The majority of life on earth is found under the sea, but most of it remains to be explored. Tropical reefs, deep-sea trenches, seagrass meadows and frozen polar seas are all individually unique and complex environments, but connected within Earth’s single, vast ocean. By joining our BSc Marine Biology course you will be immersed in this fascinating ocean world.
At Essex you will begin your journey through diverse marine ecosystems from day one. Our team of internationally renowned academic staff will introduce you to ocean systems and marine ecology through their own research on topics as varied as coral reef conservation, fisheries management, animal behaviour, marine biotechnology and microbiology. These are taught alongside key scientific skills including data analysis and interpretation, literature research and presentation skills to give you a concrete foundation for your scientific career.
You will develop the concepts introduced in lectures through extensive, practical, hands-on experience in the laboratories of our STEM Centre, as well as in the field. Our local estuaries and coastal ecosystems are a natural laboratory on our doorstep. You will investigate the diversity of beautiful Essex salt marshes and interact with key people working to improve our coastline, including Essex Wildlife Trust, the Environment Agency and Colchester Oyster Fisheries. Later in your degree there will be opportunities to travel to field locations in Scotland, Greece and Indonesia (subject to additional costs) to apply what you have learned. During a trip to Indonesia, in the heart of the Coral Triangle, you will learn to dive and participate in unique underwater research surveys and lectures.
After completing core modules, you will move on to more advanced and specialised modules that are driven by our departmental research expertise.
In the final year you will have the opportunity to select an independent research project through which you can further develop your own interests. Previous topics have included studies on oyster fisheries and water quality with local industry, fieldwork on sea turtle ecology in Greece and identifying coral reef conservation strategies in the Caribbean and Indonesia.
During the field trip to Wakatobi Marine National Park in Indonesia, our students are able to participate in underwater lectures.
To learn about the initiatives and actions the University of Essex is taking to tackle the climate and biodiversity crises, visit our sustainability page.
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.
Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.
If you spend a full year abroad you'll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won't pay any tuition fees to your host university
Alternatively, you can spend your third year on a placement year with an external organisation. This is usually focussed around your course, and enables you to learn about a particular sector, company or job role, apply your academic knowledge in a practical working environment, and receive inspiration for future career pathways.
If you complete a placement year you'll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.
As one of the largest schools in our University we offer a lively, friendly and supportive environment with current, research-led study and high-quality teaching. You will benefit from the wide expertise of our research-active academics and their pioneering work on marine issues of national and global importance.
All of our academic staff conduct their own research and have professional expertise that you will benefit from through your studies. From genes to cells, whole animals and through to communities and ecosystems, our marine biology academics design course materials that make their world-class research accessible and inspiring.
You will have the flexibility to specialise in areas that interest you most and work with academics from our Ecology and Environmental Microbiology Research Group including, among many others:
We are proud that one-third of students at the University of Essex are from outside of the UK. The University has a Women's Network to support female staff and students, and the School of Life Sciences has been awarded the Athena Swan Silver Award (2020) reflecting the work carried out by staff in our School to improve equality. Measures include a mentorship scheme, support for postdoctoral research staff and financial help towards childcare costs for academics who wish to attend conferences.
Our School of Life Sciences has received major investment over recent years to fund new teaching laboratories in our STEM Centre and new research aquaria for studies of tropical, temperate, marine and freshwater systems.
You will work in an open and friendly department, with shared staff-student social spaces and during your final-year research project you will work alongside academics and PhD students in shared laboratories. You may choose to use our state-of-the-art research facilities, including everything from environmentally controlled systems for ecological experiments and molecular biology laboratories, to behavioural analysis systems and our advanced bioimaging facility. There are drones available for remote sensing surveys, an advanced bioimaging suite, the latest Oxford Nanopore portable genome sequencers and a 10.5m research vessel, all within the School. Through our global networks we have created national and international field courses in Plymouth, Millport, Greece, and Indonesia to teach you the latest field techniques.
As the world's environmental problems worsen, the demand for qualified marine biologists and ecologists continues to grow.
Your degree in marine biology will open up wide-ranging career opportunities, including further study, careers in conservation, science writing and editing, as well as commercial research or consultancy for governmental or non-governmental organisations.
Our past students have taken up work in research laboratories, consultancies, business and industry, conservation practice and environmental assessment. Some have gone on to work in the commercial sector, while others still have chosen to enhance their career opportunities by studying for MSc or PhD degrees.
Recent graduates now work for the following high-profile organisations:
We also work with our University's Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
“Since graduating from Essex, I started a job at the Environment Agency in the National Fisheries Laboratory, looking at freshwater fish health, ageing and species. It involves lots of elements that I learnt from my studies such as identification and lab skills, which really helped in my application.”
