About This Course
On this unique Marine Vertebrate Conservation course you will study marine organisms, their habitats and the food web supporting the top predators, including marine mammals, fishes, seabirds, and reptiles. This degree explores the general principles of biology, marine biology and marine science, along with the taxonomy, physiology, behaviour and ecology of marine vertebrates. You will learn about applied aspects of zoology such as fisheries, aquaculture, conservation biology and ecotourism. Throughout this degree we take full advantage of our location, placing a strong emphasis on fieldwork including sea going experience. In the third year, you will learn about shark ecology as well as marine mammal ecology, identification and survey methods, which will involve ship and/or land-based fieldwork.
Why choose Bangor University for this BSc degree course?
- Our unique location provides easy access to fieldwork around the Anglesey coastline and Snowdonia National Park.
- The Anglesey coast offers excellent opportunities to study seabirds, seals and dolphins.
- Facilities include a research ship, tropical and temperate marine aquaria, and a Zoology Museum.
- Study on an Island on the edge of the Menai Strait, a beautiful stretch of tidal water separating the Island of Anglesey, from the mainland.
- Your lecturers undertake research across the planet, from tropical coral reefs to the frozen polar seas.
Additional Course Options
This course is available with a Placement Year option where you will study for 1 additional year. The Placement Year is undertaken at the end of the second year and students are away for the whole of the academic year.
The Placement Year provides you with a fantastic opportunity to broaden your horizons and develop valuable skills and contacts through working with a self-sourced organisation relevant to your degree subject. The minimum period in placement (at one or more locations) is seven calendar months; more usually you would spend 10-12 months with a placement provider. You would normally start sometime in the period June to September of your second year and finish between June and September the following year. Placements can be UK-based or overseas and you will work with staff to plan and finalise the placement arrangements.
You will be expected to find and arrange a suitable placement to complement your degree and will be fully supported throughout by a dedicated member of staff at your academic School and the University’s Skills and Employability Services.
You will have the opportunity to fully consider this option when you have started your course at Bangor and can make an application for a transfer onto this pathway at the appropriate time. Read more about the work experience opportunities that may be available to you or, if you have any questions, please get in touch.
This course is available with an International Experience Year option where you will study or work abroad for 1 additional year. You will have ‘with International Experience’ added to your degree title on graduating.
Studying abroad is a great opportunity to see a different way of life, learn about new cultures and broaden your horizons. With international experience of this kind, you’ll really improve your career prospects. There are a wide variety of destinations and partner universities to choose from. If you plan to study in a country where English is not spoken natively, there may be language courses available for you at Bangor and in your host university to improve your language skills.
You will have the opportunity to fully consider this option at any time during your degree at Bangor and make your application. If you have any questions in the meantime, please get in touch.
Read more about the International Experience Year programme and see the studying or working abroad options on the Student Exchanges section of our website.
This course involves up to 25-35 hours per week of lectures, practicals in the laboratory and the field, private study, tutorials and project work. During the first two years, lectures and practicals are supplemented by regular small group (about 8 students) tutorials during which we develop your critical appraisal and science communication skills. In the third year, you will carry out an individually supervised dissertation on a topic of your choice. Assessment is through a combination of continuous assessment and formal exam.
What will you study on this course?
Ecology and Evolution
This module is about understanding the dynamic changes in individuals, populations, communities and ecosystems in relation to each other and the physical environment. An understanding of how organisms adapt and interact with each other and their biotic and abiotic environment is therefore crucial as well as the behavioural and genetic basis for those changes. In an applied context, understanding the effects of humans on ecosystems requires a fundamental grounding in the nature and consequences of trophic interactions between species (food webs), the role of the abiotic environment and the factors which affect stability and resilience of ecosystems. This provides the basis for the sustainable management of natural and semi-natural systems.
Fundamentals of Oceanography
This module introduces the physics and chemistry of the oceans. You will be introduced to the fundamental principles of how the ocean works as a physical system and are shown how ocean physics is intimately connected with climate. It also considers the influence of biological activity and ocean circulation on the chemistry of the oceans. Theoretical aspects are reinforced with practical work, designed to introduce analytical techniques and their application to problems of environmental relevance.
Marine Biology Practical 1
This module introduces you to three important components of Marine Biology: Field Science, Laboratory Science and Communicating Science. You will experience a breadth of active research topics and use a range of different methods regularly employed by Marine Biologists including: dissection; microscopy; experimental design; species identification; data collection; and data analysis. You will learn good laboratory and field skills throughout, and you will experience a diverse range of species and habitats.
