School of Biological and Marine Sciences

BSc (Hons) Marine Biology with Foundation Year

Do you have a passion to study marine biology, but lack the normal entry requirements for one of our honours degrees? Perhaps you've shown evidence of good academic potential, but don’t have sufficient qualifications or have been out of formal education for a while. This new four year degree route incorporates a foundation year, which has developed from our extended science course giving you the study skills and scientific underpinning to continue the remainder of the course with confidence.

Key features

  • Ranked top 15 in the UK and top 100 globally for Earth and Marine Sciences in the QS World University Rankings 2023
  • Apply through UCAS and receive funding in the same way as an honours degree course.
  • Study two core biology modules, one in each semester.
  • Study either chemistry or physics in each semester.
  • Take a core module in study and mathematical skills for life sciences to prepare you to get the most from your university studies.
  • Receive support from a personal academic tutor who's one of our marine biology subject staff.
  • Meet a wide range of marine biology staff in lectures and discussion sessions, gaining an introduction to their research and ‘hot topics’ in marine biology with our specialist issues in marine biology module.
  • Subject to achieving an average mark of 60% across 120 credits in the foundation year, you will continue your studies in one of the related degrees – marine biology, marine biology and oceanography or marine biology and coastal ecology.
  • We'll guide you to the most appropriate route to meet your interests through the tutorials and discussion sessions to decide your next step.
  • In your foundation year, you will be taught at the University by the same academic team as our normal degree courses and will gain the understanding and confidence needed for your future studies.

Course details

  • Foundation Year

  • You will be taught at the University by the same academic team as our normal degree courses and will gain the understanding and confidence needed for your future studies.

    Core modules

    • Becoming a Successful Global Scientist (FYM001)

      This module will introduce learners to some of the major global environmental challenges facing society today and how science has a role in tackling them. It will help enable learners to adapt to the Higher Education Learning Environment by the development of a more independent, reflective and self-managed approach to study, learning, scientific writing, time management and mathematical skills for the study of science.

    • Introduction to Our Natural World (FYM003)

      This module introduces students to the study of natural sciences and their fundamental importance as cornerstones of modern science. No prior knowledge is required or assumed. Emphasis is placed on building knowledge and understanding of core principles, in the context of a range of key contemporary issues. Hands-on learning experiences are included to support the development of practical skills.

    • Exploring the Drivers of Our Natural World (FYM005)

      This module builds on the core ideas introduced in its partner module in the first semester, introducing a range of additional biological and marine concepts. There will be a strong emphasis on applying scientific principles to a wide range of topics in biology.

    • Sustainable Development Project (FYM006)

      This module will introduce the learners to group work. As part of a group, they will investigate one of the global environmental challenges facing society today. Each global environmental challenge will be investigated through its impact(s) in and around SW England. The learners will be guided in their investigation and present their findings at an end of year conference. This will be followed by an individual reflection upon the group work process.

Every undergraduate taught course has a detailed programme specification document describing the course aims, the course structure, the teaching and learning methods, the learning outcomes and the rules of assessment.

The following programme specification represents the latest course structure and may be subject to change:

BSc (Hons) Marine Biology with Foundation Year programme specification_5478

The modules shown for this course are those currently being studied by our students, or are proposed new modules. Please note that programme structures and individual modules are subject to amendment from time to time as part of the University’s curriculum enrichment programme and in line with changes in the University’s policies and requirements.

Entry requirements

UCAS tariff


The foundation year is intended for higher level motivated students who wish to study marine biology, who have already achieved Level 3 qualifications but do not meet the usual entry criteria for entry to the first year of our honours degree courses in marine biology, marine biology and oceanography or marine biology and coastal ecology.A limited number of places are available and applicants will only be considered if they can provide suitable evidence of qualifications already achieved, together with strong relevant interests or experience appropriate to marine biology.’ Applications from mature students are especially welcomed; other qualifications and professional experience will be considered. An interview is normally required. 
  • For applicants with A levels at least 96 points from a minimum of two A levels including biology and a second science is normally required. BTEC Diploma (112 points) and comparable international qualifications at an appropriate level and with relevant subjects will also be considered.
  • GCSE mathematics and English language at grade C or above is normally required. 
  • All applicants are normally interviewed prior to a formal offer being made. 
  • Applications from mature students are especially welcomed; other qualifications and professional experience will be considered. Please contact us to discuss your options.
BTEC National Diploma modules
If you hold a BTEC qualification it is vital that you provide our Admissions team with details of the exact modules you have studied as part of the BTEC. Without this information we may be unable to process your application quickly and you could experience significant delays in the progress of your application to study with us. Please explicitly state the full list of modules within your qualification at the time of application.T level: Pass – C or above in Core. Science pathway accepted only and once completed.
Please contact us to enquire about your suitability for admission.
We welcome applicants with international qualifications. To view other accepted qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

Student 2023-2024 2024-2025
Home £9,250 £9,250
International £16,300 £18,100
Part time (Home) £770 £770
Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per 10 credits. Please note that fees are reviewed on an annual basis. Fees and the conditions that apply to them shown in the prospectus are correct at the time of going to print. Fees shown on the web are the most up to date but are still subject to change in exceptional circumstances. More information about fees and funding.

Additional costs

This course is delivered by the Faculty of Science and Engineering and more details of any additional costs associated with the faculty's courses are listed on the following page: Additional fieldwork and equipment costs.

Tuition fees for optional placement years

The fee for all undergraduate students completing any part of their placement year in the UK in 2023/2024 is £1,850.
The fee for all undergraduate students completing their whole placement year outside the UK in 2023/2024 is £1,385.
Learn more about placement year tuition fees

How to apply

All applications for undergraduate courses are made through UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service). 
UCAS will ask for the information contained in the box at the top of this course page including the UCAS course code and the institution code. 
To apply for this course and for more information about submitting an application including application deadline dates, please visit the UCAS website.
Support is also available to overseas students applying to the University from our International Office via our how to apply webpage or email


Plymouth: the place to be for marine biology.
We’re lucky to have an incredibly diverse range of rich coastal habitats around the Devon and Cornwall coastline.
Aerial view of Plymouth Sound

HSE Professional SCUBA diving course

Plymouth is unique in offering our students the opportunity to gain the HSE Professional SCUBA certification alongside their degree. The course is an intensive four week full-time programme designed to prepare candidates for undertaking media, scientific and archaeological diving projects. If you are looking to do any underwater work in the UK and be paid, you will require a HSE qualification. The Professional SCUBA course is the minimum requirement if you wish to work on scientific, archaeological or media diving projects. Please note that places on the course are offered subject to availability.
Diving in Plymouth Sound


Meet our school technical staff   

Our technical staff are integral to the delivery of all our programmes and bring a diverse range of expertise and skills to support students in laboratories, workshops, and the field. 
*These are the latest results from the National Student Survey. Please note that the data published on Discover Uni is updated annually in September.