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C161 - Marine Biology

Marine Biology

BSc Honours

  • UCAS code: C161
  • Full time
  • 3 years
  • Next start date: September 2021
Year :

With a firm focus on practical learning, this Marine Biology will allow you to explore the marine environment first hand, while learning from some of the leading researchers in the field.

Fees (per year)

  • Home: £9250
  • International: £23400

Entry requirements

  • A Level: ABB-BBB
  • IB: 32 points

UCAS Institution name and code:

  • NEWC / N21
Work placement opportunity Professional accreditation

Course overview

The planet cannot survive without its oceans. Our mission is to nurture and train you as a marine biologist with the skills to solve global challenges. You’ll enjoy a unique experience at Newcastle University and develop the skills and knowledge for a successful career.

A career in Marine Biology is perfect if you are passionate about the environment, love the ocean, want to make a difference in the world and are driven to stand out in a competitive industry.

You will address key challenges of today including:

  • loss of marine biodiversity
  • marine conservation
  • climate change
  • marine pollution
  • sustainable use of our marine resources

You’ll explore all marine life, from the invertebrates, fish, seabirds and marine mammals to plants, algae and bacteria. You’ll also investigate the chemical and physical properties of the world’s oceans and their impact on marine life.

You'll have access to outstanding facilities. You’ll be out at sea on our research vessel, the Princess Royal and conducting practical workshops at our coastal laboratory, the Dove Marine Laboratory. You’ll investigate out in the field and analyse findings in the lab, putting theory into practice.


Image of the marine coast

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Your course during COVID-19
Please rest assured we make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the programmes, services and facilities described. However, it may be necessary to make changes due to significant disruption.

Given the changing nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, the commitments outlined are subject to guidelines that may be in place from time to time.

View our COVID-19 Study page, which gives information about your Newcastle University study experience for the academic year 2021-22.

See our terms and conditions and student complaints information

Quality and ranking

We rank 4th in the UK in the Earth and Marine Sciences category, The Guardian University Guide 2020.

Professional accreditation

All professional accreditations are reviewed regularly by their professional body.

Modules and learning


The information below is intended to provide an example of what you will study.

Most degrees are divided into stages. Each stage lasts for one academic year, and you'll complete modules totalling 120 credits by the end of each stage. 

Our teaching is informed by research. Course content may change periodically to reflect developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback.

Optional module availability
Student demand for optional modules may affect availability.

Full details of the modules on offer will be published through the Programme Regulations and Specifications ahead of each academic year. This usually happens in May.

To find out more please see our terms and conditions.

You’ll cover a broad range of topics to provide you with a solid foundation of knowledge in Marine Biology. This foundation will help you understand more complex challenges and solutions as you progress in your degree.

You'll also be introduced to standard laboratory procedures, experimental design, sampling methods, field observations, and recording scientific information.


Compulsory Modules Credits
Marine Biology 20
Diversity of Marine Animals 20
The Marine Environment 20
Academic and Professional Skills for the Biosciences 20
Marine Practical Skills 1 20
Optional Modules Credits
Genetics and Evolution 20
Marine Microbiology and Primary Producers 20

You’ll develop a deeper understanding of marine ecology. You’ll learn how your skills in marine biology apply to a range of contexts, including industrial, biotechnology and food production.

You’ll develop your skills and knowledge through practical workshops, field trips and a residential field course. You’ll also develop your future employability with modules such as Marine Research and Employability Skills, as well as Marine Practical Skills.


Compulsory Modules Credits
Ecology of Marine Systems 20
Applied Marine Biology 20
Oceans and Climate I 20
Research and Employability Skills 20
Marine Practical Skills II 20
Optional Modules Credits
Biotechnology: Principles and Practice 20
Molecular Evolution and Systematics 20
Deep-Sea and Polar Biology 20
Marine Vertebrate Biology and Ecology 20
Oceans and Climate II 20

In your final year, you’ll complete your marine research project either in the UK or overseas. As part of your project, you’ll submit a scientific paper and present your findings to staff and students. This experience is invaluable as writing research papers is a core requirement in the field.

You'll also study advanced marine biology and zoology. These topics focus on the latest research within the field including deep-sea ecology, DNA meta-barcoding and animal tracking.


Compulsory Modules Credits
Advanced Marine Research Topics I 20
Advanced Marine Research Topics 2 20
Advanced Research Skills 20
Marine Research Project 40
Optional Modules Credits
Biodiversity Science and Management 20
Biotechnology: Applications 20
Advanced Marine Research Topics 3 20

Teaching and assessment

Teaching methods

During the course, you'll be taught via a variety of methods, including:

  • lectures/seminars
  • laboratory practicals
  • research vessel practicals
  • field work
  • research project
  • small group tutorials

Assessment methods

You'll be assessed through a combination of:

  • Assignments – written or fieldwork

  • Coursework

  • Dissertation or research project

  • Essays

  • Presentations

  • Projects

Skills and experience

Business skills

You will gain industrial experience through:

  • employability module in Stage 2
  • work placements
  • study abroad opportunities
  • industrial visits

You'll also develop key skills, including:

  • writing proposals
  • designing experimental studies
  • writing scientific reports and papers
  • delivering presentations

Practical experience

With miles of coastline and the North Sea on your doorstep, you’ll enjoy a unique learning experience at Newcastle.

You'll be challenged to put theory into practice out in the field.

Field trips are vital as you explore the marine biology of different environments. These include:

  • exploring the marine environment on the Isle of Cumbrae
  • overseas residential field course in locations such as Portugal, Mexico, or Bermuda

Research skills

Research is at the heart of what we do. You’ll benefit from research-led teaching, which includes the latest findings from your lecturer’s own research. Recent discoveries include a new species of sawshark (Pliotrema kajae) and microplastics in deep sea systems.

