Select Page
Marine Biology, BSc

Marine Biology, BSc

Course Overview


Are you fascinated by marine life, exploration and the biology of the sea?

This programme is studied on campus.

In Marine Biology you learn about the diversity of sea life, from the smallest plankton to the largest marine mammals, and investigate their evolution, physiology, ecology and management. You study a range of marine habitats, including sandy beaches, rocky shores, mudflats and estuaries, open ocean and the deep sea, in field- and lab-based practical work.

This programme provides you with a strong foundation in biological sciences, principles and methodologies, while providing you with expertise in marine science. The interdisciplinary nature of marine biology means that you will graduate with a holistic understanding of the sea. Your courses include topics in ocean biology, oceanography, marine ecology, population ecology, international laws and policy related to fisheries management, marine-based renewable energy and aquaculture.

LEARNING MODE On Campus Learning
DURATION 48 months
What You'll Study

Each year you take a selection of compulsory courses and optional courses that can be chosen from those on offer across the institution. The first two years lay a foundation for the more specialised third and fourth years.

How You'll Study

Combine practice and theory

Typically, one third of your class time is practical and many courses include full-day practical classes and field visits. Most students take at least one residential field trip during their degree; these trips bring the subjects to life and provide the opportunity to make great friendships and get to know staff members.

Research experience

You are actively involved in scientific research throughout your degree. In Year 4, you conduct independent research which can be pivotal to your career choice whether it be in dolphins, water voles, rare plants, tropical forest ecology, climate change in the Arctic, or any one of a diverse range of other exciting topics!

Engaging and inspiring teaching

Our teaching methods are diverse, innovative and based on research on how students learn. For example, we use problem-based learning approaches, creative presentations, peer and self-assessment, presenting posters in public meetings, writing and editing wikis, writing grant proposals, science writing for publication, and the creation of portfolios using multi-media.

Opportunities for Study Abroad and work-related learning

You can take advantage of an optional year-out on a work placement in any of our degree programmes. Study Abroad is encouraged for students in their second year; we have established partnerships with institutions in the USA, Canada, Australia, China and numerous countries in Europe.

In year 1 there is substantial marine content. Other optional courses covering a wide range of complementary subjects can be selected as enhanced study.

Compulsory Courses

Professional Skills Part 1 (NT1001)
Frontiers in Biological Sciences (NT1009) – 15 Credit Points
Diversity of Life 1 (NT1012) – 15 Credit Points
Ecology and Environmental Science (NT1511) – 15 Credit Points
Diversity of Life 2 (NT1512) – 15 Credit Points
The Cell (NT1501) – 15 Credit Points
Oceans and Society (NT1015) – 15 Credit Points

Optional Courses

Select 30 credit points from courses of choice.

In year 2 courses include Ocean Biology, Genes and Evolution, Ecology and Principles of Animal Physiology. You will also participate in a marine field course.

Compulsory Courses

Genes and Evolution (NT2017) – 15 Credit Points
Biological Enhanced Skills Training (BEST) (NT2018) – 15 Credit Points
Ecology (NT2020) – 15 Credit Points
Principles of Animal Physiology (NT2510) – 15 Credit Points
Ocean Biology (NT25Z4) – 15 Credit Points

Optional Courses

Select one of the below field courses, plus 30 credit points from by courses of choice.

Compulsory courses in year 3 include Marine Ecology and Ecosystems, Applied Marine Biology and Animal Population Ecology. You will also choose from a range of elective courses on many other specialist topics.

Compulsory Courses

Statistical Analysis of Biological Data (NT3010) – 15 Credit Points
Animal Evolution and Biodiversity (NT3011) – 15 Credit Points
Animal Population Ecology (NT3307) – 15 Credit Points
Marine Ecology and Ecosystems (NT3306) – 15 Credit Points
Environmental Physiology (NT3513) – 15 Credit Points
Applied Marine Biology, Fisheries and Aquaculture (NT3812) – 15 Credit Points

Optional Courses

Plus 30 credit points from courses of choice.

In year 4, the Honours year, you will carry out a research project as well as writing an extended essay and completing advanced courses of your choosing.

Compulsory Courses

SBS Honours Project (Semester 1) (NT4016) – 45 Credit Points

Optional Courses

Select at least two of the following courses:

  • NT4540 Sustainable Management of Marine Resources
  • NT4811 Sustainable Aquaculture
  • NT4529 Marine Mammology

Plus 30 to 45 credit points from courses of choice, to give a total of 120 credit points, at least 90 of which must be from courses delivered by the School of Biological Sciences.

Sustainable Management of Marine Resources (NT4540) – 15 Credit Points
Sustainable Aquaculture (NT4811) – 15 Credit Points
Marine Mammalogy (NT4529)

Assessment Methods

Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:

  • coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course;
  • practical assessments of the skills and competencies learnt on the course; and
  • written examinations at the end of each course.

