What can I do with my ocean science and exploration degree?

Discover employment and further study opportunities that you could consider once you graduate with an ocean science and exploration degree,  and learn how you can stand out to graduate employers.

We encourage you to:

  • undertake career planning and research
  • build your networks, meet employers and graduates
  • gain essential work experience during your course
  • attend career fairs and events
  • continually develop your skills and knowledge
  • get involved with relevant clubs and societies
  • visit the Careers Service for advice.

Knowledge and skills

Your course will help you develop an enviable combination of specialist knowledge and techniques and transferrable skills will be welcomed by employers within and beyond the marine sector. Depending on your choice of your degree, you can expect to develop your competence and confidence in:

  • The use of specialist survey equipment, technology and survey-grade software.
  • Use of spatial technologies for addressing oceanographic, coastal and surveying problems.
  • Collecting, processing and analysing oceanographic and geomatics data obtained from different sources.
  • The safe and accurate application of established methods of measurement and analysis within oceanography, coastal processes and ocean exploration and surveying.
  • Critical evaluation and interpretation of oceanographic and coastal data.
  • Communicating information, ideas, problems and solutions to different audiences in person, in writing and using graphical presentations.
  • Project management, having designed, planned and executed an independent marine science research project.
  • Teamwork having worked on group projects throughout your degree.

Career options 

Marine science graduates have a wealth of fascinating and rewarding career options open to them in the commercial, public and not-for-profit sectors. Opportunities for marine science graduates include but are not limited to:

  • Hydrographic surveying: working on board survey vessels using state-of-the-art technology to map the seabed, harbours and waterways as well as collecting ecological and other environmental data.
  • Working in the field on marine conservation and environmental protection projects for non-governmental organisations (NGOs), charities and government agencies.
  • Helping to secure a better future for the marine environment by researching, monitoring and influencing government policy for NGOs, Think Tanks or within the government departments themselves.
  • Researching ocean and coastal processes to understand how the underlying physics, chemistry and biology of marine and coastal environments work and how they affect ecosystems.
  • Providing Environmental Consultancy services; specialist technical advice to companies and other organisations to help them minimise or eliminate their environmental impact.
  • Monitoring and modelling coastal erosion to inform coastal management and resilience strategies.

Depending on the pathway followed, potential employers include:

  • Contract ocean survey companies and consultancies
  • Oil and gas exploration companies and pipe and cable-laying firms
  • Port and harbour authorities and national charting agencies such as the Hydrographic Office.
  • Coastal protection agencies such as Defra and the Environment Agency.
  • Universities and Research institutes such as the University of Plymouth and Plymouth Marine Laboratory.
  • Government departments and agencies concerned with environmental management and protection including Defra, CEFAS, Marine Monitoring Organisations, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Natural England and the Environment Agency.
  • Local authorities for example district and county councils with coastal protection programmes.
  • Environmental, ecological and coastal engineering consultancies.
  • National meteorological services, such as the Met Office in the UK, who provide wide-ranging forecasting services to public and private organisations.

Researching your career options

A good starting point for your careers research is Prospects and taking a look at the job profiles for

The following links can be used to search for work experience, graduate jobs and to gain more of an insight into the different areas of the marine sciences.

British Oceanographic Data Centre
British Association of Remote Sensing Companies 
Chartered Institute of Water and Environmental Management
Environment Jobs
Environmental Consultancy Directory - ENDS
IMarEST - Institute of Marine Engineering, Science &Technology
Institute of Physics
Marine Careers
MBA (Marine Biological Association)
MEDIN Marine Environmental Data & Information Network
National Oceanography Centre - useful general information site and information about events
Natural Environment Research Council - lots of information and links to key websites
Royal Society of Chemistry 
Sea Grant Marine Careers - useful careers information
The Scottish Association for Marine Science 
SeaWeb - ocean research information  
SUT - Society for Underwater Technology

Each year, we hold our Broadening Career Horizons conference for second and final stage marine science students and postgraduates. This is an excellent opportunity to meet graduates from your degree programme and other speakers who are now working in the marine and environmental sectors.

Employment opportunities

Below is a snapshot of what some of University of Plymouth ocean science and exploration graduates told us they were doing 6-15 months after graduation. For some graduates, these jobs are starting points in their career and serve as stepping stones to professional posts by providing relevant workplace experience.

  • Communication Surveyor
  • Data Analyst
  • Energy Consultant
  • England Coast Path Adviser
  • Environment Officer
  • Environmental Consultant
  • Environmental Data Analyst
  • Environmental Instructor
  • Fisheries Scientist
  • Flood & Coastal Risk Management Officer
  • Geophysical Product Specialist
  • Graduate Hydrographic Surveyor
  • Graduate Oceanographer
  • Hydrographic Data Processor
  • Hydrographic Surveyor
  • Hydrographic Data Technician
  • Land Measured Building Surveyor
  • Marine Assistant
  • Marine Ecosystem Modeller
  • Marine Enforcement Officer
  • Market Researcher
  • Metocean Oceanographer
  • Natural Infrastructure Officer
  • Ocean Forecasting Specialist
  • (Graduate) Oceanographer
  • Research Assistant
  • Safety and Support Coordinator
  • Scientific Software Engineer
  • Science Teacher

Employers

Some of the employers that may be of particular interest to Ocean Science graduates may include:

  • Local Authorities, for example county, district, city and borough councils.
  • Marine and other conservation charities and other non-governmental organisations such as the Marine Biological Association and Natural England.
  • Wildlife Trusts
  • Environmental Consultancies
  • Universities and other Research Institutes
For more ideas, take a look at where our graduates told us they were working six months after graduation:

*Data is from the Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18. Graduates were surveyed 15 months after graduating. Data displayed is for 195 UK-domiciled, first degree, full-time graduates who are working, studying or looking for work.

