School of Biological and Marine Sciences

MSci (Hons) Ocean Science

Ocean acidification, energy resources, coastal erosion and flooding are just some of the issues that make ocean science such an important component when addressing the world’s most pressing environmental, energy and construction challenges. This course allows you to tailor your study towards employment in a specific sector including oceanographic and environmental research and consultancy, marine renewable energy, marine conservation management, offshore exploration and hydrographic surveying.

In your first three years you have options across the marine science BSc’s in exploration and surveying, marine conservation, and oceanography and coastal processes. In your final year, you’ll develop expertise from your choice of three pathways: applied marine science, marine renewable energy and hydrography. Your final year provides the opportunity to undertake a project linked to one of our research groups or industrial partners working with established marine scientists in a wider context.

Entry requirements may differ during Clearing, so please contact us on 0333 241 6929 to discuss an application.


Clearing hotline 0 0333 241 6929

Clearing with Plymouth University

Call our friendly Clearing team on 0333 241 6929.

We will help you find the right course for you.

  • Clearing officially opens on results day, Thursday 17 August.
  • Clearing closes on Wednesday 20 September.

For opening times and further information, visit our Clearing page.

Key features

  • Gain a sound knowledge base across all areas of ocean science with options to develop specialist skills in marine conservation, oceanography or hydrography.
  • Specialise in subjects that most interest you including coastal dynamics, seafloor mapping, physical oceanography, meteorology, remote sensing, offshore exploration, biological oceanography, marine pollution and conservation.
  • Equip yourself for a career in hydrographic surveying by choosing the hydrography pathway in the final year - study the exploration and sustainable management of marine resources, construction and environmental support.
  • Conduct a research or consultancy-type project closely linked to one of our marine science research groups or industrial partners, providing an experience of working with established marine scientists and contributing to current work in a wider context.
  • 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 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's aimed at integrating ocean science knowledge and understanding across the different sub-disciplines.

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, 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
  • In your second year, the emphasis will be on understanding core aspects of ocean science, including topics in ocean exploration, oceanography and marine conservation, and enhancing your practical and research skills. You’ll participate in a field work module based at our Marine Station, learning how to use industry standard instrumentation and software for measuring a variety of parameters in the coastal zone and you’ll develop a proposal for your final year project. There's also opportunity to apply scientific diving skills gained alongside the degree 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.

    • 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
    • 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.

    • 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.

  • Optional placement year
  • A residential field course allows you to develop a group-based in-situ investigative study. 

    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.

  • Year 4
  • You’ll focus on topics with special relevance to your future plans including options across the specialisms offered through the related BSc Marine Science courses.  A large part of the year is spent completing a research project, carrying out an in-depth investigation under the guidance of a member of academic staff.

    Core modules
    • OS301 Ocean Science Research Project

      This module provides an opportunity to undertake a research project on an individually developed topic and experience the entire process of scholarly research: from problem formulation, through the design and execution of an investigation, analysis of results and presentation of outcomes. It will develop skills in independent working and self-awareness in relation to personal, career and academic development.

    Optional modules
    • MBIO341 Biological Oceanography

      This module provides a study of the key physical, ecological and organismal processes in the marine environment and introduces a range of biological studies in applied marine science.

    • OS302 Exploration for Energy and Minerals

      This module will provide the fundamental skills required by students in planning, preparing and executing geophysical and acoustic surveys needed to underpin exploration and measurement for port maintenance and development; for offshore exploration and the foundation studies needed to assess mineral resources and to permit marine infrastructure emplacement through an assessment from water column to the sub-seabed.

    • OS303 Ocean Dynamics

      The module provides an introduction to dynamical oceanography with emphasis on the large- and meso-scale circulation in the world ocean and shelf seas. Topics include geostrophic and wind driven currents, eddies, formation of fronts, upwelling, interactions between water masses, exchanges between shelf and deep seas. Emphasis is placed on quantitative understanding of physical processes and the analysis of field data.

    • OS304 Marine Ecosystem Conservation

      From tropical mangroves to temperate pelagic waters, marine ecosystems around the world face a variety of threats due to human activities and resource pressure. This module will examine threats to a range of marine and coastal ecosystems and explore methods for management and conservation. We will explore methods for surveying and monitoring marine ecosystems and learn about the ecological consequences of human impacts.