This module presents an overview of classification, form and function of the major groups of living organisms. All major groups of living organisms will be reviewed, from viruses, bacteria, protists, algae and higher plants to invertebrate and vertebrate animals. General taxonomy, body form, physiology and life history will be studied to give an appreciation of the multiple aspects of biodiversity.
Environmental Data and Analysis
This module teaches the fundamental skills required by natural scientists to answer scientific questions with environmental data. Theory is put into practice through computer sessions, to apply a range of data analysis techniques to environmental data. In the first semester we will introduce the scientific method, how to describe samples numerically and graphically, and how to test hypotheses statistically to identify differences and relationships between variables. In the second semester, as well as additional statistical theory and practical sessions, skills are applied in a subject-specific project. In this project, students conduct a scientific investigation, including collecting and analysing data; the results of this data analysis are presented via a scientific report.
Science Skills Tutorial
This module is conducted by your personal tutor in a small group setting, during your first year. It introduces a range of skills required for a marine science degree and to encourage wider reading in marine science. It involves directed reading and practice in oral and written presentations. Regular tutorials (8 to 10 students per group) will be held throughout the year during which essay writing skills, oral presentation skills and abstracting information from the scientific literature will be discussed. The skills developed in this module are key for all other modules and for your future careers in marine science.
Marine Biology Practical II
This module is a continuation from year one. You will advance and hone your skills in methods regularly used by Marine Biologists including dissection, microscopy, species identification, data collection, and data analysis. At the end of this module, you should have furthered several core-skills needed for your studies and acquired transferable skills that can be applied across subject disciplines.
This module is designed to give you a solid grounding in ecological theory as it applies to marine ecosystems. Topics are taught by drawing on case study ecosystems taken from both temperate and tropical regions such as:
- Coral reefs
- Kelp forests
- Rocky shores, and
You will also learn about field methods for studying zonation in the marine environment using Anglesey rocky shore ecosystems as an example case study. You will undertake a computer-based practical where you get the chance to analyse data from a coral reef ecosystem to examine for evidence of predictable patterns in benthic community structure across depths and how these might relate to environmental and biological drivers – skills and knowledge that is required when studying these complex ecosystems.
Marine Physiology and Behaviour
This module will introduce you to the physiological and behavioural ecology of marine organisms. It will cover the physiology of marine algae and the comparative physiology and behavioural ecology of marine animals. You will study the physiological responses which allow marine organisms to adapt to changes in environmental; parameters and roles of behaviour in enabling animals to interact with each other and adapt to their ecological niches.
Ship-based field course
The module is designed to provide experience of multidisciplinary fieldwork at sea, onboard a survey vessel. You will typically spend one day at sea, collecting data and performing instrument calibration. You will then process this dataset in a series of laboratory and computer sessions, exploring relationships between variables.
Estuary and Shelf Sea Processes
David Attenborough has described the seasonal seas as some of the most productive on the planet. Yet these seas and the estuaries which feed them are under high levels of human pressure implying the need for predictive management tools in order that human activities do not compromise these systems. In this module you will learn about the key physical, chemical and biological processes operating in these important ecosystems, and how they are represented in computer models which can be used to simulate them as an aid to management. You will also learn how these systems have evolved over time and examine case studies of the impacts of human activities on these systems.
Principles of Conservation
We are at the cliff edge in terms of mass extinctions. Here we have a chance to understand the intricate relationships between complex species webs and the possibility to stabilize and reverse species loss. This module focuses on the key, underpinning principles of conservation. It investigates the key drivers of species decline, such as habitat loss, over-harvesting, invasive species, climate change. We also explore potential solutions to the many problems, so it's not all doom and gloom! The teaching comprises a combination of face-to-face lectures and field trips looking in depth at several of the key components species decline and possible mitigations for further loss. You will develop an in depth understanding of ecosystem degradation and its central role in providing a habitable planet for humans and all other life forms in the biosphere. By the end of the module you will never again view the environment through the same eyes.
Tides, Waves, Marine Energy
The ocean environment is subject to many drivers including periodic forcing from tides and waves. Understanding what drives these ubiquitous phenomena and how they affect currents within the marine environment provides essential background for any marine scientist. This module will explore the fundamental physics behind these phenomena, how they may be identified from real ocean data that has a combination of signals present, and how both tides and waves might be exploited a sources of renewable energy. Along the way, you will gain numerical, analytical and programming skills, as you develop intuition about physical oceanography.
