School of Biological and Marine Sciences

BSc (Hons) Ocean Exploration and Surveying

Are you looking for a career in hydrographic surveying and marine exploration industries? On this course you’ll explore offshore and environmental surveying, marine remote sensing, oceanography, underwater acoustics, digital mapping and geographical information systems. A focus on the practical application of survey technology to the marine environment gives you highly sought after skills in hydrographic surveying, mapping, measurement and visualisation of the seafloor and underlying geology.

You will develop your range of practical skills with our own fully-equipped fleet of boats. You’ll experience an overseas field course that is aimed at integrating your surveying and mapping knowledge and understanding across the different sub-disciplines to address real-world issues. You will have the option to take the industry-recognised professional diving qualification (HSE Professional SCUBA) alongside your degree.

Key features

  • Experience extensive vocational elements with an emphasis on hands-on experience using current hydrographic and surveying methods and state-of-the-art technology as used by the survey industry.
  • Benefit from strong industry links and excellent home and overseas employment prospects.
  • Develop your range of practical skills with our own fully-equipped fleet of boats, a new £4.65 million Marine Station used as a base for fieldwork afloat, industry standard oceanographic and surveying equipment, and a type-approved ship simulator.
  • Option to take the industry-recognised professional diving qualification (HSE Professional SCUBA) alongside your degree and an optional dedicated scientific diving module to provide training and qualification for diving-based research projects and employment (limited places and additional costs apply).
  • Experience an overseas field course that is aimed at integrating your surveying and mapping knowledge and understanding across the different sub-disciplines to address real-world issues.

Course details

  • Year 1
  • Your first year, shared across the Marine Science Undergraduate Scheme, introduces the full range of topics within the degree and develops your underpinning scientific knowledge and practical skills. You’ll develop your understanding of the Earth’s oceans and the key physical, chemical, and biological processes that occur in these systems. You’ll build practical skills and enhance your ability to analyse, present and interpret scientific data through field-based activities.

    Core modules
    • OS101 Introduction to Ocean Science

      This module provides an introduction to the breadth and importance of the field of ocean science and aims to develop skills in scientific enquiry and communication.

    • OS102 Physical and Chemical Processes of the Ocean

      This module provides an introduction to the main physical and chemical processes occurring in the world's oceans and a foundation in key aspects of underpinning science and mathematics.

    • OS103 Biology and Hydrography of the Ocean

      This module aims to develop an understanding of the diversity of life in the sea and how we explore marine environments. Methods of marine exploration will be studied and a general understanding of where different organisms live and how they interact in marine ecosystems will be developed.

    • OS104 Measuring the Marine Environment

      This module will introduce stage one students to the basic skills required to collect, analyse, visualise and present marine data. The module has a focus on the collection and analysis of a variety of marine data sources.

    • OS105 Mapping the Marine Environment

      This module will introduce and help students to develop skills in field survey techniques, collation of data within software and presenting results. A range of primary data will be gathered in the field, both on land & at sea and be uploaded into software for visualisation. The assessment will address techniques, analysis and reporting.

    Optional modules
    • ENGL405PP Making Waves: Representing the Sea, Then and Now

      The four-week Plymouth Plus module fosters both analytical and creative skills, through problem-based, self-reflective, collaborative and interdisciplinary learning; students devise a major group presentation. Discipline-based skills are focused on the topic of the sea; close attention to classic maritime poetry and fiction encourages basic literary critical and creative skills. The analytical concept of waves is central to the module, and broadens the topic out to foster more general critical, theory-based thinking.

    • GEES1001PP Natural Hazards

      This module examines the major short-term natural hazards that affect the contemporary Earth. The various different hazards will be covered ranging from geohazards including landslides, volcanoes, earthquakes as well as weather related hazards such as tropical cyclones, extra tropical storms. Emphasis is placed upon natural hazard processes, identification, risk potential and hazard mitigation.

