The University of Southampton
Ocean and Earth Science, National Oceanography Centre SouthamptonUndergraduate study

F703 MSci Marine Biology (4 yrs)

Marine biology embraces the study of all forms of life in the oceans, covering a broad range of topics, from hydrothermal vents to coastal lagoons. To understand life underwater, it is essential to understand how plants, animals and other organisms interact with their environment and respond to change. All our marine biology programmes combine the subject with related oceanographic sciences, to provide a complete understanding of the marine environment.

Introducing your course

This is the course page for MSci Marine Biology at the University of Southampton. Find out everything about Marine Biology and what studying here involves.

In this course page we explain a range of key information about the course. This includes typical entry requirements, modules you can take and how assessment works. We also suggest career opportunities open to you as a University of Southampton graduate of MSci Marine Biology.

If you still have questions, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to answer any enquiries. See our contact us page for our telephone, email and address information.


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The MSci integrated masters degree in marine biology will give you a comprehensive understanding of the biology of marine organisms and their relationship with their environment. You will develop your understanding in a progressive fashion, adding knowledge and practical skills over time from work in the laboratory, field and on board our research vessels.  By graduation you will have a suite of biological and oceanographic skills, which will allow you to develop your career anywhere in the world.

View the programme specification document for this course

To Apply

All undergraduate applications should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Click on the 'How to Apply' tab on the navigation menu for detailed information on how to apply including deadline dates or click here to go directly through to the UCAS website.


The Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMarEST).

Key Facts

This course is aimed at highly motivated and very well qualified students. The course offers a detailed introduction to marine biological subjects and how they inter-relate to physical and chemical oceanography, with the opportunity to acquire a greater breadth and depth of knowledge in marine biology in the 3rd and 4th years.

During your first Easter vacation, you will develop practical field and boat work skills on a seven-day course based in Southampton. Just before the start of your second year, an intertidal marine ecology field course will improve your skills and introduce you to independent research. At the end of year two, you will take part in the interdisciplinary, boat-based field course currently run at Falmouth. This programme also includes an ecology field course, run at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences (BIOS), during the 4th year.

The National Student Survey 2015

  • 94% of our MSci Marine Biology students were satisfied or very satisfied with the learning resources in their course
  • 100% of our MSci Marine Biology students were satisfied or very satisfied that the Library resources and service were good enough to meet their needs
Thumbnail photo of Rachel Boschen

“The experience gained from my course has secured me internships abroad at the Marine Animal Rehabilitation Centre at the University of New England, Maine and at the NOCS working with ChEss. ”

Rachel Boschen - MSci Marine Biology

Entry Requirements

Typical entry requirements

A Levels:
GCE A-level

ABB grade A levels or an equivalent standard in other qualification approved by the university. To include Biology (A grade required) and one subject from Chemistry, Geology, Geography, Maths, Environmental Studies or Physics.

Other qualifications:

Please click here to find out about other qualifications.

English Language

For details of our English Language entry requirements please see here

Selection process:
50 (overall intake across all Marine Biology courses)
Average applications per place:

We will consider your application for this marine biology degree as soon as possible after it arrives at the University. In selecting applicants, we use the information provided on the UCAS form to dermine whether you have the potential to flourish within Ocean and Earth Science.

Candidates who are predicted to attain our standard degree offers will be invited to visit the University and the waterside campus. During this visit, you will meet with one of our academic staff to discuss the offer and explore how your interests and aspirations fit with the course. This formal interview also gives us the opportunity to get to know you.

Contextual Offers

The University of Southampton is committed to widening participation and ensuring that all students with the potential to succeed, regardless of their background, are encouraged to apply to study with us. The additional information gained through contextual data supports our admissions teams to recognise a student’s potential to succeed in the context of their background and experience. Students flagged in this way will be given additional consideration and not be rejected solely on the basis of their predicted (or actual) grades.

Please see our contextual admissions pages for more information.

This page contains specific entry requirements for this course. Find out about equivalent entry requirements and qualifications for your country.


Typical course content

The modules studied on this marine biology degree will expand your knowledge of biological sciences alongside skills in chemistry, physics and mathematics.

Innovation modules outside your subject area

Our Curriculum Innovation Programme offers you the chance to take optional modules outside your chosen subject area. This allows you to personalise your education, to develop new skills and knowledge for your future. Modules range from "Living and working on the web" to "Business skills for employability".

View the Curriculum Innovation modules for this course

Learn a language

Some of our courses also give you the option of taking a language module, which can count towards your degree. These modules cover ten languages and range from absolute beginner to near-native speaker level.

