The Marine Biological Association

Promoting marine scientific excellence and representing the marine biological community since 1884

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The MBA works locally, nationally and internationally on a diverse and innovative programme of education, communication and public engagement.

Public outreach | Working with schools | Courses, conferences and training | Resource Centre |MRes in Marine Biology

For all our latest activities and events please go to our What’s New section. For more information and to get involved in the programme please contact Jon Parr, 01752 633338

Public outreach

We run a number of public events and actively encourage members of the public to get involved either through shore visits or recording marine life they see. Education has always been at the heart of the MBA activities and included the running of a public aquarium at the Citadel Hill Laboratory in Plymouth for over 100 years until the set up, by the MBA, of the National Marine Aquarium.

The Learning Zone

Interactive information about marine life and online activities

We are proud to support marine biology graduate and MBA volunteer, Henry Evans in his bid to reach the South Pole with the International Scott Centenary Expedition. Read more about the expedition.

Seashore safaris

Girl with crab in bucket

Public safaris on the shores of south west England. The records of marine life made by members of the public at these events form part of the Sealife Survey database. This summer we have dedicated Beach Rangers at three locations to engage the public in marine life and marine science.


Blue Sound

Blue Sound is working to connect more people with the marine environment of Plymouth Sound and estuaries. Blue Sound is a partnership project made possible by the support of Natural England as part of its £25 million Access to Nature programme, funded through the Big Lottery Fund’s Changing Spaces programme. For further information, visit and join our Facebook group.

Young people outside the Laboratory

Young people returning from a Blue Sound snorkel safari

Sealife Survey

We need your records. Please send in your sightings of marine life to help keep track of the changing marine environment. We have a dedicated Web site and your records form part of the National Biodiversity Network.

National Science and Engineering Week

We have an active programme for members of the public to get involved with the British Science Association National Science and Engineering Week.


A Bioblitz is a biological survey of an area involving experts and members of the public, generally lasting 24 hours.

Check out this page for details of upcoming and previous years’ events!

Popular science publications

Our Membership publication The Marine Biologist is a magazine for MBA members and the wider marine biological community that rounds up marine science stories from all over the world. For more information, including how to subscribe, please visit the Membership web pages.

Working with schools

We have developed our school resources in close collaboration with teachers from all over the UK. All projects and resources are trialled in school and are linked to the national curriculum.

The Shore Thing

The Shore Thing works with schools and volunteer recorders to collect information on the marine life of rocky shores around Britain. All the information collected is available online and is helping to build a picture of our current status so that future changes can be measured. The Shore Thing is monitoring change to our shores either from climate change or the introduction of non native species.

People on shore

A Shore Thing survey in Scotland

National Science and Engineering Week

Children measureing fish

National Science & Engineering Week 2011 at the MBA

We offer hands-on marine science with experts as part of a programme for Primary and Secondary schools.

In 2011 we invited schoolchildren from all over the country to become ‘Marine biologists for a day’.

Over 100 school children from around the country took part in interactive workshops, investigations and experiments ranging from DNA analysis (‘Seashore CSI’) to fish dissection. A similar workshop is planned for 2012, so please contact us if you would like to be kept informed. Read the winning reports from our report writing competitions for participants in the event. Please get in touch with Jack Sewell if you would like more information.

Teacher training

We offer a number of teacher training opportunities including courses in marine life identification and running shore projects (e.g. the Shore Thing – see above). All our projects and resources are curriculum linked. Please contact us for more information

Life around the turbines (COWRIE) workshops

We have colourful, interactive workshops that introduce life around the turbines and the issues surrounding offshore wind energy. As well as being fun for children and teachers alike, these novel teaching aides always stimulate discussion and debate.

We can provide Life around the turbines in several formats, up to a full package of three workshops with trained staff suitable for a whole day of activities for up to 60 children (Years 5 and 6).

For further information contact the education team on (01752) 633336

Children at a workshop

A ‘Life Around the Turbines’ workshop.

Plankton Safari Workshops

Members of the MBA education team run ‘Plankton Safari’ workshops for schools and interested groups of children and adults outside school. Workshops take place in the MBA Resource Centre with participants catching their own plankton from Plymouth Sound. The team can also take the scientific equipment necessary for setting up a plankton laboratory in the school classroom. As well as the excitement of discovering a new world of creatures not normally visible to the naked eye, living in the seas around us, the workshops provide a fantastic way of introducing science topics such as marine food-webs, life cycles, dispersal and adaptation

Curriculum Resources

We have developed a number of curriculum resources for use by schools at all levels. We welcome feedback and suggestions for additional material.

Courses and training

The MBA runs courses and training at all levels, and events such as conferences.

For detailed information, visit the courses and training pages.

For information on recent and upcoming events please see the ‘what’s on’ section of the web site.

MBA Members

There are opportunities for members of the MBA to get involved in the Education Programme as well as discounts for related training and conferences. Members have access to the National Marine Biological Library, the JMBA and receive other MBA publications.

The Marine Life and Environmental Sciences Resource Centre

The Centre is designed for a variety of educational and training purposes in support of the local, national and international community, including charities, small and medium-sized businesses, schools and colleges, universities and learned societies.

History of science

The MBA has a proud tradition of marine science excellence. We have an extensive archive housed within the National Marine Biological Library. The collection documents the history of marine sciences in Britain and the diversity of the collection has shown itself to be of interest to researchers from many academic disciplines as well as to members of the public.


For more information on MBA history including links to the original barnacle expert, Charles Darwin (prepared under Darwin 200)

MRes Marine Biology

A one-year Masters course in Marine Biology is run jointly by the MBA and the University of Plymouth. The course started in 2003-4, has places for about 15 students, and runs from September to September. The programme aims to broaden the existing skills of marine biology graduates or alternatively, to offer graduates in other relevant disciplines the necessary training for them to apply and develop their particular skills in a marine context.

Programme highlights

  • Joint programme hosted by the University of Plymouth and the Marine Biological Association
  • Two routes: biodiversity and ecology or cellular and molecular
  • Close links with worldwide research community
  • Excellent training for further research
  • Based in one of the world’s leading cities for the study of marine biology
  • Taught by recognised experts with worldwide links to research organisations and projects
  • Provides an extensive, original and innovative research project