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Marine Biology

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The deadline for international students is 30 June 2024.

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Bachelor of Science

Bachelor of Science (BSc) is a bachelor’s degree awarded for an undergraduate programme in the sciences.

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Course overview

From microscopic algae to giant whales, most of our planet’s life is found in the oceans. As a marine biologist, you will learn about the behaviour, physiology, and ecology of marine organisms.


You will discover how individuals, populations and communities respond to environmental drivers such as temperature and food availability, as well as to the challenges presented by a changing climate and human interaction. You will also gain the varied skills necessary to examine the marine environment and relay your findings to audiences from the general public through to government bodies.

Contemporary marine biology requires a broad set of skills, including field work, writing and presentation, and data analysis. In your first two years of study, you will develop these core skills and, in year three, you will take advanced modules in areas of interest to you to further develop your overall understanding and growing expertise.

You can choose modules from across the School of Environmental Sciences and from the School of Life Sciences. In each year there are topics such as climate change and ocean physics, population ecology, physiology, conservation, parasitology, microbiology, molecular biology and genetics.

Our research-led teaching approach allows our students to engage with up-to-the-minute science and policy in lectures, practical work, and in their independent research projects in year three. This is an opportunity to explore fields or skills of interest, often working on unanswered questions in marine science. Recent projects include investigating physiological data on how cormorants stay warm while diving in frigid Arctic waters, building mathematical models of coral reefs, and looking at the impacts of a wind farm on benthic communities.

A number of the School’s degree programmes involve laboratory and field work. Fieldwork is carried out in various locations, ranging from inner city to coastal and mountainous environments. We consider applications from prospective disabled students on the same basis as all other students, and reasonable adjustments will be considered to address barriers to access.

What you'll learn

  • Evolutionary processes
  • Laboratory and field techniques
  • Diversity of live in the marine environment
  • Human threats to ecosystems
  • Quantitative skills
  • Coastal biodiversity
  • Analysis of environmental data
  • Conducting independent research


Our degree is one of only a handful in the UK to be accredited by the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMAREST), opening up opportunities for students and graduates of our programmes.

Accreditations in detail

Teaching Excellence Framework 2023

We’re proud to announce we’ve been awarded a Gold rating for educational excellence.


Our degree is one of only a handful in the UK to be accredited by the Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology (IMAREST), opening up opportunities for students and graduates of our programmes.

Course content

Discover what you'll learn, what you'll study, and how you'll be taught and assessed.

Year one

Compulsory modules develop the essential skills required to be a Marine Biologist and build a foundation of knowledge on the physical and biological environments. Two optional modules allow you to focus a little more on the subjects that interest you.

Compulsory modules


Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

This module describes the evolutionary processes that have resulted in the generation of the diverse life forms that populate the planet.

This includes the theory of evolution by natural selection, and the genetic processes that result in gene evolution and diversity.

Selected scenarios and case studies will apply evolutionary concepts, showing the fundamental importance of evolution to a broad range of the life sciences.

The module is split into two parts: the first part (A) is the same for all students, the second part (B) contains a number of parallel strands tailored to students interest.

Students will be advised by their programme director which strand to follow. 

The lectures will be supplemented with a variety of on-line resources.

Students will be given guided reading, and regular formative assessment exercises will enable students to evaluate their understanding of the module.

The module will be assessed by coursework and final examination.

Laboratory and Field Techniques for Ecologists (ENVS171)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 2

This varied practical module will provide training in a range of ecological skills through a series of field and lab exercises, either in person, or through online equivalent exercises, as necessary. Fieldwork will expose you to diverse and beautiful natural environments where you will learn to develop identification and sampling skills for both terrestrial and marine animals and plants. The skills used will have a wide application to many fields of environmental science including biology, ecology, and physical geography. You will learn quantitative skills in field ecology and use these to solve fundamental and applied problems. Assessments include a mix of MCQ tests and practical portfolios.

Life in the Seas and Oceans (ENVS121)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

This module is designed to deliver an introduction to the diversity of life in the marine environment. You will be introduced to the range of living organisms in the oceans from microscopic plants and bacteria to whales through a blended learning approach that combines e-lectures with a series of interactive workshops, practical activities and field visits. You will have the opportunity to examine marine organisms in our award-winning teaching facilities and during field visits, which will allow you to explore some of the diverse adaptations marine organisms have adopted to meet the challenge of survival in the marine environment. Your knowledge and understanding will be assessed via online tests, a group project in which you will create a guide to a specific group of marine organisms, and a practical workbook.

