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Biological Sciences×

Masters Degrees in Marine Zoology, United Kingdom

We have 5 Masters Degrees in Marine Zoology, United Kingdom

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This course provides you with an exceptional grounding in marine environmental research. You’ll develop your understanding of key concepts and issues. Read more
This course provides you with an exceptional grounding in marine environmental research. You’ll develop your understanding of key concepts and issues. You’ll also develop the skills and qualities required for a career in academia or industry.

Through a combination of taught and research modules, our course develops your understanding of:
-The roles of science, policy, technology and economic development in the marine environment
-Marine environmental issues, their origins and possible solutions
-The principal processes maintaining and altering structure, function and ecosystem services of coastal waters
-The key concepts and methodologies used in ecosystem, environmental management and conservation science
-The context, purpose and implementation of resource mapping and evaluation
-The theory, principles, concepts and practices in marine governance

Our staff have over 30 years of research and teaching experience, both in the UK and overseas. Their expertise spans the natural and social sciences in coastal-marine science and management.

Our taught modules will ground your understanding of marine ecosystem dynamics, research methodologies and environmental governance. You will develop your research skills by designing and completing a supervised project.

Major sites for projects include the:
-Red Sea
-Northumberland coast (UK)

The project will develop a detailed knowledge of your chosen research topic by drawing on the research communities within the School of Marine Science and Technology. These include:
-Marine Biology, Ecosystems and Governance (MBEG)
-Oceans and Climate (OC)

These research groups have had notable successes in their work on:
-Coral reefs (Prof John Bythell, Prof Alasdair Edwards, Prof Nicholas Polunin)
-Physical oceanography and climate modelling (Prof Andrew Willmott, Dr Miguel Maqueda)
-Marine spatial mapping and systems planning (Dr Clare Fitzsimmons)
-Marine protected areas and management (Prof Nicholas Polunin, Prof Selina Stead)
-Food webs (Prof Nicholas Polunin)

They are also active in:
-Marine mammal monitoring (Dr Per Berggren)
-Citizen science and outreach (Dr Jane Delaney)
-Deep sea ecology and marine time series (Dr Ben Wigham)

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Marine biology is an extraordinarily broad and dynamic subject, reflecting the diversity and energy of marine ecosystems and the fantastic array of life they contain, making this a compelling subject to study. Read more
Marine biology is an extraordinarily broad and dynamic subject, reflecting the diversity and energy of marine ecosystems and the fantastic array of life they contain, making this a compelling subject to study. Marine processes exert massive influences on the Earth’s climate and the pattern of biogeochemical cycling. Closely linked with the diverse research pursuits of a range of scientists this programme allows you to apply and develop your particular skills in a marine context.

Key features

-Study in Plymouth, an internationally renowned city for marine biological research.
-Participate in a specifically designed, topical programme jointly hosted by Plymouth University and the Marine Biological Association (MBA) of the UK.
-Choose between two pathways to suit your research interests, biodiversity and ecology or cellular and molecular biology.
-Benefit from being taught by recognised experts with worldwide links to research organisations and projects.
-Draw on our expertise, working alongside research staff on a personal project.
-Undertake an extensive, original and innovative research project, often in collaboration with MBA Research Fellows, or one of our other partner institutions (Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science and the National Marine Aquarium), either in the UK or abroad.
-Excellent training for further research.
-See the benefit from close links with the research community worldwide.

Course details

In your first term you will study core modules which concentrate on building up your general research and academic skills. You’ll also be introduced to the research and organisation of the MBA and the Marine Biology and Ecology Research Centre at the University, with a focus upon raising your awareness of potential dissertation topics and advisors. You’ll take a specific module based on your chosen specialisation. The ecology option includes additional training in the analysis of ecological data and conservation/biodiversity assessments. The cellular and molecular option meanwhile focuses on DNA and microbiological techniques, biological imaging, and electrophysiological methods. The majority of time from mid-January onwards is spent on your research project and dissertation. You’ll undertake your project working directly with researchers at the MBA, Plymouth University or one of our other partner institutions. It may also be possible to conduct your project abroad.

Core modules
-MBAM5106 Advanced Research in Marine Biology
-MBAM5109 Marine Biology MRes Dissertation
-BIO5131 Postgraduate Research Skills & Methods

Optional modules
-MBAM5108 Marine Ecology and Conservation
-MBAM5107 Molecular and Cellular Approaches in Marine Biology

Every postgraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the programme aims, the programme structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

Advice from graduate Olivia Durkin

"Although I may have not followed the typical path of a marine biology graduate, I have always remained flexible in the available job opportunities and therefore gained a very varied skill set, enabling me to adapt to different roles and projects. Do what you enjoy and it’s ok if you don’t end up being the dolphin trainer you thought you might be."

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Tropical ecosystems provide important resources locally and globally, and coral reefs are the most diverse of marine ecosystems threatened by human activities. Read more
Tropical ecosystems provide important resources locally and globally, and coral reefs are the most diverse of marine ecosystems threatened by human activities.

