Marine and Freshwater Biology

MBiol Marine and Freshwater Biology Code C169 Apply Now Scholarships and Bursaries worth over £15,000 – apply now

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Key Facts

Code C169
  • Typical A-level offer

    BBB-ABB with B in Biology or Human Biology. Candidates taking a science A level with an associated practical skills assessment will also be required to pass the practical component.

  • Course Length

    4 Years

Further details on entry requirements

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Oceans and freshwaters make up more than 70% of the earth’s surface. Within them is a vast and diverse range of aquatic organisms and ecosystems. By understanding them and how they interact with one another, we can understand, more clearly, the current health of Planet Earth. From the effects of climate change, through to the conservation and protection interventions that are needed.

The Integrated Masters of Marine and Freshwater Biology will explore these and many other areas of the “aquatic world”. With firm theoretical grounding and real-world practical application, this course nurtures the ingenuity of both staff and students to grow in expertise and think outside the box, to solve the global marine and fresh water challenges we face.

With a stunning coastline on our doorstep, cutting-edge learning facilities and comprehensive teaching resources, you will be well-prepared to contribute to marine and freshwater research in Aberystwyth and beyond.

[NSS/DLHE Awards]

Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences (IBERS): 91% student satisfaction (NSS 2017)

97% of our graduates were in work or further study within 6 months, 3% more than Biological Science graduates nationally, (HESA 2017)


If you wish to study Marine and Freshwater Biology and have career aspirations as an academic or commercial aquatic research scientist, then this exciting course may be for you. Integrated Masters schemes are four-year undergraduate degrees for students with the ability to study to a higher level than the standard BSc degree, and graduate with the Masters level qualification, MBiol (Marine and Freshwater Biology). Integrated Masters students initially study modules of the BSc degree integrated with a further year at M-level, with the opportunity to apply subject-specific knowledge to a major research project, alongside taught modules that develop essential skills required by today’s professional scientists.

Specialist opportunities at Aberystwyth for our Integrated Masters students include:

  • Aquarium systems and extensive growth rooms to support aquatic organisms
  • Two research vessels for hands-on experience of sampling techniques used by professional aquatic biologists
  • Residential field courses in marine and freshwater biology
  • Extensive research and teaching labs equipped with the latest equipment, including bioimaging facilities and high-throughput DNA sequencing.

Situated on the coast of Cardigan Bay with a hinterland rich in rivers and lakes, Aberystwyth University is the ideal location to study of Marine and Freshwater Biology. Easily accessible habitats range from mountain streams bearing trout and invertebrates, internationally important estuaries, salt marsh, beaches, reefs and a bay inhabited by a large bottlenose dolphin population. Recent M&F Biology graduates progressed to PhD training or secured jobs with the Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Ribble Rivers Trust, WiseOceans, Pontus Aqua and KAUST Coral Reef Ecology Lab.

Our Staff

The majority of teaching staff at the Institute of Biological, Environmental and Rural Sciences are qualified to PhD level and are research active. Vocational courses also have staff whose background lies within industry.  The Institute has a large number of research only staff with whom students may have contact.




Our Marine and Freshwater Biology graduates are equipped with the skills and knowledge to enter a wide range of careers including:

  • Ecological  consultancy
  • Environmental management and conservation
  • Teaching
  • Scientific journalism

This degree also frequently leads to postgraduate research at PhD level or research in public agencies and fisheries labs, charitable marine conservation organisations and the commercial sector.

Study Skills

You will develop an in-depth knowledge and critical understanding of the key contemporary topics in Marine and Freshwater Biology. You will master the research process and contribute to the knowledge base of the subject through your final year research. Throughout this you will encounter many opportunities to develop as a reflective, autonomous researcher. At all times you will have the support of expert academics working at the forefront of their field.

Self-motivation and discipline

Studying to postgraduate level requires discipline and self-motivation. Though you will have access to the expertise and helpful guidance of experienced IBERS staff, you will be responsible for devising and completing a final year research project. This process will strengthen your skills as a self-sufficient worker, a trait prized by all employers.

Transferable Skills

The MBiol (Marine and Freshwater Biology) is designed to give you a range of transferable skills that you can apply in a variety of employment contexts. The course is made up of a number of taught modules plus guided independent student centred study. This provides you with a framework which allows you to develop your subject knowledge, through pursuing specific areas of interest and develop your skills of original thought, analysis, interpretation and reasoning. Regular assessment through reports, essays, seminar presentations, précis and case studies will prepare you for the many demands of the modern workplace.

What work experience opportunities exist whilst studying?

Click here to find out about the various opportunities that our Aberystwyth University Careers team offer. Enhance your employability prospects with GO Wales and YES (Year in Employment Scheme) managed by our Careers department. 

Teaching & Learning

What will I learn?

The breakdown below will provide you with an illustration of what you may study during the three year degree scheme. In your first year you will explore:

  • Evolution & the diversity of life
  • Comparative animal physiology
  • Ecology
  • Plant biology
  • Genetics
  • Biochemistry
  • Microbial diversity
  • Field and laboratory skills

In your second year you will discover:

  • Marine biology
  • Freshwater biology
  • Applied aquatic conservation
  • Aquatic botany
  • Research design, planning and analysis
  • Optional modules include: vertebrate anatomy, animal behaviour and microbial ecology and environmental monitoring

In your third year you will study:

  • Marine and Freshwater Biology Field Course – currently run in Portugal and Scotland
  • Dissertation which provides students with the opportunity to perform an in-depth research project under the guidance of a supervisor
  • Optional modules include: Fish, fisheries and aquaculture, wildlife conservation, behavioural physiology and population and community ecology

In your final year, you may study:

  • Microbial Biotechnology
  • Frontiers In the Biosciences
  • Concepts in Biology
  • Crop Genomics and Genetic Engineering
  • MBiol Research Project

How will I be taught?

The course will be delivered through a balanced programme of lectures, student-led seminars, laboratory practical classes and one-to-one tutoring for the final year research project. In addition, there will be problem-based learning scenarios; case studies; literature based research; computer-assisted learning; and work experience to support the teaching and learning. You will receive thorough training in biological concepts and practical scientific methods.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through numerous methods including essays, practical exercises, oral presentations, worksheets, reports, dossiers, posters, portfolios, reflective diaries, literature reviews, magazine articles, field notebooks and exams. You will be assigned a personal tutor throughout your degree course, who will help you with any problems or queries, whether these are academic-related or personal issues. You should feel free to contact them at any time for help and advice.

Typical Entry Requirements

A Levels BBB-ABB with B in Biology or Human Biology. Candidates taking a science A level with an associated practical skills assessment will also be required to pass the practical component.

GCSE requirements (grade C min):
English or Welsh, Mathematics and a Science subject

BTEC National Diploma:
BTEC insufficient

International Students

International Baccalaureate:
36 points overall with 6 points in Biology at Higher Level

European Baccalaureate:
75% overall with 75% in specified subject

Applicants are considered on their individual merits and offers can vary. For further information, please contact ug-admissions@aber.ac.uk

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