Yasmin Harris, BSc Marine Biology, 2019
GCSE: Mathematics C/4.
A-levels: BBB including Biology or Environmental Science (or equivalent). Acceptable A-level equivalents are Life and Health Sciences and Marine Science.
BTEC: D*DD, depending on subject and units studied - advice on acceptability can be provided.
IB: 30 points or three Higher Level certificates with 555. Either must include Higher Level Biology grade 5, plus Standard Level Mathematics grade 4, if not taken at Higher Level. We will accept grade 4 in either Standard Level Mathematics: Analysis and Approaches or Standard Level Mathematics: Applications and Interpretation.
We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.
Please note that Maths in the IB is not required if you have already achieved GCSE Maths at grade C/4 or above or 4 in IB Middle Years Maths.
Access to HE Diploma: 6 level 3 credits at Distinction and 39 level 3 credits at Merit, depending on subject and units studied - advice on acceptability can be provided.
T-levels: Merit, depending on subject studied - advice on acceptability can be provided.
What if I don’t achieve the grades I hoped?
If your final grades are not as high as you had hoped, the good news is you may still be able to secure a place with us on a course which includes a foundation year. Visit our undergraduate application information page for more details.
What if I have a non-traditional academic background?
Don’t worry. To gain a deeper knowledge of your course suitability, we will look at your educational and employment history, together with your personal statement and reference.
You may be considered for entry into Year 1 of your chosen course. Alternatively, some UK and EU applicants may be considered for Essex Pathways, an additional year of study (known as a foundation year/year 0) helping students gain the necessary skills and knowledge in order to succeed on their chosen course. You can find a list of Essex Pathways courses and entry requirements here
If you are a mature student, further information is here
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.
Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.
English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. Different requirements apply for second year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.
Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications
If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The following modules are based on the current course structure and may change in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.
We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We’ll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, or in response to COVID-19, we’ll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.
Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.
Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.
|Status||What this means|
||You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
|Core with Options
||You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.|
||You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.|
|Compulsory with Options
||You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
||You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.|
The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.
Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.
In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.
Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:
The department or school the module will be taught by.
In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.
|The module number.||
The UK academic level of the module.
A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.
A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.
A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.
The term the module will be taught in.
COMPONENT 01: CORE
COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY
COMPONENT 03: CORE
COMPONENT 04: CORE WITH OPTIONSBS111-4-SP or BS106-4-AU
COMPONENT 05: CORE
COMPONENT 06: CORE
COMPONENT 07: CORE
COMPONENT 08: COMPULSORY
COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY
COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY
COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY
COMPONENT 04: OPTIONALOption(s) from list
COMPONENT 05: OPTIONALOption(s) from list
COMPONENT 06: OPTIONALOption from list
COMPONENT 07: COMPULSORY
On a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.
Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.
The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are 'L' and 'S' respectively.
You can find further information on how to apply, including information on transferring from another university, applying if you are not currently at a school or college, and applying for readmission on our How to apply and entry requirements page.
If you are an undergraduate student residing in the UK who has received an offer to study with us in October 2023, you will receive an email invitation to book onto one of our Applicant Days. Our Colchester Campus Applicant Days run from February to May 2023 on various Wednesdays and Saturdays, and our Southend Campus Applicant Days run from March to June 2023 on various weekdays and Saturdays. Applicant Days provide the opportunity to meet your department, tour our campus and accommodation, and chat to current students. We appreciate that travelling to university events can be expensive. This is why we have increased our Applicant Day Travel Bursary cap, allowing you to claim up to £150 as reimbursement for travel expenses. For further information about Applicant Days, including Terms and Conditions and eligibility criteria for our Travel Bursary, please visit our Applicant Days webpage.
If you are an overseas offer-holder, you will be invited to attend one of our virtual events. However, you are more than welcome to join us at one of our in-person Applicant Days if you are able to, so if you’d like to book a place, please contact our Applicant Day Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.
Set within the 200-acre award-winning beautiful parkland - Wivenhoe Park and located two miles from the historic city centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded development. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.
Whether you are planning to visit us at one of our Open Days, or coming to an Applicant day. Our campus conveniently located and easy to reach by car, train or bus.
If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tours allows you to explore our University from the comfort of your home. Check out our Colchester virtual tour and Southend virtual tour to see accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.
Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.
Our events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. We run a number of Open Days throughout the year which enable you to discover what our campus has to offer. You have the chance to:
At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.
The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.
The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.
Want to quiz us about your course? Got a question that just needs answering? Get in touch and we’ll do our best to email you back shortly.