The course

Full-time, Part-time, Per course
Course type
Entry date



The biodiversity of the marine environment is of enormous importance to humans as a resource for food, pharmaceuticals and ecosystem services. The School's Centre for Marine Biodiversity and Biotechnology (CMBB) focuses on research using traditional and newly developing molecular methods to study these important marine resources and products. The rapid loss of biodiversity both on land and in the sea makes it especially important that good knowledge is obtained to enable the appropriate management of the lesser known marine resources.

Industrial Project Placements

Now offering project placements through an exchange scheme with the European Society of Marine Biotechnology (ESMB).

Tropical Coral Reef course

Tropical Coral Reefs: Monitoring and Management (A11CR) is an optional course available to all students on any of our PGT Marine programmes. It involves a two week field trip where students are given the opportunity to explore the marine environment whilst learning different techniques for surveying and monitoring coral reefs. See this short film from the 2016/17 course.

Course content

The programme covers a broad range of issues in four taught core courses enabling students to choose four other taught courses from a variety of options available within the School and elsewhere in the University's programme of MSc programmes.

Core (Mandatory) courses

  • Diversity of Marine Organisms
  • Marine Resources and Sustainability
  • Applied Research Design & Analysis
  • Marine Biotechnology
  • Practical Skills in Marine Biotechnology
  • Research Project (MSc only)

Please refer to the Detailed Course Guide (above) for further particulars and optional courses.

Recent publications resulting from MSc research projects (student co-authors high-lighted):

  • Kampouris, T . E., Porter, J. S., Sanderson, W. S. (2019) Callinectes sapidus Rathbun, 1896 (Brachyura: Portunidae): An assessment on its diet and foraging behaviour, Thermaikos Gulf, NW Aegean Sea, Greece: Evidence for ecological and economic impacts. Crustacean research 48:23-37.
  • Gore, M., Abels, L., Wasik, S., Saddler, L., Ormond, R., 2018. Are close-following and breaching behaviours by basking sharks at aggregation sites related to courtship? , 1-13.
  • Brash, J. M., Cook, R. L., Mackenzie, C. L. and Sanderson, W. G. (2017). The demographics and morphometries of biogenic reefs: important considerations in conservation management. 1-10.
  • Blumenröder, J., Sechet, P., Kokonnen, J. and Hartl, M. G. J. (2017). Microplastic contamination of intertidal sediments of Scapa Flow, Orkney: a first assessment. Mar Pollut Bull. 130, 293-302.
  • Miller, M.A., Bankier, C., Al-Shaeri, M.A.M., Hartl, M.G.J. (2015) Neutral Red cytotoxicity assays for assessing in vivo carbon nanotube ecotoxicity in mussels – comparing microscope and microplate methods. Mar Pollut Bull (101): 903-907.
  • Rouse, S., Jones, M.E.S., Porter, J.S., 2014. Spatial and temporal patterns of bryozoan distribution and diversity in the Scottish sea regions. Mar Ecol-Evol Persp. 35, 85-102.
  • Al-Shaeri, M., Ahmed, D., Mc Cluskey, F., Turner, G., Paterson, L., Dyrynda, E.A., Hartl, M.G.J., 2013. Potentiating toxicological interaction of single-walled carbon nanotubes with dissolved metals. Environ. Toxicol. Chem. 32, 2701-2710.
  • Jennifer Loxton, Piotr Kuklinski, James M Mair, Mary Spencer Jones, Joanne S Porter (2012) Patterns of Magnesium-Calcite Distribution in the Skeleton of Some Polar Bryozoan Species Mineralogy of Polar Bryozoan Skeletons. Lecture Notes in Earth Sciences 143:169-185
  • Hartl, M.G.J., Grigson, S., Sinet, E., 2010. Maintenance of bivalve haemocytes for the purpose of delayed DNA strand break assessment using the Comet assay. Environ. Molecul. Mutagen. 51, 64-68.
  • Harper, S. J. M., Bates, C. R., Guzman, H. M. & Mair, J. M. (2010) Acoustic mapping of fish aggregation areas to improve fisheries management in Las Perlas Archipelago, Pacific Panama In : Ocean and Coastal Management. 53, 10, p. 615-623.
  • Kennedy, E. V., Holderied, M. W., Mair, J. M., Guzman, H. M. & Simpson, S. D. 15-Nov-2010 Spatial patterns in reef-generated noise relate to habitats and communities: Evidence from a Panamanian case study In : Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology. 395, 1-2, p. 85-92. 8 p.
  • McGowan, T., Cunningham, S. L., Guzman, H., Mair, J. M., M Guevara, J. & Betts, T. (2010) Mangrove forest composition and dynamics in Las Perlas Archipelago, Pacific Panama. In : International Journal of Tropical Biology and Conservation. 58/3, p. 857-869


Below are just a few examples of the wide breadth of employment or PhD positions our recent graduates have secured:

