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MRes Applied Marine Science

Master (ISCED 2011 level 7)


Cost Home/EU: 9800P, International / PART-TIME: 14800P / 550P

Coastal erosion. Threatened resources. Pollution. With increasing awareness of the importance of the world's oceans as a natural resource and of their role in the stability of the global climate and environment, marine science specialists are in high demand. Our vocational programme, involving local marine partners and companies, provides you with the scientific knowledge, skills and practical experience that you need for an exciting career in marine science.​

The MSc/MRes in Applied Marine Science provides a multidisciplinary training to prepare you for a career in marine science. We will consider graduates from a range of backgrounds but are primarily focused on those with a first degree in science or engineering. Whilst applicants sometimes have a background in marine science this is not a pre-requisite and often students choose this programme seeking a new career direction in the marine science area. The MSc and MRes Applied Marine Science programmes provide scientific knowledge of the marine environment and the pressures placed on it.

These well-established programmes are taught in conjunction with Plymouth Marine Laboratory. The MSc has run successfully since 1991 and the MRes since 2000. The programmes address important issues that have global environmental and societal impact. These include global warming, sea level rise, ocean acidification, the increased incidence of storms, coastal defence/flooding, pollution and the sustainable management of marine systems.

Attractive programme features:

  • Plymouth has a long association with marine science, which is reflected in the many marine organisations based in the city such as the Marine Biological Association, the Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science and the National Marine Aquarium. The University has a memorandum of understanding with Plymouth Marine Laboratory and close links with other marine organisations. Many of our students have taken advantage of this and carried out their dissertations in collaboration with these organisations. In addition, we have links to commercial consultancy companies, local councils and environmental organisations, which have provided both project ideas and supervision.
  • About half the candidates each year undertake their research dissertation in association with an external organisation.
  • There are various site visits to the local bays and estuaries, including a field week when you gain practical experience of working with complex instrumentation both in the laboratory and at sea.
  • These are long-established, well-respected programmes with an excellent overall rating. For example, the MSc Applied Marine Science was previously awarded up to six (the maximum) NERC advanced course studentships, before NERC withdrew these studentships nationally.
  • An extensive range of field/laboratory equipment, including the COaST laboratories, our research vessel RV Falcon Spirit and a new waterfront marine centre within walking distance.

Course structures (MSc and MRes)

All modules are rated at 20 credits with the exception of the project modules, which is worth 60 credits for MSc students, and 120 credits for MRes students. All students must attain a total of 180 credits to graduate with a master’s degree. 

Semester 1 (15 weeks) is common to both the MSc and MRes and therefore facilitates change between the programmes in the second semester. All students will take three compulsory (12 week) modules in the first semester and will spend the last three weeks of the semester developing their master’s project. The aim of the first semester is to develop a broad knowledge of marine science and to develop essential masters-level research skills.

In semester 2 (15 weeks) the MSc and MRes courses diverge. MRes students continue working on their masters thesis and dedicate 100 per cent of their time on this until the end of the programme. MSc students spend the first 12 weeks of this semester studying one core module in contemporary issues In marine science and two out of five option modules. After completion of the option modules, MSc students will focus on their master’s project until the end of the course. The aim of this second semester is to provide a good knowledge of key issues in marine science and to develop specialist skills through both option module choices (MSc only) and project work.

Core modules

MAR513 Research Skills and Methods- This module aims to equip students with the practical skills and contextual framework for conducting high quality research. Emphasis is placed on workshop opportunities to acquire and practice research planning, analysis, communication, writing and oral presentation skills.

MAR514 Marine Science- This module provides an introductory overview of basic oceanography including physical, chemical, geological and biological aspects of the subject. There is particular emphasis on methods of quantifying and predicting coastal conditions, as well as interplay between physical, chemical and biological aspects of ocean science.

MAR515 Management of Coastal Environments- This module introduces the process, method and framework used to manage change in coastal and marine environments. It will focus on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) with emphasis on the importance of collectively considering physical, ecological and socio-economic factors and processes. It will illustrate the range of the management processes available using field-, lecture- and seminar-based case studies.

MAR525 MRes Dissertation- The student will complete a research project that they have designed in the semester 1 research skills module. The project can be submitted in the format of a journal paper or dissertation. The write-up will communicate the project aims, methodology, data analysis, interpretation, synthesis and conclusions. The student will defend his/her work in a viva voce with the Subject External Examiner.


Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specificationrepresents the latest programme structure and may be subject to change.

Further programme information can be found here.

Application procedure

When to apply

Most of our taught programmes begin in September, with some January starts also available. Applications can usually be made throughout the year, and are considered until programmes are full. 

Before you apply

Familiarise yourself with the information required to complete your application form. You will usually be required to supply:

  • evidence of qualifications (degree certificates or transcripts), with translations if not in English, to show that you meet, or expect to meet the entry requirements
  • evidence of English language proficiency, if English is not your first language
  • a personal statement of approximately 250-400 words about the reasons for your interest in the course and outlining the nature of previous and current related experience. You can write this into the online application form, or include it as a separate document
  • your curriculum vitae or résumé, including details of relevant professional/voluntary experience, professional registration/s and visa status for overseas workers
  • proof of sponsorship, if applicable.

If you require further information take a look at our application guidance

Disability services

If you have a disability and would like further information about the support provided by University of Plymouth, please visit our Disability Services website. 

International students

Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email

Submitting an application

Once you are happy that you have all of the information required you can apply using our online postgraduate application form (the blue 'Apply now' icon on this page).

What happens after I apply?

You will normally receive a decision on your application within four weeks of us receiving your application. You may be asked to provide additional information; two academic/professional references, confirming your suitability for the course; or to take part in an interview (which in the case of overseas students may be by telephone or video conference) and you will be sent a decision by letter or email.

We aim to make the application procedure as simple and efficient as possible. Our Admissions and Course Enquiries team is on hand to offer help and can put you in touch with the appropriate faculty if you wish to discuss any programme in detail.

If you would like any further information please contact the Admissions and Course Enquiries team:

Admissions policy

More information and advice for applicants can be referenced by downloading our Student Admissions Policy Prospective students are advised to read the policy before making an application to the University.

Grant opportunities


EU applicants should refer to our dedicated Brexit webpagefor details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.

More information about scholarship opportunities can be found on the website of Plymouth University; similarly for international students here

Learning outcomes

Learning outcome:

These programmes produce graduates with the skills required to assimilate knowledge over many disciplines and apply it to environmental analyses. The programmes are highly regarded by the marine sector and employment opportunities are excellent (e.g. the Environment Agency, English Nature, NGOs, coastal zone management, commercial consultancies and hydrographic survey). On completion of the programmes, around one third of graduates choose to study for a PhD.


You'll develop the skills required to assimilate knowledge over a wide range of disciplines and apply them to marine environmental assessment and management.


You should have:

  • A good honours degree or equivalent preferably in a science or engineering subject. If you don’t have any recent formal qualifications, we may accept work place experience.
  • If you have overseas qualifications you can check how they compare with the UK equivalent through UK NARIC, who provide an advisory service. 

English language:

If English is not your first language then we’ll need evidence of your proficiency in English. The minimum IELTS score usually accepted is 6.5. Our International Office has more information.

For further information on English requirements, please follow this link.

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