A pair of hands handling an oyster

Mode of Study

Full-time, Part-time

Duration

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time

Start date

September 2023

Overview

Our aquatic ecosystems are under threat. Learn about the issues of pollution, overfishing and climate change from the frontline and take your studies, experience and career to postgraduate level on our MSc Applied Aquatic Biology course.

The University of Portsmouth is the perfect place to dive into aquatic biology, thanks to the temperate marine habitats and internationally protected conservation areas on our doorstep. Our Institute of Marine Sciences is home to some of the best facilities in the country and Portsmouth is ranked third of all post-1992 universities in the UK for research power.

Improve your career opportunities and skills by undertaking independent research, which will lead to exciting jobs in conservation, consultancy, fisheries and research, or teaching and further study.

Earth systems and environmental sciences at the University of Portsmouth is ranked 4th of all post-1992 universities for research quality

Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021

Read more about our amazing earth systems and environmental sciences research

Eligibility

This course accepts UK, EU, and international students.

Course highlights

  • Undertake independent research at the Institute of Marine Sciences, or carry out microbiological work at the University’s Environmental Technology Field Station
  • Rear coldwater species for restocking programmes, or trial fish food at the Sparsholt College Fishery and Aquatics facilities
  • Learn ecosystem function and management, advanced laboratory and field skills, technical writing, data presentation skills in open source software, GIS, toxicology and genomics (environmental DNA)
  • Gain subject matter expertise in mammal, seabird and fish ecology
  • Learn from leading international researchers and outside agencies, including environmental consultancies, government bodies such as the Southern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority, and industry representatives including CGG
  • Go on field trips to carry out freshwater stream surveys, learn sampling techniques, and take part in a week-long practical in the Mediterranean

What you'll study on this MSc Applied Aquatic Biology degree course

Full-time

You'll study modules worth a total of 180 credits.

Core

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Professionally plan, organise and carry out a substantive project activity with the breadth, scope and discrimination appropriate to a Master of Science award.
  • Perform an extensive literature search relevant to a research area and utilise appropriate research techniques.
  • Produce a detailed critique of scientific papers that demonstrates an understanding of the structure of scientific writing.
  • Critically analyse experimental results and present data in an appropriate form.
  • Report the work orally and in writing.
  • Place original research work in the context of the wider literature.

Explore this module

What you'll learn

Module information to be confirmed.

Explore this module

Optional

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Critically review aquaculture production methods and their impact on the environment.
  • Critically evaluate different aquaculture production systems.
  • Critically analyse the production cycles for a range of aquaculture species.
  • Critically review the constraints on aquaculture production at a local and global scale.
  • Critically evaluate new aquaculture proposals in relation to future global food security.

Explore this module

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Critically review primary literature information on aquatic pollution.
  • Characterise the responses of aquatic organisms to environmental pollution.
  • Critically evaluate the adaptations of marine organisms to their environment.
  • Critically evaluate and interpret data relating to the effects of environmental pollutants on a range of aquatic organisms.
  • Critically review primary literature information on aquatic pollution.
  • Characterise the responses of aquatic organisms to environmental pollution.
  • Critically evaluate the adaptations of marine organisms to their environment.
  • Critically evaluate and interpret data relating to the effects of environmental pollutants on a range of aquatic organisms.

Explore this module

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Critically evaluate scientific and management strategies for conservation of aquatic ecosystems.
  • Demonstrate professional level skills in teamwork, information searching, communication and independent thinking.
  • Evaluate the key biological processes of aquatic organisms, including those associated with recruitment, growth, development and reproduction and how they affect exploitation of living aquatic resources.
  • Critical evaluation of processes involved in assessment of living aquatic resources.
  • Critical evaluation of fish habitat management plans and the ecosystem approach to fisheries management, including social and economic aspects.

Explore this module

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Critically discuss the development of marine policy nationally and internationally.
  • Critically discuss the development of marine spatial planning nationally and internationally.
  • Assess the implications of national and international frameworks and policies for humankind's use of coastal and marine resources.
  • Identify and critically discuss key marine conservation issues and the mechanisms employed to deal with them.
  • Identify and critically appraise the way marine conservation is undertaken in the UK and globally.
  • Understand and critically evaluate the frameworks, directives, policies and initiatives in place that deal with marine conservation.

