‘The oceans are a key element for the existence of life on Earth. 97% of all the water on Earth, and 99% of the habitable space on this planet, is in the ocean’ (source: NASA).

Marine biology is the interdisciplinary study of life in the ocean. At the present time, the position of marine biology graduates has never been as critical to the functioning of our society, economy and environment. Complex issues such as overfishing, pollution and climate change are colliding to bring about extraordinary and sometimes catastrophic changes in marine systems. As a marine biologist you will apply cutting edge technologies to help tackle these issues on a scale from molecules to ecosystems.

With regards to marine resources management the UK’s territorial waters stretch over 6.8 million km² (over fourteen times the terrestrial landmass) and within this vast area lies the blue economy: marine renewable energy, oil, gas, fish, minerals and rare earth metals. To manage these resources in a sustainable manner requires assessment and guidance from highly-skilled marine biologists.

Within this context the Marine Biology degree at QUB is based on a research-led teaching format and will prepare students for a future in a diverse range of careers including marine conservation, environmental consultancy, documentary film making, wildlife tourism, fisheries management and academic study.

Marine Biology Degree highlights

Queen’s University Marine Laboratory is an excellent facility for students to undertake research and develop your marine biology research skills.

Professional Accreditations

  • Beyond the taught degree, all Marine Biology students have the opportunity to gain professional boating qualifications (e.g. Survival at Sea, Powerboat Level II) that increase their employability both within and outside of academia. Students are also encouraged to seek Degree plus accreditation which showcases their extra-curricular marine experiences gathered during their degrees (via work shadowing PhD students from the start of their degree, through to activities run by the QUB Marine Biology Society).

World Class Facilities

  • In addition to the state-of the-art teaching facilities on the main campus, the Queen’s Marine Laboratory is on the shores of one of the most protected areas in Europe, Strangford Lough. During your degree, you will take two residential field courses at the marine lab to study marine ecosystems up close using our array of aquaria, boats and shore-based facilities. Around the island of Ireland we have some of the most spectacular marine wildlife in Europe including six-gill, blue and basking sharks, bluefin tuna, >20 species of marine mammals (from otters to blue whales), maerl beds and deep-water coral reefs. Access to such species makes QUB one of the best located universities for the study of Marine Biology.

Student Experience

  • Students can complete an optional 16-week work placement period as a component of Stage 2. Marine Biology with Professional Studies students, on completion of Stage 2, undertake a 46-week period of work experience. Recent students have gained placements working on marine mammals, fisheries management and molecular ecology (for example) at international laboratories in Spain, the Netherlands, and Slovenia as well as across the island of Ireland and GB.
“The aspects of my degree I really enjoyed were the practicals, small class sizes, personal attention from teaching staff and lots of fieldwork.”
Dawn Diamond,
Marine Biology Graduate, 2015

Course content

Course Structure

You will be taught by a team of international researchers with diverse expertise ranging from marine microbes (that constitute 50% of the biomass in the oceans) through to hydrothermal vents and the migration of oceanic megafauna. With an exceptional staff to student ratio of 1:3 we have the opportunity to personalise your education via small group tutorials and help guide you towards your career goals.

The course content is designed to blend strong training in marine biology with core skills in the biosciences ranging from physiology and genetics through to conservation biology and global climate change. This broad-based approach allows graduates to explore a range of career opportunities within the biological sciences, as well as within the field of marine biology. This taught content is complemented by an exceptional array of extra-curricular activities aimed at building your employability; from work-shadowing marine PhD students from stage 1 of your degree through to dedicated skills-development workshops at our marine laboratory including boat-handling, satellite tracking and underwater video technology.
Stage 1
• Biodiversity (with field course)
• Molecular Basis of Life
• The World of Microorganisms

Stage 1 gives a broad base in the biological sciences on which to build Stage 2 and Stage 3 studies. This module combination provides students, who may be undecided as to their final specialist degree area, with considerable flexibility as they enter Stage 2; at this stage students enrolled in Marine Biology can move into Zoology or Biological Sciences and vice versa.
Stage 2
• Coastal and Oceanic Biology (with field course)
• Animal Biology and Physiology
• Applied Ecology (with field course)
• Work Placement or Cell Biology
• Applied Genetics

Work Placement
• Marine Biology students can complete a 16 week degree-related work placement
• Marine Biology with Professional Studies students will complete a one year, degree related work placement
Stage 3
• Future Oceans (with research cruise)
• Conservation Biology
• Global Change Biology
• Animal Behaviour
• Research Project (BSc programmes only)

During their final year, students undertake a two-module research project carried out under the supervision of one or more members of academic staff. The project generally involves practical work carried out in the field and/or at the Marine Laboratory, in one of the many active areas of marine research in the School.