Our unique multidisciplinary course, MSc Tropical Marine Biology, is designed to deliver advanced tropical marine biology theory and to facilitate the development of a comprehensive range of practical and professional skills required by today’s employers.

As a student of our School you will benefit from the breadth of research carried out by our internationally recognised academics, and will engage with current research activities both in the UK and abroad. You also have opportunity to put theory into practice and study coral reef conservation first hand during the School’s annual field trip to Wakatobi Marine National Park, Indonesia.

Explore topics including:
-Hands-on experience of coral reef conservation on our pioneering underwater lectures in Indonesia
-The biotechnological ‘treasure chest’ of marine microbes, algae and invertebrates
-Tropical oceans, seagrass beds, mangroves and coral reefs
-Coral reef resource management

During the summer term, you will embark on your own extensive research project under the supervision of researchers at the forefront of their fields. This can be conducted within our in-house Coral Reef Research Unit, or alongside one of our research partners from across the globe, addressing key questions on the functioning of and threats to tropical marine ecosystems.

Two-thirds of our research is rated “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014), and you learn from and work alongside our expert staff.

Professional accreditation

To expand your skillset and boost your employability, we provide you with £125 to spend on externally accredited learning, such as certification as a Marine Mammal Surveyor, participation in Sea Survival courses or gaining the skills and background knowledge needed to drive a powerboat.

Our expert staff

As one of the largest schools at our University, we offer a lively, friendly and supportive environment with research-led study and high quality teaching. You benefit from our academics’ wide range of expertise on important national and international problems using cutting-edge techniques.

Key academic staff for this course include: Dr Leanne Appleby Hepburn, who works on community ecology of coral reefs; Professor Dave Smith, who is researching tropical marine biology and conservation; Dr Michael Steinke, who is working on biogenic trace gases in marine environments; Dr Tom Cameron, who specialises in aquatic community ecology; and Dr Etienne Low-Decarie, who is investigating ecological and evolutionary responses to global change.

The University of Essex has a Women's Network to support female staff and students and was awarded the Athena SWAN Institutional Bronze Award in November 2013 in recognition of its continuing work to support women in STEM.

Specialist facilities

Recent investment has provided modern facilities for imaging biological systems, aquatic community ecology, photosynthesis and eco-physiology. On our course you have the opportunity to:
-Work in an open and friendly department, with shared staff-student social spaces
-Conduct your research alongside academics and PhD students in shared labs
-Our local marine biology field centre, with direct access to the Colne estuary, a recently designated marine conservation zone (MCZ). -Develop your practical skills through mapping habitats, Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and boat handling
-Learn to use state-of-the-art research facilities

Your future

As the world's environmental problems increase, the demand for qualified marine biologists continues to grow, and postgraduate study is often a requirement for becoming a researcher, scientist, academic journal editor and to work in some public bodies or private companies.

Many of our Masters students progress to study for their PhD, and we offer numerous studentships to support our students in their studies.

Our graduates go on to a range of careers. Some work with governmental and non-governmental environmental agencies, organisations, consultancies and voluntary organisations, or go on to conduct doctorate research. Many overseas students return to comparable posts in their home country.

We work with our university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Example structure

-Tropical Marine Resources
-Tropical Marine Systems
-Methods in Tropical Marine Biology
-Professional Skills in Tropical Marine Biology
-Research Project: MSc Tropical Marine Biology

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This MSc is a full-time one-year course, consisting of 9 months taught course and 3 months research project, and examined by continuous assessment. Read more
This MSc is a full-time one-year course, consisting of 9 months taught course and 3 months research project, and examined by continuous assessment. The course provides advanced training in marine biology with a strong emphasis on practical training.

The course provides training addressing the following major themes:

Marine Ecology Skills
Habitat Ecology / Coastal Survey
Marine Fisheries
Marine Vertebrates
Marine Invertebrates
Research Design & Planning
Research Project / Dissertation
The programme is achieved through a series of compulsory modules encompassing theory, practical, private study and practical research.

The School of Ocean Sciences at Bangor University has over 50 years experience of teaching at postgraduate level, and excellent teaching and research facilities for the study of the marine biology. Undergraduate teaching was graded excellent in the last Teaching Quality Assessment, and research was graded 4* in the Research Assessment Exercise. NERC has designated the School as a Centre of Excellence in Coastal Seas, Marine Biology and Biological Oceanography.

The MSc course in Marine Biology is one of a suite of 4 focused MSc courses in marine science run within the School. New students on this course are inducted to the University and School via an introductory course consisting of orientation through site tours, excursions and social events, and 5 weeks of quantifying biological variability, learning Information Technology, and practising presentation skills. Pre-sessional English language training courses are also available for overseas students.

