Students on this four-year course in marine science develop a rounded understanding of the marine system. The programme integrates the biology, chemistry, physics and geology of the marine environment from Scottish lochs to the deep sea and from polar seas to the tropics.
Besides knowledge students gain expert numerical, technical, analytical, field sampling, time management and communication skills that make them critical thinkers and highly employable.
The course is administered and awarded by the University of the Highlands and Islands and is delivered face-to-face at the Scottish Association for Marine Science (SAMS). SAMS is Scotland's premier independent marine research institution and the degree curriculum strongly reflects the research strengths of our scientists.
Our campus is right on the beach of a stunning peninsula on the iconic and diverse west coast of Scotland. Next door is a 13th century castle on one side and the European Marine Science Park with various companies on the other. It's a great place to learn about the sea, live the outdoor lifestyle and build professional connections and friendships within the marine science community.
SAMS has 150 staff and a similar number of students enroled on BSc, Master and PhD programmes.
This amazing student to staff ratio gives our students an unmatched opportunity to learn from and with a team of highly research active and globally connected researchers. It also allows students great access to the latest research equipment and provides them with many opportunities for additional experience and networking. Check out information on our bursaries...
Students generally study full-time (40 hours per week between lectures, practical work, own study time and assignments) over four years but part-time options are available.
We encourage students to spread their wings while studying with us - spending exchange semesters away and gaining valuable experience in marine science during their holidays for example. Read the blog about an exchange experience in the Netherlands 'Kilts meet Clogs'...
Founded in 1884 by Sir John Murray, the father of oceanography, SAMS is among the oldest marine science organisations in the world.
Each year, students study six 20 credit (10 ECTS) modules, usually three per semester.
Most modules are assessed through a combination of examination and continuous assessment. Continuous assessment is designed to suit the subject area and mostly includes one or several of these: lab reports, field course reports, essays, talks, poster presentations, research proposals, policy briefings etc
Named qualifications are available to students leaving after any year of successful study.
In the first year the new students develop solid foundations in the core sciences and develop the key skills they need in the laboratory, in the field, and for communicating their work. All six first year modules are mandatory.
- >Fundamentals of Marine Biology
- >Fundamentals of Marine Chemistry
- >Fundamentals of Marine Geology
- >Fundamentals of Marine Physics (Semester 2)
- >Mathematics and Statistics (Semester 2)
- >Field Course (Semester 2)
If a student chooses to leave after passing the first year, they will be awarded a Certificate of Higher Education in Fundamentals of Marine Science.
In the second year students deepen their knowlege of the core sciences and continue developing analytical skills. Students study five mandatory modules and may chose one optional subject.
- >Chemical Oceanography
- >Marine Geology
- >Statistics and Experimental Design
- >Marine Biology (Semester 2)
- >Physical Oceanography (Semester 2)
Optional modules (choose one - Semester 2)
- >Marine Resources
- >Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
If a student chooses to leave after successfully completing the second year, they will be awarded a Diploma of Higher Education in Foundations of Marine Science.
- >Literature review (either semester)
Optional modules (choose five)
- >Fisheries Ecology
- >Marine Microbial Ecology
- >Marine Pollution
- >Marine Zoology
- >Marine Biogeochemical Cycling (Semester 2)
- >Marine Biotechnology (Semester 2)
- >Marine Robotics (Semester 2)
- >Marine Conservation (Semester 2)
- >Ocean Circulation and Climate (Semester 2)
A student who chooses to leave the programme after three years of successful study will be awarded an (ungraded) BSc Marine Science.
- >Dissertation (double module - all year)
Optional modules (choose four)
- >Behaviour and Biomechanics of Marine Animals
- >Defining the Carbon Cycle
- >Marine Environmental Impact Assessment
- >Deep Sea Ecosystems (Semester 2)
- >Polar Seas (Semester 2)
- >Marine Modelling (Semester 2)
After successful completion of all four years students are awarded the qualification of BSc (Hons) Marine Science. This qualification is graded as first class, second class (upper), second class (lower) and third class.
Through the Marine Science BSc programme students gain a wide range of knowledge and skills. They also learn about the many jobs and sectors that require or benefit from a marine science education.
- >Marine conservation
- >Environmental consultancy
- >Environmental management eg in government agencies
- >Biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry
- >Marine energy (oil & gas, nuclear, renewables, biofuels)
- >Science / environment journalism
- >Marine technology
Throughout their four-years at SAMS each students has a personal academic tutor. This is a member of the teaching staff who help the student with their academic development, define their career direction and plan how to prepare for the professional future they aspire to.
