Marine and Freshwater Biology

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You are viewing this course for September start 2022

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.

Course Overview

Royal Society of Biology Advanced Accredited Degree

This course has been awarded Interim Advanced Accreditation status. This will become Advanced Accreditation when the first cohort of students graduate from the MBiol degree courses in the summer 2018 (subject to final confirmation from the Royal Society of Biology).

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.

Modules September start - 2022

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
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


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


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


Module Name Module Code Credit Value
An Introduction to Landscape Ecology and Geographic Information Systems BR25520 20
Behavioural Ecology BR23920 20
Environmental Microbiology and Monitoring BR26020 20
Ethology BR21620 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


Module Name Module Code Credit Value
Field and Laboratory Techniques BRM4820 20
Frontiers in the Biosciences BRM4920 20
MBiol Research Project BRM2860 60
Research Methods in the Biosciences BRM6420 20

* Also available partially or entirely through the medium of Welsh


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. 

Course Content

What will I learn?

The breakdown below will provide you with an illustration of what you may study during the duration of this degree.

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

UCAS Tariff 128 - 120

A Levels ABB-BBB with B in Biology or Human Biology

GCSE requirements (minimum grade C/4):
English or Welsh, Mathematics and a Science subject

BTEC National Diploma:
BTEC not accepted for this scheme

International Baccalaureate:
32-30 points overall with 6 points in Biology at Higher Level

European Baccalaureate:
75% overall with 7 in a relevant science

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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