- Gain an understanding of the biology of marine organisms and their ecosystems, with particular emphasis on large marine vertebrates
- Experience extensive direct field work in the UK and a bespoke Marine Biology residential at an international location
- Learn and develop skills, concepts and experience to understand all aspects of marine ecosystems and the pressures they face, ranging from overexploitation to climate change
8th in the UK for Biological Sciences
The Guardian University Guide 2021
Opportunities to learn from experts on field courses around the world
3rd in the Russell Group for student satisfaction
84% of Biosciences students agreed they were satisfied with the quality of their course in the National Student Survey 2020
7th in the world for Ecology
ShanghaiRankings Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2020
All the lecturers are passionate about their field and this clearly shows through their teaching. They support their lectures with their own experiences and research, and they are always happy to answer our questions. It is really enriching to be able to learn from lecturers who are often at the forefront of their field.
University of Exeter at Penryn is a perfect mix of top university standards of teaching and research, and the friendly, chilled atmosphere of a campus away from large cities. I was especially drawn to it because of its location near the countryside and the sea. Cornwall has so many beautiful and fascinating environments: an ideal place to study marine biology!
Living in Glasney Student Village, everything I ever need is easily accessible! There are staff available on campus to help with all the different aspects of university life: career planning, health, living in halls, academic work or even just finding your way around the campus! Outside of the campus, Falmouth is just a short bus or train ride away. I have loved exploring the town and its surroundings, including Gylly beach and Pendennis point.
BSc Marine Biology
|Qualification||Required grades||Required subjects|
|A-Level||AAB - ABB
AAA (with Professional Placement/Study Abroad)
B in a science subject*
A in a science subject* (with Professional Placement/Study Abroad)
|IB||34/665 - 32/655
36/666 (with Professional Placement/Study Abroad)
HL5 in a science subject*
HL6 in a science subject* (with Professional Placement/Study Abroad)
|BTEC||DDD - DDM
DDD (with Professional Placement/Study Abroad)
|Applicants studying one of the following BTEC Extended Diplomas will be considered without GCE A-level Science: Applied Science, Animal Management, Agriculture, Countryside Management, Environmental Sustainability, Fish Management, Forestry and Arboriculture, Marine Biology|
|GCSE||C or 4 and B or 5||Grade C or 4 in GCSE English language and grade B or 5 in Mathematics|
Specific requirements must still be achieved, therefore where a grade A is required, offers will be ABC or ACC. Find out more about contextual offers.
|Other UK, EU and International equivalences|
NB General Studies is not included in any offer.
*Accepted science subjects: Biology/Human Biology; Chemistry; Environmental Studies; Geography; Life and Health Sciences (Double Award only); Marine Science; Physics; Psychology; Maths/Pure Maths/Further Maths; Nutrition and Food Science
Our BSc Marine Biology programme focuses on understanding the biology of marine organisms and their ecosystems. We place special emphasis on whole animal biology, biodiversity, ecology and behaviour.
The programme provides you with the skills, concepts and experience to understand all aspects of marine ecosystems and the pressures they face, ranging from overexploitation to climate change. Our interdisciplinary approach to the study of marine ecosystems, from rocky shores to open-oceans and from shallow surface seas to deep-water habitats, allows you to learn about a wide range of theoretical and practical techniques. This interface between research and learning provides critical skills for career opportunities across a wide range of scientific disciplines.
The modules we outline here provide examples of what you can expect to learn on this degree course based on recent academic teaching. The precise modules available to you in future years may vary depending on staff availability and research interests, new topics of study, timetabling and student demand.
Develop a broad knowledge of the biology of the marine environment alongside core understanding of biological and ecological principles. Emphasis will be placed on theory underpinned by fieldwork and the development of a suite of techniques appropriate to studying life in the sea.
Make use of the skills and concepts learned in your first year to study marine life with a particular focus on the interaction between organisms and their environments. Concepts explained in detail in the classroom are brought to life in the field.