Not sure which career to follow? Career exploration tools
Students must have
- >English and Maths to at least GCSE (250 points)/Intermediate2/S Grade/ National 5/
- >Scottish Higher: BBB or above (at least 2 from Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Geology, Maths) OR
- >A Level: BCC or above (at least 2 from Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Geology, Maths) OR
- >International Baccalaureate: 28 pts OR
- >Relevant Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP): BBB
You don't have these qualifications?
Students with other qualifications, especially international, should contact us to discuss the specifics.
Applicants without traditional entry qualifications are welcome if they can provide evidence of required knowledge and competence.
How to apply - for UK and EU applicants
You must apply via UCAS using the following codes
- >Marine Science BSc course code: F710
- >Institution code (UHI): H49
UCAS applications have strict deadlines, usually you must apply by mid-January if you want to start studying with us in September.
How to apply - international applicants
International applicants must apply using the UHI international application form. Please visit the international student part of this website for language and visa requirments etc. Please get in touch with us if you are a prospective international candidate - we are friendly and here to help!
The course fees for this programme vary for a) Scottish and EU (outside UK) students, b) UK students from outside Scotland, and c) international students who do not reside in the UK or EU. Please visit the University of the Highlands and Islands website for current fees - click here.
How much a student needs to live on depends on their personal needs and chosen lifestyle. Below is an idea of monthly living expenses of a typical student:
|Rent in shared accommodation or small flat||£200-£400|
|Bills for electricity, gas, water||£30-£100|
|TV and internet||£15-£30|
|Food and household items||£130-£200|
|Travel to SAMS from Oban by bus||£45|
|Other (hairdresser, gifts, dentist etc)||£40|
|TOTAL||£600-£1,050 per month
Other costs to consider
Council Tax: Students can apply for exemption from Council Tax, which is otherwise added to the cost and varies with type of property
Deposit: You are very likely to have to pay a deposit for accommodation that will be repaid if you cause no damage but you need to budget this in
Medical expenses: We have excluded these here as they vary from person to person (eg glasses, prescriptions, treatments)
Loan repayments: These too are excluded but if you need to make any you must of course include them in your personalised budget
Car: If you choose to run a car, your monthly expenditure will go up significantly (road tax, insurance, petrol, maintenance, MOT)
Clothing: Depending on personal choices and needs
Home travel: This too is excluded in the above table as these costs vary individually
Visas: International students may have to pay a fee for their visa to enter the UK
Student hostel accommodation: This currently costs IRO £500 p.c.m. including all bills and internet costs (not payable over the summer)
Various funding opportunities are available, depending on where you come from and your personal circumstances. Click here for more...
Some students have been lucky to obtain sponsorship eg from the Society for Underwater Technology.
Support for home students
Most British students are eligible to apply for a loan to cover tuition fees and may addionally qualify for a loan or bursary to contribute to paying living costs.
Scottish students and those who have resided in Scotland for at least three years should apply to the Student Award Agency Scotland as soon as they receive a conditional (or unconditional) university place.
Students from other parts of the UK (or who have resided legally in other parts of the UK for the past three years at least) should apply via UK.gov (for England), Student Finance Wales or Student Finance NI respectively.
For further information on student loans, interest rates and repayment: www.studentloanrepayment.co.uk/
Support for EU students
EU students are currently eligible to apply for a loan to cover tuition fees only from the Student Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS). For further information please see students living in the European Union. There is no substantial information available yet regarding the changes Brexit might make for EU citizens who are - or are wanting to - study in Scotland.
Support for international students
There is no centralised support agency to help international students but several countries offer bursaries to their nationals to study abroad, and there are support arrangement for specific programmes targeted at international students. Our Aquaculture, Environment and Society MSc course for example provides full studentships to international students. More information for international students...
We organise two open days per year. In March we run a day for applicants to the course and in November one for anyone curious who is thinking of applying or just generally might want to know more about SAMS.
Studying at SAMS is very different to other universities, and we strongly recommend students to visit us when deciding where to spend the next few years. Most likely you will walk in and 'know' that SAMS is either right or not right for you. Most students visiting us put SAMS to the top of their priority list after the visit.
We organise regular open days for prospective students, their families and teachers or entire school groups to see the facilties for our students, meet the staff and visit the area. Visitors also meet existing students to hear first hand what it is like to study and live in Oban and about opportunities beyond the degree to build marine science careers, like helping out in research projects or on research cruises.
Open days include
- > Talks about the structure and content of our courses
- > Presentations about student life in the area - from accommodation and social life to hobbies
- > Information on finance and student support
- > Tour of our facilities and short talks about some of our research
- > Opportunities to meet staff and students
The next applicant day
The next applicant day will be in March 2019. The date will be set closer to the time and advertised here.
The next general open day
Friday, 2 November 2018 from 13.30 to 16.30 at SAMS
You will be asked to register for the (free) open day so we can plan and cater for the number of visitors. Register here...
The main contact for applications is Mrs Polly Crooks: firstname.lastname@example.org