Our BSc Marine Biology (including foundation year) will be suitable for you if your academic qualifications do not yet meet our entrance requirements for the three-year version of this course and you want a programme that increases your subject knowledge as well as improves your academic skills to support your academic performance.
This four-year course includes a foundation year (Year Zero), followed by a further three years of study. During your Year Zero, you study three academic subjects relevant to your chosen course as well as a compulsory academic skills module, with additional English language for non-English speakers.
After successful completion of Year Zero in our Essex Pathways Department, you progress to complete your course with our School of Life Sciences. On our BSc Marine Biology course, you dive into a fascinatingly complex world of whales, coral reefs, fish, deep sea trenches, coastal lagoons, sea ice and tropical seagrass beds. At Essex we take you on a journey of discovery from the poles to the tropical reef systems of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans. We work on ecosystems from estuaries and coastal environments to oceanic systems, and on conservation and resource management.
As one of the largest schools at our University, we offer a lively, friendly and supportive environment with research-led study and high-quality teaching at its heart. You will learn modern lab techniques, take part in specialist field-trips, and play your own part in adding to the ever-growing knowledge within marine biology.
Our expert staff
As one of the largest schools at our University, we offer a lively, friendly and supportive environment with research-led study and high quality teaching. Two-thirds of our research is rated “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014), and you learn from and work alongside our expert staff.
Our research covers a wide spectrum of biology – from the cell right through to communities and ecosystems. Key academic staff for this course include Dr Leanne Hepburn, who works on community ecology of coral reefs, Professor Dave Smith who is researching tropical marine biology and conservation, Dr Michael Steinke, who is working on biogenic trace gases in marine environments, and Dr Michelle Taylor, who studies deep-sea connectivity and recently spent time on a scientific research expedition in Antarctica.
The University of Essex has a Women's Network to support female staff and students and was awarded the Athena SWAN Institutional Bronze Award in 2016 in recognition of its continuing work to support women in STEM.
By studying within our Essex Pathways Department for your foundation year, you will have access to of the facilities that the University of Essex has to offer, as well as those provided by our department to support you:
- We provide computer labs for internet research; classrooms with access to PowerPoint facilities for student presentations; AV facilities for teaching and access to web-based learning materials
- Our new Student Services Hub will support you and provide information for all your needs as a student
- Our social space is stocked with magazines and newspaper, and provides an informal setting to meet your lecturers, tutors and friends
Recent spending by our University has allowed for major refurbishment and expansion of our School of Life Sciences facilities, including:
- Work in an open and friendly department, with shared staff-student social spaces
- Conduct your final-year research alongside academics and PhD students in shared labs
- Participate in our national and international field courses in Plymouth, Greece and Indonesia
- State-of-the-art research facilities, from brain imaging systems, to CO2 incubators, underwater video cameras, and coral reef research aquaria
- Teaching facilities including new undergraduate laboratories
As the world’s environmental problems increase, the demand for qualified marine biologists and ecologists continues to grow.
Following your degree in Marine Biology you can opt for further study, or pursue careers as varied as conservation, writing and editing for scientific publications, research or consultancy for coastal-based organisations.
Our students have taken up a wide range of careers in research laboratories, consultancies, business and industry, conservation practice and environmental assessment. Others have gone on to work in sales, publishing and management, while others still have chosen to enhance their career opportunities by studying for MSc or PhD degrees.
Recent graduates have gone on to work for the following high-profile organisations:
- New Earth Solutions
- Engine Group
- Cromwell Council
- Postgraduate Marine and Environmental Biology
We also work with our University's Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
UK entry requirements
UK and EU applicants:
All applications for degree courses with a foundation year (Year Zero) will be considered individually, whether you
- think you might not have the grades to enter the first year of a degree course;
- have non-traditional qualifications or experience (e.g. you haven’t studied A-levels or a BTEC);
- are returning to university after some time away from education; or
- are looking for more support during the transition into university study.
Our standard offer is 72 UCAS tariff points from at least two full A-levels, or equivalent.
Examples of the above tariff may include:
- A-levels: DDD
- BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma: MMP (in a science subject)
For this course we require evidence of previous level 3 (i.e. A-level, BTEC, etc.) scientific study. Science subjects include Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Psychology, Geography, Sports Science and Applied Science.
All applicants must also hold GCSE Maths and Science at grade C/4 or above (or equivalent). We may be able to consider a pass in Level 2 Functional Skills Maths where you cannot meet the requirements for Maths at GCSE level. However, you are advised to try to retake GCSE Mathematics if possible as this will better prepare you for university study and future employment.
If you are unsure whether you meet the entry criteria, please get in touch for advice.
Mature applicants and non-traditional academic backgrounds:
We welcome applications from mature students (over 21) and students with non-traditional academic backgrounds (might not have gone on from school to take level 3 qualifications). We will consider your educational and employment history, along with your personal statement and reference, to gain a rounded view of your suitability for the course.
We might not need evidence of level 3 scientific study where you have relevant work experience in a scientific field, or where you can otherwise evidence the ability to study at a higher level.
You will still need to meet our GCSE requirements.
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.
International & EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.