People teaching you

Dr Jonathon Houghton
Programme Coordinator
School of Biological Sciences

Contact Teaching Times

Large Group Teaching
12 (hours maximum)
Typically around 9 hours teaching [3 hours for each subject/module studied – see later information on course content] and 3 hours practical each week.
Personal Study
28 (hours maximum)
For private study and writing assignments each week.

Learning and Teaching

On the BSc in Marine Biology we aim to deliver a high quality learning environment that embeds intellectual curiosity, innovation and best practice in learning.

This is achieved by providing a range of learning experiences which enable our students to engage with subject experts, develop attributes and perspectives that will equip them for life and work in a global society and make use of innovative technologies and a world class library that enhances their development as independent, lifelong learners.

Read more

Examples of the opportunities provided for learning on this course are:

E-Learning technologies, lectures, personal tutoring, practicals, self-directed study, seminars/tutorials, supervised projects, work placements, and work-related learning in the form of field trips and study tours.


The way in which you are assessed will vary according to the Learning outcomes of each module.

Read more

Details of how each module is assessed are shown in the Student Handbook which is provided to all students during their first year induction.


As you progress through your course you will receive general and specific feedback about your work from a variety of sources including lecturers, module co-ordinators, placement supervisors, personal tutors, advisers of study and your peers.
As a university student, you will be expected to take a greater role in reflecting on this and taking the initiative in continuously improving the quality of your work.

Read more

Feedback may be provided to you in a variety of forms including: formal written comments, face to face comments, placement employer comments or references, online or emailed feedback, pre-submission advice, feedback and outcomes from practical classes, and others.

Entry Requirements

Entrance requirements

A level requirements
BBB including Biology and at least one from Chemistry (preferred), Geography, Mathematics or Physics + GCSE Chemistry grade C or + GCSE Double Award Science grades CC + GCSE Mathematics grade C
BBB including Double Award Applied Science or Double Award Life & Health Sciences + GCSE Biology and Chemistry grade C or GCSE Double Award Science grades CC + GCSE Mathematics grade C
ABB including Biology + GCSE Chemistry grade C or GCSE Double Award Science grades CC + GCSE Mathematics grade C.

It would be an advantage to have studied Chemistry beyond GCSE level.

Irish leaving certificate requirements
H3H3H3H3H4H4/H3H3H3H3H3 including Higher Level grade H2 and H3 in any order in Biology and at least one from Chemistry (preferred), Geography, Mathematics or Physics + if not offered at Higher Level then Ordinary Level grade O4 in Chemistry and Mathematics
H3H3H3H3H3H3/H2H3H3H3H3 including Higher Level grade H2 in Biology + Ordinary Level grade O4 in Chemistry and Mathematics.

It would be an advantage to have studied Higher Level Chemistry.

Access/Foundation Course
Successful completion of Access Course with an average of 80% with no less than 70% in any module including sufficient relevant modules in Biology and Chemistry. GCSE Mathematics grade C or equivalent in Access Course.

Option to transfer
Transfers between BSc and MSci may be possible at the end of Stage 2.

Selection Criteria

In addition, to the entrance requirements above, it is essential that you read our guidance notes on 'How we choose our students' prior to submitting your UCAS application.

How we choose our students

Applications are dealt with centrally by the Admissions and Access Service rather than by the School of Biological Sciences. Once your on-line form has been processed by UCAS and forwarded to Queen's, an acknowledgement is normally sent within two weeks of its receipt at the University.

Selection is on the basis of the information provided on your UCAS form, which is considered by the Selector for the School of Biological Sciences along with a member of administrative staff from the Admissions and Access Service. Decisions are made on an ongoing basis and will be notified to you via UCAS.

For entry last year, applicants for programmes in the School of Biological Sciences must have had, or been able to achieve, a minimum of five GCSE passes at grade C or better (to include English Language and Mathematics), though this profile may change from year to year depending on the demand for places. The Selector also checks that any specific entry requirements in terms of GCSE and/or A-level subjects can be fulfilled.