    • OS305 Coastal Survey

      This module provides issues relevant to a fuller understanding of variables and actions in the marine environment, including environmental legislation and ethics, data collection techniques, its analysis and assessment in compliance with the sustainable future vision. The module includes elements of fieldwork for data acquisition and archaeology.

    • OS306 Coastal Geomorphology and Estuaries

      A study of the different geomorphological archetypes of the coastal zone which builds on the student's knowledge of physical processes to describe how the geographical characteristics of these zones develop. The module explores how the characteristics of these zones influence the associated ecosystems and examines how human utilisation of this space contributes to or conflicts with the natural setting.

    • OS307 Marine Conservation Policy and Planning

      This module explores issues surrounding the maintenance of a healthy marine environment. It will develop an understanding of marine governance, including policy frameworks and agencies responsible for implementing marine conservation strategy. Topics include the range of measures and approaches for successful marine conservation and the importance of taking holistic approaches to management, including policy and planning

    • OS309 Marine Pollution and Environmental Change

      This module will consider the sources, transport, sinks and impacts of a wide range of pollutant types (including nutrients, trace elements, sediments, anthropogenic pollutants and carbon dioxide). Practical field techniques will be introduced and used to assess the environmental condition of estuarine waters. Emphasis will be placed on critical evaluating the links between human activities and marine water quality.

    • OS312 Marine Science Field Course (UK)

      This module provides an opportunity to consolidate field skills and marine science knowledge through an intensive field research course. Students will work in groups to plan and conduct fieldwork to explore a chosen marine science theme. Factors including safety, weather, and experimental design will be addressed.

    • OS313 Ocean Science and Marine Conservation Field Course

      This module provides an opportunity to consolidate field skills and marine science knowledge through an intensive field research course. Students will work in groups to plan and conduct fieldwork to explore a chosen marine science theme. Factors including safety, weather, and experimental design will be addressed.

    • OS314 Oceanography, Coastal Processes and Surveying Field Course

      This module provides an opportunity to consolidate field skills and marine science knowledge through an intensive field research course. Students will work in groups to plan and conduct fieldwork to explore a chosen marine science theme. Factors including safety, weather, and experimental design will be addressed.

    • OS315 Modelling Ocean and Climate Processes

      This module introduces students to the key concepts of oceanic and climate processes, and their practical implementation in simple and advanced models. The module covers introductory material on the theory of ocean dynamics, climate processes, and fundamental principles used in their modelling. Computational numerical methods is an important element. The focus of the module is on the construction and operation of models to predict the ocean and climate, and critical analysis of the model output.

  • Final year
  • Pathway options in the final year provide both an opportunity for you to pursue your choice of topic in greater depth and an opportunity to increase the breadth of your study through modules from the applied contemporary offerings of our Marine Science MSc programmes: Applied Marine Science, Marine Renewable Energy and Hydrography. You’ll conduct a research or consultancy-type project closely linked to one of our internationally-leading marine science research groups or industrial partners, providing an experience of working with established marine scientists.

    Core modules
    • OS501 MSci Research Project

      The student will complete a research project that demonstrates the research process from concept through hypothesis formulation, data collection, analysis, synthesis and interpretation. They will demonstrate an ability to work both independently and as part of a wider research effort. Research will be undertaken within the framework of appropriate research groups within MSE.

    Optional modules
    • MAR507 Economics of the Marine Environment

      This module will provide students with a clear overview of the problems associated with economic activity in marine environment and the potential solutions to these problems.

    • MAR515 Management of Coastal Environments

      This module introduces the process, method and framework used to manage change in coastal and marine environments. It will focus on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) with emphasis on the importance of collectively considering physical, ecological and socio-economic factors and processes. It will illustrate the range of the management processes available using field-, lecture- and seminar-based case studies.

    • MAR516 Contemporary Issues in Marine Science

      This module utilises acknowledged experts to teach students about 'hot topics' in their field of marine science. The content of this module will be dynamic and will evolve to keep up-to-date with the latest developments in marine science. Current indicative content might include climate change, sea level rise, coastal flooding, ocean acidification, coral bleaching, marine biofuels and developments in nanotechnology, for example.

    • MAR517 Coastal Erosion and Protection

      This module applies knowledge of waves and coastal processes to understand and predict coastal erosion and accretion. The hard and soft engineering methods used for coastal protection are covered, with an emphasis on how improved understanding of the natural processes (waves, currents, sediment transport) can improve coastal management decisions).

