Undergraduate Course

Integrated Master in Science: Tropical Marine Biology

Now In Clearing
Integrated Master in Science: Tropical Marine Biology

Overview

The details
Tropical Marine Biology
B097
October 2021
Full-time
4 years
Colchester Campus

Dive into our MSci Tropical Marine Biology course and enter a fascinatingly complex world of whales, coral reefs, fish, deep sea trenches, coastal lagoons, sea ice, and tropical seagrass beds.

At Essex, we believe in a truly immersive experience of research and study. This includes numerous opportunities to go on field trips as part of this course (subject to additional costs). During the field trip to Wakatobi Marine National Park in Indonesia, our students are able to participate in underwater lectures.

Tropical ecosystems provide important resources locally and globally, and coral reefs are the most diverse of marine ecosystems threatened by human activities. Our unique course is designed to deliver advanced tropical marine biology theory and to facilitate the development of a comprehensive range of practical and professional skills required by today’s employers.

The vast majority of life on earth is found under the sea; but exactly how much remains unknown, since there is so much still to be explored. At Essex, we’ll 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.

You gain an expert knowledge of marine biology through study of essential core modules and the flexibility to specialise in the areas that interest you most, including:

  • The major types of marine communities, including aquatic mammals and fish
  • Direct and indirect human impact on the marine environment
  • Coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove systems
  • Marine and freshwater taxonomy and biodiversity
  • Diving and snorkel-based practices

With our Integrated Masters you’ll be able to fast track your degree and complete your final year in nine months compared to a regular MSc which usually takes twelve months. The course will cover key skills in tropical marine biology and provide you with the knowledge, understanding and hands-on experience required in this exciting and important area of research.

Topics include:

  • The biotechnological ‘treasure chest’ of marine microbes, algae and invertebrates
  • Tropical oceans, seagrass beds, mangroves and coral reefs
  • Coral reef resource management and conservation

When you combine your undergraduate and postgraduate study in one degree you’ll be equipped with a strong theoretical background, specialist expertise through independent research and practical insights into current applications. This combination makes graduates from our course attractive candidates for many employers.

Your independent research project allows you to develop your own interests. Previous topics have included shellfisheries and water quality, turtle ecology in Greece and coral reef conservation strategies in the Caribbean and Indonesia.

Why we're great.
  • Develop your marine biology research skills with our in-house Coral Reef Research Unit.
  • Gain hands-on experience of coral reef conservation in the Wakatobi Marine National Park, Indonesia.
  • We are ranked top 25 for overall student satisfaction for Biology in the National Student Survey 2021.
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

Study abroad

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 five-year version of our Integrated Masters allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the four-year Integrated Masters.

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.

Placement year

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.

Our expert staff

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. You benefit from our academics’ wide range of expertise on important national and international problems using cutting-edge techniques.

Key academic staff for this course include experts in community ecology of coral reefs, tropical marine biology and conservation, coral stress physiology, aquatic community ecology, and ecological and evolutionary responses to global change.

The University of Essex has a Women's Network to support female staff and students, and our School was awarded the Athena Swan Silver Award in October 2020, which reflects the work carried out by staff in our School to continue to improve equality, including a mentorship scheme, support for postdoctoral research staff, and financial help towards childcare costs for academics who wish to attend conferences.

Specialist facilities

Recent investment has provided modern facilities for imaging biological systems, aquatic community ecology, photosynthesis and eco-physiology. On our course you have the opportunity to:

  • Work in an open and friendly school, with shared staff-student social spaces
  • Conduct your research alongside academics and PhD students in shared labs
  • Develop your practical skills through mapping habitats and Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
  • Learn to use state-of-the-art research facilities

Your future

As the world's environmental problems increase, the demand for qualified marine biologists continues to grow, and a Masters level qualification is often a requirement for becoming a researcher, scientist, academic journal editor and to work in some public bodies or private companies.

Our graduates go on to a range of careers. Some work with governmental and non-governmental environmental agencies, organisations, consultancies and voluntary organisations, or go on to conduct doctorate research. Many overseas students return to comparable posts in their home country.

We work with the University’s Careers Services to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Entry requirements

Clearing entry requirements

Specific entry requirements for this course in Clearing are not published here but for most of our degree courses you will need to hold a Level 3 qualification. If you are interested in applying and have already received your results, use our Clearing application form to apply for 2021 entry and find out if you are eligible. You will be asked to provide details of your qualifications and grades.