    • GEES1002PP Climate Change and Energy

      This module provides a scientific evaluation of climate change and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. It introduces climate change policy, renewable energy options and societal challenges over GHG reduction measures. Students engage in literature searches and review climate change policy options.

    • GEES1003PP Sustainable Futures

      This module explores the concepts and principles of sustainable development and critically examines their application to a range of real-world contemporary issues. The module provides opportunities to enhance knowledge and understanding and develop key skills by exploring an aspect of 'sustainability in practice' through student-led research.

    • GOV1000PP One Planet? Society and Sustainability

      This module addresses some of the most pressing challenges of the 21st century from a variety of ideological and political perspectives. Through real-world case studies and critical reflection of lived experiences, we explore and debate the complex, interdependent processes underpinning sustainability and global inequality and insecurities. You develop an understanding of key drivers and public policy impacts and consider future alternative scenarios. The emphasis is on active, collaborative, learning via field trips and debates.

    • OS106PP Our Ocean Planet

      In this module students will explore important topical issues associated with our ocean planet. Students will have a creative opportunity to work in teams on a topic of their choice using a project based learning approach. They will develop a variety of communication skills in order to present their ideas in a medium of their team's choice.

    • OS107PP Space Exploration

      This module introduces the wonders of space and humankind's attempts to explore and understand them. Topics range from telescope making, using weather balloons and observing the night sky, to contemporary issues such as black holes, the space station and the possibility of life on other planets. The Immersive Vision Theatre will be used as a planetarium, and to take the students visually through space to other planets.

  • Year 2
  • Your second year introduces specialist technology used offshore, including computerised mapping and analysis software. You'll cover marine positioning topics as well as developing an understanding of the physical coastal environment. The application of acoustics to measurement underwater provides a strong scientific background to the use of sonar and related remote sensing and surveying methods. You’ll also be able to broaden your studies by taking an option module in meteorology, remote sensing or scientific diving (for suitably qualified individuals).

    Core modules
    • OS201 Global Ocean Processes

    • OS202 Monitoring the Marine Environment

      Monitoring of the marine environment provides data that underpins research, exploitation, management and policy development. Through this module, students will learn about the practicalities of reliable data collection, be introduced to the full breadth of secondary data sources from across the subject area and develop associated skills in time-series data analysis techniques and interpretation.

    • OS203 Seafloor Mapping

      This module introduces techniques for mapping the seafloor with an emphasis on the nature, propagation and application of sound underwater for sonar surveys.

    • OS206 Researching the Marine Environment

      This module will provide fundamental skills in developing research projects and planning and executing field studies with minimal supervision. Students will identify and plan an independent research project. They will be introduced to safety and practical issues before being trained in relevant techniques and instrument programming. They will participate in instrument deployment and recovery and analyse the data acquired.

    Optional modules
    • OS204 Waves, Tides and Coastal Dynamics

      This module provides an introduction to the characteristics of ocean waves and focuses on how waves and tides interact with the coast and drive the coastal processes that result in shoreline erosion and accretion.

    • OS205 Managing Human Impacts in the Marine Environment

      This module will introduce how human activities (such as fisheries, energy supply and mineral extraction) can impact the marine environment, including through pollution and biodiversity loss. The concepts of marine management and conservation will be introduced and methods of preventing and managing anthropogenic impacts will be introduced and evaluated and their role in marine conservation discussed.

    • OS207 Scientific Diving

      This module allows suitably qualified students (HSE SCUBA or equivalent) to develop industry and research-relevant skills in measurement and monitoring in the underwater environment using professional SCUBA and related techniques. These will then be applied in a multi-disciplinary context to the planning, execution, analysis and reporting of a field-based sampling activity.

    • OS208 Meteorology

      This module provides an introduction to the main physical processes occurring in the atmosphere on a range of spatial and temporal scales, with particular emphasis on meteorology relevant to the UK. Meteorological observations and/or measurements will be used to explore the occurrence of a specific meteorological phenomenon (e.g., frontal weather, cloud development, atmospheric flow, extra-tropical cyclone).