This covers the essential knowledge required to understand the structure and function of the five classes of vertebrates, i.e. the Fish and the Tetrapods (Amphibian, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals). It is taught by experts in their fields and includes the origins and evolution of the main groups, along with concepts and knowledge of their reproductive and locomotion strategies. This module presents the general underpinning biology required before going on to specialise in the various vertebrate classes.
This module starts by covering the history and evolution of science which introduces you to the higher elements of the scientific method that were established in Year 1. The aim here is to help you develop independent research and critical thinking skills.
You will learn to assess the weight of evidence on a given topic in marine science, with the first example being to in considering evidence for life elsewhere in the Solar System. You then choose a specific topic on which you will carry out independent research.
Fish Biology and Ecology
This module will provide a detailed introduction to the evolution, taxonomy and diversity of teleost fishes, a summary of the variation in life cycles, population dynamics and ecology and a review of the anthropogenic threats facing this diverse and widely distributed vertebrate group.
You will look at the following topics:
- evolution and diversity
- adaptive radiation and zoogeography
- lifecycles and population dynamics
- behavioural ecology
- conservation ecology
- anthropogenic impacts
Intertidal Field Project
This module gives practical hands-on experience of conducting real-world ecological experiments. You will be introduced to the principles of developing a field survey from scratch and then work in small groups to develop your own research questions and survey based on the natural rocky shore environment of Anglesey. Each group is supported through the module by member of staff who assists through a series of workshops with the development of ideas, their implementation and then analysis and write up.
Marine Mammal Observation
This module focuses on marine mammal survey techniques. Teaching is divided into lectures, fieldwork and workshops. You will be introduced to conservation issues, data requirements and survey techniques. Fieldwork will provide you with experience of boat-based and shore-based surveys; performing observations using a systematic technique, recording these observations on standardised forms, and processing these observations for analyses. Experienced observers from the Sea Watch Foundation will help you identify species, estimate group-size, distinguish between age classes, determine behaviour, and assess sea conditions. Surveys usually take place in the north of Anglesey; a region associated with frequent sightings of bottlenose dolphin, grey seal, harbour porpoise and Rissos dolphin throughout the year. All-in-all, this module equips you with a very wide range of skills that many employers are looking for.
Marine Mammal Science
You will develop an appreciation for marine mammals and the management and conservation challenges these animals have faced. This will be achieved by teaching you about their evolution and adaptations to the marine environment, the important ecological roles that they fill as well as the significant challenges we face in studying these animals. You will learn about how their life history characteristics result in slow population growth rates and in some cases extinction, as well as topical subjects through technological advancements helping us to learn more about their ecology including tracking studies and bioacoustics. One of the key goals of the module is to develop quantitative skills as these are important for careers in this field. This will be achieved through assessments involving matrix population modelling and analysing and mapping tracking data.
Sharks and their Relatives
In this module, you will get to know more about sharks – starting with investigating their evolutionary history. You will learn about the differences between these apex predators and their relatives such as rays. Having learnt about their sophisticated sensory abilities, you will go on to find out how we use modern technology to track them. Via practical sessions, you will learn about their physiology and in lectures, you will learn about population ecology. Sharks are subject to much environmental pressure, most of it human-related. So we also cover issues surrounding these anthropogenic impacts such as by-catch, shark finding, pollution, and habitat destruction.
Marine Conservation and Exploitation
It could be said that marine conservation integrated with managed exploitation are among the most important subject areas in marine science. This module brings science to bear on these two global challenges. In this comprehensive module, you'll be introduced to issues relating to marine biodiversity, critical habitats and environmental threats, fisheries exploitation and its effects on target species and ecosystems, coastal zone management and marine protected areas, as well as aquaculture and stock enhancement.
By the end of the module, you'll have a good understanding of the need for marine conservation and sustainable development; you'll be able to evaluate threats to species, habitats and ecosystem processes; and you'll be able to critically evaluate the effectiveness of techniques and tools of protection. Regarding exploitation, you'll get to know about fishing and current trends in fisheries globally; you'll evaluate the effects of fishing on target species and at the ecosystem level; and you will get to know about the different approaches to fish stock management and conflicts between exploitation and conservation. Finally, aquaculture as an approach to marine food production is discussed, covering general principles, farming of major species groups, as well as considering environmental and sustainability issues.
