Find a Degree Undergraduate Marine Biology

Marine Biology at Aberdeen is a major international research strength. Students benefit from contact with practising marine biologists and field work opportunities.

Why Aberdeen?

  • A recent internal teaching review panel commended the School of Biological Sciences for its committed, professional and enthusiastic teaching. The panel was also impressed with the course choice within degrees and by the emphasis on field courses and field-based teaching, including opportunities and support for expeditions
  • Marine Biology is an internationally recognised research strength with staff research expertise ranging from the deep sea to the inter-tidal zones, including work on fish & fisheries, dolphins, whales, seals, seabirds, octopuses and sharks
  • Marine Biology staff undertake applied research on issues related to fisheries management and marine spatial planning
  • Students benefit from participating in field work in the vicinities of our Ocean Laboratory on the Ythan Estuary, Lighthouse Field station on the Black Isle near Inverness, and around Shetland
  • Students benefit from contact with practising marine biologists from Marine Scotland - Science in Aberdeen, The Scottish Association for Marine Sciences in Oban and The North Atlantic Fisheries College Marine Centre in Shetland


Study Abroad

An optional week-long field course has been introduced for third year students titled Sub-tropical Marine & Freshwater Habitats. The course is conducted during the Easter vacation at the Florida State University Coastal and Marine Laboratory. There will be additional opportunities for expeditions, voluntary work overseas and 'year-out' placements. International exchanges are also possible, normally in the second year of a four year programme. Similarly, it is possible to study for part of the degree in another European university under the ERASMUS programme. 

Study abroad information

The Aberdeen Difference

The opportunity to take Enhanced Study options as part of your degree and participate in co-curricular activities. See for more information.

Environmental or Sustainability Content

Degree programmes in this discipline area contain Environmental or Sustainability Content.

First Year

Marine Biology is represented in first year by substantial marine content in Introduction of Biological Sciences. Students also take Diversity of Life 1 & 2, The Cell, Ecology and Environmental Science and Chemistry. There is also an optional interdisciplinary course titled Oceans and Society. Other optional courses covering a wide range of complementary subjects can be selected as enhanced study.

Second Year

All students study a skills course in Life Sciences. Second year courses progress studies in Ocean Biology, Genes and Evolution, Ecology and Principles of Animal Physiology. A further course can be selected from a wide range of subjects All students take a marine field course.

Third Year (Junior Honours)

Third year courses are in Marine Ecology and Ecosystems, Applied Marine Biology, Environmental Physiology, Animal Population Ecology, Animal Evolution and Biodiversity and all students take a Statistics Course. Students can also choose  from a range of further courses on many other specialist topics.

Fourth Year (Senior Honours)

Students carry out an independent research project in Marine Biology, often in collaboration with an external organisation or occasionally as part of a deep sea research cruise. Students also undertake an extended essay. There is a choice of advanced courses in Sustainable Marine Resource Management, Deep  Sea Environments, Coastal and Benthic Ecology and Sustainable Aquaculture. The breadth of options is extended by courses in Molecular Ecology and Evolution,  Wildlife Conservation and Management and Advances in Vector Biology. Students improve their transferable skills through presentations, groupwork, problem- based learning exercises and team building activities.


Teaching and Assessment

Teaching methods include lectures, laboratory practicals, fieldwork, field courses, seminars, and tutorials. Most courses are marked by continuous assessment and a written examination.


The Marine Biology course is designed to provide a broad based set of generic and specialist skills for future employment. Marine Biology graduates find full-time employment in a wide range of exciting careers. Employers include fisheries’ laboratories, governmental and non- governmental conservation organisations, local government, environmental protection agencies and research bodies. There is a growing demand for marine specialists and a variety of companies have arisen as marine legislation and regulations increasingly require rigorous environmental audit and monitoring. There are also opportunities in environmental education. A considerable number of graduates continue their education by undertaking higher degrees (e.g. MSc or PhD) or by taking a postgraduate Diploma to enter biology or general science teaching. Recent graduates have also been taken on as interns with non-governmental organisations.

Finding your direction

There are many opportunities at the University of Aberdeen to develop your knowledge, gain experience and build a competitive set of skills to enhance your employability. This is essential for your future career success.  The Careers Service can help you to plan your career and support your choices throughout your time with us – from first to final year – and beyond.

Minimum Entrance Requirements

SQA Highers - AABB*
A Levels - BBB*
IB - 32 points, 5 at HL*
ILC - AAABB (B1 or B2 required)*
*Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/Science subjects.

Advanced Entry - Advanced Highers ABB or A Levels ABB or IB 34 points (6 at HL), including Biology and Chemistry, one of which must be at A-grade.

For further details of entrance requirements click here

Please click on the links below to find out more information on funding in your area.

Related Links


Related Information

Further Information

Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
The Hub
King's College

Tel: +44 (0)1224 272090 / +44 (0)1224 272091
Fax: +44 (0)1224 272576