• Image of a happy Spanish family during SAMS UHI graduation 2015.
    white background
    SAMS is like a surrogate family
  • Picture of applicants with their families in our robotics facility with a lecturer and two students
    Come to our open days for applicants
    Talk with lecturers and current students
    Look around the campus and local area
  • Photo showing the education support team during a graduation event.
    Meet Fiona, Helen, Polly, Shona and Leah...
    our amazing student support team!

For parents and teachers

Addressing big global issues

Most people have not learnt much about the ocean and so consider marine science a 'niche' discipline. But nothing could be further from the truth! Earth is a blue planet, and life arose in the sea. More than 95% of the three-dimensional space on our planet that harbours life is in the sea - indeed the terrestrial world we inhabit is a rather recently inhabited niche. Ecologically, the oceans are the largest and most important ecosystem on our planet that produce most of the oxygen we breathe, are critical to controlling our climate and recycle most of our waste.

The oceans also contribute vital resources including seafood, oil and gas, renewable energy, and minerals. Economically, shipping and marine tourism are major global industries. In 2015, the Scottish Government valued Scotland's blue economy at £8.25 billion Gross Value Added. As such a career dedicated to the marine environment is not niche, but a worthy undertaking that deals with globally important issues.

Diverse and satisfying employment

Marine science tends to attract young people who love the natural world, have numerical abilities, are both physically and mentally active and want to make a difference. An ever growing number of jobs require or benefit from a solid understanding of the marine environment. Our 'careers' pages showcase what some of our graduates have been doing since they graduated.

As a research institute, SAMS seems to pass on a particular passion for research and we thus have a higher than average proportion of graduates who want to remain in marine research and so move into postgraduate programmes.

Why Scotland's university on the beach? 

Several universities offer programmes in marine biology, aquatic science, oceanography or occasionally even marine science. So, what speaks for your child coming to SAMS rather than any other?

Most important is the personal nature of studying at a research institute rather than a campus university. Students engage with each other and the research community from their first year. There are approximately 300 people at SAMS on a daily basis, of which 150 are staff and 150 students. 

Secondly, SAMS is among the oldest marine science organisations in the UK and has an excellent reputation for research. We investigate all aspects of the marine environment and work all over the world. There is a strong international ethos at the institute and the research excellence culture means that students are exposed to the most up-to-date information available. The research culture also encourages independent and critical thinking.

Thirdly, students studying at SAMS have unique opportunities to develop an impressive CV during their course of study. There are opportunities to help with research projects, to gain fieldwork experience including aboard research vessels, to spend time in the Arctic, and to develop a professional network. In large universities this is often simply not possible.

Finally, Oban is the perfect location to study marine science. It is a safe town with little crime. It is a place where trust is rarely abused. Here students can flourish as individuals. Living in the highlands and islands encourages an active outdoor life with amazing opportunties to getting close to nature. Here they breathe the sea both intellectually and for real! It's a great place for anyone with an adventurous streak!

Course fees

The course fees for this programme vary for a) Scottish students, b) UK students from outside Scotland, and c) international students who do not reside in the UK. Please visit the UHI website for current fees - click here.

Living expenses

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
Study supplies £20-£50
Mobile phone £15-£40
Insurance £5
Other (hairdresser, gifts, dentist etc) £40
Leisure £100-£140
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)





