MSc Biological Oceanography

General information

The Master of science (M.Sc.) programme “Biological Oceanography” provides knowledge and skills in a number of disciplines that address various areas of the global ocean as a complex system. The curriculum is focussed on biology and imparts knowledge in chemistry, geology, physics and mathematics. The programme is arranged in 4 semesters. In each semester you need to gain at least 30 credit points (CP or ECTS) on average (120 CP are acknowledged).

The first 2 semesters have been set for the theoretical and practical fundament for the systemic analysis of the marine environment. Building on this knowledge, graduates begin in the 2nd semester to form their individual focus within the curriculum in compulsory/elective and elective modules. Already in the 2nd semester, the students take part in theory and practice of running research projects. With preparatory modules in the 3rd semester and the realization of the master's thesis in the 4th semester, the graduates have formed and proven their professional scientific expertise. A list of all module descriptions can be found here.

Compulsory modules (107 ECTS)

  • Introduction to Biological Oceanography
  • Practical Course in Biological Oceanography
  • Introduction to Chemical Oceanography
  • Doing Science
  • Introduction to Marine Geology
  • Advanced Course in Biological Oceanography 
  • Biological Modelling and Biostatistics
  • Introduction to Physical Oceanography 
  • Current Topics in Biogeochemistry I or Current Topics in Marine Ecology I
  • Multidisciplinary Oceanographic Research
  • Summer School or Internship 
  • Current Topics in Marine Biogeochemistry II or Current Topics in Marine Ecology II or Current Topics in Fish Ecology
  • Master thesis
Learning outcome:

Graduates are able to identify marine organismic communities (zoology, botany, microbiology) and to characterize them using modern methods (physiology, biochemistry, genetics, evolutionary biology and genetics, molecular biology, taxonomy, etc.), their physico-chemical environment, nutrient requirements and interactions of seabed and atmosphere (inorganic chemistry and analysis, geology, physics (especially oceanography and meteorology) and population changes (stock assessment, statistics) to determine and assess their importance in the marine context. 

The thesis shows that the graduates are able to analyze and solve complex biological problems in a clear cut structure wihtin a defined period of time. They are trained to connect aspects from different disciplines and to communicate their results to the scientific community as well as to the public. 

Contact Person: Jörg Süling (


The highlighted icons, represent the fields of education (in compliance with ISCED Classification) engaged during this course/programme.

0831 - Fisheries", "0532 - Physical and chemical oceanography", "0532 - Marine Geology", "0724 - Oil, gas and mineral resources", "0522 - Conservation and environmental management", "0521 - Ecology", "0511 - Biology


Venue: Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences
Kiel, Germany

GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel
Wischhofstr. 1-3, 24148 Kiel


Open from
1 Feb 2017 to 30 Apr 2017


118,5 € student fee per semeste, including the semester ticket for public transport.


Minimum entrance requirements (incl. changes scheduled for application period 2016):

  1. Bachelor of Science degree, minimum grade 2.0 (on account of the special interest in and commitment to marine science issues (bachelor thesis on a marine biological subject) with a minimum grade 2.5).
  2. Bachelor of Science in Biology or a B.Sc. other than biology with >30% of the total ECTS points entailing biological modules (this has to be verified by German or English module descriptions issued by the applicants university to ensure comparability of educational objectives).
  3. Proficiency in English (mandatory for non native speakers): CEFR * (Common European Framework of Referencefor Languages): level C1, TOEFL (internet based 90 at minimum), IELTS (Band 6.5 at minimum), University of Cambridge (Certificate in Advanced English at minimum), etc.

  *: Many European universities provide courses and exams according to the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) regulations free of costs for their students. Ask at your language department.

Application Procedure:

Schedule application process see further below (active: February 1 to April 30)!

Entry to the programme requires a completed Bachelors Degree with a biological focus (applicants with a B.Sc. other than biology have to prove that at least 60 (or 1/3 of their total) credits according to the ECTS are out of the field of biology. This has to be verified by German or English module descriptions issued by their university to ensure  comparability of educational objectives). You may apply for the term beginning every year in October if you expect your Bachelors degree to be awarded in the same year. If the final Bachelor Degree has not been awarded at the moment of the application, you must submit a listing of your graded completed modules at the time of application. Equivalent degrees from other countries with a major focus on biological disciplines will also be considered for admission

Apply for this programme using the ONLINE APPLICATION PORTAL (opens February 1st). You can see the basic information that you will need for the application here. The following documents should be attached as PDF files on your application:

  1. Passport photo
  2. Curriculum vitae
  3. Letter of motivation 
  4. Certificates of academic diplomas (Bachelor etc.), grade at least 2.5
  5. Official academic transcripts from all universities attended
  6. Abstract or outline of your B.Sc.-thesis or term/semester project etc. if your B.Sc.-curriculum does not require a thesis (1500 to 2500 characters).
  7. Proof of proficiency in English (mandatory for non native speakers)
  8. Certificate of the university entrance qualification (if taken)
  9. School graduation certificate
  10. Other useful information. Feel free to submit any additional information which can help your application.

Application deadline: 30th April

Admission will be granted based on

  1. the grade of your bachelors’ degree  - minimum grade 2.0 (provide maximum and minimum passing grades (essentail to convert your marks to the German system)),
  2. a transcription of your completed modules, 
  3. a test of your proficiency in English ( TOEFL,CEFRIELTSUniversity of Cambridge
  4. a statement of your motivation in taking part in the course - not more than 1 page - english language only,
  5. your CV - not more than 2 pages - english language only,
  6. an abstract of your B.Sc. thesis or thesis outline or significant term/semester project (1500 - 2500 characters) - english language only,
  7. extra-curricular achievements.
  8. applicants from China, Vietnam and Mongolia additionally need further documents issued by the German Embassy.


Academic level: Master

Qualification: Master of Science

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