You will develop your research skills in the laboratory and out at sea. You’ll have access to outstations on the coast and complete field work in the North East.

You will be equipped with key research skills including:

  • advanced data analysis
  • statistical analysis
  • on-board vessel experience
  • practical survey skills
  • writing scientific papers
  • presenting at conferences


Chat to a student

I love the options for travel to study the difference in marine life from around the world compared to the North Sea. This year I am on a field trip to Bermuda and conducting my dissertation in the Bahamas!

Emma, Marine Biology student


Work placement

Get career ready with a work placement and leave as a confident professional in your field. You can apply to spend 9 to 12 months working in any organisation in the world, and receive University support from our dedicated team to secure your dream placement. Work placements take place between stages 2 and 3.

You'll gain first-hand experience of working in the sector, putting your learning into practice and developing your professional expertise.

If you choose to take a work placement, it will extend your degree by a year. Placements are subject to availability.

Find out more about work placements

Facilities and environment


You'll be based in the School of Natural and Environmental Sciences at our city-centre campus.

During your studies, you'll learn in modern laboratories. You can visit the Great North Museum, where there's a range of important biological collections. We also have our controlled-environment aquaria situated in the Ridley 2 Building.

You will study live marine animals at our Dove Marine Laboratory in Cullercoats. With a live aquarium on-site, you’ll examine a range of wildlife to study. You’ll also develop survey and identification techniques and environmental assessment skills.

Our research vessel, The Princess Royal, is a floating laboratory. It is an integral part of your learning experience at Newcastle. Activities on the vessel range from oceanographic characterisation of river plumes to remote camera surveys of offshore habitats.


To support you in your studies, all new students entering year 1 or year 2 will receive:

  • a tablet so you can download the online learning resources you'll need for your course (helping us to make our campus more sustainable)
  • a lab coat and dissection kit for laboratory practicals

You'll have an academic member of staff as a personal tutor throughout your degree to support you through your studies. Any issues you may have, they are always available to help.

Your future

You will cultivate the highest professional and intellectual skills for a successful career.

88% of our 2016/17 UK-domiciled graduates progressed to employment or further study within six months of graduating.

During your second year, you will undertake a short, 35 hour placement within the marine sector. Many of our graduates have gone on to gain employment with our placement providers.

Employers hold our graduates in high regard. Our graduates have secured jobs with companies including:

  • Ocean Ecology
  • Natural Power
  • BBC Natural History Unit
  • Lindisfarne Natural Nature Reserve

The wide range of transferable skills you will possess means that you can move into other professions outside of the subject. Our graduates have built successful careers in fields such as computing and finance.

Industry links

Join our network of confident and successful graduates who benefit from our industry links with:

  • Marine Management Organisation
  • World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
  • Natural England
  • Greenpeace
  • National Trust
  • BBC Natural History Unit
  • Lindisfarne Natural Nature Reserve

Enterprising students

Student discusses the challenge

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Careers support

Student discusses the challenge

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Our award-winning Careers Service is one of the largest and best in the country, and we have strong links with employers. We provide an extensive range of opportunities to all students through our ncl+ initiative.

Visit our Careers Service website

Recognition of professional qualifications outside of the UK

From 1 January 2021 there is an update to the way professional qualifications are recognised by countries outside of the UK.

Read our detailed explanation

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2021 entry.

A Level


International Baccalaureate

32 points

Other UK qualifications (and PARTNERS)

Qualifications from outside the UK

English Language requirements


Through our PARTNERS programme, you could receive an offer up to three grades lower than the typical requirements, and get support throughout the application process. To apply through PARTNERS, you must be based in the UK and meet our eligibility criteria. 

Find out more about PARTNERS

Entrance courses (INTO)

International Pathway Courses are specialist programmes designed for international students who want to study in the UK. We provide a range of study options for international students in partnership with INTO. 

Find out more about International Pathway Courses

Admissions policy

This policy applies to all undergraduate and postgraduate admissions at Newcastle University, including Newcastle University London. It is intended to provide information about our admissions policies and procedures to applicants and potential applicants, to their advisors and family members, and to staff of the University.

Tuition fees and scholarships

Tuition fees for 2021 entry (per year)

Home Fee Students


International Fee Students


The maximum fee that we are permitted to charge for home fee-paying students is set by the UK government.

As a general principle, you should expect the tuition fee to increase in each subsequent academic year of your course, subject to government regulations on fee increases and in line with inflation.

Read more about fees and funding

You will be charged tuition fees for each year of your degree programme (unless you are on a shorter exchange programme). 

The tuition fee amount you will pay may increase slightly year on year as a result of inflation.

For courses commencing from September 2021 and beyond, EU, other EEA and Swiss nationals will no longer be eligible for home fees or Student Finance England support.

If you are from the EU you will pay international tuition fees.

Read more about fees and funding

Year abroad and additional costs

For programmes where you can spend a year on a work placement or studying abroad, you will receive a significant fee reduction for that year. 

Some of our degrees involve additional costs which are not covered by your tuition fees.

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Open days and events

How to apply

Apply through UCAS

To apply for undergraduate study at Newcastle University, you must use the online application system managed by the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). All UK schools and colleges, and a small number of EU and international establishments, are registered with UCAS. You will need:

  • the UCAS name and institution codes for Newcastle University (NEWC/N21)
  • the UCAS code for the course you want to apply for
  • the UCAS 'buzzword' for your school or college

If you are applying independently, or are applying from a school or college which is not registered to manage applications, you will still use the Apply system. You will not need a buzzword.

Apply through UCAS

Apply through an agent

International students often apply to us through an agent. Have a look at our recommended agents and get in touch with them.

Visit our International pages

Get in touch

By Phone

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