Application timeline

  • >About 21 months before hoping to start university (i.e. after Christmas in S5) prospective students and their families and friends start researching what to study and where
  • >March/April (18 months before starting uni): Attend open days at the various institutions to find out whether you'd like to live in a certain place and study a particular programme
  • >September (1 year before starting uni): Begin UCAS application (list up to five programmes in order of preference)
  • >Mid January: UCAS application deadline (beware Oxbridge and medicine/veterinary medicine/dentisty have October deadlines)
  • >Feb-April: Applicants receive decisions from universities via UCAS. Types of decisions: Unconditional offer; Conditional offer (place offered provided certain conditions are met / grades achieved); Unsuccessful application. Applicants who receive offers will then usually be invited to 'applicants days' to find our about the programmes they have applied for. Students who might need to apply for a visa to study in the UK can begin the visa application process once they have received an offer.
  • >Accepting / rejecting offers: If the applicant receives more than one offer, they must next decide which one to accept. They may also retain an insurance choice as a back-up - usually where conditions are easier to meet. 
  • >UCAS will then send the application to the applicants' chosen universities.
  • >From February you can apply for financial support - see www.gov.uk/student-finance for details.
  • >Once you receive your results (if conditional), you should organise accommodation for a September start.
  • >Clearing: If a student cannot meet the conditions after receiving their exam results, they should consider applying for places during the summer clearning process. You might need to make compromises on the programme and institution, but you might still be able to register for a programme that is of interest to you and that will develop your skills and expertise.
  • >Induction week is when it all starts - at SAMS induction is in early September. You will meet your new class mates, the support team and your first year lecturers. You will also find out about clubs and societies at uni and in town. And the following week you will begin your lectures - and then you are on the four-year journey of discovery!

For most students going to university also means leaving home and starting to live independently or with friends. This is a difficult time that requires some adjustments on all sides. Many young people will for the first time have to look fully after themselves, including shopping, cooking, cleaning, washing, budgeting and paying bills. By moving into student accommodation many students also will live in simpler and smaller accommodation than they did at home.

To help students settle into this life we try to offer student accommodation to all first year undergraduate students. There is accommodation for 11 available at SAMS, and a further 22 units are being developed in Oban. Please read up on what we offer on our dedicated accommodation pages. Fiona Tindall will help settle all new students. In subsequent years, however, students are expected to find private accommodation. More about accommodation...

As SAMS is a small organisation with a small number of students, staff and fellow students are more aware of any students who may be struggling than in a bigger university. Previous students have been referring to registry officer, Mrs Polly Crooks, as course 'mother' and each student will be allocated a Personal Academic Tutor.

Personal Academic Tutor (PAT)

Each UHI student is assigned a named Personal Academic Tutor (PAT) whose responsibility it is to provide the student with academic support throughout the duration of their studies.  Your child's PAT will be in contact with them at least once each semester to review their academic progress; this is in addition to an introductory meeting at the start of each academic year.

Student support

We have expert student support staff who offer support and guidance on a wide range of topics including finances, disability support, learning support and personal issues. To contact your local support officer please contact Mrs Polly Crooks (01631 559335 or E: Polly.Crooks@sams.ac.uk) for undergraduates or Mrs Fiona Tindall (01631 559427 ornE: Fiona.Tindall@sams.ac.uk) for postgraduates.

Disability matters

The university aims to create a supportive and welcoming environment for all and strives to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities. Our methods of learning, teaching and assessment are flexible and designed to suit a range of needs. By offering effective support, we aim to enable all students to participate fully in all activities while studying with us.

All students and prospective students are encouraged to disclose any specific needs as early as possible. Depending on specific circumstances, students may be eligible for financial support to meet the additional costs of studies and help with any specific items of equipment students may need. Your key contact at SAMS is Mrs Polly Crooks (E: Polly.Crooks@sams.ac.uk / 01631 559 335).

Photo showing a parent talking to two current students in lab coats while in the background others look through microscopes etc

We usually have two open days, one in spring and one in the autumn. We welcome applicants and their families and friends, as well as teachers or anyone who wants to find out about our programmes and set-up. For applicants from very far away, who might not be able to attend an open day, we hope that some of our student videos provide a bit of a feel for SAMS. We also hope to live-stream some of our open days in the future.

If you would like to visit, please contact bsc@sams.ac.uk or phone 01631 559000

Next open day date coming soon...

Where to stay when you visit?

Visiting parents have previously stayed in the following accommodation providers in the area

Tours and trips around Oban

The area provides opportunities for many exciting weekends, days or half-days out. Here is a small selection of possible tours - for more visit Great Days Out:

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