finish the course, you can apply to be a Registered Marine Scientist. You'll also meet some of the academic requirements to become a Chartered Marine Scientist.
What can you do with a Marine Biology degree?
Previous graduates of this course have gone on to work in:
- post-graduate research
- coastal zone management
- environmental toxicology
- marine conservation
- aquaculture industry
- marine policy
- marine resource management
You could also continue your studies at postgraduate level. Many graduates go onto study MRes Science or MSc Applied Aquatic Biology.
After you leave the University, you can get help, advice and support for up to 5 years from our Careers and Employability service as you advance in your career.
We have some of the best facilities in the UK and with access to the marine environment and our research vessels only metres away, it is a fantastic place to do marine biology.
What you'll study on this BSc (Hons) Marine Biology degree
Each module on this course is worth a certain number of credits.
In each year, you need to study modules worth a total of 120 credits. For example, 4 modules worth 20 credits and 1 module worth 40 credits.
Core modules in this year include:
- Biodiversity & Evolution
- Experimental and Graduate Skills
- Introduction to Cell Biology & Biochemistry
- Introduction to Marine Ecology and Oceanography
- Microbiology & Molecular Biology
There are no optional modules in this year.
Core modules in this year include:
- Animal Science
- Community Ecology and Residential Field Course
- Marine Organisms and Ecosystems
- Marine Research Skills
Optional modules in this year currently include:
- Introduction to Teaching
- Plant Science
- Practical Boating Skills
- Scientific and Technical Diving Techniques
On this course, you can do an optional work placement year between your 2nd and 3rd years to get valuable experience working in industry.
We’ll help you secure a work placement that fits your situation and ambitions. You’ll get mentoring and support throughout the year.
Core modules in this year include:
- Marine Ecology and Conservation
- Fisheries and aquaculture
- Marine Ecophysiology
- 3rd year research project
Optional modules in this year currently include:
- Environmental Microbiology
- Global climate change in Marine Systems
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 modules may not run every year. If a module doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.
After your second year, you can do an optional work placement year to get valuable longer-term work or research experience.
We’ll help you secure a work placement that fits your aspirations. You’ll get mentoring and support throughout the year.
Work experience and career planning
To give you the best chance of securing a great job when you graduate, our Careers and Employability service can help you find relevant work experience during your course.
We can help you identify placements, internships and voluntary roles and that will complement your studies.
Our partners include commercial, research and non-profit organisations such as:
- Maidenhead Aquatics
- Field Studies Council
- Blue Marine Foundation
You can also get involved in high-profile research projects through the Institute of Marine Sciences.
As well as support by faculty teaching staff and your personal tutor, you can use the University’s Academic Skills Unit (ASK).
ASK provides one-to-one support in areas such as:
- academic writing
- note taking
- time management
- critical thinking
- presentation skills
- working in groups
- revision, memory and exam techniques
If you have a disability or need extra support, the Additional Support and Disability Centre (ASDAC) will give you help, support and advice.
Support with English
If English isn't your first language, you can do one of our English language courses to improve your written and spoken English language skills before starting your degree. Once you're here, you can take part in our free English for Academic Purposes programme to improve your English further.
Teaching methods on this course include:
- laboratory-based practical work
- field trips
You'll also get a personal tutor, who will support you with your studies.
How you'll spend your time
Each academic year is divided into 2 teaching blocks and 2 assessment periods:
- September to December – teaching block 1
- January – assessment period 1
- January to May – teaching block 2 (includes Easter break)
- May to June – assessment period 2
Most teaching takes place during the day, Monday to Friday. You may occasionally need to go to University and course events in the evenings and at weekends.
There’s usually no teaching on Wednesday afternoons.
How you'll be assessed
You’ll be assessed through:
- written exams
- course work in the form of practical write ups
- posters and oral presentations
- individual research project
You’ll be able to test your skills and knowledge informally before you do assessments that count towards your final mark.
You can get feedback on all practice and formal assessments so you can improve in the future
The way you’re assessed may depend on the modules you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:
BSc (Hons) Marine Biology degree entry requirements
Qualifications or experience
- 112 points to include 3 A levels, or equivalent, with 40 points from A level Biology. Applicants will normally need to pass the separate Science Practical Endorsement
English language requirements
- English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.0 with no component score below 5.5.
We also accept other standard English tests and qualifications, as long as they meet the minimum requirements of your course.
If you don't meet the English language requirements yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.
Tuition fees (2020 start)
- UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £9,250 per year (may be subject to annual increase)
- International students – £16,400 per year (subject to annual increase)
Additional course costs
These course-related costs aren’t included in the tuition fees. So you’ll need to budget for them when you plan your spending.
Our accommodation section shows your accommodation options and highlights how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.
You’ll study up to 6 modules a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each module.
You can borrow most of these from the Library. If you buy these, they may cost up to £60 each.
We recommend that you budget £75 a year for photocopying, memory sticks, DVDs and CDs, printing charges, binding and specialist printing.
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.
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 £10 a day.
There are optional field work opportunities to a tropical location. These costs will be in the region of £1500–£2000 depending on the duration and location of the field trip.
If you haven’t dived before, you can take the Scientific and Technical Diving A module, which includes a PADI Open Water course, Dry Suit course and Scientific and Technical Diving course. This module costs around £860, covering tuition, transport and diving costs.
If you already hold a PADI Open Water certificate (or equivalent), you can take the Scientific and Technical Diving B module, which includes an advanced diving course (e.g. PADI Advanced Open Water), Dry Suit course and Scientific and Technical Diving course. This module costs around £800, covering tuition, transport and diving costs.
There is a Practical Boating skills unit which costs in the region of £710.
In your final year, you'll be primarily based at the Institute of Marine Sciences. You'll also need to attend some teaching here in your second year.
You may need to pay for travel to the Institute of Marine Sciences, which is around 3.5 miles from the main University campus and 2 miles from popular student housing areas.
How to apply
To start this course in 2020, apply through UCAS. You’ll need:
- the UCAS course code –C160
- our institution code – P80
If you’d prefer to apply directly, use our online application form.
You can start your application now and submit it later if you want.
You can also sign up to an Open Day to:
- tour our campus, facilities and halls of residence
- speak with lecturers and chat with our students
- get information about where to live, how to fund your studies and which clubs and societies to join
If you're new to the application process, read our guide on applying for an undergraduate course.
How to apply from outside the UK
If you're from outside of the UK, you can apply for this course through UCAS or apply directly to us (see the 'How to apply' section above for details). You can also get an agent to help with your application. Check your country page for details of agents in your region.
To find out what to include in your application, head to the how to apply page of our international students section.
If you don't meet the English language requirements for this course yet, you can achieve the level you need by successfully completing a pre-sessional English programme before you start your course.