Explore this module

What you'll do

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Demonstrate the skills required in science journalism.
  • Critically evaluate the merits and disadvantages of a variety of different media.
  • Synthesise a science article for a general audience written to a professional standard.
  • Produce a mock press release to a professional standard.

Explore this module

Part-time

You'll study modules worth a total of 180 credits over two years.

Core

What you'll learn

Module information to be confirmed.

Explore this module

Optional

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Critically review aquaculture production methods and their impact on the environment.
  • Critically evaluate different aquaculture production systems.
  • Critically analyse the production cycles for a range of aquaculture species.
  • Critically review the constraints on aquaculture production at a local and global scale.
  • Critically evaluate new aquaculture proposals in relation to future global food security.

Explore this module

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Critically review primary literature information on aquatic pollution.
  • Characterise the responses of aquatic organisms to environmental pollution.
  • Critically evaluate the adaptations of marine organisms to their environment.
  • Critically evaluate and interpret data relating to the effects of environmental pollutants on a range of aquatic organisms.
  • Critically review primary literature information on aquatic pollution.
  • Characterise the responses of aquatic organisms to environmental pollution.
  • Critically evaluate the adaptations of marine organisms to their environment.
  • Critically evaluate and interpret data relating to the effects of environmental pollutants on a range of aquatic organisms.

Explore this module

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Critically evaluate scientific and management strategies for conservation of aquatic ecosystems.
  • Demonstrate professional level skills in teamwork, information searching, communication and independent thinking.
  • Evaluate the key biological processes of aquatic organisms, including those associated with recruitment, growth, development and reproduction and how they affect exploitation of living aquatic resources.
  • Critical evaluation of processes involved in assessment of living aquatic resources.
  • Critical evaluation of fish habitat management plans and the ecosystem approach to fisheries management, including social and economic aspects.

Explore this module

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Critically discuss the development of marine policy nationally and internationally.
  • Critically discuss the development of marine spatial planning nationally and internationally.
  • Assess the implications of national and international frameworks and policies for humankind's use of coastal and marine resources.
  • Identify and critically discuss key marine conservation issues and the mechanisms employed to deal with them.
  • Identify and critically appraise the way marine conservation is undertaken in the UK and globally.
  • Understand and critically evaluate the frameworks, directives, policies and initiatives in place that deal with marine conservation.

Explore this module

What you'll do

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Demonstrate the skills required in science journalism.
  • Critically evaluate the merits and disadvantages of a variety of different media.
  • Synthesise a science article for a general audience written to a professional standard.
  • Produce a mock press release to a professional standard.

Explore this module

You'll study modules worth a total of 180 credits over 2 years.

Core

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Professionally plan, organise and carry out a substantive project activity with the breadth, scope and discrimination appropriate to a Master of Science award.
  • Perform an extensive literature search relevant to a research area and utilise appropriate research techniques.
  • Produce a detailed critique of scientific papers that demonstrates an understanding of the structure of scientific writing.
  • Critically analyse experimental results and present data in an appropriate form.
  • Report the work orally and in writing.
  • Place original research work in the context of the wider literature.

Explore this module

Optional

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Critically review aquaculture production methods and their impact on the environment.
  • Critically evaluate different aquaculture production systems.
  • Critically analyse the production cycles for a range of aquaculture species.
  • Critically review the constraints on aquaculture production at a local and global scale.
  • Critically evaluate new aquaculture proposals in relation to future global food security.

Explore this module

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Critically review primary literature information on aquatic pollution.
  • Characterise the responses of aquatic organisms to environmental pollution.
  • Critically evaluate the adaptations of marine organisms to their environment.
  • Critically evaluate and interpret data relating to the effects of environmental pollutants on a range of aquatic organisms.
  • Critically review primary literature information on aquatic pollution.
  • Characterise the responses of aquatic organisms to environmental pollution.
  • Critically evaluate the adaptations of marine organisms to their environment.
  • Critically evaluate and interpret data relating to the effects of environmental pollutants on a range of aquatic organisms.