The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, year of study and individual courses.

Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.

Why Study Marine Biology?
  • We are recognized internationally for our marine research on the deep sea, harbour seals and dolphins, seabird ecology, fisheries management, fish and shark biology, and marine protected areas. Our breadth of expertise results in training that is both broad and current. Also, in your final year project you benefit from access to our specialist facilities, field stations and research vessels.
  • Our coastal location means you have easy access to marine habitats for taught classes as well as leisure pursuits.
  • Our programme is rich in hands-on practical sessions, where you work directly with organisms, analyse samples, and develop both technical and generic skills useful for a career in biology.
  • Teaching on the programme is integrated with our other programmes, meaning that you benefit from structured training in transferable skills and have access to a range of elective courses.
  • Our links with professional and industrial partners, such as Marine Scotland in Northampton, The Scottish Association for Marine Sciences in Oban and The North Atlantic Fisheries College Marine Centre in Shetland, mean that you benefit from exposure to policy-makers, practitioners, regulatory professionals and many students take advantage of our collaborators’ facilities and expertise for their research projects or placements.
  • Our marine scientists hold the record for discovery of the world’s deepest fish and the longest study of a sea bird population.
  • You will have the opportunity to get involved in our research through summer research assistantships, project work and a compulsory final year research project.
  • At our regular careers events you will have the opportunity to listen to and meet prospective employers from outside the university, giving you excellent opportunities to get a fulfilling and challenging job in a biological field.


One of the great advantages of having a biology degree from the Northampton University is that it provides you with a very broad range of skills to offer employers. Not only do we train students in scientific methodology in the laboratory and in the field, we incorporate what we call ‘graduate attributes’ into the whole curriculum. Employers now expect an impressive list of skills, knowledge and experience in their graduate recruits and we aim to help you acquire these.

Many career possibilities are open to graduate Marine Biologists. 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.

Entry requirements


SQA Highers

Standard: AABB*

Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.

Minimum: BBB*

Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.

Adjusted: BB*

Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.

* Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.


Standard: BBB*

Minimum: BBC*

Adjusted: CCC*

* Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

International Baccalaureate

32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL*.

* Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

Irish Leaving Certificate

5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3 OR AAABB*, obtained in a single sitting. (B must be at B2 or above)

* Including good performance in at least two Mathematics/ Science subjects by the end of your senior phase of education.

English Language Requirements

English Language Requirements

To study for an Undergraduate degree at the University of Northampton University it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:


IELTS Academic:

OVERALL – 6.0 with: Listening – 5.5; Reading – 5.5; Speaking – 5.5; Writing – 6.0


OVERALL – 78 with: Listening – 17; Reading – 18; Speaking – 20; Writing – 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL – 54 with: Listening – 51; Reading – 51; Speaking – 51; Writing – 54

Cambridge English Advanced & Proficiency:

OVERALL – 169 with: Listening – 162; Reading – 162; Speaking – 162; Writing – 169

How to apply


This programm by online learning has start dates in September and January of each academic year. 

We recommend that you apply as early as possible; this is particularly important for applicants who may need to allow sufficient time to take an English language test

Documentation required

Applications are made online via the University Application Service, EUCLID.

Please follow the instructions carefully and make sure that you have included the following documentation with your application:

  • Degree certificates showing award of degree.
  • Previous academic transcripts for all past degree programmes.
  • A reference in support or your application. The reference should be academic and dated no earlier than one year from the start of study on the LLM programme.
  • Evidence of English language proficiency, if required.

If you are currently studying for your degree or you are not in a possession of an English test result you may still apply to the programme. Please note that it is your responsibility to submit the necessary documents.

After you apply

After your application has been submitted you will be able to track its progress through the University’s applicant hub.

Application processing times will vary however the admissions team will endeavour to process your application within four to six weeks of submission. Please note that missing documentation will delay the application process.

You will be informed as soon as possible of the decision taken. Three outcomes are possible:

  • You may be offered a place unconditionally
  • You may be offered a conditional place, which means that you must fulfil certain conditions that will be specified in the offer letter. Where a conditional offer is made, it is your responsibility to inform the College Postgraduate Office when you have fulfilled the requirements set out.
  • Your application may be unsuccessful. If your application has not been successful, you can request feedback from us or refer to our guidance for unsuccessful applicants, which explains some of the common reasons we why we reach this decision.
    View the University’s guidance for unsuccessful applicants
Terms and conditions of admissions
  • The University’s terms and conditions form part of your contract with the University, and you should read them, and our data protection policy, carefully before applying.

    Northampton University admissions terms and conditions