Marine and Freshwater Biology

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You are viewing this course for September start 2024

The MBiol 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. 

This four-year Integrated Masters offers you the opportunity to combine a BSc with an extra year of study so that you graduate with a Masters-level qualification. The course will develop the breadth and depth of your knowledge of marine and freshwater biology and prepare you to be a subject specialist, with the ability to tackle the global marine and freshwater challenges we face. 

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 Advanced Accredited DegreeThe first three years of the course will follow the same syllabus as BSc Marine and Freshwater Biology (C164), which is then followed by an additional year of study, after which you will graduate with a Masters-level qualification. This course has attained advanced accreditation from the Royal Society of Biology. 

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 third 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 - 2024

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
Comparative Animal Physiology BR16720 20
Ecology and Conservation * BR19320 20
Genetics, Evolution and Diversity BR17120 20
Microbial and Plant Diversity * BR19920 20
Skills for Wildlife Scientists * BR15720 20


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
Environmental Microbiology and Monitoring BR26020 20
Invertebrate Zoology BR25420 20
Vertebrate Zoology BR26820 20
Behavioural Ecology BR23920 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
Global Biodiversity Conservation BR33420 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


The Integrated Masters degree in Marine and Freshwater Biology is designed to develop the breadth and depth of your knowledge, along with the competence and confidence in research methods required to pursue a career as a professional scientist. 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. The MBiol is also a recognised alternative to MSc for progression to a PhD studentship, and an excellent foundation for a career as a professional scientist. 

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 third 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.  

In your final year you will gain practical experience in the application of a range of traditional and novel field and laboratory techniques appropriate to environmental management and biological and ecological investigations. You will acquire skills in scientific journalistic writing and delivering conference presentations. You will also undertake an independent Masters-level research project under the guidance of a dissertation supervisor, which may be embedded within one of several pioneering research groups. 

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 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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