Explore this module

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Critically evaluate scientific and management strategies for conservation of aquatic ecosystems.
  • Demonstrate professional level skills in teamwork, information searching, communication and independent thinking.
  • Evaluate the key biological processes of aquatic organisms, including those associated with recruitment, growth, development and reproduction and how they affect exploitation of living aquatic resources.
  • Critical evaluation of processes involved in assessment of living aquatic resources.
  • Critical evaluation of fish habitat management plans and the ecosystem approach to fisheries management, including social and economic aspects.

Explore this module

What you'll learn

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Critically discuss the development of marine policy nationally and internationally.
  • Critically discuss the development of marine spatial planning nationally and internationally.
  • Assess the implications of national and international frameworks and policies for humankind's use of coastal and marine resources.
  • Identify and critically discuss key marine conservation issues and the mechanisms employed to deal with them.
  • Identify and critically appraise the way marine conservation is undertaken in the UK and globally.
  • Understand and critically evaluate the frameworks, directives, policies and initiatives in place that deal with marine conservation.

Explore this module

What you'll do

The learning outcomes of this module are:

  • Demonstrate the skills required in science journalism.
  • Critically evaluate the merits and disadvantages of a variety of different media.
  • Synthesise a science article for a general audience written to a professional standard.
  • Produce a mock press release to a professional standard.

Explore this module

Changes to course content

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. If a module doesn't run, we'll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative module.

Research centres and facilities

Institute of Marine Sciences

Explore the marine ecosystems of the Solent European Marine Site at our shoreside marine station, complete with floating research platform, £2 million aquarium and laboratory suite, and 2 research vessels, RV Calypso and RV Noctiluca

Discover the institute

Environmental Technology Field Station

Conduct tests and analyse samples currently in the ecosystem in a fully-operational waterworks in nearby Petersfield complete with microbiology and environmental chemistry labs.

Explore Station

Careers and opportunities

Careers this Master’s prepares you for

Most of our successful applied aquatic biology Master's graduates go on to work in environmental consulting, fisheries and marine conservation. 

This course has a strong management aspect. Specific modules such as Fisheries Biology and Management are designed to develop the leadership and governance abilities you'll need for a successful career in living resource management and consultancy.

Graduates of this course have gone onto areas such as:

  • aquatic living resources management
  • marine NGOs
  • private sector consultancy
  • government-based research
  • conservation
  • teaching
  • further study or academic research
  • scientific journalism

Graduates of this course have gone onto roles such as:

  • Marine scientist
  • Waste minimisation officer 
  • Fish house specialist
  • Insurance broker 
  • Laboratory technician
  • Maritime and hydorcarbon sales manager
  • Environmental monitoring technician
  • Reef conservation volunteer

Graduates of this course have gone on to work for companies such as:

  • Scottish Sea Farms
  • Benthic Solutions Ltd
  • North Somerset Council

Career outcomes shown are sourced from the latest available graduate outcome surveys. The data shows career outcomes at 15 months after graduation.

Career planning

During your course you'll have expert career support from your tutors and our Careers and Employability Centre – which you can access for up to 5 years after you graduate.

Female student standing at careers and employability help desk

Career support

You'll benefit from:

  • Networking events
  • Applied projects with employers
  • 1-to-1 appointments
  • CV and cover letter advice
  • Interview preparation and practice
  • Workshops to enhance your employability skills
  • Recruitment events including the Student and Graduate Opportunities Fair
  • Support starting your own business

Learn more about your career support

Placements and industry connections

There's no formal work placement component of this course, but our regular visiting speakers are industry experts who'll offer their own advice and insights in professional and career development.

Speakers include representatives from Government and Governmental bodies, industry, conservation authorities, and the renowned international geoscience and environmental technology company, CGG.

How you'll spend your time

We recognise that you'll probably be juggling more demands when you do your Master's degree, as you may be working or you may have family responsibilities.

We'll give you as much indication here as we can of how much time you'll need to be on campus and how many hours you can expect to spend in self-directed study, but please note that these indications are always subject to change. You should receive your full timetable several weeks before you start with us.

It is our expectation that all international students will join us here on campus in Portsmouth.

