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Marine Biology (Including Foundation Year)

Course overview

(BSc) Bachelor of Science
Marine Biology (Including Foundation Year)
University of Essex
University of Essex
Essex Pathways
Colchester Campus
Honours Degree

UK and EU applicants should have, or expect to have:

72 UCAS tariff points from at least two full A-levels, or equivalent, including a science subject. Science subjects include Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology, Geography, Sports Science and Applied Science.

Examples of the above tariff may include:

  • A-levels: DDD
  • BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma: MMP (in a science subject)

All applicants must also hold GCSE Maths and Science at grade C/4 or above.

Essex Pathways Department accepts a wide range of qualifications from applicants. If you are unsure whether you meet the entry criteria, please get in touch for advice.

Essex Pathways Department is unable to accept applications from international students. Foundation pathways for international students are available at the University of Essex International College and are delivered and awarded by Kaplan, in partnership with the University of Essex. Successful completion will enable you to progress to the relevant degree course at the University of Essex.

Additional Notes

If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to this degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College here.

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 0 - 2019/20

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits
01 IA102-3-PS Introduction to Biology Core 30
02 IA123-3-PS Chemistry for Biology Core 30
03 IA124-3-PS Mathematics and Statistics Core 30
04 IA199-3-PS Research and Academic Development Skills and English Language Core 30

Year 2 - 2021/22

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits
01 BS251-5-AU Marine Biodiversity Compulsory 15
02 BS257-5-FY Professional Skills for Ecological and Marine Scientists Compulsory 15
03 BS254-5-AU Marine Vertebrates Compulsory 15
04 Option from list Optional 15
05 Option(s) from list Optional 30
06 Option(s) from list Optional 30
07 BS417-6-SU BS417-5-SU Compulsory 0

Year 3 - 2022/23

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits
01 BS832-6-FY Research Project in Ecological and Marine Sciences Compulsory 45
02 Option from list Optional 15
03 BS303-6-SU Estuarine and Coastal Ecology Field Module Compulsory 15
04 Option from list Optional 15
05 Option from list Optional 15
06 BS354-6-AU Fisheries Ecology Compulsory 15

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

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 Basic maths, physics and chemistry that are relevant to marine and freshwater biology and ecology
A2 The different levels of organisation and complexity, from molecules, through cells, organs, organisms, populations, communities, ecosystems, to biomes and the whole globe
A3 Key ecological processes: energy, mass and element fluxes between components and trophic levels; evolution and adaptation; competition and predation; population dynamics
A4 The structure and function of organisms, including key molecular, genetic and physiological processes.
A5 Knowledge and understanding of local and global biodiversity, particularly for aquatic organisms, used in its widest sense to include genetic, taxonomic, habitat, and biome, some of which is at an advanced level
A6 Appropriate practical scientific methods and approaches: observation, experimentation, modelling; and techniques used in their analysis
A7 Key environmental issues facing the world's aquatic systems, (e.g. natural resource management, conservation and sustainable development, climate change)
Learning Methods: Lectures are the principal method of delivery of A1 to A7.

Lectures direct students to textbooks and on-line material (Years 1 to 3), and research papers (Year 2 and particularly Year 3).

Laboratory and field practicals in Years 1 and 2 complement lectures and develop A1 to A6.

Coursework associated with lecture modules in Years 2 and 3 develop A1 to A7.

The research project in Year 3 teaches and develops A6 and also a range of A1 to A5 (depending on project topic).

Seminars with small groups are used in A1 (mathematics and chemistry, Year 1).

Team work for A7 is developed in the Field Course module (Year 3).

The Skills modules and field courses in different environments in Years 1-3 teach and develop A1 to A7, and particularly integrate A2.
Assessment Methods: A1 to A7 are assessed by:

Multiple Choice Questions (Year 1)

Essays (Years 2 and 3)

Oral and written practical reports (Years 1 and 2)
Field course reports (Years 2-3)

Exercises in data analysis and interpretation (DAI), (Years 2 and 3)

Unseen written exams: short answer, essay (Years 1 and 2) and questions involving DAI (Years 2 and 3)

The individual Year 3 research project, covering a range of A2 to A6 (depending on project topic) tests understanding in depth and is assessed by an individual written report and an oral presentation.

Team oral and individual written presentations in the Issues module (Year 3) are used to assess A7.

B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

B1 Retrieve, select and collate appropriate aquatic science, ecological, environmental and biological information
B2 Evaluate primary and secondary evidence and arguments
B3 Analyse and interpret quantitative information in graphs, figures, tables and equations and use appropriate statistical tests
B4 Integrate and link information across course components, including material met in different years, from different disciplines and covering different scales of organisation.
B5 Plan and conduct a research task (including risk assessment and ethical approval where appropriate)
B6 Present data correctly, choose and apply an appropriate statistical test and interpret the output
Learning Methods: Setting of directed learning topics (Years 1 and 2) develops skills in B1, B2 and B4.

