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BSc (Hons) Marine Biology

Bachelor (ISCED 2011 level 6)


Duration 8 semesters
Cost Tuition fees for 2020 entry (by residency status): Scotland/EU paid by SAAS; England/Northern Ireland/Wales £9,250; International £19,400


Years 1 and 2 provide a foundation in modern biology, including: Ecology; Pollution Biology; and Man’s Impact on the Environment. Year 3 gives a thorough grounding in many aspects of Marine Biology and Year 4 explores the applications of Marine Biology to Marine Resource Development and Marine Environmental Protection. Fieldwork plays an important part in the course. The course aims to produce good Marine Biologists with a training in applied aspects of marine resource exploitation and protection. Breadth in the curriculum is provided by options including Molecular Biology and Microbiology.

Course content

Year 1 

Introduces Biology largely as Human Biology with accompanying courses in Applied and Environmental Biology. Additional subjects include Mathematics for Scientists and Chemistry, as required for an understanding of future courses in Biochemistry and Physiology.

Year 2

Concentrates on broad topics in Biology, especially Whole Organism Biology of Animals, Plants and Microorganisms; Cell Structure and Biochemistry; and Nutrition and Health.

Year 3

Core courses in Marine Biology focus on Marine Biodiversity, Marine Environmental Biology and Practical Marine Biology.

Year 4

Advanced topics in Marine Biology including: Estuarine and Coastal Management; Fish Physiology and Nutrition; Marine Environmental Monitoring; Marine Chemical Ecology; Marine Biotechnology; and Shellfish and Crustacean Culture. A selection of optional courses is also offered. A research project provides the practical component of the final year of study.

Detailed course guide

Mode of study


Go Global

This course is currently only delivered at our Edinburgh Campus and there are no current opportunities to study at exchange partner institutions. However, other Go Global opportunities may be available. Please contact for more information. 

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

Application procedure

All applications to undergraduate degree programmes at the UK campuses of Heriot-Watt University, whether from the UK or overseas, should be made online through the University & Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

You can get in touch with us before you apply for advice related to the qualifications you are taking and the offer you may expect to receive.

UCAS accepts applications from September 2019 for entry in September 2020. The first closing date for applications to be guaranteed consideration is 15 January 2020. We continue to accept applications from talented and enthusiastic applicants, but cannot guarantee consideration for areas of high demand. If you’re interested in applying and want to find out more, contact us for more information.

Grant opportunities

In addition to government loans and grants towards the costs of fees and living costs, we are offering generous financial support to attract and support eligible students from England, Northern Ireland or Wales: Heriot-Watt University Bursary (up to £3,100 per year). View our full range of undergraduate 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. 

Learning outcomes


Understanding, Knowledge and Cognitive Skills

  • an understanding of the biological component of modern marine sciences and of its relevance to other marine disciplines and to the sustainable management of the oceans and coastal waters and estuaries.
  • development of knowledge and understanding in areas of marine biology and related marine and environmental sciences including: marine fauna and flora, marine environments and their habitat ecology, oceanography and other relevant physical disciplines, marine and coastal environmental management and conservation, marine resource development, and marine biotechnology
  • an awareness of safe practices in marine, biological and environmental sciences.
  • an understanding of the relevance of the sustainable management of the marine environment and of marine resources on our daily lives.

Scholarship, Enquiry and Research (Research Informed Learning)

  • development of practical skills generic to working with marine organisms and in marine habitats
  • ability to plan, conduct and analyse results of practical work in the laboratory
  • ability to plan, conduct and analyse results of field surveys and filed experimentation
  •  ability to retrieve and manage scientific information relevant to the subject discipline
  • ability to analyse and interpret scientific data
  • ability to present scientific material using a range of media.


Industrial, Commercial and Professional Practice

  • understanding the role of marine biologists in professional fields including research and development, quality assurance and public health and especially in organisations connected with environmental management an conservation.

Autonomy, Accountability and Working With Others 

  • taking responsibility for personal and professional development
  • effective working and time management both as an individual and part of a group.

Communication, Numeracy & Information and Communications Technology 

  • effective communication , both written and oral, at all levels 
  • development of critical analytical, numerical and IT skills, both general and subject-specific


Entry requirements

Year 1

Standard entry requirements

  • Highers AABB/ABBB (including a science subject)
  • A-Levels BBC (including a science subject)
  • Int. Baccalaureate 27 points to include a science subject at Higher Level 5
  • BTEC DMM (in relevant subject)
  • HNC C in graded unit (in relevant HNC)

Minimum entry requirements*

  • Highers BBBC (including a science subject at B)
  • A-Levels BCC (including a science subject)

Suitable science subjects are Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Sciences, Human Biology, Mathematics and Physics.

* Minimum: under our Fair Access Policy, we will relax our standard entry requirements for Scottish students depending on their circumstances. Our minimum requirements will apply if you:

  • live in an area within the Scottish Index of Multiple Deprivation lowest 20% (SIMD20), or
  • are care experienced.


Year 2

  • Advanced Highers BB (including Biology or Human Biology plus Highers AABB/ABBBB)
  • A-Levels ABB (including Biology or Human Biology)
  • Int. Baccalaureate 32 points (with Biology at Higher Level 6)
  • HNC B in graded unit (in relevant HNC)
  • HND BB in graded units (in relevant HND)
  • BTEC DDM (in relevant subject)


Year 3

  • HND AB in graded units (in relevant HND)


Additional information

  • For all years, applications are welcomed from holders of non-school qualifications, mature candidates and overseas students.
  • English language requirements - the minimum requirement for English language for all our undergraduate Biology courses is IELTS 6.0. Please see our English language requirements for more information.

ISCED Categories

Conservation and environmental management
Physical and chemical oceanography