2021/22 Full-time Undergraduate course
Bachelor of Science with Honours
Faculty of Life and Health Sciences
School of Geography and Environmental Sciences
The UCAS code for Ulster University is U20
With this degree you could become:
Graduates from this course are now working for:
Do you want to make a difference?
In this section
Are you passionate about the health of our oceans and life in our seas?
Our degree in marine science is the integrated study of the biological, physical and chemical aspects of our coasts and oceans. It covers marine biology and ecology, sea level change, marine geology, underwater archaeology, oceanography and ocean engineering, and the oceans as an economic resource and as a global climate regulator.
Oceans provide many opportunities for sustainable communities through renewable energy schemes, carbon sequestration and sustainable fishing. The Blue Economy (activities related to the ocean) is growing each year, and in 2018 was worth €566 billion while generating an estimated 3.5 million jobs across Europe.
Why do marine science with us?
This course is 3 years or 4 years if you choose to complete an optional placement year.
Sign up to register an interest in the course.
In this section
Are you passionate about the health of our oceans and life in our seas? Our degree in marine science is the integrated study of the biological, physical and chemical aspects of our coasts and oceans. It covers aspects of marine biology and ecology, through marine geology, maritime archaeology and ocean engineering, to the oceans as an economic resource and as a global climate regulator. Oceans provide many opportunities for sustainable communities through renewable energy schemes, carbon sequestration and sustainable fishing. The Blue Economy (activities related to the ocean) is growing each year, and in 2018 was worth €566 billion while generating an estimated 3.5 million jobs across Europe.
The human population, estimated at 7.6 billion in 2018, is expected to increase to 11 billion by 2100. With the majority of the world’s largest cities located in coastal zones, more than 75% of people are expected to live within 100 km of the coast by 2025. At a time of unprecedented environmental change on Earth, society is having to adapt to processes and hazards that are poorly understood.
Now, more than ever, society needs STEM graduates with an interdisciplinary understanding of the complexity and uncertainty of the marine and atmospheric systems, and with the skills and competencies to observe, measure, model and manage these systems. We achieve this in our marine science degree through the integration of theoretical, practical and field-based approaches. Our Coleraine campus is ideally located on the Causeway Coast, one of the world’s most spectacular natural laboratories.
Diploma in Professional Practice DPP
Diploma in International Academic Studies DIAS
Find out more about placement awards
Three years (four years with DPP/DIAS option).
You are on campus five days per week. The contact time average is 16 hours per week, 24 hours per week average independent study including academic assessment.
Teaching is through a range of methods such as lectures, seminars and tutorials but with an emphasis on practical and field work. Students are assessed through a combination of coursework and examinations. Each module adopts its own assessment strategy and may include one or more of the following: essays; literature reviews/critical reviews; laboratory reports; fieldwork reports; field notebooks; individual and group project reports; problem analysis; research projects/dissertations; individual and group oral and poster presentations; class tests; web-site design and examinations.
The content for each course is summarised on the relevant course page, along with an overview of the modules that make up the course.
Each course is approved by the University and meets the expectations of:
As part of your course induction, you will be provided with details of the organisation and management of the course, including attendance and assessment requirements - usually in the form of a timetable. For full-time courses, the precise timetable for each semester is not confirmed until close to the start date and may be subject to some change in the early weeks as all courses settle into their planned patterns. For part-time courses which require attendance on particular days and times, an expectation of the days and periods of attendance will be included in the letter of offer. A course handbook is also made available.
Courses comprise modules for which the notional effort involved is indicated by its credit rating. Each credit point represents 10 hours of student effort. Undergraduate courses typically contain 10- or 20-credit modules (more usually 20) and postgraduate course typically 15- or 30-credit modules.
The normal study load expectation for an undergraduate full-time course of study in the standard academic year is 120 credit points. This amounts to around 36-42 hours of expected teaching and learning per week, inclusive of attendance requirements for lectures, seminars, tutorials, practical work, fieldwork or other scheduled classes, private study, and assessment. Part-time study load is the same as full-time pro-rata, with each credit point representing 10 hours of student effort.