B1 and B2 are partly covered by training in exam essay writing in Year 1, and further developed by setting coursework essays (Years 2 and 3).

B2 and B3 are taught by specific inclusion of data analysis in lectures and classes in Years 2 and 3 and through progressive development of DAI coursework in Years 2 and 3.

B1 to B3 and in some cases B4, are developed through analyses and presentation of results of practical work in Years 1 to 3.

B4 is achieved by progressive subject development through the 3 years.

B5 is taught via team project work on the Year 2 field course and the Year 3 individual research project.

B6 is taught in Year 1 Scientific and Transferable Skills for Biosciences module and developed throughout the degree via practical coursework (Years 1 and 2) and in the final year research project.
Assessment Methods: B1, B2 and B4 are assessed by coursework and exam essays (Years 1 to 3).

B2 and B3 are assessed by coursework and compulsory exam DAI questions (Years 2 and 3), practical reports (Years 1 and 2), field course reports (Years 2 and 3) and the research project report (Year 3).

B4 is assessed by integrative exam questions and coursework.

B1 to B5 are also assessed in the Year 3 individual research project.

B6 is assessed in Year 1 & 2 practicals and Year 1 LSKS module, and in the Year 3 research project.

C: Practical skills

C1 Able to carry out basic experiments and sampling programmes in the laboratory and the field, safely and effectively following a written schedule
C2 Use appropriate laboratory or field equipment safely and efficiency
C3 Able to explain the principles and limitations of a range of more advanced practical techniques
C4 Identify species using hierarchical keys and use classification schemes (e.g. biotic indices, NVC, etc.)
C5 Able to use appropriate software packages for simulations, modelling, statistical analysis, etc.
Learning Methods: Skills C1 to C3 are taught in supervised practicals in Years 1 and 2, and one week long field courses in Year 2 and 3.

Lectures in Years 1 to 3 teach aspects of C1 and C3.

Independent project work in research laboratories in Year 3 also develops C1 to C3.

As part of C1 to C3, safety and ethical issues are addressed through practical documentation (Years 1 and 2) and developed by students preparing risk assessments and ethical permissions and consents where appropriate for Year 2 field course and Year 3 research projects.

C4 is taught by using keys and classification schemes in field courses and practicals (Years 1 & 2).

C5 is addressed through IT and statistics training in Year 1, and the use of more specialised software is taught or developed in practicals and field courses and the project in Years 3.
Assessment Methods: C1 is assessed through Year 1 practicals, Year 2 field courses and the Year 3 research project.

C2 is assessed in some Years 1 practicals.

C3 is assessed in many practicals in Years 1 and 2 and in theory exams in Years 1 to 3.

C4 is assessed by keying out assignments/ID tests in years 1 and 2 practicals and the years 2 and 3 field course.

C5 is assessed in several Year 2 practicals, the Skills module and in the final year Research Project module.

D: Key skills

D1 Able to write clearly in: a) logically argued essays; b) longer reports, including basic scientific papers; c) a variety of other pieces of work for different target audiences; d) e-communications, in particular email. Plan, write and give oral presentations
D2 (i) Use of current networked PC operating systems for normal file management, (ii) Use a current common word-processing, spreadsheet, web browsing and email packages, (iii) Ability to locate and use on-line catalogues and databases
D3 (i) Use appropriate precision, scales, units, scientific notation, ratios, fractions, percentages, powers of 10, logarithms and exponentials. (ii) Use simple algebra and trigonometry. (iii) Use approximations for mental arithmetic estimation and verification.
D4 Explore, analyse and find effective solutions for problems involving moderately complex information.
D5 Work effectively as part of a team to collect data and/or to produce reports and presentations
D6 Study independently, set realistic targets, plan work and time to meet targets within deadlines. Reflect on assessed work, feedback, and progress; Plan, record and document personal development
Learning Methods:
Assessment Methods: Written skills (D1) are assessed through essays in coursework and exams (Years 0, 1 to 3) and in practical reports (Years 0, 1 and 2), in the field course module and the research project report (Year 3).

Oral presentation skills (D1) are assessed in year 2 field course and the practical module and in the Year 3 Research Project module.

IT and Maths skills (D2 and D3) are assessed through worksheets and exams in Year 1.

Thereafter, practical work, coursework and exam questions throughout the degree course assess numerical skills.

Most coursework from year 2 onwards has to be prepared by computer and submitted on-line.

Problem solving (D4) is assessed in some of the Year 2 practicals, in DAI questions in Years 2 and 3 exams and in the final year research project.

D5 is assessed through team presentations in some Year 2 practical work and skills module and in the Year 3 field course module.

D6 is assessed indirectly by examining directed learning material (Years 1 and 2), by awarding marks for evidence of additional reading and by imposing strict deadlines for coursework assignments.

D6 PDP is assessed in year 1 LSKS through the development of a cv and e-portfolio, and is developed in Year 2 Skills module.

The planning component of D6 is assessed in the Year 3 Research Project module.


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: