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BSc (Hons) Marine Biology

Bachelor (ISCED 2011 level 6)


Duration 8 semesters
Cost Scottish/EU Students £1,820; Students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland £9,250; Overseas (Non-EU) Students £15,600


Are you fascinated by the oceans and the rich diversity of organisms that inhabit their depths?

Marine Biology is the study of specialised plants and animals and how they’ve adapted to the challenges of living in a marine environment. It’s also concerned with the impact human activity has on the health of the oceans.

Our course is truly multi-disciplinary. It draws on other Biology disciplines, including Ecology and the physical and environmental sciences, to understand a habitat that covers around 71 per cent of the earth’s surface.

We teach you the dynamics of aquatic systems and the biology of their organisms. You’ll learn about the science of diving and other underwater techniques. Our mix of practical work, fieldwork and research projects will ensure that you’ll be ready for your career working with the oceans.

Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture – which coordinates this course – is the leading international centre in its field, and the largest of its kind in the world, with an excellent international reputation in teaching, research, innovation and consultancy.

The Institute of Aquaculture has received the UK’s most prestigious academic honour – the Queen’s Anniversary Prize 2019. The honour recognises outstanding work that shows quality and innovation, and delivers real benefit to the wider world through education and training. It recognises our pioneering work in the world’s fastest-growing food production sector and our bid to tackle global hunger.

Course details

This course will enable you to understand the form, function and dynamics of aquatic systems, and to understand the biology, ecology, taxonomy and management of organisms inhabiting these systems. Practical work is integrated into the course to help you translate theory into practice.

You’ll learn to design and perform a range of aquatic survey techniques and use the information to assess the quality of marine habitats. You’ll also have practical and theoretical understanding of taxonomy using traditional and molecular techniques.

The final year of study involves an independent research project, often carried out with external organisations. Overseas projects in Semester 8 are encouraged and have previously been located throughout Europe, North and South America, the Indian subcontinent, Asia and Oceania.

Our course is run by the Institute of Aquaculture, the leading international centre in its field and the largest of its kind in the world. With an excellent outcome in the most recent Research Excellence Framework 2014, we bring together cross-disciplinary, world class researchers and have built up a first-class international reputation in teaching, research, contract research and consultancy for aquaculture. We collaborate with academic research institutions throughout Europe and beyond, including Spain, China, Brazil, Norway and Thailand.

Marine Biology is not available as a combined Honours degree, but it shares a common foundation with the degree course in Aquaculture, so you have the option to take a degree in Aquaculture until the end of Semester 5.

Mode of study 

Part-time, Full-time, Campus based


We've been awarded five star excellence for our teaching by the QS World University Rankings 2018.

Our academics use their international research activities to teach you the latest thinking and trends in marine biology. Our teaching is delivered through formal lectures and practical classes, tutorials, seminars, computer-based learning, fieldwork, guided reading and research.


You’ll take part in two fieldtrips in which you’ll study seashore and inshore marine organisms and marine mammal biology. An independent research project is a major component of the final year and is often carried out in association with external bodies.

There are also day field study visits to external sites, where you’ll get relevant experience and a practical grounding in marine biology.


Modules on the course are assessed by a mixture of written assignments, exams, practical, team and individual projects. A 40% exam, 60% coursework split would be typical for a module on this course.

Study abroad

Marine biology students benefit from our study abroad links to countries such as the USA (including Hawaii, California, and Alaska), Canada, and Australia.

We encourage overseas projects in Semester 8. Past student projects have been located throughout Europe, North and South America, the Indian subcontinent, Asia, Oceania and Australasia.

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

Application procedure

How to apply

To apply for a full-time undergraduate degree, the majority of students should apply through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

Grant opportunities

Funding opportunities

See what funding opportunities and loans are available to help you with tuition and living costs.

Students domiciled in Scotland and the EU

The University of Stirling offers undergraduate funding opportunities for students domiciled in Scotland or the EU. To find out if you’re eligible to apply for an award, use our scholarship finder.

Students domiciled in England, Wales and Northern Ireland (RUK)

The Undergraduate Choice Scholarship provides a £1,000 cash award to all students from England, Wales or Northern Ireland who meet the conditions of their offer and select the University of Stirling as their Firm or Insurance choice on UCAS.

The University also offers the Undergraduate Merit Scholarship, which is awarded to selected students and provides a £1,000 cash award per year for years 1-3 of study. To be considered for the Merit Scholarship, students require a minimum of AAB at A-level or equivalent.

In addition, students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland who enter in year 1 and progress successfully through years 2 and 3 will receive our Honours Year Scholarship, which covers the cost of undergraduate tuition fees in the Honours year of study.

You don’t need to apply for the awards listed above - we'll automatically identify your eligibility as part of the admissions process.

To explore other scholarships and learn more about funding opportunities, use our scholarship finder.

Students domiciled overseas

The University of Stirling offers generous undergraduate funding opportunities for overseas students. To find out if you're eligible to apply for an award, use our scholarship finder.

Tution fees paid by SAAS for Scottish and UE students.

If you are scottish or from the UE, you can apply to the Student Awards Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have your tuition fees paid in full, providing you meet their residence conditions. You must apply to SAAS every year to ensure your fees are paid.


Year 1 entry - UK students

SQA Higher
AABB - by the end of S5
AAAB - by the end of S6

GCE A-level

IB Diploma
32 points

BTEC (Level 3)

Essential subjects
To include one of Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics or Physics.

Widening access students
Widening access students may be eligible for an adjusted offer of entry. To find out if this applies to you go to our widening access pages.

Care-experienced applicants will be guaranteed an offer of a place if they meet the minimum entry requirements.

For other nationalities, check entry requirements for your country/region.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS 6.0 with 5.5 in each skill
  • Cambridge C1 Advanced (CAE) 169 overall with a minimum of 162 in each sub-skill
  • Cambridge C2 Proficiency (CPE) 180 overall with a minimum of 162 in each sub-skill
  • Pearson Test of English 54 overall with a minimum of 51 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL 80 with no subtest less than 17
  • Trinity ISE II Pass overall and Pass in each sub-skill, ISE III Pass overall and in all sub-skills, ISE IV Pass overall and in all sub-skills

Last updated: 5 December 2019

For more information on ways that you can meet our English language requirements, including options to waive the requirement, please read our information on English language requirements.

Pre-sessional English language courses

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses

ISCED Categories

Conservation and environmental management