Course structure

Full-time

  • We recommend that full-time students allocate 37 hours per week to their studies – equivalent to a full-time job

Part-time

  • We recommend that part-time students allocate around 18 hours per week to their studies – equivalent to a part-time job

Studies include teaching time (lectures, seminars, labs and tutorials), course work, independent learning and assessments

There's lots of lab and field work as part of this course – full-time students could be in labs and lectures up to three days per week

Teaching

Master's study is deeper and more specialised than an undergraduate degree. This means you'll focus on something that really matters to you and your career as you work closely with academics committed to the subject.

You'll spend more time in independent study and research than you did for your undergraduate degree, but the majority of your teaching time will be in-person and face-to-face.

Teaching methods

Teaching methods on this course include:

  • lectures
  • workshops
  • seminars
  • field trips
  • one-to-one tutorials

Assessment

You'll be assessed through:

  • coursework
  • presentations
  • final year 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.

Teaching staff

These are some of the expert staff who'll teach you on this course.

Mark Tupper Portrait

Dr Mark Tupper

Senior Lecturer in Marine Biology

Mark.Tupper@port.ac.uk

PhD Supervisor

Read more
Alex Ford Portrait

Professor Alex Ford

Professor of Biology

Alex.Ford@port.ac.uk

PhD Supervisor

Read more

Term dates

September start

The Master's academic year runs from September to the following September. There are breaks at Christmas and Easter. Over the summer you'll be writing your project/dissertation.

See key dates

Graduation Class of 2021

Joining us as an international student

You'll feel at home in our international community and our diverse city. You'll be joining over 5,000 international students from more than 150 countries who are studying with us.

Learn more about international student life and how we can help you with visas, applications, arrival and settling in. 

Information for international students

You'll spend plenty of time at our industry-leading marine station, the Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS), located just metres from the sea and the Solent European Marine Site.

You'll monitor and test seawater, looking at how humans impact marine ecosystems and how materials react to different marine environments. These are some of the facilities and equipment you'll use at the IMS.

Supporting your learning

Master's study is more focused on independent learning than undergraduate study, but you'll get lots of support via video, phone and face-to-face from teaching and support staff to enhance your learning experience and help you succeed. You can build your personalised network of support from the following people and services:

Types of support

Your personal tutor helps you make the transition to postgraduate study and gives you academic and personal support throughout your Master's.

As well as regular scheduled meetings with your personal tutor, they're also available at set times during the week if you want to chat with them about anything that can't wait until your next meeting.

You'll have help from a team of faculty learning support tutors. They can help you improve and develop your academic skills and support you in any area of your study in one-on-one and group sessions.

They can help you:

  • master the mathematics skills you need to excel on your course
  • understand engineering principles and how to apply them in any engineering discipline
  • solve computing problems relevant to your course
  • develop your knowledge of computer programming concepts and methods relevant to your course
  • understand and use assignment feedback

All our labs and practical spaces are staffed by qualified laboratory support staff. They’ll support you in scheduled lab sessions and can give you one-to-one help when you do practical research projects.

As well as support from faculty 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 disability or need extra support, the Additional Support and Disability Centre (ASDAC) will give you help, support and advice.

Our online Learning Well mini-course will help you plan for managing the challenges of learning and student life, so you can fulfil your potential and have a great student experience.

You can get personal, emotional and mental health support from our Student Wellbeing Service, in person and online. This includes 1–2–1 support as well as courses and workshops that help you better manage stress, anxiety or depression.

If you require extra support because of a disability or additional learning need our specialist team can help you.

They'll help you to

  • discuss and agree on reasonable adjustments
  • liaise with other University services and facilities, such as the library
  • access specialist study skills and strategies tutors, and assistive technology tutors, on a 1-to-1 basis or in groups
  • liaise with external services

Library staff are available in person or by email, phone, or online chat to help you make the most of the University’s library resources. You can also request one-to-one appointments and get support from a librarian who specialises in your subject area.

The library is open 24 hours a day, every day, in term time.

The Maths Cafe offers advice and assistance with mathematical skills in a friendly, informal environment. You can come to our daily drop-in sessions, develop your mathematics skills at a workshop or use our online resources.

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 In-Sessional English (ISE) programme to improve your English further.