Offers are normally made on the basis of three A-levels. Two subjects at A-level plus two at AS would also be considered. The minimum acceptable is two subjects at A-level plus one at AS though candidates offering this combination will be considered on an individual basis depending on the degree for which they have applied. The offer for repeat candidates may be one grade higher than for first time applicants. Grades may be held from the previous year.

Applicants offering two A-levels and one BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/National Extended Certificate (or equivalent qualification), or one A-level and a BTEC Diploma/National Diploma (or equivalent qualification) will also be considered. Offers will be made in terms of performance in individual BTEC units rather than the overall BTEC grade(s) awarded. Please note that a maximum of one BTEC Subsidiary Diploma/National Extended Certificate (or equivalent) will be counted as part of an applicant’s portfolio of qualifications. The normal GCSE profile will be expected and all subject requirements must be met.

Applicants offering other qualifications, such as BTEC Extended Diplomas, Higher National Certificates and Diplomas, the International Baccalaureate, Irish Leaving Certificate or an Access course, will also be considered.

The current entrance requirements for applicants offering a relevant BTEC Extended Diploma are successful completion of the BTEC Extended Diploma (180 credits at Level 3) with 100 credits at Distinction grade and 80 credits at Merit grade. The same GCSE profile is usually expected of those candidates taking an Extended Diploma qualification.

For applicants offering a relevant HNC, the current requirements are successful completion of the HNC with 1 Distinction and remainder Merits.

For those offering a Higher National Diploma, there may be the possibility of advanced entry to Stage 2 depending on relevance of the HND and first year results (at least half of the first year units must be at Merit grade). Where offers are made for entry to Stage 2 students would be required to achieve 2 Distinctions and remainder Merits in all units assessed in final year. Those not eligible for entry to Stage 2 would be considered for entry to Stage 1 provided at least one first year unit is at Merit grade. Students would be required to achieve Merits in all units assessed in final year.
For those offering a HNC or HND, some flexibility may be allowed in terms of GCSE profile.

Candidates offering Access/Certificate in Foundation Studies courses will be considered individually on their own merits.

The information provided in the personal statement section and the academic reference together with predicted grades are noted but, in the case of degree courses in the School of Biological Sciences, these are not the final deciding factors in whether or not a conditional offer can be made. However, they may be reconsidered in a tie break situation in August.

A-level General Studies and A-level Critical Thinking would not normally be considered as part of a three A-level offer and, although they may be excluded where an applicant is taking four A-level subjects, the grade achieved could be taken into account if necessary in August/September.

Candidates are not normally asked to attend for interview.

If you are made an offer then you may be invited to a School Visit Day, which is usually held in the second semester. This will allow you the opportunity to visit the University and to find out more about the degree programme of your choice and the facilities on offer. It also gives you a flavour of the academic and social life at Queen's.

If you cannot find the information you need here, please contact the University Admissions and Access Service (admissions@qub.ac.uk), giving full details of your qualifications and educational background.


For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.

English Language Requirements

An IELTS score of 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in each test component or an equivalent acceptable qualification, details of which are available at: http://go.qub.ac.uk/EnglishLanguageReqs

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.

  • Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
  • Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.


INTO Queen's offers a range of academic and English language programmes to help prepare international students for undergraduate study at Queen's University. You will learn from experienced teachers in a dedicated international study centre on campus, and will have full access to the University's world-class facilities.

These programmes are designed for international students who do not meet the required academic and English language requirements for direct entry.

INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)


Career Prospects

An Honours degree in Marine Biology offers comprehensive training in one of the most popular environmental disciplines, and good graduates move on to pursue diverse careers at home and abroad.

Many recent graduates have secured MSc and PhD positions at leading universities in the UK, Republic of Ireland and overseas whilst others work in secondary education or for conservation organisations and government environmental agencies.

The experience that you gain from applying the scientific approach to living organisms, solving numerical and practical problems, developing written and oral communication skills and using a wide range of sophisticated equipment will also help you to find employment in a variety of non-biological careers.

Many employers are looking for graduates in any discipline, provided they show academic confidence, the ability to communicate, handle quantitative data and solve problems, and have good social skills, a wide range of interests and a record of success. We believe that studying Marine Biology at Queen's will enable you to acquire and develop these qualities.