Marine Ecosystems and Processes
This module gives you exciting insights into the importance of coastal and open-water systems to our planet. Our focus here is on what makes ecosystems tick and what makes them fail. You learn how crucial biodiversity is to the operations and resilience of natural ecosystems and to the benefits we get from the sea, such as natural climate regulation and food. You’ll have the opportunity to consider how animals and plants modify or interact with their environment. We examine how sea bird foraging is governed by seabed landscapes and currents and we discover how plankton in the southern ocean are linked to global climate and the carbon cycle. In a four-part practical series, you use a large dataset to explore whether coral reef bleaching moderates fish populations. You produce graphical and analytical outputs from this work to create your own scientific poster, which you eventually present in a ‘mini poster conference’.
Your dissertation is one big self-directed project. You will be using data already available. We facilitate your project through one-to-one tutorials, practical, lectures, and a lot of recorded material available online. You will have to do a lot of independent work, but you can make the project very much your own. This is an opportunity to use all your skills in a field you are interested in, and in the end hold a rounded-off document in your hands, that you could show potential employers.
- Our excellent facilities include tropical marine and temperate marine aquaria, analytical laboratories, flow and particle transport simulators and computing capabilities.
- We have unrivalled local access to the ocean and numerous intertidal habitats for undertaking experimental work, including rocky shores, sandy shores and saltmarshes. We have numerous seabirc colonies around the coast of Anglesey a well as an abundance of marine mamals including bottle nose dolphins, harbour porpoise Risso’s dolphins, grey seals and other off shore species.
Natural Sciences facilities
- Natural History Museum with an exceptionally comprehensive collection of vertebrate material, which includes a diverse collection of vertebrate and invertebrate specimens, including primates.
- Extensive marine and freshwater aquaria with a suite of temperature-controlled rooms.
- Pigeon loft for bird cognition, physiology, and biomechanics research.
- Treborth Botanic Garden, which covers an area of 18 hectares on the shores of the Menai Strait. It contains Europe's largest underground root laboratory (the rhizotron), a teaching laboratory, formal garden beds, a rock garden, an arboretum and a conservation collection.
- Rodent and reptile facilities.
- Our university farm based at Henfaes, about 7 miles from Bangor and totals 252 hectares. It provides facilities for research and teaching in lowland agriculture, forestry, hydrology, environmental science and conservation. We conduct fieldtrips and you can run your own large-scale experiment for your project.
- Alpaca, sheep and bee hives at the University farm at Henfaes.
- We are on the coast, next to the Irish Sea and the Menai Strait providing a range of habitat types for field courses and study sites for final-year projects.
- Dedicated reptile facilities including venomous snake rooms.
- Environmentally controlled spaces for project work.
- Insect rooms.
- Large modern teaching and research laboratories, and a dedicated student research hub for dissertation work.
- Imaging facilities.
- A very large range of analytical kit, so that you can learn how to analyse environmental samples both in the field and in the lab.
- Our very own geology collection – regarded as one of the best in the country.
- Computer laboratories for you to develop your skills in key areas such as digital mapping and environmental modelling.
- Wood library.
- Dedicated environmental research labs.
- One of our best facilities is the environment on our doorstep – you will get the chance to visit so many different places on our fieldtrips, which will cement your learning and understanding of topics.
- Our biological, chemical, and environmental laboratories are used for a range of teaching and learning. We have specific research-laboratories located in the Environmental Centre Wales, which include: a radio and stable isotope lab, a Category 2 pathogen lab, a darkened microscope room, sample preparation laboratories and a dedicated analytical instrument lab.
Ocean Sciences facilities
- Our excellent teaching facilities include geophysical labs and wave flumes, as well as advanced computer systems.
- We are on the coast, next to the Irish Sea and the Menai Strait within the UNESCO Geopark GeoMon. We are also next to the classic glaciated environments of Snowdonia and so the perfect place to study geosciences with a wide range of environments for field courses and study sites for final-year projects.
- We have a £3.5m ocean-going research ship as well as several smaller survey boats fully equipped with the latest ocean survey equipment.
General University Facilities
Library and Archive Services
Our four libraries provide a range of attractive study environments including collaborative work areas, meeting rooms and silent study spaces.
We have an extensive collection of books and journals and many of the journals are available online in full-text format.
We house one of the largest university-based archives not only in Wales, but also the UK. Allied to the Archives is the Special Collections of rare printed books.
There is a range of learning resources available, supported by experienced staff, to help you in your studies.
The University’s IT Services provides computing, media and reprographics facilities and services including:
- Over 1,150 computers for students, with some PC rooms open 24 hours a day
- Blackboard, a commercial Virtual Learning Environment, that makes learning materials available on-line.
