Undergraduate Course

BSc Marine Biology

(Including Foundation Year)

BSc Marine Biology

Overview

The details
Marine Biology (Including Foundation Year)
C161
October 2019
Full-time
4 years
Colchester Campus
Essex Pathways

Our BSc Marine Biology (including foundation year) will be suitable for you if your academic qualifications do not yet meet our entrance requirements for the three-year version of this course and you want a programme that increases your subject knowledge as well as improves your academic skills to support your academic performance.

This four-year course includes a foundation year (Year Zero), followed by a further three years of study. During your Year Zero, you study three academic subjects relevant to your chosen course as well as a compulsory academic skills module, with additional English language for non-English speakers.

After successful completion of Year Zero in our Essex Pathways Department, you progress to complete your course with our School of Biological Sciences. On our BSc Marine Biology course, you dive into a fascinatingly complex world of whales, coral reefs, fish, deep sea trenches, coastal lagoons, sea ice and tropical seagrass beds. At Essex we take you on a journey of discovery from the poles to the tropical reef systems of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans. We work on ecosystems from estuaries and coastal environments to oceanic systems, and on conservation and resource management.

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 at its heart. You will learn modern lab techniques, take part in specialist field-trips, and play your own part in adding to the ever-growing knowledge within marine biology.

Why we're great.
  • Our underwater lectures give you an exciting, unique and engaging educational experience
  • We develop your practical skills with subsidised UK and optional overseas field trips
  • You receive SCUBA training and conduct real research during your trip to Indonesia
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

Our expert staff

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

Our research covers a wide spectrum of marine biology – from the cell right through to communities and ecosystems. Key academic staff for this course include Dr Leanne Hepburn, who works on community ecology of coral reefs, Professor Dave Smith who is researching tropical marine biology and conversation, and Dr Michael Steinke, who is working on biogenic trace gases in marine environments.

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

By studying within our Essex Pathways Department for your foundation year, you will have access to of the facilities that the University of Essex has to offer, as well as those provided by our department to support you:

  • We provide computer labs for internet research; classrooms with access to PowerPoint facilities for student presentations; AV facilities for teaching and access to web-based learning materials
  • Our new Student Services Hub will support you and provide information for all your needs as a student
  • Our social space is stocked with magazines and newspaper, and provides an informal setting to meet your lecturers, tutors and friends

Recent spending by our University has allowed for major refurbishment and expansion of our School of Biological Sciences facilities, including:

  • Work in an open and friendly department, with shared staff-student social spaces
  • Conduct your final-year research alongside academics and PhD students in shared labs
  • Participate in our national and international field courses in Plymouth, Greece and Indonesia
  • State-of-the-art research facilities, from brain imaging systems, to CO2 incubators, underwater video cameras, and coral reef research aquaria
  • Teaching facilities including new undergraduate laboratories

Your future

As the world’s environmental problems increase, the demand for qualified marine biologists and ecologists continues to grow.

Following your degree in Marine Biology you can opt for further study, or pursue careers as varied as conservation, writing and editing for scientific publications, research or consultancy for coastal-based organisations.

Our students have taken up a wide range of careers in research laboratories, consultancies, business and industry, conservation practice and environmental assessment. Others have gone on to work in sales, publishing and management, while others still have chosen to enhance their career opportunities by studying for MSc or PhD degrees.

Recent graduates have gone on to work for the following high-profile organisations:

  • New Earth Solutions
  • Engine Group
  • Cromwell Council
  • Postgraduate Marine and Environmental Biology

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

“My fondest memories of studying at Essex will be the travelling opportunities it has given me, particularly intensive field courses where I was instructed by scientists at the forefront of my subject. I was also happy to conduct my postgraduate studies at Essex due to the University’s high research status in biological status and because of the notable scientists within the Department” - Sarah-Jane Walsh, BSc Marine and Freshwater Biology, 2009

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A-levels: DDD, or equivalent in UCAS tariff points, to include 2 full A-levels and a science subject. Science subjects include Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology, Geography, Sports Science and Applied Science.
GCSE: Mathematics and Science C/4

International & EU entry requirements

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

Additional Notes

If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to this degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College here.

Structure

Example structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of compulsory and optional modules chosen from lists. Below is just one example structure from the current academic year of a combination of modules you could take. Your course structure could differ based on the modules you choose.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore all modules listed as subject to change. To view the compulsory modules and full list of optional modules currently on offer, please view the programme specification via the link below.

Mathematics and Statistics

Want to use mathematical techniques to solve problems? And to calculate basic statistical measures? Develop mathematical skills like number work, algebra, geometry, probability and statistics that can be used on any course requiring mathematics above Higher GCSE standard. Learn to solve relevant problems and know how to present data clearly.

View Mathematics and Statistics on our Module Directory

Genetics and Evolution

Why do we all look different? Are some illnesses hereditary? Are animals born ready-suited to their environment? From the early theories of Mendel to modern studies in molecular genetics, you explore how scientists have answered these questions over the last 150 years. Examine how the structure and function of DNA allows genetic material to be expressed, replicated and inherited, and consider how genetic variation leads to adaptive evolution. From developing new technologies in gene cloning to the applications for modern medicine, you explore how geneticists are building on the earlier achievements in this fundamentally important field to enhance our understanding of life on earth.