  • Erin Attrill (2017) has secured a PhD position at Exeter university: "Developing microfluidic platforms to fight infectious diseases and bio-threats".
  • Cara Duncan (2015) has secured a position as Green Fisheries Strategist with the Orkney Fisheries Association.
  • Grant Rogers (2015) was technical consultant with Tobii Pro, Sweden and now works in the data centre with Balearic Islands Coastal Observing and Forecasting System (SOCIB)
  • Rachel Ni Dubhghaill (2015) has secured the position of Marine Officer with the Madagascar Research and Conservation Institute
  • Blazka Smiljanic (2013 has secured a position as shellfish cultivation research associate at NFC Marine Centre (UNI), Shetland
  • Shannon Cameron (2014) has secured a position as Project Scientist with Coral Cay Conservation in the Philippines.
  • Afiq Mohd Fahmi (2014) has secured a PhD at Heriot-Watt University
  • Donal McGee (2013) has secured a PhD at Sligo University
  • Milena Zaharieva (2012) worked initially as a temporary lecturer at Myerscough College and subsequently secured a position as Environmental Scientist at the Aberdeen office of Intertek.
  • Marwa Al-Ghanem (2011) has commenced a PhD in the Centre for Marine Biodiversity & Biotechnology at Heriot-Watt
  • Peter Davey (2011) initially worked for the Northern Ireland Environmental Agency's (NIEA) E.C. Bathing Directives. He subsequently worked as a benthic ecologist with Cardno Consultants in New South Wales. He has now secured a PhD studentship at University of Technology Sydney (UTS), where he will be developing molecular biomarkers for the health and survival of sea grass populations.
  • Jennifer Loxton (2010) has secured a MASTS-funded PhD at the Centre for Marine Biodiversity & Biotechnology in collaboration with the Natural History Museum in London and the British Antarctic Survey, research visits to Antarctica.
  • Jennifer has completed her PhD and is now a Marine Ecologist at the Environmental Research Institute at UHI. This is part of MERIKA, an EU collaboration into interactions between the environment & marine renewable energy devices.
  • Claire Bankier (2012) has secured a PhD studentship at Imperial College London.
  • Tuan Will (2012) is now working as a research assistant for a National University of Singapore sponsored project in Thailand to produce accurate total biomass maps of mangrove stands around Koh Yao Yai
  • Mathieu Bourgery (2010) initially worked for Cerberus Sciences in Adelaide as a Molecular diagnostics assistant.
  • Matthieu has now secured a PhD at the University of Turku, Finland working towards understanding how microRNAs regulate bone homeostasis.
  • Virginia Echavari Bravo (2010) has secured a funded PhD position at the Centre for Marine Biodiversity & Biotechnology.
  • Louise Milne (2009) initially secured a position as assistant bacteriologist with Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture (SASA) and now works as an assistant Laboratory Supervisor for Express Microbiology Ltd.
  • Lisa Eckford-Soper (2009) following the completion of a PhD at the Scottish Association of Marine Science (SAMS) in Oban, Lisa has now secured a PostDoc at the University of Copenhagen (HABFISH project).
  • Bastien Queste (2009) on graduating secured a funded PhD position at University of East Anglia (UEA) and is now a senior research associate with (UEA).
  • Holly Allan (2009) is now working as a research technician at Napier Edinburgh University's School of Engineering and the Built Environment.

You can find more examples and discuss the programme and the effect it has had on their careers with current students and alumni at our dedicated Facebook site.

Entry requirements

Masters (MSc) level entry applicants must have one of the following:

  • Minimum of 2:2 honours degree or equivalent academic qualification in a related subject area
  • For postgraduate conversion courses, non-related degrees will be considered
  • Corporate (or chartered) membership of relevant professional institutions will also be considered

PG Diploma level entry applicants must have an ordinary degree in a related subject area and relevant post qualification industry experience.

Candidates who do not meet the above entry requirements or have no formal academic qualifications will be considered individually based on their CV and possibly interview. Admission via this route will be at the discretion of the Director of Recruitment.

Recognition of Prior Learning

We are committed to providing study opportunities to applicants who have a wide range of prior experiences through Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL). For more information on RPL, please contact the Admissions Team ( ahead of application. We can only consider requests for RPL at the time of application to a course of study.

English language requirements

If English is not the applicant’s first language a minimum of IELTS 6.5 or equivalent is required with all elements passed at 6.0 or above. Please refer to English language requirements for further details.

Some applicants may be asked for alternative evidence in line with UKVI recognised English speaking countries. Applicants who have previously successfully completed courses delivered in the medium of English language may be considered and will be required to provide documentary evidence of this. Examples would be secondary school education or undergraduate degree. A minimum of at least one year of full time study (or equivalent) in the medium of English language will be required.

All evidence of English language needs to be dated within two years of the commencement of study.

We also offer a range of English language courses to help you meet the English language requirement prior to starting your master’s programme:

  • 14 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with no more than one skill at 4.5)
  • 10 weeks English (for IELTS of 5.5 with minimum of 5.0 in all skills)
  • 6 weeks English (for IELTS 5.5 with minimum of 5.5 in reading and writing and minimum of 5.0 in speaking and listening)


Tuition fees for entry
Status Full-time Part-time Per course
UK £8856 £4428 £1107
Overseas £22240 £11120 £2780


  1. Your residency 'status' is usually defined as the country where you have been ordinarily resident for the three years before the start of your course. Find out more about tuition fees.
  2. Fee per course (module). Refer to the Course Content to see how many courses comprise the full programme.
  3. Overseas includes applications from European Union countries who do not hold Pre-Settled or Settled status in the UK. Read more about the application process for EU nationals.

Scholarships and bursaries

We aim to encourage well-qualified, ambitious students to study with us and we offer a wide variety of scholarships and bursaries to achieve this. Over £6 million worth of opportunities are available in fee and stipend scholarships, and more than 400 students benefit from this support.

View our full range of postgraduate scholarships.

Additional scholarship information

Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC) Scholarships

For students interested in MSc research projects in the area of aqauculture, a limited number of fees-only scholarships are available. For more information, please contact Dr Mark Hartl on