Marine Biology BSc (Hons)

Key information


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.

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.

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. A core element of our teaching is fieldwork and practical experience, providing you with the hands-on skills you need to collect your own data. You will have opportunities to undertake fieldwork in the local coastal environment as well as locations such as Pembrokeshire, Scotland and Plymouth, and you will use the state-of-the-art facilities in the university’s Central Teaching Laboratories.

We also recognise the value of international experiences, and our students currently make an independent overseas study visit in the summer of Year Two, helping them develop in confidence and appreciation for global science. Past destinations include Australia, Tanzania, Ecuador and Iceland. Our students also have other opportunities to engage in international experiences e.g. through spending a Semester Abroad with one of our partner institutes.

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.

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 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.

Fieldwork opportunities

A number of the School’s degree programmes involve laboratory and fieldwork. The 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.

Students go on week-long residential field courses in each year of study. We also make the most of the unrivalled diversity of marine ecosystems in our local area which include estuaries, mudflats, restored and commercial docks, sandy shores and dune systems and rocky coasts which can be visited on whole-day and half-day trips.

Department Key Facts

Number of first year students

120 Earth, Ocean and Ecological Sciences first year students 2018

UK league tables

1st Liverpool was the first UK university to offer a degree in Marine Biology

Graduate prospects

93% of 120 Earth, Ocean and Ecological Sciences graduates are employed or in further study six months after graduating (Destination of Leavers from Higher Education 2016/17)

Why this subject?

Be part of a group whose world-leading research is helping to tackle today’s greatest environmental challenges

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.

Bring your studies to life with field teaching

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.*


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

Broaden your perspective by experiencing study overseas

All of our students organise and undertake an independent study visit overseas to a country of their choice. This gives you vital scientific work experience on a subject that interests you. 

Benefit from our excellent facilities and partnerships 

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).

Thrive in our friendly and supportive atmosphere

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.