Postgraduate Master’s courses typically comprise 180 credits, taken in three semesters when studied full-time. A Postgraduate Certificate (PGCert) comprises 60 credits and can usually be completed on a part-time basis in one year. A 120-credit Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) can usually be completed on a part-time basis in two years.
Class contact times vary by course and type of module. Typically, for a module predominantly delivered through lectures you can expect at least 3 contact hours per week (lectures/seminars/tutorials). Laboratory classes often require a greater intensity of attendance in blocks. Some modules may combine lecture and laboratory. The precise model will depend on the course you apply for and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. Prospective students will be consulted about any significant changes.
Assessment methods vary and are defined explicitly in each module. Assessment can be a combination of examination and coursework but may also be only one of these methods. Assessment is designed to assess your achievement of the module’s stated learning outcomes. You can expect to receive timely feedback on all coursework assessment. The precise assessment will depend on the module and may be subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Coursework can take many forms, for example: essay, report, seminar paper, test, presentation, dissertation, design, artefacts, portfolio, journal, group work. The precise form and combination of assessment will depend on the course you apply for and the module. Details will be made available in advance through induction, the course handbook, the module specification and the assessment timetable. The details are subject to change from year to year for quality or enhancement reasons. You will be consulted about any significant changes.
Normally, a module will have 4 learning outcomes, and no more than 2 items of assessment. An item of assessment can comprise more than one task. The notional workload and the equivalence across types of assessment is standardised.
Calculation of the Final Award
The class of Honours awarded in Bachelor’s degrees is usually determined by calculation of an aggregate mark based on performance across the modules at Levels 5 and 6, (which correspond to the second and third year of full-time attendance).
Level 6 modules contribute 70% of the aggregate mark and Level 5 contributes 30% to the calculation of the class of the award. Classification of integrated Master’s degrees with Honours include a Level 7 component. The calculation in this case is: 50% Level 7, 30% Level 6, 20% Level 5. At least half the Level 5 modules must be studied at the University for Level 5 to be included in the calculation of the class.
All other qualifications have an overall grade determined by results in modules from the final level of study. In Master’s degrees of more than 200 credit points the final 120 points usually determine the overall grading.
The University employs over 1,000 suitably qualified and experienced academic staff - 59% have PhDs in their subject field and many have professional body recognition.
Courses are taught by staff who are Professors (25%), Readers, Senior Lecturers (18%) or Lecturers (57%).
We require most academic staff to be qualified to teach in higher education: 82% hold either Postgraduate Certificates in Higher Education Practice or higher. Most academic staff (81%) are accredited fellows of the Higher Education Academy (HEA) - the university sector professional body for teaching and learning. Many academic and technical staff hold other professional body designations related to their subject or scholarly practice.
The profiles of many academic staff can be found on the University’s departmental websites and give a detailed insight into the range of staffing and expertise. The precise staffing for a course will depend on the department(s) involved and the availability and management of staff. This is subject to change annually and is confirmed in the timetable issued at the start of the course.
Occasionally, teaching may be supplemented by suitably qualified part-time staff (usually qualified researchers) and specialist guest lecturers. In these cases, all staff are inducted, mostly through our staff development programme ‘First Steps to Teaching’. In some cases, usually for provision in one of our out-centres, Recognised University Teachers are involved, supported by the University in suitable professional development for teaching.
Figures correct for academic year 2019-2020.
The feeling of community at our Coleraine campus makes for a warm and welcoming student experience.
A laid-back campus at the heart of a global tourist attraction.
Our Campus in Coleraine boasts a variety of indoor and outdoor facilities that are open all year round to students and members of the public.
At Student Support we provide many services to help students through their time at Ulster University.
Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.
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This module is designed to introduce level 4 students of environmental science and geography to a range of practical skills related to investigative work in these areas of science. This encompasses data gathering (particularly related to mapping, questionnaires, interview techniques, and focus groups), data summary and analysis, and the use of software packages for data display and analysis (Excel and SPSS). The module also provides study and writing skills, data presentation, report writing, and the use of information resources.
