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The Master of Science by Research degree in Marine Biology is a 12-month, research only degree, in which the candidate will undertake a supervised research project in the area of Marine Biology, in the School of Biology, University of St Andrews.

The candidate will be based in the interdisciplinary Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI), based at East Sands, St Andrews. The SOI is home to the world famous Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU), and hosts a wide-range of researchers with interests ranging from the deep oceans to the coasts, and from the people who use and interact with the sea, to the biological and physical processes that make the oceans function.

There are four research themes running through the SOI: Global Change and Planetary Evolution; Ecology, Fisheries and Resource management; Developmental and Evolutionary Genomics; the Sea Mammal Research Unit. As such, the SOI brings together behavioural and population ecologists, evolutionary biologists, geneticists, conservationists, mathematicians and environmental scientists to contribute towards understanding and managing the future of our oceans and the organisms, big and small, that live within them. Further details about the SOI can be found here:

Candidates may approach potential supervisors in the SOI directly ( or via advertised projects listed here ( We strongly recommend that potential candidates make contact with a potential supervisor before applying.

The School of Biology provides a unique and supportive environment for scholarship, amid a beautiful setting for university life. We are a highly research active School, with a diverse and vigorous post-graduate community. The School comprises a large number of research groups organised into three interdisciplinary Research Centres: the Scottish Oceans Institute (SOI), the Biomedical Sciences Research Complex (BSRC) and the Centre for Biological Diversity (CBD). Together these centres encompass the full spectrum of research in biological sciences, spanning investigations on the properties and behaviour of individual molecules through to planetary environmental dynamics. Our postgraduate students enjoy a supportive and welcoming environment, including the student-led ‘Bionet’ society that provides a wide range of networking and social opportunities.

Progression and Assessment

Students in the MSc(Res) program will be assigned an Internal Examiner (IE) and Post-Graduate Tutor by the School. There will be a progress review meeting at three months to monitor and evaluate student progression, convened by the IE, with the student and Tutor in attendance.

In addition to the project-specific training that you will receive during your degree, Msc(Res) students will also have access to a wide range of training in transferable skills through the award-winning University of St Andrews GradSkills program, run by our Professional Development Unit CAPOD. Specific post-graduate programs run within the School of Biology may also offer additional training, for instance in statistical, bioinformatics or molecular techniques.

The degree requires submission and examination of a dissertation at the end of the one-year program. This thesis will consist of up to 30,000 words. The thesis will be evaluated by the IE and an External Examiner appointed at time of submission. Evaluation will be based on the written submission and there is no requirement for a viva voce examination.


For details of post-graduate tuition fees relevant to our research degrees including the MSc(Res), please visit:


Please apply via the University’s Post-Graduate Application portal:

Visit the MSc(Res) Marine Biology page on the University of St Andrews website for more details!




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