The most generally appropriate professional bodies for graduate marine biologists are the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, the Fisheries Society of the British Isles and Society of Biology.

Additional Awards Gained(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)

Prizes and Awards(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)

Degree plus award for extra-curricular skills

In addition to your degree programme, at Queen's you can have the opportunity to gain wider life, academic and employability skills. For example, placements, voluntary work, clubs, societies, sports and lots more. So not only do you graduate with a degree recognised from a world leading university, you'll have practical national and international experience plus a wider exposure to life overall. We call this Degree Plus. It's what makes studying at Queen's University Belfast special.

Fees and Funding

Tuition Fees

The tuition fee rates for undergraduate students who first enrol at the University in the academic year 2018-19 have not been agreed. Tuition fees for 2019-20 will be based on 2018-19 levels, normally increased by inflation and these are set out below.

Northern Ireland (NI) £4,160
England, Scotland or Wales (GB) £9,250
Other (non-UK) EU £4,160
International £19,500

Tuition fee rates are calculated based on a student’s tuition fee status and generally increase annually by inflation. How tuition fees are determined is set out in the Student Finance Framework.

Additional course costs

All Students

Depending on the programme of study, there may be extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies.

Read more

Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library.

If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. A programme may have up to 6 modules per year, each with a recommended text.  

Students should also budget between £30 to £75 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges.  

Students undertaking a period of work placement or study abroad, as either a compulsory or optional part of their programme, should be aware that they will have to fund additional travel and living costs.

If a final year includes a major project or dissertation, there may be costs associated with transport, accommodation and/or materials. The amount will depend on the project chosen. There may also be additional costs for printing and binding.

Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen.

There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, examination resits and library fines.

Marine Biology costs

Year 1 students are required to buy a laboratory coat at a cost of £10 and an E-Book at a cost of £25. The following optional modules have a compulsory field trip: Year 1 Biological Diversity Module has a field trip costing £80. Year 2 Applied Ecology Module has a field trip costing £125. Year 2 Marine Ecology Module has a field trip costing £90. All students may apply to go on a School Workplace Tour at a cost of £100.

How do I fund my study?

There are different tuition fee and student financial support arrangements for students from Northern Ireland, those from England, Scotland and Wales (Great Britain), and those from the rest of the European Union.

Information on funding options and financial assistance for undergraduate students is available at http://www.qub.ac.uk/Study/Undergraduate/Fees-and-scholarships/.


Each year, we offer a range of scholarships and prizes for new students. Information on scholarships available.

International Scholarships

Information on scholarships for international students, is available at http://www.qub.ac.uk/International/International-students/International-scholarships/.

How and When to Apply

How to Apply

Application for admission to full-time undergraduate and sandwich courses at the University should normally be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).  Full information can be obtained from the UCAS website at: www.ucas.com/apply.

When to Apply
UCAS will start processing applications for entry in autumn 2019 from 1 September 2018.

Advisory closing date: 15 January 2019 (18:00).

Late applications are, in practice, accepted by UCAS throughout the remainder of the application cycle, but you should understand that they are considered by institutions at their discretion, and there can be no guarantee that they will be given the same full level of consideration as applications received by the advisory closing date.

Applicants are encouraged to apply as early as is consistent with having made a careful and considered choice of institutions and courses.

The Institution code for Queen's is QBELF and the institution code is Q75.

Further information on applying to study at Queen's is available at: http://www.qub.ac.uk/Study/Undergraduate/How-to-apply/

Apply via UCAS
After an offer is made this will be notified to applicants through UCAS. Confirmation will be emailed by the Admissions and Access Service and this communication will also include Terms and Conditions (www.qub.ac.uk/Study/TermsandConditions) which applicants should read carefully in advance of replying to their offer(s) on UCAS Track.

Additional Information for International (non-EU) Students

  1. Applying through UCAS
    Most students make their applications through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) for full-time undergraduate degree programmes at Queen's. The UCAS application deadline for international students is 30 June 2019.
  2. Applying direct
    The Direct Entry Application form is to be used by international applicants who wish to apply directly, and only, to Queen's or who have been asked to provide information in advance of submitting a formal UCAS application. Find out more.
  3. Applying through agents and partners
    The University’s in-country representatives can assist you to submit a UCAS application or a direct application. Please consult the Agent List to find an agent in your country who will help you with your application to Queen’s University.

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Medical Biology Centre
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