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Marine Biology BSc (Hons)
2017 entry

The BSc in Marine Biology will teach you about the diversity of marine life from the deep sea to estuaries. You will gain a deep understanding of the biology of marine organisms from tiny cells to large marine mammals. You will study at an advanced, research-led level and your topics will cover a broad range from marine molecular ecology, genomics, marine microbiology, the ecology and development of marine life from invertebrates to marine mammals, as well as the ecology of coasts and estuaries.

St Andrews’ location on the shores of the North Sea makes it the ideal place to study marine wildlife in its natural habitat. Teaching takes advantage of this and you will have the opportunity to learn not only in the lab but also out in the field. The School of Biology has the world-renowned Scottish Oceans Institute, which incorporates the world-class Sea Mammal Research Unit which you can access in order to facilitate your study. 

Students interested in this course may also be interested in the Marine Biology Integrated Masters course, which allows you to graduate with a Master in Marine Biology.

UCAS code

C167

Course type

Bachelor of Science (single Honours degree)

Course duration

Four years full time

Entry requirements

SQA Highers AAAB, including Biology and one other science from the following:
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Physics.
GCE A-Levels AAA, including Biology and one other science from the following:
  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Physics.
IB points 38, including HL6 in Biology and HL6 in one of the following science subjects:
  • Chemistry
  • Computing Science or equivalent
  • Physics
  • Design Technology
  • Mathematics
  • Further Mathematics.

For degrees combining more than one subject, the subject with the higher entry requirements determines the grades you need. You will also need to meet any further subject specific entrance requirements as outlined on their pages.

Find out more about international entry requirements.

How to apply

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

Students must have studied Biology and one of the following subjects at SQA Higher or GCE A-Level:

  • Chemistry
  • Mathematics
  • Physics.

Faculty entry requirements

You must also meet the Faculty of Science minimum qualifications. These vary depending on which qualifications you hold.  

Other qualifications

Passes in other examinations at equivalent levels and subjects may be accepted by the Dean of the Faculty.

Find out more about Faculty of Science entry requirements.

Course information

The BSc in Marine Biology is a four-year course run by the School of Biology. Students are provided with high-tech equipment, laboratories and expertise to facilitate learning and to develop the skillset of a modern marine biologist.

In the first two years of your degree, you will take the core modules in Biology along with modules intended to prepare you for advanced modules in Marine Biology specifically.  

In third year, there is a shift from core, broad-themed modules to more specialised modules which allow students to prepare for their Honours degree. In fourth year students continue specific research in their chosen area through student-led, enquiry-based learning.

Centres of research within the School of Biology offer students the experience of working alongside experts and the opportunity to develop their own research in Honours years.

These facilities include:

  • The Scottish Oceans Institute: houses a modern aquarium and laboratories for molecular, developmental and physiological studies of marine systems. The institute is ideally placed on the seashore near grey and common seal colonies and bottlenose dolphin feeding areas.
  • The Centre for Biological Diversity: has excellent facilities for ecological and evolutionary research on small animals (including birds, insects and fish) and on plants. 
  • The Biomedical Sciences Research Complex: offers large multi-group laboratories that are focused on structural biology, molecular microbiology, virology, chemical biology and molecular medicine.
It is possible for students to take Marine Biology as a five-year Integrated Masters course, allowing you to graduate with a Master in Marine Biology. Find out more about the Integrated Masters degree.

Find out more about studying Marine Biology at St Andrews.

Modules

Typically, you will take core modules per semester during your first two years, and advanced modules during your third and fourth year (known as Honours). Find out more about the modular Scottish degree system.

In first year, modules introduce you to core subject material relevant to all biology degree programmes. Both of the following modules are compulsory.

  • Biology 1: provides an introduction to molecular and cellular biology. It covers cell diversity and the origins of life, cellular structures and fundamental processes.
  • Biology 2: provides an introduction to the diversity of life on Earth and will address key elements of organismal and ecological aspects of life.

In second year, modules are chosen which will best prepare you for Marine Biology and new topics are introduced in some second-year modules such as evolutionary biology and ecology. Students on the Marine Biology course must take the following modules: 

  • Research methods in Biology: develops essential academic and transferable skills, with major emphasis on problem solving. This is achieved through a combination of interactive lectures, independent data-handling workshops and group work on a mini research project.
  • Ecology: introduces basic concepts in population and community ecology and how they relate to biodiversity.

Students must also take two of the following modules:

  • Evolutionary Biology: gives an overview of the history and major principles of modern evolutionary biology.
  • Vertebrate Zoology: explores the diversity of vertebrate animals, beginning with the closest relatives of vertebrates and the evolutionary origins of the group.
  • Invertebrate Zoology: surveys the major invertebrate groups, emphasizing the diversity of body plans while demonstrating how the common functional requirements such as feeding, reproduction, respiration and excretion are achieved.
  • Comparative Physiology: covers the principles of physiological adaptation in a range of animals, including examples from all major taxa and from all habitats.