This module introduces the theories, ideas and issues associated with the study of sustainability, spatial inequality and the environmental challenges facing society. It adopts a multi-scale approach, examining many of the environmental and developmental issues operating at the global, international, national, regional, local scales The module focuses on patterns of disparity, development and environmental degradation in the less developed world, in western Europe, and the island of Ireland.
This module is an introduction to general geological materials, processes and concepts. Students will learn to identify rocks, minerals and fossils, study the structure of our planet, learn to read and analyse maps, and interpret geological processes and structures in the field.
The biosphere provides an overview of the constituent parts of the living component of the planet, beginning at the level of the individual organism. Starting with an introduction to the history of life on earth and several general concepts, this material will move into the diversity of form in plant divisions and animal phyla in light of taxonomic classification, systematics and phylogeny. These concepts will be outlined with reference to specific case studies and the current state of scientific literature on the subject. These concepts will be demonstrated through a series of practical exercises which will give an appreciation of the diversity of external and internal anatomical form of a range of different organisms and their approaches to life.
The hydrosphere provides an overview of fundamental physical, chemical, hydrological and ecological concepts and processes in aquatic environments. Practical exercises in laboratory and field demonstrate and explore these concepts and processes. Accompanying lectures introduce the theoretical concepts and provide the context for practical applications.
This module introduces the study of the linked physical processes and human impacts operating in the marine and coastal/freshwater environments. It provides an overview of techniques used to investigate these systems; describes the different domains; and examines the interactions and interdependence of these processes in each of the domains.
This module is designed to allow students to gain a good understanding of weather phenomena, atmospheric circulation and our climate. In addition, impact of human activity such as pollution and climate change on the atmospheric conditions and circulations will be explored. Global events such as El Nino and the Monsoon will be discussed as case studies.
This module offers students the opportunity to study the principles and applications of terrestrial and underwater remote sensing and GIS and develop links between remote sensing and GIS. Students are expected to become familiar with theoretical foundations of these technologies and to demonstrate technical principles through a series of software-based practical exercises and projects.
This module is designed to introduce students to the interaction between coastal and marine processes and forms, and how these relate to the human use of the coastal zone and the deep sea. It examines various parameters within the coastal zone, shallow and deep water, and outlines the basic fundamentals of coastal and marine processes. Current state-of-the-art techniques used in modern coastal and marine research are described. Use is also made of the www to add supplementary material to that given in lectures.
Through a variety of teaching methods this module provides students with a range of environmental, geographical and generic employment-orientated skills and practices to help them enhance their employability potential and to integrate more effectively into the workplace. Continued development of regions and the expansion in the use of the environment and its resources requires planning and management of often complex and diverse issues and stakeholders. This module examines the relationship between society, planning and environment and explores a range of decision making approaches and the wider social implications of these. It considers the concepts and requirements of environmental impact assessment and outlines the methodology of planning an EIA.
This two-part module is compulsory and allows students to practise, in the field, a range of methods appropriate for work in many areas of Marine Science. This will take place within the context of a 4-day multidisciplinary scientific cruise on RV Celtic Voyager. The second part is a detailed preparation for the dissertation module, which is undertaken in the final year.
This module is designed to establish students' knowledge and understanding of the structure and processes operating in marine ecosystems and how these manifest in a variety of specialised and vulnerable marine ecosystems. For these specialised systems, the biological and ecological characteristics of the biota will be examined, and the important ecological processes will be studied; the ecology of especially vulnerable species will be explored in detail.
This module is optional
This module provides undergraduate students with an opportunity to gain structured and professional work experience, in a work-based learning environment, as part of their planned programme of study. This experience allows students to develop, refine and reflect on their key personal and professional skills. The placement should significantly support the development of the student's employability skills, preparation for final year and enhance their employability journey.
