Marine & Freshwater Biology BSc (Hons)

Discover the diversity of the fascinating aquatic realms and develop the knowledge and skills to protect them


Explore the aquatic environment, its importance in understanding climate change, and how to monitor and protect marine and freshwater species in a sustainable manner.

The aquatic realm makes up more than 70 per cent of the Earth’s surface and represents the largest domain on earth. This course focuses on the study of the fascinating diversity of life contained in these habitats.

You’ll come to appreciate the issues involved in management of aquatic resources and learn how a firm understanding of the organisation of aquatic ecosystems can promote use in a sustainable manner.

Aquatic habitats and organisms are also pivotal in the understanding of climatic change making this course very relevant to a career in conservation and environmental protection.

We are 2nd for Animal Sciences among UK modern universities in the Sunday Times' Good University Guide 2022.

We have a 100% satisfaction rate for our Biological Science (non-specific) courses (National Student Survey, 2022).

Two students collecting samples from a river

Mode of Study:


(available as Full-time)


6 years

Start date:


Study Abroad:


Course details

Are you interested in global issues? Are you interested in the marine or freshwater environment? If it’s aquatic biology including coral reefs and sea birds that takes your fancy or indeed conservation and the impact of pollution on the aquatic environment, this is certainly a course worth joining.

You’ll study the adaptation, ecology and behaviour of a range of species found in marine, coastal and freshwater environments. You’ll learn about the non-living environment, including climate, weather, water and sediment properties and pollution. You’ll also learn about aspects of management, including pollution assessment and control and fisheries science.

Scotland is home to some fascinating aquatic environments and you’ll get to experience these during practical fieldwork, both locally and further afield, including a residential field course to the Isle of Cumbrae.

The course will equip you with a broad portfolio of skills in both specialist techniques such as species identification, surveying, data analysis and GIS along with communication of scientific information, IT, problem solving and team working which will allow you to pursue a range of possible career paths.

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    How you’ll be taught

    You will learn through a variety of different methods, including lectures, tutorials, field studies and laboratory classes. 

    More than two-thirds of our permanent academic staff are Fellows of the Higher Education Academy, reflecting their dedication and formal training in teaching undergraduate students. Together with our accreditation by The Royal Society of Biology - which is your assurance of the quality and relevance of our course to the needs of employers - this is your assurance of the up-to-date knowledge of our teaching staff and guarantee of a supportive learning environment.

  • study abroad

    Study abroad

    Erasmus opportunities. Links with a Danish university to study in English: Roskilde University

    .Placement and Study Abroad opportunities are subject to UK and Scottish Government health and travel advice.

Popular modules

Year 1

Year 2

  • Comparative Anatomy and Physiology (info)
  • Practical Skills in Biodiversity (info)
  • Cell Biology: Structure and Function (info)
  • Animal Behaviour (info)

Year 3

  • Genes and Inheritance (info)
  • Ecology and Sustainability (info)
  • Physiology, Adaptation and Disease (info)
  • Option module

Year 4

Year 5

  • Habitat Assessment and GIS (info)
  • Professional Practice (info)
  • Marine Biology (info)
  • Research Project (split over two years)* (info)

Year 6

  • Current Topics in Ecology (info)
  • Fish and Fisheries Biology (info)
  • Research Project (split over two years)* (info)



Study modules mentioned above are indicative only. Some changes may occur between now and the time that you study.

Full information is available in our disclaimer.

Entry requirements

What are the entry requirements for Marine and Freshwater Biology?

Our entry requirements indicate both Standard and Minimum qualifications with which we normally accept students. Competition for places varies from year to year and you aren't guaranteed a place if you meet the minimum qualifications.

The University does not sponsor students to study on part-time programmes in the UK under the Student Visa route. International Applicants must therefore have other valid immigration leave to study on this programme.

Can you go straight into second year of university?

Advanced entry into Year 2 or Year 3 of this course is possible for students with suitable qualifications. See the individual year tabs for more information.

Can I make an appointment with an advisor to discuss further about the admission process?

If you want to get more information on the admission process, please get in touch with the undergraduate admissions team by submitting an enquiry form above.

Minimum Year 1

SQA Higher

  • Standard Entry Requirement: BBBB including Human Biology, Biology, Chemistry or Physics.
  • Minimum Offer Entry Requirement: BBCC including Human Biology, Biology, Chemistry or Physics.

You may be given an adjusted offer of entry if you meet our specified minimum entry requirements within our widening participation criteria, and outlined in our Contextual Admissions Policy. Click here for further information about our entry requirements and admissions policies.

