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Master of Science Marine Biology including ISATEC (Master of Science in Marine Biology )

Master (ISCED 2011 level 7)


Duration 4 semesters
Cost free


  • Maximum of 30 study places per year
  • Training in state-of-the-art methodologies by leading research teams
  • Specialization according to personal interests with a wide choice of specialist courses
  • Advanced courses in different university departments and associated research institutions
  • Field trips, excursions or even the opportunity to participate in research expeditions
  • Flexibility to take courses at universities abroad



From winter term 2020/2021 onwards, the revised M.Sc. Marine Biology programme offers two study profiles: Marine Biology and International Studies in Aquatic Tropical Ecology (ISATEC). Marine Biology is strongly research-oriented. The graduates are trained to develop hypotheses-driven research concepts and to design appropriate experimental approaches in order to answer profound questions related to the large field of marine ecosystem and organism functioning and of potential impacts of local, regional and global environmental change. ISATEC has a more applied focus, addressing the sustainable use and conservation of tropical coastal ecosystems such as coral reefs and mangroves.

Teaching of the M.Sc. programme Marine Biology at the University of Bremen follows a unique concept. The University has very close ties and intense co-operations with several world-class marine research institutions located in the Federal State of Bremen. Most heads of departments and many principal investigators at the Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research (AWI), at the Leibniz Centre for Tropical Marine Research (ZMT), and at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology (MPI) are at the same time ordinary professors at the University of Bremen and contribute to teaching the M.Sc. programme Marine Biology. Recently, the Thuenen Institute of Sea Fisheries and the Thuenen Institute of Fisheries Ecology were established in Bremerhaven.

Many courses are actually taught in the laboratories and facilities of the institutes benefiting from cutting-edge research infrastructure and first-hand contact to leading experts. This unique context sets the scene for direct links from current state of research to academic training.

ISATEC is a member of the DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) scholarship programme “Development-Related Postgraduate Courses”. If you are a citizen of a developing country, you may thus apply for a scholarship for the ISATEC profile through the DAAD.


Modules and course structure


First term

The 1st term sets the scene for a successful qualification and academic career in Marine Biology or ISATEC by building up a sound theoretical background and introducing important concepts of Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography as well as the essential fundamentals of the neighbouring disciplines Marine Geosciences, Physical Oceanography, Marine Chemistry, and Marine Biogeochemistry. In this multidisciplinary approach, students will learn the importance of cross-disciplinary co-operation and exchange for successful state-of-the-art marine research. Students will participate in a field practical on Marine Fauna and Flora on the Island of Helgoland. In addition, the first term offers the opportunity to improve personal capabilities and skills, in particular with regard to scientific communication and writing. The first ISATEC-specific course will introduce students to Tropical Coastal Ecosystems.

Second term

The core of the Marine Biology and ISATEC curriculum taught in the 2nd term consists of a series of elective practical classes. They allow students to focus on topics of their own interest and, at the same time, learn state-of-the-art methods in differerent leading research teams at the university and the associated research institutions. The wide selection of courses includes i.a. Global Change Ecophysiology; Ecological Modelling: Populations, Climate, Conservation; Rocky Shore Ecology on Helgoland; Marine Biodiversity and Food Webs; Marine Molecular Biology and Fisheries Biology or Aquaculture Practical. ISATEC students will take a course dealing with Coastal Planning, Management and Governance, also including an introduction to Law of the Sea. Finally, Marine Biology students will have the opportunity to apply their acquired knowledge on different marine ecosystems and to widen their scope on marine biodiversity during other field trips for instance to the Mediterranean Sea or Brittany in France. Occasionally, we also organize dedicated training and research cruises onboard research vessels ("Floating Universities") or offer participation in regular research expeditions as student co-worker. The high proportion of practical classes offers hands-on training in different fields of marine biology.

Third and Fourth term

The third semester is reserved for the Student Research Project (SRP). Students will be integrated in different research teams and work on burning issues of current marine research, providing them with first-hand experience of scientific work and proficiency in state-of-the-art methodologies. During the SRP, students work on self-chosen research objectives, embedded in and supervised by research teams at Bremen University or at one of the associated research institutions. They apply acquired skills, learn state-of-the-art methods, and practice self-dependent project work for the master thesis in the fourth term.

ISATEC students will conduct their Student Research Project abroad on a tropical topic.

Towards the end of the third term, students will develop and defend a proposal for their own research project, which may directly lead to the master thesis in the 4th and final term. The thesis can be prepared either at a marine biological department of the University of Bremen or at one of the associated marine research institutions.



The University of Bremen and the associated research institutions offer a variety of opportunities to continue an academic career as Ph.D. candidate.

Employment opportunities for Marine Biologists exist worldwide at institutions committed to research and development, in the fishing and aquaculture industry as well as in the environmental conservation and management sector at governmental agencies or within NGOs and IGOs. Marine biologists also work at museums, zoological gardens, and aquaria. Additional employment opportunities for marine biologists include adjacent fields such as media (i.e. scientific journalism), eco-consulting, environmental impact assessments, and eco-tourism business. Marine biologists are also employed in the commercial and industrial sector, for instance for "Blue Biotechnology", coastal zone management and the sustainable use of marine resources.


Coordinator of the Programme

Prof. Dr. Kai Bischof

BreMarE - Bremen Marine Ecology Center for Research & Education

Structural components
Ship training
Industry partners
Internship/Workplace experience
International component
Laboratory training
Practical/Field work
Research Project

ISCED Categories

Personal skills and communication
Marine and maritime law
Conservation and environmental management
Marine Geology
Physical and chemical oceanography
Scientific modelling