    • MAR518 Remote Sensing and GIS

      This module introduces the principles of geographical information systems and remote sensing of marine, polar and coastal environments. Field data will be acquired using GPS and radiometric instrumentation. Emphasis is placed on the critical evaluation of remote sensing data and analysis tools in varied scenarios and on developing practical computing skills.

    • MAR519 Modelling Marine Processes

      This module introduces the fundamental concepts of modelling marine processes. Emphasis will be placed on the mechanisms that drive marine environment and principles of their numerical implementation. The methods of modelling and the-state-of-the-art oceanic models are also introduced. The key element is development of practical skills in operation with numerical models and critical analysis of the model output.

    • MAR520 Hydrography

      Practical work afloat centred on a bathymetric survey and supported by lectures on key topics - electromagnetic waves & acoustic waves, measurement techniques, computational processes and reference frames, supported by practical work with survey software to develop an understanding of methods employed and practical limitations in all aspects of positioning for hydrographic surveying.

    • MAR521 Acoustic and Oceanographic Surveying

      The module provides an introduction to physical oceanography and applied sediment dynamical processes (including dredging practices) relevant to estuaries and coastal waters. The module also provides the underpinning acoustic theory to enable students to appreciate sonar survey task. A range of relevant practical data collection techniques and exercises are included within the module.

    • MAR522 Survey Project Management

      A central element of the module is the undertaking of survey planning through from survey tender, costing and project undertaking and reportage, to a review of the place of survey within wider project undertakings, ethics and the legislative framework surrounding activities.

    • MAR523 Digital Mapping

      To consider the information flow through a system for hydrographic survey system from data acquisition to the final product and the means of assurance of data quality throughout. To examine the influences of user interaction on the processing of data at the various stages.

    • MAR527 Economics, Law and Policy for Marine Renewable Energy

      This module provides an overview of key economic concepts and issues relevant to the development and exploitation of marine renewable energy (MRE). The module also provides an overview of the relevant legal regimes relevant to MRE, including property rights, climate change and energy, marine environmental protection and maritime safety and security.

    • MAR529 Marine Planning

      This module evaluates the emergence and practice of marine planning in UK waters. It will explore the techniques available for developing marine plans and demonstrate the role which may be played by geographic information systems and other tools. Through lectures, field visits and case studies, it will also develop the learner's knowledge of the marine environment as required for marine planning.

    • MAR530 Managing Marine Ecosystems

      The module will provide students with an understanding of marine ecosystems and their vulnerability to anthropogenic threats. Anticipatory and responsive management measures will be discussed, including relevant marine conservation agreements, legislation and policy.

    • MATH523 Modelling Coastal Processes

      The modelling process is described and some simple modelling techniques are introduced. The application of these to continental shelf modelling, pollution modelling, wave and tidal modelling will be done using some simple, identified simulations with the aid of available software.

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:

MSci Ocean Science Programme Specification September 2017 5175

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

120

Minimum of 2 A levels to include grade C in relevant science such as: biology, chemistry, environmental science, geography, geology, mathematics or physics.

BTEC National Diploma/QCF Extended Diploma: 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 36 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: 28 points overall to include 5 at Higher Level science (such as environmental science, geography, geology, biology, chemistry, mathematics or physics). English and mathematics must be included.

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 £9,250 To be confirmed
International £12,500 To be confirmed
Part time (Home/EU) Check with School To be confirmed
Part time (International) Check with School To be confirmed
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.



MSci (Hons) Ocean Science

Provides a wide range of topic choice - draw options across three specialist BSc course in Ocean Exploration and Surveying, Oceanography and Coastal Processes, and Ocean Science and Marine Conservation.

In the final year, you can choose from three MSc pathways that allow you to develop a specialism or pursue training for a specific employment sector.

Find out more about the MSci (Hons) Ocean Science pathways options

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.

Video produced by one of our former students, Zoe Waring.

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

MSci (Hons) Ocean Science practical work

All stages include practical components to develop essential skills and analysis techniques through fieldwork, data-handling activities and use of specialist software packages. Practical and skills-based modules at all stages and a residential in Year 3.

MSci (Hons) Ocean Science project work

Design and carry out a significant piece of independent, research-based work in Year 3 and the final year. Work alongside one of our established research groups or industry partners and contribute to ongoing projects in a wider context.
Find out more about project work

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

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