Find out more about placement and study abroad options under Course variants.
with Professional Placement
with Study Abroad
Work closely with an academic member of staff and carry out a detailed independent research project in the wild or a laboratory. You may also take a bespoke marine biology residential field course in the Azores, Galapagos Islands, Spain or Yukon-Alaska* in order to gain practical experience of research in the wild.
*Field course destinations are subject to change. Please note, some optional/alternative field courses may incur additional costs.
UCAS code: CF20
Why choose a professional placement year?
During your placement year you will gain valuable experience, apply the skills learnt during the first and second years, improve personal and transferable skills, make new contacts and enhance your employability.
Work placements allow you to develop your career focus and are extremely valued by employers.
Where can I do my placement?
On this four-year variant of the BSc Marine Biology degree you will spend your third year on a self-organised work placement with an organisation relevant to your degree. We have established collaborations with local, national and international organisations that you can consider when applying for placement positions.
Previous placement destinations include:
- Aigas Field Centre
- Field Studies Council
- JBA Consulting
- Living DNA
- Newquay Zoo
- Paignton Zoos
- Wildfowl and Wetland Trust
What support is available during my placement?
Your module convenor provides support while you are researching and applying for positions and you are encouraged to consider a range of organisations, including consultancies, charities, NGOs, research institutes and universities. During your placement you will have regular contact with the module convenor to identify what support you might need.
Is the placement paid?
It is your responsibility to decide which placements will be suitable for you financially. We present ideas of paid placements and those that have a stipend and/or accommodation.
Does it count towards my degree?
The professional placement year counts towards your degree through the completion of your placement and associated coursework. It contributes to your final degree classification, and the words ‘with Professional Placement’ will appear in your degree title.
How does it affect my tuition fee?
If you spend a full year on a work placement (in the UK or abroad) you will pay a reduced fee. Find out more.
How do I apply?
You can apply to BSc Marine Biology with Professional Placement directly through UCAS using the code above. You must achieve an average mark of at least 60% in both Year 1 and 2 to progress to the Professional Placement year.
How are the placements organised?
You are responsible for organising your own placement; however, we have established collaborations with local, national and international organisations that you can consider when applying for placement positions and we provide you with help and support with your applications.
UCAS code: CF19
Why study abroad?
Students who have studied abroad demonstrate initiative, independence, motivation and, depending on where they stay, may also have gained a working knowledge of another language – all qualities employers are looking for.
Where can I study abroad?
If you choose to take the four year ‘with Study Abroad’ degree, you have the option to spend your third year abroad, studying in a university with which we have established links. We have over 30 partner institutions around the globe; you can find a complete list of International Exchange partner universities on the International Exeter website (click on the College of Life and Environmental Sciences link).
What will I study whilst I am abroad?
This depends on the university you attend and the modules that are offered there. Once a place has been confirmed, students will liaise with both their host institution and the Exeter study abroad coordinator to decide a programme of study during their year abroad.
Does it count towards my degree?
Credit for academic work during your year abroad is arranged by agreement between the University of Exeter and the host institution. These marks are then translated back into your degree at Exeter.
Transferring to a Study Abroad programme
If you are not sure about studying abroad when you apply for your degree, it may be possible to apply to transfer to a four-year programme at the end of the first year of a three-year programme. Permission to take part in Study Abroad in all cases will depend on your academic progress and the places available in your chosen country.
How does it affect my tuition fee?
If you spend a full academic year studying abroad you will pay a reduced fee. Find out more.
How do I apply?
You can apply to BSc Marine Biology with Study Abroad directly through UCAS using the code above. To qualify for your Study Abroad year, we would expect you to have successfully completed your Year 1 studies with an average mark of at least 60%.
See our study abroad information on the Biosciences Current Students page for information about your tuition fees and additional information from some of our students who have studied abroad during their Biosciences degrees.
For further information on where you can go and all the issues surrounding study abroad, see the Study Abroad website.