Structure

Course structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of compulsory and optional modules chosen from lists. The first three undergraduate years listed below are an example structure from the current academic year. Your course structure could differ from this if modules change from year-to-year. The final Masters year shows you all of the modules currently available (compulsory and optional) so you can see the breadth of what is on offer.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.

Teaching and learning disclaimer

Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.

The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently planned for 2021 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.

Components and modules explained

Components

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
Core
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.
Compulsory
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.
Optional
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

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:

HR 100  4  FY

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.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms

COMPONENT 01: CORE

Genetics and Evolution
(15 CREDITS)

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

COMPONENT 02: CORE

Microbiology
(15 CREDITS)

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

COMPONENT 03: CORE

Plant Biology and Ecosystems
(15 CREDITS)

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

COMPONENT 04: CORE

Marine Ecology
(15 CREDITS)

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

COMPONENT 05: CORE

Animal Evolution, Ecology and Behaviour
(15 CREDITS)

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

COMPONENT 06: CORE

Marine Biology Field Skills
(15 CREDITS)

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

COMPONENT 07: CORE

Quantitative methods for Life Sciences
(15 CREDITS)

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 Quantitative methods for Life Sciences on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 08: COMPULSORY

Transferable Skills in Life Sciences
(15 CREDITS)

You will develop your transferable skills in scientific writing (including referencing and avoiding plagiarism), teamwork and communication through oral presentations, study and research skills (including essay writing, lecture note taking, use of library and databases). Teaching and learning will be through a mixture of lectures, classes, and tutorials. The emphasis will be on small group, tutorial-style teaching and interaction with other students on this module, with assessments tailored to your degree subject area.

View Transferable Skills in Life Sciences on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

Marine Biodiversity
(15 CREDITS)

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

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

Professional skills for Ecological and Marine Scientists
(15 CREDITS)

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

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

Marine Vertebrates
(15 CREDITS)

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

COMPONENT 04: OPTIONAL

Options from list
(75 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

Research Project in Life Sciences
(45 CREDITS)

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 Life Sciences on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

Estuarine and Coastal Ecology Field Module
(15 CREDITS)

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

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

Fisheries Ecology
(15 CREDITS)

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

COMPONENT 04: COMPULSORY WITH OPTIONS

Options from list
(45 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

Research Project: MSc Tropical Marine Biology
(60 CREDITS)

Your dissertation is the culmination of your academic career so far. Split into two stages, you will firstly undertake detailed research of the relevant scientific literature and prepare a project proposal (10% of the project mark). You will then be provided with appropriate training relevant to your chosen area of research, enabling you to compile a detailed report in the format of a scientific paper and literature review (90% of project mark).

View Research Project: MSc Tropical Marine Biology on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: OPTIONAL

Options from list
(60 CREDITS)

Placement

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 four-year Integrated Masters.

Year abroad

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 four-year Integrated Masters.

Teaching

  • We teach using a combination of lectures, laboratory practicals, tutorials, seminars, optional fieldwork, independent reading and research projects
  • Gain practical experience on our annual trip to Indonesia (optional)

Assessment

  • Our modules are assessed by coursework only, including essays, worksheets, verbal/visual presentations and written reviews
  • Research project conducted within our in-house Coral Reef Research Unit, or alongside one of our research partners from across the globe

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£9,250

International fee

£19,080

EU students commencing their course in the 2021-22 academic year will be liable for the International fee.

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

Home/UK fees and funding information

International fees and funding 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.

2021 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday, August 14, 2021
  • Saturday, September 18, 2021
  • Saturday, October 23, 2021

How to apply during Clearing

Once you’ve checked that we have the right course for you, applying couldn’t be simpler. Fill in our quick and easy Clearing application form with as much detail as you can. We’ll then take a look and get back to you with a decision. There’s no need to call us to apply; just do it all online.

Find out more about Clearing

Interviews

We don’t interview all applicants during Clearing, however, we will only make offers for the following course after a successful interview:

  • BA Multimedia Journalism
  • BSc Nursing (Adult)
  • BSc Nursing (Mental Health)
  • BA Social Work

The interview allows our academics to find out more about you, and in turn you’ll be able to ask us any questions you might have. Further details will be emailed to you if you are shortlisted for interview.


Apply now
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