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BSc (Hons) Marine & Freshwater Biology

Bachelor (ISCED 2011 level 6)


Duration 8 semesters
Cost Students from 2019/20: Scotland/EU £1,820; England Wales and Northern Ireland (RUK) £9,250; Overseas £14,925


Explore the aquatic environment, its importance in understanding climate change, and how to monitor and protect marine and freshwater species in a sustainable manner.

The aquatic realm makes up more than 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface and represents the largest domain on earth. This course focuses on the study of the fascinating diversity of life contained in these habitats.

You’ll come to appreciate the issues involved in management of aquatic resources and learn how a firm understanding of the organisation of aquatic ecosystems can promote use in a sustainable manner.

Aquatic habitats and organisms are also pivotal in the understanding of climatic change making this course very relevant to a career in conservation and environmental protection.

Course details

Are you interested in global issues? Are you interested in the marine or freshwater environment? If it’s aquatic biology including coral reefs and sea birds that takes your fancy or indeed conservation and the impact of pollution on the aquatic environment, this is certainly a course worth joining.

You’ll study the adaptation, ecology and behaviour of a range of species found in marine, coastal and freshwater environments. You’ll learn about the non-living environment, including climate, weather, water and sediment properties and pollution. You’ll also learn about aspects of management, including pollution assessment and control and fisheries science.

Scotland is home to some fascinating aquatic environments and you’ll get to experience these during practical fieldwork, both locally and further afield, including a residential field course to the Isle of Cumbrae.

The course will equip you with a broad portfolio of skills in both specialist techniques such as species identification, surveying, data analysis and GIS along with communication of scientific information, IT, problem solving and team working which will allow you to pursue a range of possible career paths.

Popular modules

Year 1

  • Common foundation year
  • Foundation in Science
  • Life on Earth
  • Comparative anatomy and physiology
  • Scientific enquiry
  • Introductory Microbiology
  • Cell biology

Year 2

  • Genes and Inheritance
  • Ecology and Sustainability
  • Practical Skills in Biodiversity and Ecology
  • Physiology, Adaptation and Disease
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Option module

Year 3

  • Research Methods
  • Habitat Assessment and GIS
  • Ecology Field Studies
  • Conservation Biology
  • Marine Biology
  • Freshwater Biology

Year 4

  • Professional Practice
  • Fish and Fisheries Biology
  • Current Topics in Ecology
  • Project (60 credits)

How you’ll be taught

You will learning through a variety of different methods, including lectures, tutorials, field studies and laboratory classes.  Most of our staff are members on the Higher Education Academy and have received formal training in teaching undergraduate students.


A variety of assessment methods are used, including examination, assignments and practical assessments.  These are balanced across the Programme to provide a challenging assessment experience, which allows you to do your best.

Study abroad

Erasmus opportunities. Links with a Danish university to study in English: Roskilde University.

Mode of Study

Full-time(available as Part-time)


Structural components
Internship/Workplace experience
International component
Laboratory training
Practical/Field work
Language training
Research Project

Application procedure

To apply for full-time undergraduate courses, you must make your application through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). We advise you to submit your application as early as possible. If you're applying to a part-time course, you should apply directly to us through our online application form. 

Click here for more information.

Grant opportunities

Click this link for Information of Bursaries and Scholarships.

If you are a full-time student from Scotland or other European Union countries (not including England, Northern Ireland or Wales, and you satisfy the eligibility requirements, you will have your tuition fees paid by the Scottish Government through the Students Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS). You must apply to SAAS for payment of your tuition fees each year, even if you are not applying for any other support. 


Our entry requirements indicate both Standard and Minimum qualifications with which we normally accept students. Competition for places varies from year to year and you aren't guaranteed a place if you meet the minimum qualifications.

Advanced entry into Year 2 or Year 3 is possible for students with suitable qualifications.

Year 1

SQA Higher - Standard Entry Requirement

BBBB including Human Biology, Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Psychology at Grade B.

National 5 C in English, Maths, Biology and Chemistry.

SQA Higher - Minimum Offer Entry Requirement

BBCC including Human Biology, Biology,Chemistry, Physics or Psychology at Grade B.

National 5 C in English, Maths, Biology and Chemistry.

A Level

BCC including Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Psychology.

GCSE Grade C/4 English, Maths, Biology and Chemistry (or Double Award Science) also required.

Irish Leaving Certificate - Pre-2017 Grading System

B1, B1, B3, B3 at Higher Level including a Science (Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Psychology).

C2 at Ordinary Level in English, Maths, Biology and Chemistry also required.

Irish Leaving Certificate - New Grading System

Grades H2, H2, H3, H3 at Higher Level including a Science (Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Psychology).

Grade O4 at Ordinary Level in English, Maths, Biology and Chemistry also required.

BTEC (QCF) Extended Diploma Level 3

Minimum grades DMM (Distinction, Merit, Merit) in a related subject.
GCSE Grade C/4 English, Maths, Biology and Chemistry or DA Science also required.

International Baccalaureate Diploma

Award of Diploma with 28 points overall with three HL subjects at grades 6, 5, 4 including a Science (Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Psychology) at minimum grade 5.

4 points in SL English, Maths, Biology and Chemistry.

European Baccalaureate

70% with Grade 7 in three subjects including Human Biology, Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Psychology.

Grade 6 in English, Maths, Biology and Chemistry.


Advanced entry - Year 2

Minimum year 2

SQA Advanced Higher

BBC to include Biology

A Level

BBB to include Biology


Pass in a related subject* with B in the graded unit

*HNC in Biomedical Sciences, HNC in Biological Sciences, HNC in Applied Sciences or HNC in Applied Bioscience


Advanced entry - Year 3

Minimum Year 3


Pass in a related subject* with Grades BB at SCQF Level 8 in the graded units.

*HND in Biomedical Sciences, HND in Biological Sciences, HND in Applied Sciences, HND in Applied Biological Sciences.


English language requirements

If your first language is not English, we may ask you to provide evidence of your English language abilities when you apply to study at Edinburgh Napier University. Visit the website for more information on our english language requirements.

ISCED Categories

Conservation and environmental management
Marine spatial planning