View the language modules on offer for this course

Year 1

Modules in your first year will introduce you to the animals and plants that live in the marine environment as well as developing an understanding of the physical and chemical oceanography of the sea.

Semester One

Depending on your background, you will take one mathematics module from SOES1010, MATH1004 or MATH1008.

If you have the International Baccalaureate, Standard Level Maths at grade 6 or higher you may consider selecting MATH 1004. If you have Standard Level Maths below grade 6 you should select SOES 1010. If you have A-Level qualifications then please click the individual module below for further advice. If you are uncertain then please contact the Programme Leader.

Introduction to ocean biogeochemistry
Marine invertebrates
Earth and ocean system
IT communication, field and laboratory skills
Quantitative Earth and Ocean Science
Introductory Mathematics for Chemists and Oceanographers
Introduction to Mathematical Methods

Year 2

In the second year the modules become more specialised including marine vertebrates, benthic ecology and phytoplankton and primary production. The year ends with a marine biology/oceanography field course in Falmouth. All modules are compulsory.

Year 3

You will extend your knowledge in zooplankton, marine ecophysiology, fisheries and aquaculture and marine molecular biology through taking the five compulsory modules plus two options from the recommended list below. Alternately you may take this from a further range of SOES options, subject to meeting any pre-requisites and to timetabling.

Please note: the availability of Biology modules cannot be guaranteed as this is subject to timetabling constraints. Taking a unit outside SOES should only be undertaken after careful consideration.

*Spaces are limited on SOES3041 and acceptance is by application and interview. Please ensure you list a reserve option when making your option choices. If this is a Semester 1 module, we recommend that you start to attend the lectures until you have received confirmation as to whether you have been accepted onto SOES3041.

Year 4

You will conduct a major research project alongside further taught modules plus a tropical field course run at Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences. Three optional modules must be chosen from the recommended list below.

Students opting to take SOES6052 Tropical Marine Biology will have to make this decision by the end of November in Year 3.

Please note: This specification provides a concise summary of the main features of the programme and the learning outcomes that a typical student might reasonably be expected to achieve and demonstrate if s/he takes full advantage of the learning opportunities that are provided. More detailed information can be found in the programme handbook (or other appropriate guide or website).

Fees & funding

Tuition fees

Course fees for 2016/17 full-time UK and EU undergraduate students are typically £9,000 per year. Tuition fees for international students differ between each course. Most part-time courses cost 50% of the full-time fee.

View the full list of course fees


Scholarships, bursaries or grants may be available to support you through your course. Funding opportunities available to you are linked to your subject area and/or your country of origin. These can be from the University of Southampton or other sources.

Explore funding opportunities

Costs associated with this course

Students are responsible for meeting the cost of essential textbooks, and of producing such essays, assignments, laboratory reports and dissertations as are required to fulfil the academic requirements for each programme of study.

In some cases you'll be able to choose modules (which may have different costs associated with that module) which will change the overall cost of a programme to you. Please also ensure you read the section on additional costs in the University’s Fees, Charges and Expenses Regulations in the University Calendar available at

Career Opportunities

After graduating with your integrated masters degree in marine biology you will be faced with a wide choice of options when you graduate. If you decide not to go on into research or teaching you may well be sought after by government laboratories or agencies. Non-government bodies such as nature conservation groups and commercial consultancy are other routes you might consider.

You could find a role in scientific publishing or science journalism.

Whatever your career choice, you will be equipped with analytical and problem-solving skills which will benefit you in all walks of life thanks to your marine biology degree.

Learning & Assessment

Ocean and Earth Science is strongly committed to providing the very best learning experience to all our students in a friendly and stimulating environment. We are known nationally and internationally for our excellence in teaching, and are continually improving the scope and delivery of our activities

On arrival at the University all marine biology degree students are assigned a personal tutor from the academic staff, who provides help and encouragement throughout the degree course and beyond, into industrial or academic careers and research opportunities. Each degree programme is a stimulating mix of lectures, practical classes, field work and tutorials, supported by computer-aided learning, and independent study. You will acquire an in-depth understanding of the fundamental principles and modern concepts within your chosen subject, as well as a good personal and transferable skills profile. The fully modular course structure allows you maximum flexibility for specialisation according to your own interests.

As part of the National Oceanography Centre, Southampton (NOCS), Ocean and Earth Science has a strong research-led world reputation. Cutting-edge research carried out by academic staff provides direct and enthusiastic input into a challenging and stimulating teaching programme. There is unique opportunity for students to undertake research projects with other NOCS-division scientists.

Study Locations

NOCS (National Oceanography Centre Southampton)

Ocean and Earth Science is based at the world-renowed National Oceanog...Find out more

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