• Image showing two students on the shore collecting seaweed
    100% student satisfaction
    (NSS 2020, 2021, 2022)
  • Photo showing Sam Black who won best marine science dissertation in the UK and was UHI student of the year 2016
    1st in Scotland, 3rd in UK
    for Earth and Marine Science subjects
    (Guardian Uni Guide 2022)
  • Group of students doing coastal ecology on the seashore
    Small class sizes maximise student learning
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    Access to the latest research facilities
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    We are friendly... so get in touch!

Marine Science BSc (Hons)

Study marine science at SAMS - the ocean needs YOU!

> Diverse and highly relevant modules delivered by active world class researchers

> Small class sizes, easy access to lecturers, high fieldwork and practical content

> Stunning marine location with access to diverse coastal habitats and outdoor lifestyle opportunities

> Excellent study and research facilities

> Opportunities to transfer to specialist subjects in third year: Marine Biology, Arctic Studies or Oceanography & Robotics.

Course code: F710

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 UHI 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 approximately 160 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. 

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. 

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 (Semester 1)
  • >Fundamentals of Marine Chemistry (Semester 1)
  • >Fundamentals of Marine Geology (Semester 1)
  • >Fundamentals of Marine Physics (Semester 2)
  • >Introduction to Maths and Data Science (Semester 2)
  • >Marine 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.

Mandatory modules
  • >Chemical Oceanography (Semester 1)
  • >Statistics and Experimental Design (Semester 1)
  • >Marine Geology (Semester 1)
  • >Physical Oceanography (Semester 2)
  • >Marine Biology (Semester 2)
Optional modules (choose one - Semester 2)
  • >Advanced Maths and Programming
  • >Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
  • >Marine Resources

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.

Mandatory modules
  • >Literature review (either semester)
Optional modules (choose five)
  • >Marine Pollution (Semester 1)
  • >Marine Zoology (Semester 1)
  • >Marine Microbial Ecology (Semester 1)
  • >Marine Instrumentation and Data (Semester 1)
  • >Marine Conservation (Semester 2)
  • >Marine Biogeochemical Cycling (Semester 2)
  • >Marine Robotics (Semester 2)
  • >Marine Biotechnology (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.

Mandatory modules
  • >Dissertation (double module - running over both semesters)
Optional modules (choose four)
  • >Aquaculture (Semester 1)
  • >Behaviour and Biological Clocks (Semester 1)
  • >Coastal Shelf Sea Dynamics (Semester 1)
  • >Fisheries Ecology (Semester 1)
  • >Defining the Carbon Cycle (Semester 1)
  • >Marine Environmental Impact Assessment (Semester 1)
  • >Deep Sea Ecosystems (Semester 2)
  • >Marine Modelling (Semester 2)
  • >Polar Seas (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 (70%+), second class (upper) (60-69%), second class (lower) (50-59%) and third class (40-49%).

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. 

  • >Aquaculture
  • >Fisheries 
  • >Marine conservation
  • >Environmental consultancy
  • >Environmental management eg in government agencies
  • >Eco-tourism 
  • >Education
  • >Research
  • >Biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry
  • >Marine energy (oil & gas, nuclear, renewables, biofuels)
  • >Science / environment journalism
  • >Surveying
  • >Diving
  • >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

UHI career centre

The ultimate guide to passing any interview

Read up about some of the careers previous graduates from this programme are pursuing now...

FOR SEPTEMBER 2024 intake, students must have:

  • >English and Maths to at least GCSE /Intermediate2/S Grade/ National 5


  • >Scottish Higher: ABBB or above (at least 2 from Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Geology, Geography, Maths) OR
  • >A Level: BCC or above (at least 2 from Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Geology, Geography, Maths) OR
  • >International Baccalaureate: 28 pts OR
  • >Relevant Scottish Wider Access Programme (SWAP): ABBB

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!

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)





Undergraduate Open Day

The next BSc (Hons) Marine Science Open Day will take place on Monday 28th October, 2024. Registration for this event will open Monday 2nd September. More information coming soon! In the meantime, if you have any questions about our Open Days please do not hesitate to contact our friendly education team by emailing bsc@sams.ac.uk.

Useful Links:

SAMS UHI STUDENT BLOG - read about student experiences of studying at SAMS and of student life in Oban, career opportunities in marine science, alumni stories and more.

www.sams.ac.uk/study Explore our website for study opportunities from BSc to PhD

Visit the UHI website

Want to speak to us directly?

Contact: Polly Crooks, SAMS UHI Student Services and Course Advice

Email: admissions@sams.ac.uk | Mon-Fri 9am to 5pm

Other useful links:


SAMS Ocean Leader Scholarship - BSc (Hons) Marine Science

Our oceans are the most important component of Earth’s life support system. It provides us with oxygen, stabilises the climate and provides a myriad of wonders from the edge of the sandy beach to the deepest depths of the ocean. Yet our oceans are facing numerous challenges from climate change, pollution, ocean acidification and overexploitation. SAMS is committed to securing a healthy future for our seas and oceans, where generations to come can both experience and benefit from the wonders of the ocean. Through our education programmes we are training the next generation of marine scientists. Through the Ocean Leader Scholarship programme SAMS is supporting three entrance undergraduate students who share our vision for our future oceans. Tell us what your future career aspirations are and how you think you can make a difference to the wonder that is our blue planet!

There will be 3 awards of £1,500 made to those commencing study in August/Sept 2023.

10th August 2023

Academic Year: 2023/24

Amount : £1,500 for each student

Open to all UK and International students

Must be holding an offer to study on the Marine Science degree programme (and then must accept the offer and progress to full enrolment on the programme)

Be able to provide detail on academic achievement, financial situation and future career prospects


For more enquiries or application form please contact: bsc@sams.ac.uk

Please note: Successful applicants will be expected to take part in promotional activities surrounding the scholarship – for example it is anticipated there will be a news story when awarding the first instalment of the scholarship


Studying at SAMS is different... and better!

Diverse modules

Diverse and highly relevant modules delivered by active world class researchers

Research culture

Integration into a dynamic, supportive and international research culture

Class size

Small class sizes, easy access to lecturers, high fieldwork and practical content

Student satisfaction

100% student satisfaction

Academic tutor

Personal academic tutor throughout your four year study

Our location

Stunning marine location with access to diverse coastal habitats and outdoor lifestyle opportunities

Research facilities

Excellent study and research facilities including research vessels and aquaria

Transfer option

Opportunity to transfer to Arctic Studies stream

Study at the university on the beach

Students introduce their dissertations (films produced in the science communication module)

More dissertation videos...

Are you ready to APPLY?

Take the first step towards a marine science career...

Apply now

Get in Touch

SAMS is Scotland’s largest and oldest independent marine science organisation, dedicated to delivering marine science.

SAMS, Scottish Marine Institute,
Oban, Argyll, PA37 1QA

+44 (0)1631 559000


Contact Us

It would be great to hear from you! If you got any questions, please do not hesitate to send us a message. We are looking forward to hearing from you!

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