View Genetics and Evolution on our Module Directory

Microbiology

Get to know the culprits of some of the world’s deadliest diseases. Despite major advances in treatment and prevention, incidences of infectious disease continue to rise. Vast diversity, rapid evolution and the opportunistic nature of micro-organisms present a significant challenge. You examine how different viruses and bacteria invade, interact and replicate within living hosts, and explore the consequent impact on ecology, industry and disease. A series of four practical sessions allows you to get hands-on and develop valuable skills. You learn how to purify, observe, count and kill micro-organisms in our purpose-built labs, gaining experience of aseptic techniques, serial dilution, response to antibiotics, and staining.

View Microbiology on our Module Directory

Plant Biology and Ecosystems

Living life on a knife’s edge – explore the vital role plants play in our biosphere, their diversity and intricate relationships that support our planet. Examine the value of these natural resources; examine the consequences we face when the balance is disturbed. From studying how plants affect and are affected by their environment you learn what we can expect from a changing world. Examine how we influence the world around us. You apply this knowledge to the field, learning to collect, present, analyse and eventually interpret data. Understanding the fundamentals of ecology and plant diversity allows you to explore possible solutions to our environmental problems.

View Plant Biology and Ecosystems on our Module Directory

Marine Ecology

The marine realm covers 70% of the Earth's surface. It contains ice-covered seas and hydrothermal vents, muddy estuaries, deep ocean trenches and the clear blue open sea. The oceans and seas are also integral to the whole earth-ocean-atmosphere system, which controls the climate and conditions for life on Earth. Discover the different marine environments, the organisms that inhabit them and their ecological interactions. You also investigate the physical and chemical conditions that determine the diversity of marine life and consider how human activity is influencing marine ecosystems, through overfishing, pollution, and climate change.

View Marine Ecology on our Module Directory

Animal Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour

The diversity of life on planet Earth is breath taking. We share our home with a vast number of species, a large portion of which are animals. We will discover the diversity of animal forms and functions and the role of natural selection in determining individual behaviour such as foraging, breeding and predator escape. You also investigate the idea that nothing in ecology and evolution makes sense in isolation.

View Animal Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour on our Module Directory

Marine Biology Field Skills

Develop practical field skills that are critical for any practicing Marine Biologist. Spending one week at the Marine Biological Association of the UK in Plymouth, you gain key knowledge of marine invertebrate and algal identification, classification and distribution, developing skills in experimental design, field data-collection and data analysis. Please note that students make their own travel arrangements for this modules. As part of this module you will be required to attend a field trip to Plymouth to the Marine Biological Association of the UK (MBA) where you will develop your field research skills in Biology. The cost for this trip is approximately £50, which you will need to pay.

View Marine Biology Field Skills on our Module Directory

Scientific and Transferable Skills for Biosciences

Develop your skillset and boost your CV. This module prepares you for the coursework, laboratory practicals and research projects that you will encounter during undergraduate study. Get to know referencing systems and learn how to effectively communicate scientific information. Use scientific units and simple algebra and demonstrate understanding of logarithms, exponentials, geometry and elementary calculus. Learn how to design experiments, handle data and display, interpret and analyse basic statistics. Teaching and learning will be through a mixture of lectures, classes, practicals and tutorials, with an emphasis on developing the key transferable skills needed for a career in biosciences.

View Scientific and Transferable Skills for Biosciences on our Module Directory

Marine Biodiversity

Our oceans cover 71% of the Earth’s surface and contain 97% of the planets water. This vast underwater world supports a huge diversity of living organisms – get to know them. You learn how to assess biodiversity, measure species distribution and regulate populations. Systems of particular focus include biodiversity hot-spots such as coral reefs and rocky shores. You also have chance to practically apply your skills, examining the biodiversity of muddy and sandy shores, and investigating the morphological and genetic diversity in marine amphipods.

View Marine Biodiversity on our Module Directory

Marine Vertebrates

The importance of marine vertebrates to our aquatic systems cannot be underestimated, yet some of our most iconic underwater species are under serious threat. This module focuses on the taxonomy, physiology, ecology and conservation of the top predators and keystone species, including (but not limited to), whales, dolphins, sharks, rays, manatees, marine turtles and sea snakes.

View Marine Vertebrates on our Module Directory

Professional Skills for Ecological and Marine Scientists

In this career-focused module you develop skills specific to your discipline, such as information retrieval, data-analysis and interpretation techniques, as well as a broader range of transferable skills, such as communication, team-work, numeracy and attention to detail. Learn how to best approach job applications, including CV and cover letter writing, aptitude testing and the interview process.