Course costs and funding

Tuition fees (September 2023 start)

  • Full-time: £9,900
  • Part-time: £4,950 per year

(Including Transition Scholarship)

  • Full-time: £9,900
  • Part-time: £4,950 per year
  • Full-time: £19,200
  • Part-time: £9,600 per year

University of Portsmouth graduates may receive a 20% alumni tuition fee discount

Fees are subject to annual increase. Read our tuition fees terms and conditions.

You'll be able to pay your fees in instalments. Find out how to pay your tuition fees.

Funding your studies

Explore how to fund your studies, including available scholarships and bursaries.

If you're a UK student, you may be eligible for a Government Postgraduate Master's Loan, which you can use to help with course fees and living costs.

If you're a UK student who achieved a first in your undergraduate degree you may be eligible for a £3,000 University of Portsmouth scholarship.

Loans, scholarships and bursaries

Browse funding such as the Government Postgraduate Loan, our scholarships for new and returning students, and subject specific loans.

Explore funding

Funding for international students

Learn more about sponsorships, scholarships and loans for students applying from outside of the UK.

international business students
Discover your options

Fees and funding for postgraduate taught courses

Discover how you can fund your postgraduate studies at Portsmouth – including loans, scholarships and bursaries – and read our guidance on topics like how to budget, and how to get support if you're disabled or have dependents.

Explore funding

Additional 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 could include:

  • Accommodation: Accommodation options and costs can be found on our accommodation pages.
  • Recommended reading: You can borrow key texts from the library and if you choose to purchase these texts they may cost up to £60 each.
  • General costs: Such as photocopying, memory sticks, printing charges, binding and specialist printing. We suggest budgeting £75 per year.
  • Final project transport or accommodation: where necessary, which related to your research activities. The amount will depend on the project you choose.

Read more about tuition fees and living costs, including what your tuition fees cover.

Entry requirements

Eligibility

This course accepts UK, EU, and international students.

September 2023

  • An upper second class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject.

Please get in touch if you're not sure if your undergraduate subject is relevant to this degree.

Equivalent professional experience and/or qualifications will also be considered, such as previous study, employment, voluntary work and training courses, including courses and qualifications you didn't complete. Learn more about our Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).

If you're applying as an international student with a non-UK degree, you’ll need to show you meet the UK entry requirements listed above.

To find out if your non-UK degree or other qualification is accepted, please visit our page for your country and view the UK equivalent of your qualification. 

  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 (or equivalent) with no component score below 6.0.

You do not need an IELTS or equivalent certification if:

  • you have a UK degree
  • you have a degree from a majority English speaking country (not taught by Distance Learning)
  • you are a national of a majority English speaking country

Degrees taught solely in English from non-majority English speaking countries will be considered on a case by case basis. Find out more about our English language requirements.

If you do not 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.

How to apply

Unlike undergraduate applications, which go through UCAS, applications for this Master's course are made directly to us.

There's no deadline for applications to this course. We accept applications right up until the start date in September, as long as there are places available. If you wait until September to apply, you may find that the course is full.

If you're applying as an international student, remember that you'll need to leave plenty of time to get your visa organised.

You can find more advice about applying in our Master's application checklist. International students and current students and recent graduates of the University of Portsmouth also have some different application options, which are detailed below.

Extra information for international students

If you're an international student, you can apply directly to us using the same application form as UK students.

You could 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.

Ready to apply?

Standard applications

Start this course in September 2023

Apply now (Full-time) – 1 year

Apply now (Part-time) – 2 years

I'm a current Portsmouth student, or a recent Portsmouth graduate

If you're currently in your final year of study at Portsmouth, or you graduated since July 2021, you're eligible to make a fast track application. You'll have:

  • a shorter application form to complete
  • access to the 20% Alumni fee discount
  • a guaranteed conditional offer, for most Master's courses 

Learn more about fast track

After you apply

Once we receive your application, we may ask you for further information. We will then either make you an offer or suggest alternatives if your application is unsuccessful.

You'll usually get a decision within 10 working days, so you shouldn't have to wait too long. Some courses have an interview stage – we'll let you know if you need to prepare for one.

Learn more about how we assess your application.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to abide by our Student Contract (which includes the University's relevant policies, rules and regulations). You should read and consider these before you apply.