MSc Biological Oceanography

General information

The GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Germany, is an internationally leading research institute representing all major disciplines of oceanographic sciences. In addition to basic oceanographic research a major focus of the GEOMAR is investigating the role the ocean plays in a changing global climate. The GEOMAR is a lead institute in the Excellence Cluster "Future Ocean" at the Christian-Albrechts-University of Kiel (Christian Albrecht, duke of Holstein-Gottorf and bishop of Lübeck, founded the Kiel university in 1665). Students at the GEOMAR are closely integrated into ongoing research and have a chance to interact across disciplines as well as learn about applied aspects of marine sciences.

The Master of science (M.Sc.) programme “Biological Oceanography” is arranged in 4 semesters providing 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 first semester has been set for the theoretical and practical fundament for the systemic analysis of the marine environment. All first semester modules are compulsory.

Building on first semesters knowledge, students begin in the second semester to form their individual focus within the curriculum in compulsory/elective and elective modules. Already in the second semester, the students take part in theory and practice of running research projects.

The third semester is devoted to further specialization (including a 9 days research cruise) and first contacts to the research group where the individual students plan to do their masters thesis as well as introduction to cutting-edge research, Instrumentation and literature.

In the fourth semester, the focus is on application of all knowledge gathered so far to work on the masters thesis as part of ongoing research projects (how to start your master thesis). Most students perform their thesis in one of the research groups within FB3 (marine ecology) or within FB2 (Marine Biogeochemistry).

Learning outcome:

The ability to cross-system considerations and use of resulting synergies is more and more important where results out of basic research are included as well as application aspects are considered in decision processes. This versatility is reflected by the wide range of professional activities.

Graduates are especially qualified for work in the fields

  • Research and teaching, for example of marine science institutes, universities
  • Marine environmental monitoring for environmental authorities and fisheries research institutions
  • Environmental Management: Assessment and monitoring of existing biological, energy and mineral resources and their environmentally friendly use
  • Private sector: e.g. environmental analysis, marine consultants, maritime technology (shipping, pipeline projects, offshore wind farms, etc.) Food industry (marine food supplements) Pharmacy and medicine (biologically active ingredients from the sea)
  • Science journalism, science publishers

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.

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


Venue: Leibniz Institute of Marine Sciences
Kiel, Germany

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


Open from
1 Feb 2019 to 30 Apr 2019


124 Euro (€) student fee/semester

(including semester ticket for public transport)

Costs of living in Kiel: approx. 700€ per month


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

  • 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 - foreign marks will be converted to the German system at the International Center at Kiel university after receiving completed applications via the ONLINE APPLICATION PORTAL (provide maximum achievable marks (e.g. 100%, 5.0 etc.) and minimum passing marks (e.g. 50%, 1.0 etc.) according to your universities resp. national system (sometimes at the back side of the transcript). These data are essential to convert your marks to the German system).
  • 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).
  • Proficiency in English (mandatory for non native speakers): CEFR * (Common European Framework of Reference for 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 (e.g. Kiel university). Ask at your language department.

Application Procedure:

When applying via the ONLINE APPLICATION PORTAL, please attach the listed documents as seperated PDF-files

  • One passport photo • Curriculum vitae (not more than 2 pages – English language only)
  • A letter of motivation for choosing this programme (not more than 1 page - English language only)
  • Certificates of academic diplomas (Bachelor etc.), grade at least 2.5 (provide maximum and minimum passing marks (essential to convert your marks to the German system))
  • Official academic transcripts from all universities attended (with max. achievable and minimum passing marks)
  • 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) – English language only.
  • Proof of proficiency in English (mandatory for non native speakers): CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages): level C1 TOEFL (internet based 90 at minimum), IELTS 6.5 (no part below 6.0), University of Cambridge (Certificate in Advanced English at minimum), etc.
  • Certificate of the university entrance qualification (if taken)
  • School graduation certificate
  • Other useful information. Feel free to submit any additional information which can help your application


Academic level: Master

Qualification: Master of Science

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