General University Costs
Home (UK) students
- The cost of a full-time undergraduate course is £9,000 per year (2021/22 entry and 2022/23 entry).
- The fee for all placement, international, and sandwich years is £1,350 (2021/22 and 2022/23).
- More information on fees and finance for Home (UK) students.
International (including EU) students
There are also some common additional costs that are likely to arise for students on all courses, for example:
- If you choose to study abroad or take the International Experience Year as part of your course.
- If you attend your Graduation Ceremony, there will be a cost for gown hire (£25-£75) and cost for additional guest tickets (c.£12 each).
Course-specific additional costs
Depending on the course you are studying, there may be additional course-specific costs that you will be required to meet. These fall into three categories:
- Mandatory Costs: these are related to a particular core or compulsory module that you’ll be required to complete to achieve your qualification e.g. compulsory field trips, uniforms for students on placement, DBS Check.
- Necessarily Incurred Costs: these may not be experienced by all students, and will vary depending on the course e.g. professional body membership, travel to placements, specialist software, personal safety equipment.
- Optional Costs: these depend on your choice of modules or activity and they are shown to give you an indication of the optional costs that may arise to make sure your choice is as informed as possible. These can include graduation events for your course, optional field trips, Welcome Week trips.
Offers are tariff based, 96-128 tariff points from a Level 3 qualification* e.g.:
- A Levels. Including 2 science subjects (Biology, Physics, Maths, Chemistry, Geography, Geology, Environmental Science/Studies, Economics, Psychology). General Studies and Key Skills not accepted.
- International Baccalaureate Diploma: Pass required including H5 in at least 1 science.
- BTEC National/Extended Diploma in Applied Science**: MMM - DDM.
- City & Guilds Advanced Technical Extended Diploma (1080) in Environmental Conservation or Countryside & Environmental: MMM – DDM.
- Access to HE Science**: Pass.
- Welsh Baccalaureate is accepted.
- Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma in Applied Science**: MMM - DDM,
International Candidates: school leaving qualifications and college diplomas are accepted from countries worldwide (subject to minimum English Language requirements). More information here.
We also welcome applications from mature applicants.
*For a full list of accepted Level 3 qualifications, go to www.ucas.com.
**Similar subject areas may be considered on a case by case basis.
General University Requirements
To study for a degree, you’ll be asked for a minimum of UCAS Tariff points. For a fuller explanation of the UCAS Tariff Points, please see www.ucas.com.
We accept students with a wide range of qualifications and backgrounds and consider each application individually.
All students need to have good basic skills and the University also values IT and communication skills.
As part of the University’s policy, we consider applications from prospective disabled students on the same grounds as all other students.
We also consider applications from mature students who can demonstrate the motivation and commitment to study a university programme. Each year we enrol a significant number of mature students. For more information about studying as a mature student, see our Studying at Bangor section of the website.
EU and International Students' Entry Requirements
For detailed guidance on the entry requirements for EU and International Students, including the minimum English Language entry requirement, please visit the Entry Requirements by Country pages. International applicants can also visit the International Education Centre section of our website for further details.
Bangor University offers International Incorporated Bachelor Degrees for International students whose High School qualification is not equivalent to the UK school leaving qualification. The first year (or Year 0) is studied at Bangor University International College, an embedded College on our University campus and delivered by Oxford International Education Group.
This course is the ideal preparation for careers in research, marine resource management, conservation, environmental impact assessment, fisheries, coastal authorities, government advisory bodies, the scientific media, ecotourism and other leisure industries and pressure groups.
Opportunities at Bangor
The University’s Skills and Employability Service provides a wide range of resources to help you achieve your graduate ambitions.
The Bangor Employability Award (BEA)
The BEA is a comprehensive online course that you can work through at your own pace, taking you through all the steps you need to take to explore, prepare and apply for your dream career.
Bangor University runs a paid internship scheme within the university’s academic and service departments.
Volunteering widens your experience and improves your employability. Find out more about volunteering on the Students’ Union’s website.
A 'with Foundation Year' option is available for this course. Apply for Marine Biology (with Foundation Year).
What is a Foundation Year course?
If you don’t have the required qualifications for the degree-level course or are looking to re-enter education after time away from study, then a Foundation Year Programme might be the right choice for you.
The Foundation Year is an excellent introduction to studying this subject at university and will provide you with the knowledge, skills and confidence required to go on to study this course at degree-level.
When you have successfully completed the Foundation Year, you can progress on to the first year of this degree-level course.