Marine Ecosystems: Diversity, Processes and Threats (ENVS122)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 2

This module is designed to deliver an introduction to the diversity of marine ecosystems across the globe. Each week during in person lectures you will be introduced to a new ecosystem and will learn about this habitat, specifically the main organisms, key processes, and human threats to each ecosystem described and explored. Central to this module are interactive discussion sessions (workshops) that will build an understanding of how marine ecosystems are expected to respond to the human-induced changes of the anthropocene. During these workshops you will learn to critique a piece of scientific research in small group discussions guided by academics. Your knowledge and understanding will be assessed via open-book online tests, and a group project in which you will create an infographic outlining the threats a particular ecosystem faces.

Quantitative Skills for Ecology and Marine Biology (ENVS128)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

This module will help students to develop the quantitative skills needed for ecology, marine biology and related subjects, including basic mathematics, statistics and computing. It will be delivered via a series of lectures, practical classes and problem-solving sessions. No mathematical knowledge above GCSE level will be assumed.

Study Skills (Ecology and Marine Biology) (ENVS104)

Credits: 15 / Semester: whole session

This module helps students of Ecology & Marine Biology to develop essential study skills through a combination of tutorials, workshops, and field experience. Students will learn how to write scientific essays, how to design posters and how to give oral presentations. The University’s academic integrity policy will be introduced. An academic advisor will help every student to adjust to the demands of university study. Students will be encouraged to think about their career, how they can obtain relevant skills and experience, and how to write an appropriate CV. It is recommended that students bring/purchase waterproof clothing and boots.

Optional modules

Living with Environmental Change (ENVS119)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

This module examines a number of global ‘grand challenges’ facing humans on the planet earth related to climate and environmental change. It will introduce students to core concepts of sustainability and human impacts upon the environment, as well as exploring the range of proposed solutions and mitigation strategies which are available to understand climate and environmental change. The module thus provides a core knowledge base for social and natural scientists who wish to understand environmental change.

Climate, Atmosphere and Oceans (ENVS111)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

Climate, Atmosphere and Oceans provides an understanding of how the climate system operates. The module draws on basic scientific principles to understand how climate has evolved over the history of the planet and how the climate system is operating now. Attention is particularly paid to the structure and circulation of the atmosphere and ocean, and how they both interact. The course emphasises acquiring mechanistic insight and drawing upon order of magnitude calculations. By the end of the module students will understand how the oceans and atmosphere combine to shape Earth’s climate. Students gain quantitative skills by completing a series of coursework exercises and a final exam. Students address the Net Zero carbon goal via group work involving digital storytelling.​


Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 1

This module describes the detailed composition of cells and the processes by which they obtain and generate energy, grow, replicate and eventually die.
The lectures will be supplemented with on-line resources and illustrated with some of the latest research methods that are used to study cell structure and function.
Students will be given guided reading, and regular formative assessment exercises will enable students to evaluate their understanding of the module.
The module will be assessed by coursework and final examination.

Ecology and Conservation (ENVS157)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 2

The zone of life on Earth, or the ‘biosphere’, is a highly dynamic system responding to external pressures including changing human activities. The biosphere obeys a numbers of simple natural principles, but these often interact to create complex and sometimes unexpected responses. Using a wide range of examples, we will explore these interactions between organisms and the environment. We will examine how species organise into communities, and how energy and other resources flow through ecosystems. We will explore how ecosystems respond to change, including gradual environmental shifts, sudden disturbance events and the effects of human activities. We will also learn how the key principles of ecology can be applied to conservation. We will assess the current state of the biosphere and evaluate the major current threats. We will also look towards the future of ecosystems, including whether we can restore degraded habitats, and recreate ‘natural’ landscapes.


Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 2

This module provides a comprehensive introduction to microbiology. It covers theoretical aspects of microbial physiology, microbial disease mechanisms, food microbiology, the microbiology of water safety, the role of microbes in biogeochemical cycling, recycling and biodegradation, control and treatment of microbial infections and modern techniques in the study of microbes. In addition, throughout the module, there are case studies that bring these concepts together in real world scenarios that highlight the hazards and benefits of microbes.


Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 2

This module will introduce students to the physical and chemical contexts of the biosphere, the cycling of important elements at different scales, the distribution of biomes and the ecosystem concept.

Ecological concepts such as succession, niche, food web theory and ecosystem stability will be introduced, and how these are impacted by human activities.

The module will also consider the conservation of biodiversity over a range of biological scales using UK and global case studies. The lectures will be supplemented with on-line resources.