This module is optional
This module is a requirement of the Diploma in International Academic Studies and is mandatory for those students of Environmental Science and Geography studying in a European or International University teaching in a foreign language. It is not available to any other students. Students on this programme are required to achieve at least 50 ECTS while abroad and complete a reflective portfolio concerning their experience while at the host University.
The pass mark for the module is 40%.
The Board of Examiners may award a Pass with Commendation to a candidate who achieves an overall mark between 60% and 69% and a Pass with Distinction to a candidate who achieves an overall mark of at least 70%.
This module involves the completion of an individual research project conducted on an Environmental Science, Marine Science or Geography topic of students' own choice in conjunction with help from an academic member of staff (supervisor).
The module examines temporal and spatial signatures of environmental change with the aim of developing an understanding of landscape evolution at Quaternary to historical timescales. A range of proxy evidence (sedimentary and biological) is used to explore the links within the ice-atmosphere-ocean system in global context.
The module offers students the opportunity to study a variety of spatial and statistical techniques relevant to the GI Industry. Techniques from GIS and remote sensing are applied to the measurement and monitoring of spatial patterns and processes. A number of software programs are available, especially ArcGIS 10.*. Practical experience will be gained using Global Positioning Systems.
Through a variety of teaching methods this module provides students with a clear focus on professional career opportunities and assists them in enhancing their environmental and geographically specific employability skills. Particular emphasis is given to the translation of the specific research skills of project planning, critical literature review and methodological and analytical techniques that they employed in the dissertation project. Students will gain an understanding of the various sources of postgraduate study and professional job opportunities available to Geography and Environmental Science graduates and will provided with the opportunity to experience a full job application, interview and selection process.
This module will foster and extend students' knowledge and understanding of the principal threats to marine ecosystems, and identify the main directions of management and conservation. State-of-the-art techniques for studying marine ecosystems, focussing on multivariate analyses and systems of benthic habitat classification will be considered. The principal threats to these ecosystems from climate change, exploitation, pollution and other anthropogenic sources will be assessed and contextualised within the primary literature. The future management and prospects for marine ecosystems will be discussed.
This module is designed to introduce students to the theory of advanced coastal processes and provide practice in measuring, mapping and interpreting primary source data sets via theoretical and field guided work within a coastal setting. The theoretical component of the module will be provided by lectures, which will cover a contemporary thinking into processes and evolutionary concepts of the coastal environment. The practical part of the module will consist of a laboratory and field-based exercise.
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.
In this section
BCC preferably including STEM subject/science A-level
STEM subjects include Geology, Geography, Economics, Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Mathematics, Environmental Technology/Science, Physical Education, Single Award Science, ICT, Nutrition and Food Science, Software Systems Development, Single Award Life & Health Sciences. Applied Science Double Award also acceptable.
Provided the above subject requirements are met you can substitute a combination of alternative qualifications recognised by the University for one of the A level grades.
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.
Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.
In this section
Graduates from this course are now working for:
With this degree you could become:
Our graduates have found employment all around the world, in roles as diverse as environmental consultants, offshore geophysicists, aquaculture scientists, coastal engineers, ocean engineers, marine mammal scientists, GIS consultants, scientific officers,
mapping officers, hydrographic surveyors, university Lectures, fisheries scientists, laboratory technicians, science teachers, meteorologists, marine ecologists, marine biologists, fishery data managers, statisticians, government scientists, mathematical modellers, physical oceanographers, biological oceanographers, chemical oceanographers, marine geologists, marine archaeologists, marine conservationists, marine biotechnologists,
marine bioacousticians,mapping and charting officers, commercial divers, scientific divers, aquarium curators, marine guides, coastal zone planners, marine information specialists, science writers, shellfish biologists, coastal geomorphologists, marine law, and many others in both the private and public sectors.
Students also have the option to extend their academic studies by electing to study abroad for a year or by working in industry/business. This additional year spent away from Ulster University is taken in the third year.
Study abroad options
You will have the opportunity to study for a year at a university abroad. Options include a range of European countries, North America and partner universities in Australia and French Polynesia. On successful completion you will be awarded an additional diploma (DIAS).
