Marine Biology BSc (Hons)

underwater shot from marine biology students on a scuba diving trip
UCAS Code
C160
Mode of Study
Full-time, Full-time sandwich with work placement
Duration
3 years full-time, 4 years sandwich with work placement
Start Date
September 2019
Accredited
Yes

Overview

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.

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

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
  • ORCA
  • Blue Marine Foundation

You can also get involved in high-profile research projects through the Institute of Marine Sciences.

Placement year

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.

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.

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.

Professional accreditations

This course is accredited by the Royal Society of Biology, which means you can apply for membership after the course. Membership benefits include access to a professional network of biologists and the opportunity to go to conferences.

Entry requirements​

Entry Requirements

  • 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.

    See the other qualifications we accept

​Course costs

Tuition fees (2019 start)

  • UK/EU/Channel Islands and Isle of Man students – £9,250 per year (may be subject to annual increase)
  • International students – £15,900 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.

Additional costs

Our accommodation section shows your accommodation options and highlights how much it costs to live in Portsmouth.

You’ll study up to 6 units a year. You may have to read several recommended books or textbooks for each unit.

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.

Your course fee includes travel or accommodation for the compulsory fieldwork that you’ll do, but you’ll need to pay for meals and other subsistence costs. These costs amount to around £60.

If you choose optional fieldwork abroad, in locations such as Mexico, you’ll need to contribute to the cost. Depending on the location and duration of the field trip, the costs will be around £1500– £2000.

If you haven’t dived before, you can take the Scientific and Technical Diving A unit, which includes a PADI Open Water course, Dry Suit course and Scientific and Technical Diving course. This unit 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 unit, which includes an advanced diving course (e.g. PADI Advanced Open Water), Dry Suit course and Scientific and Technical Diving course. This unit costs around £780, covering tuition, transport and diving costs.

You can take a Practical Boating skills unit, which includes a Day Skipper Theory course, a Powerboat Level 2 course and VHF radio course. This costs £550.

​What you'll study

Each unit on this course is worth a certain number of credits.

In each year, you need to study units worth a total of 120 credits. For example, 4 units worth 20 credits and 1 unit worth 40 credits.

Units currently studied

Core units in this year include:

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

There are no optional units in this year.

Core units in this year include:

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

Optional units in this year currently include:

  • Oceanography
  • Microbiology
  • Plant Science
  • Basic or Advanced Scientific Diving
  • Practical Boating Skills
  • A foreign language
  • Business for Biosciences

Core units in this year include:

  • Coastal Ecosystems
  • Applied Marine Biology
  • Marine Ecophysiology
  • 3rd year research project

Optional units in this year currently include:

  • Aquatic Microbiology
  • Global climate change of 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 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.

Learning support

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
  • referencing
  • working in groups
  • revision, memory and exam techniques

If you have a mental or physical disability, the Additional Support and Disability Centre (ASDAC) can give you help, support and advice so you can reach your potential.

Teaching​

Teaching methods on this course include:

  • lectures
  • workshops
  • tutorials
  • 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 an assessment period:

  • Autumn teaching block – September to December
  • Spring teaching block – January to Easter
  • Assessment period – Easter to June

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.

Your workload

The time you spend in teaching activities such as lectures and seminars varies year on year and will depend on which optional units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year typically spent their time as follows:

  • Year 1 students: 29% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities and 71% studying independently
  • Year 2 students: 27% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities and 73% studying independently
  • Year 3 students: 40% in lectures, seminars and similar learning activities and 60% studying independently

How you're 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 units you select. As a guide, students on this course last year were typically assessed as follows:

  • Year 1 students: 52% by written exams, 7% by practical exams and 41% by coursework
  • Year 2 students: 48% by written exams, 26% by practical exams and 26% by coursework
  • Year 3 students: 47% by written exams, 4% by practical exams and 49% by coursework
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    Apply

    How to apply

    To start in 2019 you need to apply through UCAS. You’ll need:

    • the UCAS course code – C160
    • our institution code – P80

    You can start your application now and submit it later if you want.

    Not quite ready to apply?

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

    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 (see the 'How to apply' section above for details). You can also apply directly to us or you can 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. 

    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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