Students will be given guided reading, and regular formative assessment exercises will enable students to evaluate their understanding of the module.

The module will be assessed by coursework, including online test.

Introduction to Genetics and Development (LIFE128)

Credits: 15 / Semester: semester 2

This module introduces students to modern genetics and developmental biology at an introductory level. Using examples taken from across the biosciences and medicine, students will develop their understanding of the inheritance of genetic traits, how mutation can lead to disease and the molecular techniques used to study genes. They will also be introduced to development from meiosis and germ cell formation through to organogenesis, emphasising both the underlying genetic and molecular mechanisms involved and the embryological processes. Students will explore current advances in both fields including current and potential use of gene editing techniques and stem cells in therapeutics, and will consider the ethical implications of these advances.
The module is taught through a combination of lectures and workshops incorporating problem solving and discussion, with an emphasis on an appreciation of the techniques and experimental evidence underpinning the material. Assessment is by a combination of a written examination and a group ethics poster presentation.

Programme details and modules listed are illustrative only and subject to change.

Our curriculum

The Liverpool Curriculum framework sets out our distinctive approach to education. Our teaching staff support our students to develop academic knowledge, skills, and understanding alongside our graduate attributes:

  • Digital fluency
  • Confidence
  • Global citizenship

Our curriculum is characterised by the three Liverpool Hallmarks:

  • Research-connected teaching
  • Active learning
  • Authentic assessment

All this is underpinned by our core value of inclusivity and commitment to providing a curriculum that is accessible to all students.

Course options

Studying with us means you can tailor your degree to suit you. Here's what is available on this course.

Global Opportunities

University of Liverpool students can choose from an exciting range of study placements at partner universities worldwide. Choose to spend a year at XJTLU in China or a year or semester at an institution of your choice.

What's available on this course?

Year in China

Immerse yourself in Chinese culture on an optional additional year at Xi'an Jiaotong Liverpool University in stunning Suzhou.

  • Learn Chinese
  • Study in a bustling world heritage city
  • Improve employment prospects
  • Study Chinese culture
  • 30 minutes from Shanghai
  • Learn new skills

Read more about Year at XJTLU, China

Language study

Every student at The University of Liverpool can study a language as part of, or alongside their degree. You can choose:

  • A dedicated languages degree
  • A language as a joint or major/ minor degree
  • Language modules (selected degrees)
  • Language classes alongside your studies

Read more about studying a language

Your experience

With sophisticated laboratories and resources we have everything you need to complete your research and education.

Virtual tour

Supporting your learning

From arrival to alumni, we’re with you all the way:

An exciting place to study Ecology and Marine Biology

  • Our research into the vulnerability of marine species and habitats to fishing, global climate change and coastal development is helping organisations such as the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea to develop sustainable management plans
  • Field teaching is at the centre of learning in all years, because it gives students practical hands on experience of the natural environment that cannot be achieved in the classroom alone.
  • All of our students have the opportunity to organise and undertake an independent study visit, at home or in a country of their choice. This gives you vital scientific work experience on a subject that interests you, with funding support from the University for those going abroad.
  • Our unique partnership with the Marine Biological Association allows us access to their specialist staff, laboratories and research vessel. We also have close links with the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), based in Liverpool and access to custom-built remotely operated underwater vehicles (ROVs), and the award-winning Central Teaching Laboratories (CTL).
  • Intensive field courses and projects will give you the opportunity to work closely with our award-winning academic staff. Throughout your studies, your personal tutor will guide and support you and help to prepare you for the next step in your career.

What students say...

I picked marine biology because starting from school I had a great interest in biological sciences, but also I was interested in the ecology side and the environment and conservation, and this is a great course that combines both of those. The University of Liverpool has a great reputation for research led teaching so you know that the work you’ll be doing will be really up-to-date.

, BSc (Hons) Marine Biology

Careers and employability

We produce highly employable marine biologists, trained in industry-relevant skills and modern equipment and software, and who can apply their knowledge to a wide range of fields including conservation, aquaculture, pollution and environmental monitoring.

Our graduates have a diverse range of careers in the following areas which include: the media, environmental consultancy, administration, academia, teaching, local and national government and international banking.

Examples of recent graduate careers in the sector include:

  • Fisheries observers
  • Surveyor
  • Seabird research assistant
  • Turtle conservation field leader
  • Field assistant on mammal surveys
  • Rangers
  • Conducting environmental surveys for construction work.