The industrial placement scheme gives you the opportunity to work for 10 months within an organization developing skills and applying knowledge. On successful completion you will be awarded an additional diploma (DPP).
Diploma in Professional Practice DPP
Diploma in International Academic Studies DIAS
Find out more about placement awards
From further study at the university of Iceland to field trips on research vessels in Antarctica, working as marine biologists on the Great Barrier Reef and surveying whales a Marine Science degree can open doors to lots of exciting opportunities.
The majority of our marine science graduates are well travelled typically working in coastal and water resource management, environmental impact assessment, coastal and offshore engineering, hydrography, remote sensing, sea bed exploration and survey, government laboratories, oil and gas industries, aquaculture industries, marine conservation, fisheries, ecotourism, oceangraphic institutes, marine environmental consultancy, policy making, and regulatory authorities.
Where are they now?
Sarah Bond: Marine Mammal Scientist
I graduated in 2016 after studying in Sydney at UNSW for my study abroad year. After completing my degree in marine science at Ulster, I worked for the summer at Blue Ocean Monitoring Ltd., which gave me valuable insight to the commercial sector of marine science. In September 2016, I began my MSc Marine Mammal Science at the University of St Andrews which included a fieldtrip aboard a research vessel to Antarctica. I was extremely fortunate to be given the chance to study this competitive masters programme, which has only been possible due to the opportunities available at Ulster University.
Niall McGinty: Fisheries Scientist
I graduated in 2006 and then completed an MSc in Marine Science at the School of Ocean Sciences, Bangor University. There I worked on the role of mussel beds as a refuge for algae from limpet grazing. In 2008 I began my doctorate research at NUI Galway, exploring the variability of zooplankton populations in Irish waters. I completed my PhD research in 2011 and since then I have had the opportunity to work in some of the most amazing locations. I now work on all aspects of marine spatial ecology. This included a 12 month post-doc position in the Azores investigating tuna and whale shark interactions and I am currently employed as a MARICE Postdoc at the University of Iceland working on species distribution modelling of commercially important fish species.
Charles Ford: Sustainable Aquaculture Industry
Upon graduation in 2015, I returned to South Australia to work at Kangabbie Aquaculture Farm, where I had spent my study abroad placement year in 2013. My work there consisted primarily of trying to develop a more sustainable, and productive feeding programme in crayfish aquaculture. The research I conducted formed the basis of my bachelors degree Dissertation. Fundamentally, we were trying to reduce the reliance upon fishmeal in the production of aquaculture feed. In September 2016, I travelled to Scotland to begin a MSc in Sustainable Aquaculture at Stirling University. I intend to pursue a career in this subject area, and hopefully contribute to improving the sustainability of the ever-growing UK aquaculture industry.
Alistair Archibald: PhD Researcher
After graduating in 2014, I secured an internship at Carntogher Community Association, where I was responsible for GIS, mapping and fieldwork. After the internship ended, I was kept on as a consultant for GIS and mapping related work. In 2015 I started an EPA-funded PhD in Trinity College Dublin, investigating the causes of diatom algal blooms in the Vartry Reservoir system. The project really appeals to me, as if successful, it will bring direct benefit to the wider public and may act as a template for further studies of algal bloom problems in similar lakes in Ireland and further afield.
Ryan McKenna: Marine Assessment Support Officer
I graduated in 2012 having completed a year long international exchange program at Flinders University (South Australia). Then in 2013, I completed an internship with Ireland’s National Advanced Marine Technology Programme of the Marine Institute in Galway where I gained significant insight into the marine Information Communication Technology sector. After this I was fortunate to find myself coordinating a GIS team for the Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation in Greece as a volunteer funded by a Leonardo Di Vinci scholarship. My team and I later went on to win the €5,000 2014 Copernicus Masters Energy & Environment Challenge prize. After a short spell as an aerial surveyor for the UK Environment Agency I am now working in the research and development of environmental indicators for national and regional policy concerning offshore marine protected areas at the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC) in England. My journey is far from over.
