The Marine Biological Association

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

Facebook Logo Twitter Logo RSS Logo Marine Science Events Calendar LinkedIn


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.

Aim of the programme

This programme is intended to reflect the breadth and excitement of marine biology through its close linkage with the diverse research pursuits of a range of leading scientists in one of the world’s foremost locations for marine studies.

The programme aims to broaden the existing skills of marine biology graduates, but also to offer graduates in other relevant disciplines the necessary training for them to apply and develop their particular skills in a marine context. A graduate of this programme is therefore significantly better prepared than a typical bachelors graduate for a career in academic marine research or for working independently within a company or governmental organisation.

Programme highlights

  • Joint programme hosted by the University of Plymouth and the Marine Biological Association
  • Two routes: biodiversity & ecology or cellular & molecular biology
  • Close links with worldwide research community
  • Excellent training for further research
  • You will be based in one of the world”s leading cities for the study of marine biology
  • You will be taught by recognised experts with worldwide links to research organisations and projects
  • You will experience a specifically designed, topical programme provided jointly by the University of Plymouth and the Marine Biological Association of the UK (MBA), with two pathways to suit different interests
  • You will undertake an extensive, original and innovative research project,often in collaboration with MBA Research Fellows, either in the UK or abroad

Further study, research and employment opportunities

The MRes programme can be a springboard for a career in academic research, typically through a PhD. It also offers a range of relevant experiences to enable students to progress to careers in the public and private sectors. Work opportunities exist for trained marine biologists in the UK and elsewhere with regulatory bodies and government agencies, conservation organisations and environmental consultancies, as well as in aquaculture and fisheries management.

Part of the philosophy of the programme team is to involve masters students directly with our own research groups, providing experience that will be exceptionally beneficial for anyone wanting to continue to PhD and beyond.

Entry requirements

A good degree (2:1 or above) preferably in a biological science. Other suitable degrees may be considered. For overseas students: IELTS 6.5 or equivalent.

Extended Entry requirements

For overseas students: proficiency in English to British Council standards is required:
IELTS 6.5 (including 5.5 in writing)
577 TOEFL paper based (including a minimum of 59 in writing)
90-91 TOEFL internet based (including a minimum of 25 in writing)


1 year full time (part-time study over 2 years may be possible).

Contact details

The Marine Biological Association
Dr Michael Cunliffe Mem.MBA
The Laboratory
Citadel Hill

Tel: +44 (0)1752 426328


Postgraduate Admissions
Faculty of Science and Technology
University of Plymouth
Drake Circus
Plymouth PL4 8AA
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)1752 584584

Fees and scholarships

Information about fees and scholarships

University of Plymouth graduates and alumni may be entitled to a discount on course fees

General programme structure

Core modules in period one (before Christmas), delivered by both the University and the Marine Biological Association (MBA), concentrate on providing you with general research skills, plus an introduction to the research and workings of the MBA. You can choose to follow one of two routes, each having their own suite of modules additional to the core modules. The biodiversity and ecology route includes additional training in the design of ecological experiments, the collection and analysis of ecological data, and issues and policies relating to marine conservation. The alternative molecular and cellular pathway has a specific module focusing on DNA techniques, biological imaging and electrophysiological methods. You can then choose two option modules from a relevant selection.

In periods two and three (January to September) there is one module on project planning, but the majority of the time is spent on your research project and dissertation. You will have the opportunity when carrying out your project to work directly with research staff at the MBA and Plymouth University, although it is also possible to work with other collaborating institutions within the Plymouth Marine Sciences Partnership (Plymouth Marine Laboratory, Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science, National Marine Aquarium), or abroad.

Detailed programme structure

Period 1

  • Postgraduate research skills and methods
  • Introduction to the MBA
  • Specialist route module
  • Two option modules

Periods 2 and 3

  • Project planning for MRes
  • Research project

Modules for this programme

Learning and assessment

Assessment is 100% by coursework.