In third year, you will have the opportunity to begin specialising in Marine Biology via the wide range of modules provided. Modules that have been offered in previous years include:

  • Aquatic Ecology
  • Ecosystems and Conservation
  • Developmental Biology
  • Biology of Marine Organisms
  • Tropical Research and Field Study
  • Scientific Diving.

In fourth year, students undertake a substantial final year experimental or literature-based research project on a topic of their choice. The School provides significant support for the dissertation, with a breakdown of the assessment into different stages and a programme of seminars to assist in the development of advanced research and communication skills.

The modules listed here are the compulsory modules that students must take in order to graduate in this subject. However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in. A full list of all modules currently available can be found in the module catalogue.

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.

 Undergraduates

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

Teaching

Teaching format

The BSc in Marine Biology is taught through a combination of: 

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • tutorials
  • practical classes
  • field work
  • research projects.

Alongside the development of practical biological skills, students are also given the opportunity to expand on their presentation and IT skills.

Fourth year teaching differs from the typical lecture, seminar and tutorial format which students will experience from years one to three. Fourth year allows you to focus on a major project which occupies between a third and half of the year. Working on this project will enable you to develop key research skills which are desired by both prospective employers and by graduate schools offering postgraduate degrees. The project can also lead to your first publication in a scientific journal.  

Field trips

From first year to Honours, students studying Marine Biology will also have the opportunity to go on field trips to gather data. Students in Marine Biology will be perfectly located in St Andrews on the shores of the east coast. In Honours years, students can explore further afield in places such as Indonesia and Antarctica.

Assessment

During first and second year, all modules are assessed by an equal weighting of coursework and written examinations.

In third year, most modules give a higher weighting to examinations, and in fourth year some modules are entirely assessed by coursework, while others include written examinations in addition to coursework.

Most examinations are held at the end of the semester during a dedicated exam diet and revision time is provided beforehand.

The School provides feedback on assessments, with a view to improving your performance in future.

Fees

Tuition fees for 2017 entry

Scotland and EU £1,820
Rest of the UK £9,250
Overseas £20,570

For overseas students, tuition fees will be fixed at this level for the duration of your programme.

More information on tuition fees can be found on the undergraduate fees and funding page.

Additional compulsory charges

Students need to cover costs for lab and course materials of up to £25 each year. There are also additional charges of up to £100 in third year for either a field trip, a reading party excursion or a biochemistry lab class. Substantial additional expedition costs apply to some fourth year modules, including demand-driven modules such as Polar Ecology and Scientific Diving. 

Accommodation fees

Find out about accommodation fees for University accommodation in 2017.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews offers a number of scholarships and support packages to undergraduate students each year.

Find out more about undergraduate scholarships.

Your future

Careers

Graduates with a Biology degree are in high demand and are keenly sought after by institutions including the government, universities, research centres and major companies.

Biology graduates have gone on to find success in a wide variety of careers including:

  • professional biologists in biological research, conservation, higher education and the pharmaceutical, biomedical industries
  • researchers and advisers in government
  • journalists
  • advisers, researchers and managers in the National Health Service
  • teachers
  • forensic scientists
  • management consultants
  • marketing and advertising experts.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.

Study abroad

The University is delighted to offer undergraduates a number of exciting opportunities to apply to spend a semester or year abroad as part of a St Andrews degree programme. St Andrews is partnered with large and small institutions, ancient and young, across the globe. What unites all of our programmes is the quality of the academic provision, ensuring that participation in a St Andrews Study abroad programme opens the door to a new and valuable academic experience at another world-class institution. Study Abroad for credit is permitted on existing University-approved programmes only.

Working abroad

Completing a work placement abroad is a good opportunity to gain work experience in another culture or language and to enhance valuable skill sets. As part of specific degree programmes in Biology, you may apply to undertake a work placement abroad for credit.

Student life

From the outset, the University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions, notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from ensures a community feel amongst students from first year onwards.

Marine Biology students have lectures and practicals in the Medical and Biological Sciences building at the North Haugh. Also at the North Haugh, students can study and access library resources at the JF Allen Science Library. The Bell Pettigrew Museum in the Bute Building, houses a spectacular Zoology collection which includes the arrangement of species to show the evolutionary and taxonomic relationships between animals.

There’s also the opportunity to join the popular student-run Biology society, which organises regular social meetups and biology-related events throughout the year. 

The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As the campus is located around town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings and areas of greenery and seaside which provide a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. If you want a change of scenery, St Andrews' position near surrounding towns and cities such as Anstruther, Dundee and Edinburgh make it ideal for getting to know more about Scotland. Find out more about student life at the University of St Andrews.

Contact

School of Biology
University of St Andrews
Biomedical Science Research Complex
St Andrews
KY16 9ST

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 3401
Email: biology@st-andrews.ac.uk

School of Biology website Biology research portal