BSc (Hons) Marine and Freshwater Biology

Undergraduate, Part-time

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

  • Napier code:


  • Course type:


  • Duration:

    6 years

  • Award:

    BSc (Hons)

  • Location:

    Sighthill campus

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Course introduction

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.

marine biology

If you’re interested in global issues, the marine or freshwater environment, aquatic biology (including whales, otters, coral reefs and sea birds), conservation and the impact of pollution on the aquatic environment, this course is for you.

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.

This is a part-time course generally lasting six years. You’ll learn by a variety of teaching methods including lectures, tutorials, laboratory sessions, field trips and through independent study. There may also be some opportunities to study abroad.

Find out more by visiting our Facebook page.

What you study


New Programme from 2017 for first year entry


  • Common foundation year
  • Foundation in Science
  • Life on Earth
  • Comparative anatomy and physiology
  • Scientific enquiry
  • Introductory Microbiology
  • Cell biology


Year 2 (from 2018)


  • Genes and Inheritance
  • Ecology and Sustainability
  • Practical Skills in Biodiversity and Ecology
  • Physiology, Adaptation and Disease
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Option module


 Year 3 (from 2019)


  • Research Methods
  • Habitat Assessment and GIS
  • Ecology Field Studies
  • Conservation Biology
  • Marine Biology
  • Freshwater Biology


Year 4 (from 2020)


  • Professional Practice
  • Fish and Fisheries Biology
  • Current Topics in Ecology
  • Project (60 credits)



2017 Direct Entry Programme (second, third and fourth year)


Year 2


  • Microbiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology and the Environment
  • Animal Behaviour
  • Practical Module


Plus one optional module from:


  • Biology of Disease
  • Microbes and Man
  • Clinical Care of Exotic Species
  • Valuing the Earth


Year 3


  • Scientific Communication: Dissertation and Statistics
  • Freshwater Biology
  • Population and Community Ecology
  • Marine Biology
  • Environmental Toxicology
  • Environmental Microbiology


Year 4


  • Fisheries Biology
  • Advances in Aquatic Sciences
  • Environmental Management
  • Honours project 

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

Full information on this is available in our disclaimer.

The skills you gain in this course will prepare you for work in a number of areas, including:

  • aquaculture
  • fisheries management
  • conservation
  • environmental protection agencies
  • habitat and species management
  • pollution control
  • consultancies and public education

The research skills developed on this course will also allow you to continue on to postgraduate study including possible PhD research within the school and a further academic career.

Minimum year 1

SQA Higher

Typical Entry Requirement

BBBB including Biology or Human Biology or Chemistry or Physics.

National 5 C in Maths, English, Biology & Chemistry.

Adjusted Offer Entry Requirement

BBCC including Biology or Human Biology or Chemistry or Physics at grade B.

National 5 grade C in Maths, English, Biology & Chemistry.

You may be given an adjusted offer of entry if you meet specific widening participation criteria as outlined in our contextual admissions policy. Click here for further information about our entry requirements and admissions policies.

A Level

BCC including Biology or Chemistry or Physics. 

GCSE grade C/4 in Maths, English, Biology & Chemistry (or Double Award Science at C/4)

Irish Leaving Certificate

Pre-2017 Grading System

B1, B1, B3, B3 at Higher Level including Biology or Human Biology or Chemistry or Physics.

C2 at Ordinary Level in Maths, English, Biology & Chemistry.

New Grading System

Grades H2, H2, H3, H3 at Higher Level to include Biology or Human Biology or Chemistry or Physics.

Grade O4 at Ordinary Level in English, Maths, Biology and Chemistry.

BTEC (QCF) Extended Diploma Level 3

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

GCSE grade C/4 in Maths, English, Biology & Chemistry (or Double Award Science at C/4)

International Baccalaureate Diploma

Award of Diploma with 28 points overall with three HL subjects at grades 6, 5, 4 including a Science* at minimum grade 5.

4 points in SL Maths, English, Biology and Chemistry.

European Baccalaureate

70% with Grade 7 in three subjects including Biology or Chemistry or Physics.

Grade 6 in English, Maths, Biology and Chemistry.


Animal Care with B in the graded unit for year 1 entry.

National 5 C in Maths, English, Biology & Chemistry also required.


Animal Care with BB in the graded units for year 1 entry.

National 5 C in Maths, English, Biology & Chemistry also required.

Minimum year 2


Pass in a related subject* with Grade B in the graded unit.

*Biomedical Sciences, Biological Sciences, Applied Sciences, Applied Biological Sciences

SQA Advanced Higher

BBC including Biology

A Level

BBB including Biology

Minimum year 3


Pass in a related subject** with Grades BB at SCQF Level 8 in the graded units

**Biomedical Sciences, Biological Sciences, Applied Sciences, Applied Biological Sciences

English Language Requirements

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.

* Biology or Human Biology or Chemistry or Physics

Our entry requirements indicate the 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.

International students

If your qualifications aren't listed above, visit our country pages to get entry requirements for your country.

Please note that non-EU international students are unable to enrol onto the following courses:

BN Nursing/MN Nursing (Adult, Child, Mental Health or Learning Disability)

BM Midwifery/MM Midwifery

Admissions policies

We're committed to being as accessible as possible to anyone who wants to achieve higher education.

Our admissions policies will help you understand our admissions procedures and how decisions are made.

Tuition fees
Students from 2017/18 2018/19
Scotland/EU £305 £305
England Wales and Northern Ireland *£1,125 *£1,157
Overseas £1,992 £2,060
Fees for modules are calculated according to the number of credits (multiples of 20). The rate shown in the table is for 20 credits*.

Frequently Asked Questions about Fees
Information of Bursaries and Scholarships