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Marine Biology degrees | course guides

A degree in Marine Biology will see you studying all things related to ocean life, from cell biology to international policy.

Marine biology environment with reef and lots of fish


  1. What’s Marine Biology?

  2. What Marine Biology degrees can you study?

  3. What do you need to get onto a Marine Biology degree?

  4. What topics does a Marine Biology degree cover?

  5. How will you be assessed?

  6. Why study Marine Biology?

  7. What do Marine Biology graduates earn?

  8. What jobs can you get as a Marine Biology graduate?

  9. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  10. Similar subjects to Marine Biology

  11. Have any questions?

What’s Marine Biology?

Marine Biology looks at the diversity of life within the sea. It's the study of animals, plants and other marine organisms from algae to whales, in environments from coral reefs to estuaries.

During a degree course in Marine Biology, you’ll learn about the physiology and ecology of marine organisms using modern skills, software and equipment, while gaining experience working in the lab or field.

What Marine Biology degrees can you study?

Undergraduate Marine Biology degrees on offer in the UK include:

  • Marine Biology BSc
  • Marine Biology MMarBiol
  • Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology BSc
  • Marine & Freshwater Biology BSc
  • Marine Science BSc
  • Marine Science MSc
  • Marine Zoology BSc

Several options include a year abroad or placement year as part of the course.

  1. GO TO
  2. Find a Marine Biology degree
  3. Types of undergraduate degrees

What do you need to get onto a Marine Biology degree?

Most undergraduate Marine Biology courses ask for around 112–144 UCAS points. Not every university will base an offer on UCAS points, and some courses may have lower or higher requirements.

  •  A Levels: 3 at grades AAA–BCC
  • Scottish Highers: AAAB–BBBB
  • International Baccalaureate: 36–26
  • Universities will usually ask that you have studied biology and at least one other science

Other good subjects to have studied include:

  • Life and health sciences
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • Mathematics
  • Computer science
  • Psychology
  • Environmental studies

Experiences that would look good on your application:

  • Volunteering, such as beach cleaning
  • Membership of the Marine Conservation Society
  • Work experience in a marine biology laboratory or research environment
  • Boat handling, sailing, snorkelling or diving
  1. GO TO
  2. Entry requirements
  3. About UCAS points
  4. Alternatives to A Levels

What topics does a Marine Biology degree cover?

Typical modules for courses in this subject include:

  • Fundamentals of Marine Biology
  • Biodiversity
  • Mathematics and statistics
  • Cell biology
  • Evolution and genetics
  • Oceans and climate
  • Diversity of life
  • Marine practical skills
  • Population ecology
  • International law and policy

How will you be assessed?

Depending on your modules, you could be assessed through:

  • Coursework (such as essays, briefing notes, lab notebooks and scientific papers)
  • Written examinations
  • Practical writeups
  • Oral and poster presentations
  • Individual and group research projects

Why study Marine Biology?

Marine Biology courses often include plenty of hands-on work learning in the lab and field. Many have access to diverse marine environments.

Career-specific skills: 

  • Field and laboratory investigation
  • Sampling and recording data
  • Data analysis
  • Report writing
  • Advanced computer and software
  • Knowledge of laws and policy
  • Observation

Transferable skills:

  • Research
  • Mathematical and statistical
  • Communication
  • Presentation
  • Critical thinking
  • Evaluation
  • Problem-solving
  • Teamwork and collaboration
  • Time management
  • Independent work

Professional accreditations:

  • Royal Society of Biology
  • Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology

What do Marine Biology graduates earn?

When starting as a graduate marine biologist, you can expect an entry-level salary of around £12,000–£14,000.

The average salary for a marine biologist in the UK is around £30,000, especially for PhD holders or experienced professionals in consultant or management roles. Salaries can exceed £70,000 for those in high-level positions.

What jobs can you get as a Marine Biology graduate?

Examples of roles that graduates go into:

  • Marine biologist
  • Marine ecologist
  • Research assistant
  • Teacher or professor
  • Lab analyst
  • Marine biology technician
  • Marine policy specialist
  • Meteorologist
  • Hydrogeologist
  • Environmental engineer
  • Geophysicist
  • Hydrologist
  • Aquaculturist or fishery data manager
  • Reef restoration expert
  • Oil spill response specialist
  • Diving operations manager
  • Watersports instructor

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Examples of postgraduate courses available at universities in the UK:

  • Applied Aquatic Biology MSc
  • Marine Biology MRes
  • Marine Conservation MSc
  • Marine Renewable Energy MRes
  • Sustainable Aquaculture MSc

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