Becky Creed: Coastal Resource Manager
I graduated in 2012 after spending my placement year as a project coordinator at the Atlantic Whale Foundation, based in Tenerife. During this placement, I was given some amazing opportunities including regular boat trips to carry out surveys on the resident and migratory cetacean populations as well as underwater video recording of Pilot Whales, a truly unforgettable experience!
I was also fortunate to be sent independently to Argentina for two months to set up a new environmental awareness project. The responsibility and opportunities that I was given during my placement boosted my confidence and ultimately helped me in achieving the final grade in my BSc. If you like to travel like me, it opens many doors to working and travelling further afield! Upon leaving Ulster, I decided to travel and spent two years living and working in Australia as well as exploring Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Fiji, New Caledonia and Vanuatu. During my first year in Australia, I worked as a Marine Biologist on the Great Barrier Reef.
I developed a keen interest in coastal and marine management returning to the UK in 2015 to complete a MSc in Coastal and Marine Resource Management at the University of Portsmouth. I received a Distinction and have become focused on pursing a career in flood risk management, starting my position at Canterbury City Council as a Coastal Process Technician.
Connor McCarron: PhD Researcher in Sediment Dynamics
In 2012 I graduated after completing a placement year at the Loughs Agency. During my final year I continued to work for the Loughs Agency as an assistant scientific officer and was offered a role as a research support technician providing technical support for MPhil and PhD students studying under the IBIS project. I recently completed a masters in Applied Marine Geoscience at Bangor University after being awarded a Petroleum Exploration Society scholarship and started a PhD in October 2014, funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC). In my PhD I am attempting to improve understanding of shelf seabed dynamics in mixed sediments, through the analysis of offshore geophysical data, flume experiments and numerical modelling.
Kieranna McCormick: Marine Biologist
In 2012 I graduated after undertaking an incredible placement during my third year with a volunteer NGO based in Tenerife which focused on cetacean research; this led to further opportunities in West Africa and Budapest. Thanks to this opportunity I was able to finally decide which of the many marine science paths to go down and subsequently enrolled on an MSc in Marine Biology with University College Cork. I am currently spending three months in north east Iceland conducting pioneering research on humpback whales for my thesis, with the potential to publish when I’m finished. I look forward to starting a PhD within the field of marine mammal sciences. The academic foundations, opportunities and connections I’ve gained from Ulster continue to help me as I progress through my career in science.
Ross McComish: Oceanographer
I graduated from Ulster in 2012 after becoming very interested in both the bathymetric mapping and hydro-dynamic forcing when undertaking modules in seafloor mapping and coastal processes. I then embarked on an MSc in Oceanography in the National Oceanography Centre (Southampton), where I am currently doing my thesis. During my time as a BSc marine science undergrad, I learned a number of transferable skills and software packages that have contributed massively while undertaking my MSc. I also undertook a placement in Tenerife with a diving company and gained certification to dive-master level. I believe that my time as an undergraduate both in university and on placement has benefited and matured me as person and given me focus for where I want to take my career.
Aaron Kirkpatrick: Marine Mammal Scientist
I graduated in 2011, after spending 12 months at Flinders University in Australia on the study-abroad scheme (DIAS). I subsequently completed an internship with; Cetacea Lab Canada in 2012, researching whales off the coast of British Columbia in Canada. In 2013, I was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to complete a Masters in Marine Mammal Science at the University of Miami in Florida. In 2015, I started a PhD in the Laboratory of Ecological and Adaptational Physiology (LEAP) at Balyor University Texas, investigating the physiological adaptations and mechanism of animals in extreme and changing environmental conditions.
Craig Dyer: Hydrographic Surveyor
I graduated in 2011 and started working straight away with Fugro EMU in Southampton. I am now a Senior Hydrographic Surveyor, responsible for the collection and consolidation of high-resolution bathymetric data. One of the many surveys we are completing is the UK Civil Hydrography Programme, helping the UKHO and MCA update nautical charts for safe navigation. The material covered in lectures and the practical experience gained from Ulster helped me gain employment in this sector.