BSc Marine Biology C160

Course Overview

UG student on Noctiluca

Swansea was one of the first universities in the UK to offer a BSc degree in Marine Biology. Our degree is internationally recognised for its quality and breadth of study. We are ideally located for the study of marine biology with the nearby Gower Peninsula providing a variety of study habitats. The department has a research vessel, the RV Noctiluca, which is used extensively for the teaching of marine biologists. The course has a strong emphasis on fieldwork, boat work and the development of key practical skills.

Key Features

Swansea was one of the first universities in the world to offer a single honours undergraduate degree in Marine Biology.

With our unique coastal location, we have easy access to a wide range of study habitats including exposed rocky shores, steep cliffs enclosing sandy sheltered bays, salt marshes and estuarine mudflats.

The course is highly practical and fieldwork based.

Our inshore research vessel, the R.V. Noctiluca, is widely used for teaching and offers a platform for project work at sea.

All second year Marine Biology students receive training at sea.

All Marine Biology students attend a residential field course at the end of Year Two. Currently, this is based at Millport Marine Station, Isle of Cumbrae.

All final year students carry out an individual ten week research dissertation module based either in Swansea or on an overseas placement. In the last few years these have included locations such as Bermuda, Mexico, Indonesia, the USA and Australia.

The course has an emphasis on the development of personal and transferable skills to assist in employability.


Level 1 (Year One):

Science writing and career skills 
Science skills for biological scientists 
Chemistry of life 
Animal diversity, form and function 
Plants and algae - diversity, form and function
Cellular and microbial biology 
Introduction to ecology and behaviour 
Genetics and evolutionary processes 

Level 2 (Year Two): 

Marine techniques
Marine invertebrates
Ecological data analysis
Biological sciences literature review
Marine plankton
Coastal marine ecology

Optional modules:

Molecular ecology
Animal physiology: hormones and behaviour
Animal behaviour in conservation and welfare
Ecological microbiology and the cycles of life

Level 3 (Year Three):

Biosciences research project
Biosciences literature analysis
Marine biology field course

Optional modules:

Ecology of marine animals
Environmental impact assessment
Plankton ecophysiology
Oceans and climate
Tropical marine ecology and conservation
Collective animal behaviour
Movement ecology
Diseases of aquatic animals
Physics for biologists
Tropical marine biology field course (Puerto Rico)

Entry Requirements

A levels: grades ABB-BBB, to include Biology or Human Biology, or equivalent

Welsh Baccalaureate: Pass acceptable as equivalent to an A grade A level

BTEC: DDM plus A level  grade B in Biology/Human Biology

Scottish Highers: ABBCC to include Biology grade B

Access to HE (Science): Pass with Distinction (24 Dist to include 3 in Biology, plus 15 Merits)

IB: 33-32 (including 5 in Biology or Human Biology)

IELTS 6.0 (with a minimum of 6.0 in each component) or equivalent English test

We may consider other qualifications if they are Science-based, if they are equivalent to A-levels, and if the content of the qualification includes significant amounts of Biology (i.e., equivalent to A-level Biology).

All applications will be considered on an individual basis, and we will look at the whole application when deciding whether to make an offer of a place, including: the balance, nature and quality of A-level, AS and GCSE subjects (or equivalent); personal statement and referee’s comments.

General Studies and Key Skills qualifications are normally excluded from our offers.

How To Apply

All applications for full-time undergraduate degrees must be made through UCAS. Further information is available on the UCAS website.

For UK applicants, please apply online at

For International students, please click here

Tuition Fees

Annual tuition fees for entry in the academic year 2014/15 are as follows:

UK/EU International
BSc Full-time £9,000 £14,000

You can find further information on fees and how to pay on our tuition fees page.

You may be eligible for funding to help support your study. To find out about scholarships, bursaries and other funding opportunities that are available please visit the University's scholarships and bursaries page.

Additional Costs

  • Lab coat and dissection kit (Level 1 for all degree programmes) – approximately £30
  • Tropical Marine Biology field course in Puerto Rico - (costs ~£1200 - £1700 tbc)
  • Sikkim overseas field trip (Biology and Zoology Level 3 - optional) – student contributes £500 towards travel and accommodation

*We also advise all students to have suitable outdoor clothing and sensible footwear (wellington boots)

Teaching and assessment

You will be taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials, seminars and discussion groups, supported by practical classes.

You will be assessed through a variety of methods, including examinations, coursework and a practical research project.

Student profiles

"Swansea is the ideal place to study Marine Biology, with a department packed with world-leading researchers, passionate lecturers and the beautiful Gower peninsula right on the doorstep. The course is designed to produce skilled marine scientists, beginning with an introduction to core subjects and essential research skills before moving on to in-depth study of marine species, habitats and processes. It’s also an amazing place to live and offers a student experience you would struggle to find elsewhere.
The knowledge and skills accumulated during my time at Swansea helped me find employment with the Environment Agency Wales and a 15 month placement with the Countryside Council for Wales during my degree. Following graduation, I was offered a research assistant post by Dr Richard Unsworth and spent a month studying seagrass and coral reef connectivity on Green Island, Australia.
I am now working as Marine Policy Officer for WWF Wales, where I work on a campaign with other NGOs to secure greater conservation and sustainable management of Welsh seas.”

Dan Crook, BSc Marine Biology, 2012

Read our student profiles

Read about our Marine Conservation Society


The Department of Biosciences provides access to an extensive range of specialist facilities for both undergraduate and postgraduate students.  These include: Research and IT laboratories; Constant temperature rooms; Growth rooms; Aquaria; Greenhouses; Zoology Museum; A custom-designed 12.5m coastal research vessel, RV Noctiluca.

Our new Teaching Laboratory is a significantly upgraded facility to teach a higher level of transferable laboratory techniques and skills, with a capacity to hold 150 students; it includes a full range of AV facilities able to transmit to several plasma screens output from a variety of sources including microscopes, PCs, DVD/Video players and visualise/camera units.

Find out more about the facilities used by Biosciences students at Swansea University.


As scientists in training you will be taught a full range of core skills and practises by leading experts that will enable you to successfully pursue a career within biology and ecology.

Find out more about employability

Swansea Marine Biology Graduates

Ever wondered what our marine biology students do after they have graduated from Swansea University? Check the Swansea Marine Biology Graduates Facebook Page for job, PhD and masters profiles. Also included are useful web links to marine biology job related sites:!/pages/Swansea-Marine-Biology-Graduates/151661738225359


All academic staff in Biosciences are active researchers and the department has a thriving research culture. Find out more


All our Marine Biology students carry out fieldwork activities including a ten week final year research project. Recent project subject areas include sea turtle migration, whale behaviour, octopus habitat selection, ray and skate ecology, effects of oil pollution onintertidal organisms and environmental impact assessments of fishing techniques.

Most projects are undertaken in marine habitats close to Swansea and the Gower, although some students have secured placements in more exotic locations such as Indonesia, the Caribbean and South Africa.

Our field courses include:

Animal Ecology

Tropical Marine Biology, Puerto Rica

Sikkim, Himalayas

Terrestrial Ecology