Many choose to continue their studies at master’s or PhD level on topics such as fish assemblages in mangroves, marine ecosystem responses to climate change and carbon sequestration in soils.

Recent employers include:

  • Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC)
  • United Utilities
  • Fairbanks Environmental
  • Wildlife Sense
  • Earth and Marine Environmental Consultants
  • International Pole and Line Foundation.

87% of students are in work and/or further study 15 months after graduation.

Graduate Outcomes, 2018-19.

Meet our alumni

Hear what graduates say about their career progression and life after university.

Fees and funding

Your tuition fees, funding your studies, and other costs to consider.

Tuition fees

UK fees (applies to Channel Islands, Isle of Man and Republic of Ireland)
Full-time place, per year £9,250
Year in industry fee £1,850
Year abroad fee £1,385
International fees
Full-time place, per year £27,200
Year abroad fee £13,600
Fees are correct for the academic year 2024/25. Please note that the Year Abroad fee also applies to the Year in China.

Tuition fees cover the cost of your teaching and assessment, operating facilities such as libraries, IT equipment, and access to academic and personal support. Learn more about paying for your studies..

Additional costs

We understand that budgeting for your time at university is important, and we want to make sure you understand any course-related costs that are not covered by your tuition fee. This includes costs for a lab coat, geological field kit, and sustenance during compulsory field trips.

Find out more about the additional study costs that may apply to this course.

Additional study costs

We understand that budgeting for your time at university is important, and we want to make sure you understand any course-related costs that are not covered by your tuition fee. This includes costs for a lab coat, geological field kit, and sustenance during compulsory field trips.

Students should expect to cover the following additional costs.

Lab coat:

Approximately £10-20. Students are advised to purchase a lab coat before the start of their studies. The first lab practical will take place in teaching week one and all students are required to wear a lab coat.

Compulsory field courses:

The School will usually cover the cost of accommodation and travel for year one and two field courses. Students will cover the cost of sustenance.

Overseas trip costs will be paid upfront by students (approximately £0-2,000 depending on location), but a basic allowance of £200 can be claimed back from the School.

In year three, the School will cover the cost of accommodation and meals for the field course. Students are required to pay for travel to the destination (£30-210 depending on the student’s home location).

Project/dissertation costs:

The School may provide a budget of up to £200 for certain field or lab-based projects. Desk-based projects receive no budget from the School.

Find out more about additional study costs.

Scholarships and bursaries

We offer a range of scholarships and bursaries to provide tuition fee discounts and help with living expenses while at university.

Check out our Liverpool Bursary, worth up to £2,000 per year for eligible UK students. Or for international students, our Undergraduate Global Advancement Scholarship offers a tuition fee discount of up to £5,000 for eligible international students starting an undergraduate degree from September 2024.

Discover our full range of undergraduate scholarships and bursaries

Entry requirements

The qualifications and exam results you'll need to apply for this course.

We've set the country or region your qualifications are from as United Kingdom. Change it here

Your qualification Requirements

About our typical entry requirements

A levels

ABB including Biology and one other science.

Applicants with the Extended Project Qualification (EPQ) are eligible for a reduction in grade requirements. For this course, the offer is BBB with A in the EPQ.

You may automatically qualify for reduced entry requirements through our contextual offers scheme.

If you don't meet the entry requirements, you may be able to complete a foundation year which would allow you to progress to this course.

Available foundation years:

T levels

T levels are not currently accepted.

GCSE 4/C in English and 4/C in Mathematics
Subject requirements

Biology and one other science (Mathematics, Further Mathematics, Economics, Physics, Chemistry, Geography, Geology, Environmental Science/Studies/Technology*, Applied Science (Double Award), Computer Science) at A level.

*Not in combination with each other

For applicants from England: For science A levels that include the separately graded practical endorsement, a "Pass" is required.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma

D*DD in a relevant subject.

Relevant subjects considered include: Animal Management, Countryside Management, Applied Science, Marine Biology, and Ecology.

If the BTEC you are taking is not listed here, please contact us to check its acceptability for this programme.

Please note that BTEC Forensic Science pathway is not acceptable for this programme.

International Baccalaureate

33 including 6 at higher level Biology, plus another Science at Higher Level grade 5, no score less than 4.

Irish Leaving Certificate H1, H2, H2, H2, H3, H3 including H2 or above in Biology and a second science
Scottish Higher/Advanced Higher

Not accepted without Advanced Highers at ABB including Biology and 1 other science.