Further study

Further study options exist in the UK and internationally. A master’s degree or other postgraduate qualification may increase opportunities in fields such as hydrographic surveying, water quality management, remote sensing, geophysics, GIS, coastal zone management, natural history museum work, journalism and publishing. Having a postgraduate qualification can open up many additional career options, particularly those involving research. Some students with excellent undergraduate academic results may go straight to a PhD.

Teaching is also an option and there is a shortage of secondary science teachers, particularly chemistry and physics, in the UK. For schools a PGCE will be required and is also an advantage for teaching in Further Education. Those interested in lecturing and research in Higher Education will need to consider working towards a PhD

The University of Plymouth offers the following postgraduate study options that could be of interest to Ocean Science graduates:

  • MSc Applied Marine Science
  • MRes Applied Marine Science
  • MSc Hydrography

You should consider the financial implications of further study as well as selecting a programme that suits your interests, learning style and future career direction. The following websites are a good starting point for exploring postgraduate options, but you may also benefit from talking to a Careers Consultant about your particular situation.

Some useful websites to help you find a suitable post-graduate programme;

Find a Masters https://www.findamasters.com/ 

Find a PhD https://www.findaphd.com/ 

Prospects https://www.prospects.ac.uk/ 

It is also worth investigating what further study options the University has to offer as you may find the perfect course for yourself in an institution you already know. There are also sometimes financial benefits of staying on such as a fee discount to Alumni, find out your funding options here.

Careers Service support

Accessing support from the Careers Service couldn’t be easier, come along to the Careers Service Helpdesk in the Student Hub or access our 24/7 online resources.

There is a wide range of support available from skills workshops to events, placements and internships advice, 1-2-1 appointments and help getting started with LinkedIn.

Our bite-sized Accelerate workshop can give your career the boost it needs. Choose from a range of topics:

  • effective career planning
  • job hunting techniques
  • finding part-time work
  • CVs and interviews
  • mastering LinkedIn
  • and more

Workshops are delivered by the Careers Service, however they are also an opportunity to learn from your peers, share experiences and ask questions. Visit myCareer to see the full range of activities and to book your place.

Connect with graduates

Build your network and job sector knowledge using LinkedIn’s alumni tool. This will allow you to see the career journeys of graduates from your programme, the qualifications they completed, the skills they developed and employers they worked for. You can then ‘connect’ with people of interest.

  • Search LinkedIn for ‘University of Plymouth’
  • click on ‘Alumni’
  • filter the results by subject, sector, company or location.

For more information about the alumni tool click on LinkedIn alumni tool guide. If you are looking for help to set up or learn how to make the most out of your LinkedIn profile, click on the LinkedIn guide for students or come to one of our workshops.

Other advice and guidance

Other advice and guidance 

Research tells us that that the three factors contributing to graduates’ success are:

  • Getting work experience whilst at University
  • Having a career plan on leaving University
  • Making focussed applications while studying.

Start early

Start thinking about the career possibilities from the outset and reflect on your new experiences as you progress – what are you enjoying? What isn’t quite what you thought? Get involved with clubs and volunteer with local conservation projects and organisations – you will meet interesting people and start to shape your ideas about where you might like your degree to take you.

Gain work experience  

While your degree might be the key to unlocking employment , work experiences and the skills you have developed and the contacts you make will help to push those doors open.  

Part-time work will bring in much-needed money while you study while enhancing your professional and transferrable skills such as teamwork, time keeping, flexibility and commercial awareness. Consider applying to become a Student Ambassador and get experience of events, public speaking and enjoy showcasing your subject to members of the public at community and university outreach events.

Placements can boost employment prospects as well as providing a unique opportunity to get involved with different conservation projects or behind the scenes in fascinating research facilities, meeting new people and building professional contacts for life. Our Placements team will support you with your search and applications for placements and Placement Preparation sessions are an integral element of your degree programme.

Volunteering is your superpower! Especially if you are planning on a career in the conservation sector. The University of Plymouth Students’ Union advertise an enormous range of voluntary opportunities on their site and host fairs and evenings to bring you into contact with organisations of interest.

Clubs and societies   

If you it fits with your existing commitments, engaging in a sport or society shows employers you how engaged you are and proactive about seeking opportunities to develop and improve upon your teamwork, communication and negotiation skills. Committee members develop leadership, diplomacy and organisational skills and will gain experience of meetings, handling funds, and society promotion.

You may choose to join a society that is specifically linked to ocean science and exploration or take the opportunity to explore the huge range of clubs, societies and sports, and take this almost unique opportunity to broaden your horizons and explore new interests.

Tutor and academic support

Your tutor and other academic staff are an excellent source of support for your career development. They will have experience and contacts across industry and academia, so do approach them for advice and insights into careers you are considering. Your tutor will ultimately be writing references for your employment or further study applications, therefore establishing a positive relationship with this person is invaluable.