A Level

  • BCC including Biology, Chemistry, Physics or Applied Science.

BTEC (QCF) Extended Diploma Level 3

  • Minimum grades DMM (Distinction, Merit, Merit) in a related subject. 

BTEC (QCF) National Diploma Level 3 plus A Level

  • Minimum grades DM (Distinction, Merit) in a related subject.
  • A Level grade C

Irish Leaving Certificate

  • Grades H2/H2/H3/H3 including a Science subject (Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry, Physics)

International Baccalaureate Diploma

  • Award of Diploma with 28 points overall with three HL subjects at grades 6, 5, 4 including a Science (Biology, Human Biology, Chemistry or Physics) at minimum grade 5.   

T Level

  • Grade M
  • T Level must be completed in a Science subject or A Level Science may be required. Please contact to check if you meet the subject specific requirements.

Minimum Year 2

SQA Advanced Higher

  • BBC to include Biology

A Level

  • BBB to include Biology


  • Pass HNC in a related subject* with B in the graded unit.
  • *Biomedical Sciences, Biological Sciences, Applied Science, Applied Bioscience, Applied Animal Biology, Environmental Management and Sustainability, Wildlife and Conservation Management


Minimum Year 3


  • Pass in a related subject* with Grades BB at SCQF Level 8 in the graded units.
  • *Biomedical Sciences, Biological Sciences, Applied Science, Applied Animal Biology, Wildlife and Conservation Management


If your first language isn't English, you'll normally need to undertake an approved English language test and our minimum English language requirements will apply.

This may not apply if you have completed all your school qualifications in English. Check our country pages to find out if this applies to you.

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
Entry requirements by country

Please note that international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:
  • BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery
  • All Graduate Apprenticeship courses.

See who can apply for more information on Graduate Apprenticeship courses.

We’re committed to admitting students who have the potential to succeed and benefit from our programmes of study. 

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures, and how we use the information you provide us in your application to inform the decisions we make.

Undergraduate admissions policies
Postgraduate admissions policies

Fees & funding

The course fees you'll pay and the funding available to you will depend on a number of factors including your nationality, location, personal circumstances and the course you are studying. We also have a number of bursaries and scholarships available to our students.

Tuition fees
Students from 2024/25 2025/26
Scotland *£305 *£tba
England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Republic of Ireland *£1,157 *£tba
Overseas and EU *£2,785 *£tba
Fees for modules are calculated according to the number of credits (multiples of 20). The rate shown in the table is for 20 credits*.
Please note tuition fees are subject to an annual review and may increase from one year to the next. For more information on this and other Tuition Fee matters please see Frequently Asked Questions about Fees Click this link for Information of Bursaries and Scholarships
If additional compulsory costs other than the tuition fees are applicable, these will be detailed in the course details.
Please note that the tuition fees liable to be paid by EU nationals commencing their studies from 1 August 2021 will be the Overseas fee rate. The University offers a range of attractive Tuition Fee bursaries to students resident in specific countries. More information on these can be found here.

Fees for modules are calculated according to the number of credits (multiples of 20). The rate shown in the table is for 20 credits*.


Two students photographing wildlife on the cliffs at St Abbs

What can you do with a Marine & Freshwater Biology Degree? 


By studying Marine & Freshwater biology at Edinburgh Napier University, you will learn about the marine and freshwater species habitats, management of aquatic resources and, also learn about ecosystems and sustaining these for underwater life. On completion of the course, you will have become an expert in marine species as well as coastal and freshwater environments, with practical skills in aquaculture, fisheries management, and conservation. Roles you may consider working in include conservation, environmental protection, habitat and species management, pollution control and education. If you are interested in global issues, pollution and the freshwater environment, and are a keen problem solver and practical thinker then this might be the right course for you.


Gaining a degree in Marine and Freshwater gives you discipline specific knowledge and skills, but it is not restrictive. You will gain a range of highly desirable transferable (meta) skills, including communication, numeracy, computer literacy and data analysis, which are valued by employers within, but also outside the Life Science sector.


What does a Marine or Freshwater Ecologist do?


A marine or freshwater ecologist specialises in studying and monitoring the communities of animals that live in our aquatic ecosystems, from oceans and rivers to mangroves and reefs. You will carry out lab work, research and fieldwork on ecological communities, population changes and pollution threats. You will be an effective communicator, team player and critical thinker, with excellent writing and analytical skills.


Daily tasks and responsibilities you may have within this role include:

  • Ecosystem monitoring
  • Species identification
  • Data analysis and interpretation
  • Creating or advising on environmental policy
  • Public engagement


Student working with his hands inside a fume cupboard in a science lab