Welsh Baccalaureate Advanced Accepted at Grade B with AB at A levels including Biology and 1 other science.
Access 45 Level 3 credits in graded units,including 30 at Distinction and a further 15 with at least Merit. 15 Distinctions in Biology and one other science are typically required. Acceptable science subjects are Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Geography or Geology. GCSE Mathematics and English grade C/4 also required.
International qualifications

Many countries have a different education system to that of the UK, meaning your qualifications may not meet our entry requirements. Completing your Foundation Certificate, such as that offered by the University of Liverpool International College, means you're guaranteed a place on your chosen course.

English language requirements

You'll need to demonstrate competence in the use of English language, unless you’re from a majority English speaking country.

We accept a variety of international language tests and country-specific qualifications.

International applicants who do not meet the minimum required standard of English language can complete one of our Pre-Sessional English courses to achieve the required level.

English language qualification Requirements
IELTS 6.0 overall, with no component below 5.5
TOEFL iBT 78 overall, with minimum scores of listening 17, writing 17, reading 17 and speaking 19
Duolingo English Test 105 overall, with no component below 95
Pearson PTE Academic 59 overall, with no component below 59
LanguageCert Academic 65 overall, with no skill below 60
Cambridge IGCSE First Language English 0500 Grade C overall, with a minimum of grade 2 in speaking and listening. Speaking and listening must be separately endorsed on the certificate.
Cambridge IGCSE First Language English 0990 Grade 4 overall, with Merit in speaking and listening
Cambridge IGCSE Second Language English 0510/0511 0510: Grade C overall, with a minimum of grade 2 in speaking. Speaking must be separately endorsed on the certificate. 0511: Grade C overall.
Cambridge IGCSE Second Language English 0993/0991 0993: Grade 5 overall, with a minimum of grade 2 in speaking. Speaking must be separately endorsed on the certificate. 0991: Grade 5 overall.
International Baccalaureate Standard Level grade 5 or Higher Level grade 4 in English B, English Language and Literature, or English Language
Cambridge ESOL Level 2/3 Advanced 169 overall, with no paper below 162


Do you need to complete a Pre-Sessional English course to meet the English language requirements for this course?

The length of Pre-Sessional English course you’ll need to take depends on your current level of English language ability.

Find out the length of Pre-Sessional English course you may require for this degree.

Pre-sessional English

If you don’t meet our English language requirements, we can use your most recent IELTS score, or the equivalent score in selected other English language tests, to determine the length of Pre-Sessional English course you require.

Use the table below to check the course length you're likely to require for your current English language ability and see whether the course is available on campus or online.

Your most recent IELTS score Pre-Sessional English course length On campus or online
5.5 overall, with no component below 5.5 6 weeks On campus
5.5 overall, with no component below 5.0 10 weeks On campus and online options available
5.0 overall, with no component below 5.0 12 weeks On campus and online options available
5.0 overall, with no component below 4.5 20 weeks On campus
4.5 overall, with no component below 4.5 30 weeks On campus
4.0 overall, with no component below 4.0 40 weeks On campus

If you’ve completed an alternative English language test to IELTS, we may be able to use this to assess your English language ability and determine the Pre-Sessional English course length you require.

Please see our guide to Pre-Sessional English entry requirements for IELTS 6.0, with no component below 5.5, for further details.

Contextual offers: reduced grade requirements

Based on your personal circumstances, you may automatically qualify for up to a two-grade reduction in the entry requirements needed for this course. When you apply, we consider a range of factors – such as where you live – to assess if you’re eligible for a grade reduction. You don’t have to make an application for a grade reduction – we’ll do all the work.

Find out more about how we make reduced grade offers.

About our entry requirements

Our entry requirements may change from time to time both according to national application trends and the availability of places at Liverpool for particular courses. We review our requirements before the start of the new UCAS cycle each year and publish any changes on our website so that applicants are aware of our typical entry requirements before they submit their application.

Recent changes to government policy which determine the number of students individual institutions may admit under the student number control also have a bearing on our entry requirements and acceptance levels, as this policy may result in us having fewer places than in previous years.

We believe in treating applicants as individuals, and in making offers that are appropriate to their personal circumstances and background. For this reason, we consider a range of factors in addition to predicted grades, widening participation factors amongst other evidence provided. Therefore the offer any individual applicant receives may differ slightly from the typical offer quoted in the prospectus and on the website.

Alternative entry requirements

Changes to Marine Biology BSc (Hons)

See what updates we've made to this course since it was published. We document changes to information such as course content, entry requirements and how you'll be taught.

7 June 2022: New course pages

New course pages launched.