Studying Marine Biology

If you are fascinated by marine life and passionate about saving our oceans, then studying marine biology could be for you. This could be your opportunity to dive into a world entirely different to your own and investigate a mysterious realm that covers 70% of our planet. In this blog, we look at what you need to know about studying marine biology at university and share some of the top UK institutions to consider.

studying marine biology

Course content

Marine biology is the study of marine organisms, their behaviours and interactions with the environment. This is a subject that allows to explore the rich diversity of organisms that inhabit the oceans and how they are under threat from human activities including climate change, pollution and habitat destruction.

The degree is usually hands on and modules varied. You will be required to complete both theory-based work and practical experiments with a heavy emphasis on learning key skills for further work or study.

You will learn all about the dynamic of aquatic systems and the biology of the organisms that inhabit them. Upon completing your degree, you will be equipped with the skills, concepts and experience to understand all aspects of marine ecosystems and the pressures they face.

Whilst more and more universities are offering marine biology as an undergraduate option, it is also possible to study biology or zoology and then choose marine biology as a postgraduate option. Equally, lots of courses now offer a foundation year as a ‘taster’.

Many universities offer the opportunity to gain real-life experience during a placement year. Read more about the benefits of a year abroad or in industry here.

Interested in marine biology but don’t know which course is right for you? Speak to one of our expert HE consultants today to see how we can help

studying marine biology course content

Career Prospects

The skills you will learn throughout your degree are suitable for a variety of ecological and environmental career paths. Therefore, studying marine biology can prepare you for careers in areas as broad as research, oil exploration, conservation, environmental monitoring or weather forecasting.

You will gain skills in experimental practice and design as part of your course but also many transferrable skills such as communication, data handling and problem solving should you decide another career route.

Some marine biology jobs are accessible after undergraduate study but most require a Master’s programme. Many students choose to continue into postgraduate study and doctorates.

studying marine biology careers

Top UK Universities

  • University of Plymouth
    • One of the best in the UK and takes advantage of the South Devon coast
    • The aim of this degree is not only to teach you about marine biology, but “equip you with the practical, intellectual and scientific skills to be a practicing marine biologist”
  • University of Liverpool
    • First university in the UK to offer a marine biology BSci
    • Course contains variety of interesting modules, including evolution and biodiversity, molecules and cells and animal behavior
  • University of Southampton
    • Based in a world-leading research institution – the National Oceanography Centre Southampton
    • Three research vessels on site and the unique Waterfront Campus allows you to go from classroom to vessel in minutes
  • University of Stirling
    • Coordinated by Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture, the leading international centre in its field and largest in the world
    • Teaching regularly refreshing based on the leading research by your professors
  • University of Exeter
    • Extensive range of field work opportunities locally, nationally and internationally
    • Close links with a wide range of conservation organisations in the UK and overseas
  • University of Portsmouth
    • Two optional diving skills units available alongside your degree
    • Residential field course in a tropical or temperate location is a highlight for students

Interested in hearing more about studying marine biology and which Universities offer it? Get in touch today!

Top tips if you want to study marine biology

  • Start getting involved in local beach cleans to build up your skills and knowledge
  • Join the Marine Conservation Society or Marine Biological Association to keep up to speed in developments
  • Consider completely some work experience or an internship in a relevant institution
  • Volunteer at your local zoo or aquarium or even further afield
  • Learn to scuba dive so you are ready to get up close and personal with the marine life!

Entry requirements

  • Biology and a second science are required at A Level (or equivalent)
  • Useful to have geography or geology
  • Typical offer is AAB-ABB / IB 34-32 / 112 UCAS points


  • UK/EU: £9,250
  • International: £13,000 – £20,320