The MSc course is managed by a course team comprising of the Course Director, Deputy Course Director and Postgraduate Course Administrator. The team report to the School Course Board, which in turn reports to the College of Natural Sciences. Each student has a personal tutor drawn from the teaching staff. The School has 30 academics teaching and researching across the marine science disciplines of Marine Biology (15), Biogeochemistry (2), Physical Oceanography (6) and Geological Oceanography (7) with a similar overall number of technical staff. Teaching on the MSc Marine Biology will be provided from 'in house' in the main, but additional teaching will be provided from the University's School of Biological Sciences and the National Museum of Wales.

The MSc course is housed in a fully serviced and dedicated postgraduate suite. The School is located on the shores of the Menai Strait which separates the Isle of Anglesey from the mainland. The Menai Strait is a proposed Statutory Marine Resource and EU Special Area of Conservation and there are unspoilt marine environments relatively close by.

The University's newly refurbished science library is located in nearby in Bangor. Specialist facilities in the School include temperate and tropical aquaria, satellite imaging processing and Geographical Information System computing, diving and field survey operations (including ROVs and sledges) and laboratories for benthic analysis, nutrition, microbiology, genetics, radiochemical analysis, stable isotopes, sediments and organic chemistry, scanning electron microscopy. An additional strength in our field teaching, is work at sea aboard the only ocean-going research vessel in the Higher Education sector (RV Prince Madog), which entered service in 2001.

MSc course students can benefit from the School's links with other institutions, especially for research project opportunities. Such links presently include the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, U.S.A., University of Mauritius, Catholic University Chile etc.

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The programme encompasses the following key ideas. ·        . Understanding complex marine systems from a range of standpoints. Read more

The programme encompasses the following key ideas:

·        Understanding complex marine systems from a range of standpoints. Establishing a core body of knowledge about the marine environment and the physical, chemical, ecological and anthropogenic processes operating on a range of spatial and temporal scales.

·        Multidisciplinary approaches. Creating a multidisciplinary approach to understanding and managing the marine environment through integrated field, laboratory and theory-based learning and examine this in the context of the relevant legislative framework and global policy changes.

·        Understanding the impacts of both natural and anthropogenic factors on the marine environment alongside environmental change. Using a multidisciplinary approach to the development of applied solutions to managing marine resources and biodiversity in an ever changing situation.

·        Use of big marine data. The collection of rigorous scientific data; formulating and testing hypotheses through carrying out scientific investigations and communicating information in a variety of formats to a range of audiences.

·        Professional practice and application to real world situations. Understanding the links between scientific ideas and their application to solving marine environmental problems by working with professionals from a range of scientific disciplines. In addition, using industry-standard approaches, equipment and analysis to collect, analyse and report on ecological and environmental data from field and laboratory investigations in the relevant format to inform the public, practitioners in the field, policy makers and scientists.


The programme allows the progression of students along two main pathways with different core modules to allow for specific career and skill development. Those wishing to pursue a career in fisheries science can follow the MSc Marine Environmental Management (Fisheries) pathway where those students who wish to follow the more ecological route can follow the MSc Marine Environmental Management (Ecology)  route.

Example modules:

  • Applied Fisheries Science and Management. Fisheries ecology, economics and social science; understanding of fundamental fisheries management tools and concepts, comparing/contrasting freshwater and marine systems. Students are trained in the use of Ecopath with Ecosim and traditional numeric fisheries management tools.
  • Applied Benthic Ecology.  The use of industry-standard approaches, equipment and analysis to collect, analyse and report on marine ecological and environmental data from field and laboratory investigations.  During a 1 week field trip students are trained in survey design using sublittoral sampling equipment and then tasked as a group designing a question and supervising the operation of a survey boat for a day. Samples will be worked up (quantified, taxonomic work and mapping) and analysed on return the university.
  • Operational Oceanography.  Desktop oceanography using the myriad of open source “big data” sources available, students will learn to use a range of recognised resources to model and analyse contemporary and future oceanographic situations and issues.
  • Research Design.  Identifying aspects of environmental problems amenable to qualitative and quantitative study, questionnaire design, programmes of monitoring and experimental study. The scientific method: formulating and testing hypotheses through carrying out scientific investigations using primary and secondary data from field, laboratory, computer and desk-based study.  To support thier analytical abilities students take part in a 3-day intensive R programming course.
  • Dissertation in fisheries ecology or management using extensive links with industry.  These can be data based or field based in nature.

Optional modules

  • Principles of GIS.  Practical use of the most widely available GIS system ArcGIS on real-world environmental problems; development of a wide range of special analysis and problem-solving skills.
  • Environmental Impact Assessment.  Introduction to EIA/EcIA; scoping and valuation; key ecological receptors; characterising impacts of urbanisation or industrial development; determining significance; presenting an EcIA to consultees.
  • Ecotoxicology.  Knowledge of the impacts of persistent and ephemeral pollution on marine and estuarine systems)
  • Scientific Diving.  Training to or towards this HSE recognised professional qualification and an understanding of the regulatory and legal framework in which such activities sit). Student divers will carry out a research project to give them an opportunity to more fully understand the opportunities and limitations of this research approach.

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