Dive into our MSci Tropical Marine Biology course and enter a fascinatingly complex world of whales, coral reefs, fish, deep sea trenches, coastal lagoons, sea ice, and tropical seagrass beds.
At Essex, we believe in a truly immersive experience of research and study. This includes numerous opportunities to go on field trips as part of this course (subject to additional costs). During the field trip to Wakatobi Marine National Park in Indonesia, our students are able to participate in underwater lectures.
Tropical ecosystems provide important resources locally and globally, and coral reefs are the most diverse of marine ecosystems threatened by human activities. Our unique course is designed to deliver advanced tropical marine biology theory and to facilitate the development of a comprehensive range of practical and professional skills required by today’s employers.
The vast majority of life on earth is found under the sea; but exactly how much remains unknown, since there is so much still to be explored. At Essex, we’ll take you on a journey of discovery from the poles to the tropical reef systems of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic Oceans. We work on ecosystems from estuaries and coastal environments to oceanic systems, and on conservation and resource management.
You gain an expert knowledge of marine biology through study of essential core modules and the flexibility to specialise in the areas that interest you most, including:
- The major types of marine communities, including aquatic mammals and fish
- Direct and indirect human impact on the marine environment
- Coral reefs, seagrass beds and mangrove systems
- Marine and freshwater taxonomy and biodiversity
- Diving and snorkel-based practices
With our Integrated Masters you’ll be able to fast track your degree and complete your final year in nine months compared to a regular MSc which usually takes twelve months. The course will cover key skills in tropical marine biology and provide you with the knowledge, understanding and hands-on experience required in this exciting and important area of research.
- The biotechnological ‘treasure chest’ of marine microbes, algae and invertebrates
- Tropical oceans, seagrass beds, mangroves and coral reefs
- Coral reef resource management and conservation
When you combine your undergraduate and postgraduate study in one degree you’ll be equipped with a strong theoretical background, specialist expertise through independent research and practical insights into current applications. This combination makes graduates from our course attractive candidates for many employers.
Your independent research project allows you to develop your own interests. Previous topics have included shellfisheries and water quality, turtle ecology in Greece and coral reef conservation strategies in the Caribbean and Indonesia.
Visit our marine biology subject page for more information and content.
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The five-year version of our Integrated Masters allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the four-year Integrated Masters.
Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.
If you spend a full year abroad you’ll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won’t pay any tuition fees to your host university.
Alternatively, you can spend your third year on a placement year with an external organisation. This is usually focussed around your course, and enables you to learn about a particular sector, company or job role, apply your academic knowledge in a practical working environment, and receive inspiration for future career pathways.
If you complete a placement year you’ll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.
Our expert staff
As one of the largest schools at our University, we offer a lively, friendly and supportive environment with research-led study and high-quality teaching. You benefit from our academics’ wide range of expertise on important national and international problems using cutting-edge techniques.
Key academic staff for this course include experts in community ecology of coral reefs, tropical marine biology and conservation, coral stress physiology, aquatic community ecology, and ecological and evolutionary responses to global change.
The University of Essex has a Women’s Network to support female staff and students, and our School was awarded the Athena Swan Silver Award in October 2020, which reflects the work carried out by staff in our School to continue to improve equality, including a mentorship scheme, support for postdoctoral research staff, and financial help towards childcare costs for academics who wish to attend conferences.
Recent investment has provided modern facilities for imaging biological systems, aquatic community ecology, photosynthesis and eco-physiology. On our course you have the opportunity to:
- Work in an open and friendly school, with shared staff-student social spaces
- Conduct your research alongside academics and PhD students in shared labs
- Develop your practical skills through mapping habitats and Geographical Information Systems (GIS)
- Learn to use state-of-the-art research facilities
As the world’s environmental problems increase, the demand for qualified marine biologists continues to grow, and a Masters level qualification is often a requirement for becoming a researcher, scientist, academic journal editor and to work in some public bodies or private companies.
Our graduates go on to a range of careers. Some work with governmental and non-governmental environmental agencies, organisations, consultancies and voluntary organisations, or go on to conduct doctorate research. Many overseas students return to comparable posts in their home country.
We work with the University’s Careers Services to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Why we’re great
- Develop your marine biology research skills with our in-house Coral Reef Research Unit.
- Gain hands-on experience of coral reef conservation in the Wakatobi Marine National Park, Indonesia.
- We are ranked top 25 for overall student satisfaction for Biology in the National Student Survey 2021.
We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of compulsory and optional modules chosen from lists. The first three undergraduate years listed below are an example structure from the current academic year. Your course structure could differ from this if modules change from year-to-year. The final Masters year shows you all of the modules currently available (compulsory and optional) so you can see the breadth of what is on offer.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.
Teaching and learning disclaimer
Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.
The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.