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Tropical Marine Biology

Course overview

(MSc) Master of Science
Tropical Marine Biology
University of Essex
University of Essex
Life Sciences (School of)
Colchester Campus
MSC C16112

A degree with an overall mid 2.2, or equivalent in a relevant subject such as : Marine Biology, Marine Chemistry, Oceanography, Environmental Sciences and tropical Biology.

Applications from students with a 2:2 or equivalent will be considered dependent on any relevant professional or voluntary experience, previous modules studied and/or personal statement.

Your Degree should contain some Ecology components including aquatic/marine Ecology, Biodiversity or Conservation.

If English isn’t your first language, we require IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

External Examiners

Dr Nicholas Kamenos
University of Glasgow

External Examiners provide an independent overview of our courses, offering their expertise and help towards our continual improvement of course content, teaching, learning, and assessment. External Examiners are normally academics from other higher education institutions, but may be from the industry, business or the profession as appropriate for the course. They comment on how well courses align with national standards, and on how well the teaching, learning and assessment methods allow students to develop and demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills needed to achieve their awards. External Examiners who are responsible for awards are key members of Boards of Examiners. These boards make decisions about student progression within their course and about whether students can receive their final award.

eNROL, the module enrolment system, is now open until Monday 21 October 2019 8:59AM, for students wishing to make changes to their module options.


Core You must take this module You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options You can choose which module to study
Compulsory You must take this module There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study
Optional You can choose which module to study

Year 1 - 2019/20

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 BS782-7-FY Research Project: MSc Tropical Marine Biology Core 60 Compulsory
02 BS706-7-FY Tropical Marine Systems Compulsory 30 Compulsory Compulsory
03 BS705-7-FY Tropical Marine Resources Compulsory 30 Compulsory Compulsory
04 BS707-7-FY Methods in Tropical Marine Biology Compulsory 30 Compulsory Compulsory
05 BS708-7-FY Professional Skills in Tropical Marine Biology Compulsory 30 Compulsory Compulsory

Exit awards

A module is given one of the following statuses: 'core' – meaning it must be taken and passed; 'compulsory' – meaning it must be taken; or 'optional' – meaning that students can choose the module from a designated list. The rules of assessment may allow for limited condonement of fails in 'compulsory' or 'optional' modules, but 'core' modules cannot be failed. The status of the module may be different in any exit awards which are available for the course. Exam Boards will consider students' eligibility for an exit award if they fail the main award or do not complete their studies.

Programme aims

This course is desgined for graduate students that wish to develop their skills for a career in any field of tropical marine biology.
Students who sucessfully complete the course will be well prepared to investigate biological processes in tropical marine systems by applying suitable methodology, effectively manage tropical marine resources and communicate professionally with various stakeholders (e.g. scientists, politicians, general public).

The course aims to:

- Develop students' knowledge on key aspects (zoology, primary productivity, mariculture and fisheries, practical and research skills) of tropical marine systems.

- Enhance students' knowledge of tropical marine resources, reef conservation and management, fisheries, economics, ecosystem serivces, biodiversity, biotechnology).

- Enhance students' ability to devise, initiate, undertake and communicate the results of a research task using various methods in tropical marine biology.

- Enable students to conduct primary research in the field of tropical marine biology.

- Develop a range of transferable professional skills including information retrieval, evaluation and synthesis, numeracy, ITC skills, presentation skills, effective working with others, complex problem solving, self-evaluation and reflection, and independent learning ability.

Learning outcomes and learning, teaching and assessment methods

On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:

A: Knowledge and understanding

A1 Detailed, up to date knowledge of tropical marine fauna and flora and their role in tropical marine systems
A2 An understanding of how historical and recent environmental change has affected tropical marine systems, informed by recent research
A3 Current understanding of the structure of tropical marine communities and transfer of energy and matter through marine foodwebs
A4 Knowledge of applied tropical marine biology and the interdisciplinary nature of tropical marine management.
A5 Knowledge of factors adversely impacting tropical marine systems and possible management strategies
A6 A comprehensive knowledge and understanding of a selected topical research area and appropriate research methods
Learning Methods: A1-A5 are developed through three Thematic Modules that are delivered by lectures and seminars, and related assessed coursework (with feedback from it).