Tuition fees for 2022 entry
UK students: £9,250 per year
International students: £23,800 per year *
Year Abroad and Professional Placement
If, as part of your four-year degree programme, you spend a full academic year studying abroad you will pay a reduced fee of 15 per cent of the maximum fee for that year. If you spend a full year on a work placement (in the UK or abroad) you will pay a reduced fee of 20 per cent of the maximum fee for that year.
Please note, some optional/alternative field courses may incur additional costs. When participating in field courses, you will be required to cover any visa costs and, if necessary, purchase anti-malarial medication and relevant immunisations.
You will also need to provide your own specialist personal equipment appropriate to the field course destination, e.g. walking boots, rucksack, mosquito net, sleeping bag, binoculars. You may incur additional costs dependent upon the specific demands of the research project chosen.
* Please note that the fees for students starting in 2022 have yet to be set. The fees provided above are the fees for students starting in 2021 and are for guidance only. We will post the fees for 2022 entry shortly.
The University of Exeter is offering scholarships to the value of over £4 million for students starting with us in September 2021. Details of scholarships, including our Global Excellence scholarships for international fee paying students, can be found on our dedicated funding page.
We pride ourselves in offering an extensive range of field courses across our Biosciences programmes with exciting local, national and international destinations.
These field courses not only allow you to apply the knowledge gained in the classroom to real-world situations in superb locations, but also provide a fantastic opportunity to forge lasting relationships with fellow students and academics.
Depending on your programme of study, you’ll have the opportunity to choose from a range of options including visiting impressive seabird breeding colonies in Scotland or watching grizzly bears fish for salmon in Alaska.
Please note, whilst a compulsory field course is included in the tuition fee, some optional/alternative field courses may incur additional costs. Field course destinations are subject to change.
The biggest highlight of the programme so far was definitely the field trip to Newquay Zoo in the first term. Not only was it great fun to see all the animals, but being given enough time to really explore the zoo and learn about them was extremely enriching. We also learnt about the various projects the zoo is involved with and how they are helping the animals.
BSc Marine Biology with Study Abroad
Learning and teaching
How will I learn?
- Field work
- Laboratory sessions
- Independent study
- Regular research seminars, by our staff and visiting lecturers
Learn from experts
We believe that every student benefits from being part of a culture that is inspired by research and being taught by experts. You will discuss the very latest ideas in seminars and tutorials and be an active member of a research team. Our academics bring their results from the laboratory and the field directly to their teaching, and our students also help to collect this data.
In your final year you will become an active member of our research team. We have very close links with a wide range of conservation organisations in the UK and overseas, such as the British Trust for Ornithology, Cornwall Wildlife Trust and Marine Conservation Society. These links mean you will benefit from frequent guest lectures, placement opportunities and project work.
Your first year does not count towards your final degree classification, but you do have to pass it in order to progress. All marks after your first year count towards your final classification.
Modules are assessed using a variety of methods including essays, exams, presentations, laboratory reports and a dissertation.
Taking modules outside of your programme
Depending on your programme you can take up to 30 credits each year in another subject, for instance a language or business module, to develop career-related skills or widen your intellectual horizons.
You can boost your employability by using up to 30 credits each year to study a foreign language. If you study the language for more than one year you may be entitled to have ‘with proficiency in’ added to your degree certificate. The Foreign Language Centre will be offering modules in French and Spanish language from complete beginners up to advanced levels, plus German and Mandarin Chinese from beginner’s level.
If you achieve at least 60 credits in a language via our Foreign Language Centre you may be able to have the words ‘with proficiency in’ and the language added to your degree title.
Further details can be found on the Foreign Language Centre web pages
- Personal Tutor: You will have a Personal Tutor available for advice and support throughout your studies.
- Study skills: Help with essay writing, research skills, time management, presentations and more.
All first-years will have the opportunity to join dynamic weekly groups, hosted by both second-year and PhD Biosciences students in Cornwall, which span a range of key areas, such as:
- Social and pastoral care
- Key skills
- Discipline specific support
These groups allow you to benefit from advice from your more experienced peers, helping ease your transition into university life.
