BSc

Marine and Freshwater Biology

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The BSc Marine and Freshwater Biology degree at Aberystwyth University is one of only a few nationally to provide you with an integrated catchment to ocean understanding of the biology, ecology and stressors affecting these intimately interconnected ecosystems. This is crucial, given that they support some of the most threatened species and habitats on the planet. 

Situated on the coast of Cardigan Bay, Aberystwyth is one of the best places in the UK to study marine and freshwater biology. You will have easy access to rocky and sandy shores, estuaries of conservation importance, as well as near-pristine rivers and lakes. Cardigan Bay is also home to the largest residential population of bottlenose dolphins in the UK. 

Course Overview

Royal Society of Biology Accredited DegreeOn this course you will develop practical skills in the sampling techniques used in the aquatic environment, the critical analysis of data and literature, and the presentation of your findings to a variety of stakeholders. This will ensure you are well prepared for professional roles that seek to understand and address the various challenges facing marine and freshwater organisms and ecosystems. 

To support your learning, you will have access to two research vessels enabling you to gain real hands-on experience of the sampling techniques used by professional marine and freshwater biologists as well as use of our aquarium systems for experimental studies of marine and freshwater organisms. 

Fieldwork and practical classes form an integral part of the course throughout. An optional residential two-centre field course in your final year, currently based in Portugal and Scotland, will allow you to immerse yourself in the study of marine and freshwater biology further afield. 

This course is accredited by the Royal Society of Biology. 

Our Staff

The majority of teaching staff in the Department of Life Sciences are qualified to PhD level and are research active. Vocational courses also have staff whose background lies within industry. The Department has a large number of research only staff with whom students may have contact.

Modules September start - 2023

Please note: The modules listed below are those currently intended for delivery during the next academic year and may be subject to change. They are included here to give an indication of how the course is structured.

Core

Module Name Module Code Credit Value
Ecology BR13510 10
Microbial Diversity BR12110 10
Study and Communication Skills BR12410 10
The Green Planet BR13610 10
Biochemistry and the Cellular Basis of Life BR15320 20
Comparative Animal Physiology BR14110 10
Evolution and the Diversity of Life BR14310 10
Exploring Genetics BR14410 10
Wildlife Forensics BR15720 20

Options

Module Name Module Code Credit Value
Biological Thought and Discovery BR12510 10
The Biosphere BR13210 10

Core

Module Name Module Code Credit Value
Research Methods BR27520 20
Applied Aquatic Conservation BR26220 20
Aquatic Botany BR25820 20
Freshwater Biology BR22020 20
Marine Biology BR22620 20

Options

Module Name Module Code Credit Value
An Introduction to Landscape Ecology and Geographic Information Systems BR25520 20
Animal Behaviour BR21620 20
Behavioural Ecology BR23920 20
Environmental Microbiology and Monitoring BR26020 20
Invertebrate Zoology BR25420 20
Vertebrate Zoology BR26820 20

Core

Module Name Module Code Credit Value
Fish Biology, Fisheries and Aquaculture BR33220 20
Research Project BR36440 40

Options

Module Name Module Code Credit Value
Behavioural Neurobiology BR35320 20
Marine and Freshwater Field Course BR35020 20
Population and Community Ecology BR33920 20
Wildlife Conservation BR34520 20

* Also available partially or entirely through the medium of Welsh

Careers

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 and scientific journalism. You will also be well prepared to pursue a scientific research career, continuing postgraduate study at Masters or PhD level. 

 What work experience opportunities are available to me while I study?  

Find out about the various opportunities that our Careers Service offers.  

Enhance your employability prospects with GO Wales and our Year in Employment Scheme.   

Teaching & Learning

What will I learn?

In the first year you will explore the amazing diversity of life on Earth and the key molecules that make up all life forms through theoretical and practical classes. You will study animal physiology using both invertebrate and vertebrate examples and delve into the multiplicity of microbial life. You will look at ecology and plant biology and consider future challenges such as responding to global climate and conserving biodiversity. You will develop your practical field and laboratory skills, and gain confidence in scientific data collection and analysis. 

In the second year you will focus on marine and freshwater biology and ecosystems and will be introduced to the diversity of aquatic algae and angiosperms occupying a variety of aquatic habitats. You will explore applied aquatic conservation and gain practical experience of the techniques used to monitor, conserve and undertake research in shallow-water environments. 

