The course

Full-time, Part-time, Distance learning
Course type
Edinburgh, Orkney, Online
Entry date



This International Marine Science course offers students with a background in marine biology, geology or geography the opportunity to integrate their expertise in the wider marine science context.

The oceans do not exist in isolation but are in constant interaction with the atmosphere and underlying geology receiving energy from the sun and to a lesser extent from geothermal sources. The highly interdisciplinary field of Marine Science, the study of the oceans from the deep sea to shallow coastal seas, aims to understand the biology, chemistry, geology and physics of this dynamic system so central to all our lives.

The course has two core courses in Oceanography and GIS and offers a wide variety of options with maximum flexibility allowing students to pursue their studies either at our Orkney Campus or in Edinburgh. Furthermore the course offers an online study, through our Distance Learning option, with field work options in Malaysia and Orkney. Depending on the courses selected, Distance Learning students will be required to complete practical lab sessions in Edinburgh – students are responsible for meeting the costs of the travel and maintenance during these periods.

Flexible study options

This course can be studied full-time, part-time or via Independent Distance Learning (IDL), ideal for those in employment or with other commitments, providing flexible study options that fit around work or family.

Programme duration

MSc: 1 year (full-time), 2 years (part-time), 3-7 years (independent distance learning)

Industry links

Throughout the course, students are provided with internal expert supervision as well as opportunities to work with external partners, both in the UK and internationally. Examples of partners we have worked with in the past are:

Course content

Detailed course guide

Programme lead: Dr Mark Hartl

Distance Learning Inquiries: Dr Joanne Porter,

Semester 1: September – December, 2 mandatory course and 2 optional courses
Semester 2: January – April, 1 mandatory course and 3 optional courses
Semester 3: May – August, dissertation (MSc students only)

International Marine Science course breakdown
Semester 1 Semester 2

Mandatory courses:

  • Oceanography
  • Applied Research Skills

Mandatory course:

  • GIS for Marine and Environmental Scientists

Optional Courses:
(students can choose 2)

  • Marine Renewable Energy Technology
  • Marine Resources and Sustainability
  • Climate Change, Sustainability and Adaptation
  • Diversity of Marine Organisms
  • Marine Ecotoxicology
  • Environmental Processes
  • Introduction to Marine Planning
  • Marine Ecology and Fisheries

Optional courses:
(students can choose 3)

  • Practical Skills in Marine Biotechnology1
  • Marine Biotechnoloogy
  • Tropical Coral Reef Monitoring and Management
  • Marine Environmental Monitoring
  • Marine Resources in the Blue Economy
  • Practical Skills in Marine Surveying



1 Edinburgh Campus only due to labs and practicals.
2 Orkney Campus only where students will do field work.

Tropical Coral Reefs: Monitoring and Management

(2 week field course)

This is an optional course available to all students on any of our Postgraduate taught Marine courses. It involves a two week field trip to Malaysia where students are given the opportunity to explore the marine environment whilst learning different techniques for surveying and monitoring coral reefs.

Watch the video from the latest trip to Bidong Island in Malaysia


This course also offers students incredible opportunities during their MSc to work extensively with academics in active research groups, often leading to co-authorship on peer-reviewed publications.