The subject of the inaugural meeting is decided by the group leader, but you can then suggest subsequent session topics, so sessions are tailored to your direct needs.
Social media groups, such as on Facebook and Google, are also used for continued group discussions and communication outside of the weekly meetings.
There are direct links between session content and modules, which immediately follow lectures where possible.
Our facilities include:
- Teaching laboratories
- Computing suites
- Field equipment for research projects
- Library and online resources
- Research vessel ‘DevOcean’ - a 10.5m MCA Category 2 (12 passengers + 2 crew) inshore vessel used to support undergraduate teaching and research projects
Employer-valued skills this course develops
A degree in Biosciences will help you to develop a wide range of essential skills such as analytical problem solving, team work and organising and communicating information. Many of our students continue their studies in the subject by following a further degree and research in their chosen area.
Supporting your career in Biosciences
Each year Biosciences students are able to access a huge range of opportunities to support their future career options. Sector related careers and employability sessions are put on for the students over the course of their programme which include: career talks and networking events with visiting alumni and employers from a range of backgrounds, employability seminar series events hosted by employers, ‘Dragons Den’ style assessment days, mock interviews and an annual College of Life and Environmental Sciences Careers Fair where students can develop networking skills.
We have a dedicated, award-winning Careers Service ensuring you have access to careers advisors, mentors and the tools you need to succeed in finding employment in your chosen field on graduation. We offer the Exeter Award and the Exeter Leaders Award which include employability-related workshops, skills events, volunteering and employment which will contribute to your career decision-making skills and success in the employment market.
The University of Exeter has an excellent reputation with graduate recruiters and our students and graduates compete very successfully in the employment market. Whatever path you wish to follow, we’re here to help and support you with all your career and employability needs.
Many of our graduates are employed in discipline relevant roles in the UK and overseas including laboratory-based positions, conservation management, ecology, teaching and nursing. Others use the skills gained on their course to enter widely different career paths in law, business or management. Whatever you choose to do after graduation, your Biosciences degree will stand you in good stead, with excellent employment prospects and transferable skills.
Below are a few examples of initial jobs undertaken by graduates from our Biosciences undergraduate programmes. This information has been taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Surveys 2016/17. Please note that, due to data protection, the job titles and organisations are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.
Recent graduates are now working as:
- Conservation Film-maker
- Data Scientist
- Field Research Assistant
- Lab Technician/Research
- Media and Communications Manager
- Publishing Assistant
- STEM Technician
- Teaching and Learning Outreach Worker
- Trainee Countryside Education Officer
Recent graduates are now working for:
- Ambios Ltd
- Badger Trust
- Cancer Research UK
- Eden Project
- Madagascar Conservation and Research Institute
- National Trust
- Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC)
- Springer Nature
- Science Museum Group
- Zoological Society of London (ZSL)
Further study is a popular choice for many students following graduation from a Biosciences undergraduate degree. Below are a few examples of further study undertaken by recent graduates of undergraduate programmes. This information has been taken from the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) Surveys 2016/17.
- BVetMed Graduate Accelerated
- MPhil Biological Sciences
- MRes Tropical Forest Ecology
- MSc Climate Change Science and Policy
- MSc Conservation and Biodiversity
- MSc Conservation Science and Policy
- MSc Ecological Consultancy
- MSc Evolutionary and Behavioural Ecology
- MSc Marine Environmental Management
- MSc One Health (Infectious Diseases)
Fantastic facilities, outstanding teaching, world-leading research and exceptional graduate employability are just a few of the reasons we think you'll love it here. Find out what our students say about choosing Exeter.
Studying at our campuses in Devon or Cornwall means you'll have some of the most beautiful natural scenery in the UK on your doorstep. Find out about student life at Exeter and the huge range of sports, clubs and societies on offer.
One University, two locations
We have around 20,000 students across our three campuses in Devon and Cornwall which means we offer the academic excellence and facilities you'd expect of a major university but also a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.