    • OS209 Marine Remote Sensing

      This module introduces the theory underlying remote sensing using introductory lectures and laboratory practicals. An opportunity to apply the theory in the remote sensing context is provided by boat and computing work. Remote sensing imagery is introduced early in the module and students work on image enhancement, analysis and interpretation in the latter part of the course, supported by theory lectures and/or workshops.

  • Final year
  • The final year modules focus on hydrographic surveying in coastal and offshore environments, including surveying for ports, construction and exploration for hydrocarbons and minerals. You’ll participate in a residential field course to utilise and further develop your practical skills and be able to broaden your studies to include an option module, for example in marine pollution, marine policy and planning or coastal processes. A significant part of the year is spent completing a research project, carrying out your own in-depth investigation, potentially involving practical work, under the guidance of a member of academic staff.

    Core modules
    • BPIE338 Ocean Science Placement

      A period of professional training (minimum 26 weeks) spent as the third year of a sandwich programme undertaking an approved placement with a suitable company. This provides an opportunity for the student to gain relevant industrial or workplace experience, to apply knowledge from the first two stages of study and to prepare for employment after graduation.

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 Ocean Exploration and Surveying Programme Specification September 2017 5173

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

104-112

A typical offer for 112 points from minimum 2 A levels to include grade C in relevant science, geography, environmental, geology, psychology, design technology, applied science and 104 points is from a minimum of 2 A levels including a grade C in a relevant science, biology, chemistry, mathematics, physics. Excluding general studies.

BTEC National Diploma/QCF Extended Diploma: DMM - DDM in a relevant science subject.

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.

Pass Access (Science), (including GCSE English and mathematics grade C or above or equivalent) with at least 33 credits at merit and/or distinction in science. If not science related Access please contact the admissions team at admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.

International Baccalaureate: 26 - 28 points overall to include 5 points in Higher Level science.

English language requirements

For a full list of all acceptable qualifications please refer to our tariff glossary.

Fees, costs and funding

New Student 2017 2018
Home/EU Check with School To be confirmed
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Full time fees shown are per annum. Part time fees shown are per a number of credits. Fees are correct at the time of publication and may be subject to change.

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 international-admissions@plymouth.ac.uk.



Marine science residential field trip to South Africa

Our new courses offers an amazing opportunity to apply your newly acquired practical skills in a research-orientated environment during a residential field week abroad.

Ocean exploration and surveying

Examine the physical characteristics of the world’s oceans and seafloor and investigate practical techniques used to explore the oceans sustainably.

Course content is directed towards the requirements of the hydrographic survey industry. Graduates enter the marine exploration community worldwide.

Find out about the Marine Science Undergraduate Scheme

Marine Station

Boasting lecture facilities overlooking the sea, a wet lab for sample examination and analysis, a seawater aquarium, and field equipment storage and changing facilities.

The Marine Station is a landmark £5 million development; a state-of-the-art teaching and research facility on the shores of Plymouth Sound.

Discover more about the Marine Station

Facilities

Our marine science facilities at Plymouth University include a fully-equipped fleet of boats, extensive state-of-the-art instrumentation and specialist software.

Our new Marine Station – home to the University’s professional diving training and base for practical work – will be opened in 2014-15.

Find out more about our marine science facilities

Paul Aldersley – BSc (Hons) Ocean Exploration graduate

The University is large, well-resourced, and a pleasant place to study. With regards to marine science, the facilities, equipment, and fleet are without comparison anywhere in the country.

Since graduating in 2016, Paul Aldersley has gone on to work as a Hydrographic Data Technician for the UK Hydrographic Office.

Learn more about Paul Aldersley

Ocean exploration and surveying field works

All years include practical components to develop essential skills and analysis techniques through fieldwork, data-handling activities and use of specialist software packages.
Find out more about practical work

Ocean exploration and surveying project work

The honours project makes up one-third of the final stage work and is a highly valued part of the course.
Find out more about project work