View Professional Skills for Ecological and Marine Scientists on our Module Directory

Plant Molecular Physiology and Genetics

The aim of this module is to provide a view of how a fundamental understanding of plant processes can impact on the production of plants for the 21st century. Learn the essential processes and constraints on plant growth and development, and explore how innovative technological approaches in plant sciences may provide real solutions to our future predicted global food shortage. You’ll look into key aspects of plant physiology such as different photosynthetic mechanisms, and modern approaches to manipulating plant performance and growth.

View Plant Molecular Physiology and Genetics on our Module Directory

Estuarine and Coastal Ecology Field Module (Assessed in Following Year)
Biodiversity and Conservation

Human activity is resulting in an ever-accelerating rate of extinction of biodiversity. Many species in the tropics are becoming extinct even before they have been described by science, while many more are threatened worldwide, including in the UK. Considering the need for biodiversity conservation, you work alongside some of the key employers in the sector including Essex Wildlife Trust and the Environment Agency. Topics include sustainable fisheries and agriculture, climate change, environmental law and captive breeding and re-introduction.

View Biodiversity and Conservation on our Module Directory

Microbial Diversity and Biotechnology

Microbes have been on the Earth for at least 3.5 billion years; they tolerate or require a huge range of physico-chemical extremes and perform a remarkable array of functions. This module will examine the diversity of microbes, and how they can be applied for the benefit of society and the environment, for example by bioremediation of contaminated land, recovery of oil and metals, production of biofuels and therapeutic compounds.

View Microbial Diversity and Biotechnology on our Module Directory

Coral Reef Biology

You’ll gain an insight into biology and ecology of tropical coral reef systems. By explaining the nature of the connection between coral reefs and tropical biomes, we help you gain a thorough understanding of the ecological functioning of coral reef systems. We explore the biology of coral reef systems, the landscape ecology of tropical coastal marine systems and examine the importance of the threats to these systems and the options for management.

View Coral Reef Biology on our Module Directory

Tropical Marine Field Research Skills

Coral reefs are overexploited, threatened by multiple anthropogenic stressors and in need of protection through appropriate management. Develop practical skills in coral reef monitoring, assessment and research. Receive training in scuba diving, species identification, and scuba- and snorkel-based assessment and monitoring techniques. Learn how to design, implement and report on scientifically robust underwater research. You have the opportunity to undertake a speciality field-course and can be awarded a Coral Reef Research diver certification from the Profession Association of Diving Instructors (PADI). As part of this module you will visit the remote coral island of Hoga, Indonesia, where you will conduct coral reef research, attend lectures, workshops and feedback sessions. The total cost for this trip is £1500 for undergraduate students and £2100 for postgraduate students, which you will be required to pay.

View Tropical Marine Field Research Skills on our Module Directory

Estuarine and Coastal Ecology Field Module

Investigate the relationship between water chemistry and habitat structure, and biological diversity of coastal environments. Getting hands-on in the local Colne/Blackwater estuary you gain experience in assessing environmental variables, sampling protocols and general fieldwork skills. You learn to identify a wide variety of animals and plants at different salinities, as well as associated habitats such as freshwater grazing marshes and salt marshes. You are also trained in commonly used lab techniques, such as measuring phosphate concentrations and sediment properties.

View Estuarine and Coastal Ecology Field Module on our Module Directory

Fisheries Ecology

Fisheries provide food and employment to millions of people across the globe. Get to know the social and economic drivers of fishing and explore the subsequent impact on marine ecosystems. You gain an understanding of the scale and significance of fisheries and learn to critically analyse the methods used to assess their efficacy.

View Fisheries Ecology on our Module Directory

Research Project in Ecological and Marine Sciences

This module aims to prepare you for carrying out an individual scientific investigation on a topic relating to your degree. Develop skills to identify a suitable question and then design an experimental approach to obtain data addressing this question. The assessment focuses on your analysis and presentation of these data in a suitable scientific paper format report, on the research, understanding and critical writing about the scientific literature relating to your project. Your oral project presentation skills and response to questions, the planning and management of your project work, your progress reflection and your employability skills will also be evaluated.

View Research Project in Ecological and Marine Sciences on our Module Directory

Pollution: Impacts and Management

Pollution is the introduction of substances that are harmful to the environment. It can be local or widespread. Using a range of examples you consider the major pollutants in atmospheric, terrestrial and aquatic environments, their sources and ecological effects, as well as potential ways of controlling them.

View Pollution: Impacts and Management on our Module Directory

Freshwater Ecology

Freshwater systems play an essential role in the ecology of many species. Explore the major types of freshwater habitats (streams, rivers, ponds, lakes) and examine how anthropogenic stressors such as water extraction, pollution and climate change place them under threat.

View Freshwater Ecology on our Module Directory

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee

£9,250

International fee

TBC

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

Home and EU fee information

International fee information

What's next

Open Days

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:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to book a campus tour here.

2018 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Tuesday, December 18, 2018
  • Tuesday, December 18, 2018
  • Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Applying

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.

Please note that this course is not open to international applicants

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

Home to over 13,000 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.

The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

 

Virtual tours

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.

Exhibitions

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.

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its course finder 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 a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or 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 prospective students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

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.

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