In the final year you will gain an understanding of the fundamental and applied aspects of fish conservation biology, and the role of selective fishing, aquaculture and conservation in the dynamics and sustainability of fish populations. 

Throughout the course a range of optional modules allows you to tailor your course to suit your interests. 

How will I be taught?

Our course is delivered through lectures, workshops, tutorials, fieldwork and practicals and residential field courses. You will receive thorough training in the scientific method and concepts relating to the evolution and ecology of natural systems with an emphasis on marine and freshwater environments.  

Assessment 

You will be assessed through essays, practical exercises, oral presentations, worksheets, reports, statistical exercises, dossiers, posters, portfolios, wikis, reflective diaries, literature reviews, magazine articles, field notebooks and exams.  

Personal Tutor    

You will be assigned a personal tutor who will be your main contact throughout the duration of your studies. Your personal tutor can help you to settle in when you first arrive and will be available to help you with academic or personal matters.   

Student Testimonials

"I enjoyed my time studying Marine and Freshwater Biology and I am able to now apply various aspects of what I was taught during my three years to my current job role, even though it is not directly related to my course. The practical elements of my course were excellent, especially the two 3rd year field trips." Rebecca – Project officer,  Forestry Commission

"Studying Marine & Freshwater Biology at Aberystwyth makes the course that bit more special. The location is perfect as you have both the sea and inland freshwater systems running through Aberystwyth into the sea. There is an array of diverse organisms right on your door-step at Aberystwyth; combining that with a lot of research in the field and the aquarium facilities makes the whole experience more engaging and enjoyable!" Richard Harris

"With the knowledge and scientific mindset I gain though my studies, I hope to be able to help preserve these fascinating environments for future generations. The course has been great; its main strength is its variety, with an array of topics covered over the three years in increasing detail." George William Middleton

"The course gave me a good grounding in all aspects of marine and freshwater biology. There were plenty of opportunities for fieldwork in the course, including the dissertation project, which prepared me for the survey skills needed in my current job." Laura – Environment Officer Gwynedd County Council

"At the Marine Conservation Society I head the conservation team of 17 individuals working on everything from overfishing and the need for marine reserves to dealing with the growing problem of plastic waste at sea. I'm 37 now and I look back at my time in Aber with real fondness. The study helped, but the most important thing for me was that I developed an interest in the sea. Aber was a truly great place to do that, living on the seafront, and diving with the University sub-aqua club." Simon – Head of Science, Marine Conservation Society

I really enjoyed the course. This made it easier to get up for lectures in the morning! The field courses were a highlight and nothing beats getting out there and getting your hands wet, whether it is doing a kick-sample in a small stream or doing a transect down a rock-pool strewn shoreline.  I really liked the broad scope of the course and the opportunity to tailor the course through the various optional modules in the second and third years. As such it has given me a great grounding in biological science as a whole – essential for a role where you have to consider the whole ecosystem and look at so much more than just the fish and the immediate riverine habitat.  Stuart Manwaring – Fisheries Technical Officer, Environment Agency

Typical Entry Requirements

UCAS Tariff 120 - 104

A Levels BBB-BCC with B in Biology

GCSE requirements (minimum grade C/4):
English or Welsh and Mathematics

BTEC National Diploma:
DDD-DDM in a specified subject

International Baccalaureate:
30-28 with 5 points in Biology at Higher Level

European Baccalaureate:
75%-65% overall with 7 in Biology

English Language Requirements:
See our Undergraduate English Language Requirements for this course. Pre-sessional English Programmes are also available for students who do not meet our English Language Requirements.

Country Specific Entry Requirements:
International students whose qualification is not listed on this page, can check our Country Specific Entry Requirements for further information.

The University welcomes undergraduate applications from students studying the Access to Higher Education Diploma or T-level qualifications, provided that relevant subject content and learning outcomes are met. We are not able to accept Access to Higher Education Diplomas or T-levels as a general qualification for every undergraduate degree course.
Our inclusive admissions policy values breadth as well as depth of study. Applicants are selected on their own individual merits and offers can vary. If you would like to check the eligibility of your qualifications before submitting an application, please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for advice and guidance.

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