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Marine Biology

Marine Biology at St Andrews covers aquatic environments, evolutionary processes, behavioural biology, biodiversity, biological sustainability, marine microbiology and marine mammal biology. The University is home to the world-renowned Scottish Oceans Institute, which delivers multidisciplinary, topical courses at a high level of specialisation, preparing students to become researchers in marine-related science.



Marine Biology BSc (Hons)
Marine Biology MMarBiol (Hons)



Ecosystem-Based Management of Marine Systems MSc
Marine Mammal Science MSc
Sustainable Aquaculture (Distance Learning) PGDip/MSc
Sustainable Aquaculture (Distance Learning) PG Certificate



Please contact a supervisor in your research area to inquire about PhD opportunities.

Visit St Andrews

If you are interested in studying at St Andrews, join us at an open day to explore the town, find out about our courses and meet current students.


Booking for our autumn visiting days will open in early September 2017.

  • Wednesday 27 September 2017
  • Wednesday 4 October 2017
  • Wednesday 18 October 2017
  • Wednesday 25 October 2017
  • Wednesday 1 November 2017



  • November 2017 - date to be confirmed.

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Marine Biology research areas

Marine Biology research at St Andrews is focused around three research themes:

Developmental and evolutionary genomics

Researchers in this area also use marine model species to understand biological processes, such as regeneration and embryogenesis, to inform and influence biomedical advances as well as understand the processes involved with the evolution of morphologies and biodiversity.

Research staff

Ecology, fisheries and resource management

Research in this area seeks to understand, shape and sustainably exploit the resources of the marine environment. This involves understanding how organisms function and interact with other organisms and with their environment. It includes the span of marine systems but also near-shore terrestrial or freshwater systems that impact the marine environment.

Research staff:

Marine Mammal Biology

Consisting of over 60 staff and students, marine mammal biology at St Andrews represents a formidable concentration of expertise and talent in the field of marine mammalogy and, more generally, in marine ecology and the development of telemetry tags. Research focuses on the fundamental biology and ecology of upper trophic level predators in the oceans.

Research staff:

Marine Biology research centres and institutes

There are two research centres and institutes for Marine Biology at St Andrews:

Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI)
The SOI is an interdisciplinary research institute studying the marine environment which forms a key focus for research excellence in marine-related science.

Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU)
The SMRU carries out fundamental research into the biology and ecology of upper trophic level predators in the oceans and provides advice to government in the UK about the management of seal and cetacean populations.

Biology research portal


Careers for graduates in Marine Biology

Graduates of Marine Biology are well prepared to become scientists and managers, delivering the research and scientific advice needed for integrated resource and biodiversity management all over the world. A degree in Marine Biology also provides students with transferable skills applicable to a wide range of scientific and non-scientific careers.

Graduates from Marine Biology programmes pursue careers in:

  • research
  • environmental consultancy
  • government policy
  • global aquaculture
  • biotechnology
  • teaching
  • publishing and journalism
  • media.

See recent graduate employment case studies.

Work experience

Work experience is invaluable when it comes to securing graduate-level employment. There are a number of marine biology-specific opportunities for students to gain work experience:

  • Complete a summer research internship in an area of interest with RISE Germany.
  • Become a member of Transition, a group of St Andrews students and staff who work together on environmental projects
  • Join an expedition to get involved with environmental and sustainable development projects:
    • Earthwatch Institute offers expeditions in ocean health and ecosystems.
    • Operation Wallacea runs a series of biological and conservation management research programmes in remote locations.
    • Frontier provides a number of marine conservation volunteering opportunities across the globe.
    • Expedition Akumal protects and restores the coral reefs of Akumal in Mexico.

Funding opportunities

There is a range of funding opportunities available to prospective undergraduates, postgraduates and PhD students.


There are various undergraduate funding opportunities offered by the University of St Andrews.

Undergraduate scholarships


Postgraduate taught scholarships

PhD students

BBSRC studentship funding
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council provides competitive funding for research in many areas including: whole organism biology, biological populations and systems, and biodiversity.

Funding for PhD students


REF 2014

‌The impact of research in the School of Biology was ranked first in Scotland and second in the UK in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.

Athena SWAN Bronze Award

The School of Biology has achieved an Athena SWAN Bronze Award in recognition of advancement of gender quality.


School of Biology
University of St Andrews
Biomolecular Sciences Building
North Haugh
St Andrews
KY16 9ST

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 3441

Biology website Biology research portal  

Scottish Oceans Institute
University of St Andrews
Gatty Marine Laboratory
East Sands
St Andrews
KY16 8LB

Phone: +44 (0) 1334 46 3472

SOI website