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

This four-year course includes an integrated foundation year, after which the syllabus follows that of the standard three-year course, BSc Marine and Freshwater Biology (C164).

On 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.

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.


Module Name Module Code Credit Value
Cell Biology BR17520 20
Communication Skills BR01520 20
Comparative Animal Physiology BR16720 20
Genetics, Evolution and Diversity BR17120 20
Microbial and Plant Diversity BR19920 20
Molecules and Cells BR01340 40
Organisms and the Environment BR01440 40
Practical Skills for Biologists BR01220 20
Wildlife Forensics BR15720 20


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
Cell Biology BR17520 20
Genetics, Evolution and Diversity BR17120 20
Microbial and Plant Diversity BR19920 20


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


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


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


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


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
Anthropogenic threats to the Biosphere BR36720 20

* Also available partially or entirely through the medium of Welsh


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.

Teaching & Learning

What will I learn? 

In the first year you will study foundation modules which will develop your knowledge of biology and prepare you for the study of marine and freshwater biology during the next three years of your degree.

In the second 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 third 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. 


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.

Typical Entry Requirements

UCAS Tariff

A Levels Available to candidates without formal qualifications who have suitable background education, experience and motivation

GCSE requirements (minimum grade C/4):

BTEC National Diploma:
Available to candidates without formal qualifications who have suitable background education, experience and motivation

International Baccalaureate:
Available to candidates without formal qualifications who have suitable background education, experience and motivation

European Baccalaureate:
Available to candidates without formal qualifications who have suitable background education, experience and motivation

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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