They are also developed throughout the dissertation in close consultation with a supervisor.

Students are also expected to extend and enhance their knowledge and understanding acquired from seminars and lectures by consulting library sources and other materials related to the course.

Such independent research is a fundamental part of most assessments.

A6 is developed through the Tropical Marine Resources module and in the research project.
Assessment Methods: A1-A5 are assessed through a variety of coursework, comprising a range of written work for different audiences (e.g.
Scientific essay, scientific poster, popular science article, scientific paper), through oral presentations, preparations of a podcast and vodcast, and through worksheets.

A6 is assessed by a project report and a dissertation.

B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

B1 Systematically retrieve, select and integrate a variety of information on tropical marine biology
B2 Synthesise and critically appraise evidence, arguments and ideas from different sources in a self-directed manner, leading to coherent and logical analyses
B3 Communicate information effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences
B4 Think independently and integrate relevant information across various course components
B5 Plan and conduct a substantial research project with guidance from a supervisor, and present it in a coherent manner
Learning Methods: B1-B4 are taught and developed through seminars, lectures, coursework and its associated feedback and group sessions.
The seminars and group sessions encourage critical discussion, together with an emphasis on ability to reason and argue coherently, and to learn from others.

B5 is developed through the dissertation plan and execution, and during the research component of the Tropical Marine Resources module.
Assessment Methods: B1-B4 are assessed through written coursework, the preparation of pod- and vodcasts and two oral presentations.

B5 is assessed in the substantial dissertation based on the project and during the research component of the Tropical Marine Resources module.

C: Practical skills

C1 General research skills: capacity to locate, access and summarise appropriate material and datasets
C2 Skills in conducting scientific surveys and research tasks
C3 General and specific laboratory and field based skills, including using up-to-date equipment and techniques
C4 Capacity to formulate an appropriate, feasible research question and design a programme to carry it out
Learning Methods: C1-C4 are primarily taught through the methods and professional skills modules.

The coursework components of each module will also provide experience and feedback related to literature-based research skills and formulation of research questions.
Assessment Methods: C1-C4 are assessed through the different components of the Methods in Tropical Marine Biology module and through the specific tasks of the Professional Skills module.

C4 will be assessed through the dissertation where students will demonstrate their research and practical-based skills.

The Tropical Marine Resources module will also provide an opportunity for students to undertake a specific research task.

All modules have associated coursework which will enable appropriate assessment of students.

D: Key skills

D1 Able to communicate effectively in a range of written work, oral presentations and using multimedia approaches approprate for different audiences
D2 Retrieve information using search engines, browsers and catalogues; use appropriate IT facilities to prepare and present technical reports in various formats (documents, oral presentations)
D3 Apply appropriate methods to gather and analyse quantitative and qualitative data
D4 Explore, analyse and find effective solutions for sicentific problems involving a variety of information from different scientific disciplines
D5 Able to plan and manage team activity and to work effectively and productively as a team member
D6 (i) Work to deadlines, including planning and time-management to meet assessment targets, (ii) Work independently for extended periods (iii) Evaluate and reflect on own performance
Learning Methods: D1-D4 are developed through coursework, the research project and the dedicated module on Professional Skills in Tropical Marine Biology.

D5 Does not form a large component of the degree but is addressed in the practical work for the Methods in Tropical Marine Biology module and with some of the coursework for the Marine Tropical Resources module.

D6 is developed through the initial course briefing, course assessments, rigid deadlines and feedback on assignments.
Assessment Methods: D1-D4 are assessed through coursework, the Professional Skills in Tropical Marine Biology module, the Methods in Tropical Marine Biology module, the research project and through oral presentations.

All dissertations are only acceptable in word-processed form, and must be presented according to the programme's rules.

D5 Does not form a large component of the degree but is addressed in the practical work for the Methods in Tropical Marine Biology module and with some of the coursework for the Marine Tropical Resources module.

D6 is assessed indirectly by assessing coursework, by imposing strict deadlines for assignments and by awarding marks for evidence of extra reading/going beyond lecture material.


The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

Should you have any questions about programme specifications, please contact Course Records, Quality and Academic Development; email: