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UCC Postgraduate courses

Biology - Marine Biology

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Course Fact File
Duration1 Year Full-time
Teaching ModeFull-time
NFQ LevelLevel 9
FeesSee Fees and Costs for full details.
Closing DateClosed for applications for 2024 intake
Non-EU Closing DateClosed for applications for 2024 intake
Start Date9 September 2024

Course Outline

Our MSc Marine Biology programme aims to train graduates in multiple areas of marine biology and includes the acquisition of necessary field skills in sea survival, powerboat handling and marine radio.

This popular course includes modules in fisheries and aquaculture, genetics, marine ecology and conservation, marine mammals, and ecological aspects of Geographical Information Systems (GIS). In addition, the course has a significant fieldwork component including ship work as well as survey and sampling techniques training.

This masters’ course, run entirely by the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences (BEES) at University College Cork, provides students with a keen understanding of these various disciplines and the skills necessary to meet the growing demand for trained marine biologists both in Ireland and abroad.

On successful completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • Describe key marine flora and fauna, the marine environment and its biological and physical properties and processes;
  • assess the sustainability of exploitation (fisheries and aquaculture) and assess the impact of other anthropogenic factors on the marine environment;
  • define the roles of management and conservation across the marine environment;
  • demonstrate a wide range of research skills (field and laboratory) including safety-related and professional qualifications;
  • apply the knowledge and skills acquired in this course in the working environment enabling the development of policy.

The MSc in Marine Biology is a full-time multidisciplinary degree running for 12 months from the date of first registration for the programme. 

Programme Requirements

This programme consists of two parts:

Part I consists of eight taught modules to the value of 60 credits involving lectures, practical work, seminars and fieldwork.

Part II comprises a substantial Research Dissertation (BL6017) to the value of 30 credits for those meeting progression requirements of Part I of the programme.

In total students take 90 credits as follows:

Part I 

  • BL6012  Marine Megafauna (10 credits)
  • BL6013  Marine Fisheries and Aquaculture (10 credits)
  • BL6014  Marine Fieldwork and Survey Techniques (10 credits)
  • BL6015  Practical Marine Workplace Skills (5 credits)
  • BL6016  Marine Ecology and Conservation (10 credits)
  • BL6019  Ecological Applications of Geographical Information Systems (5 credits)
  • BL6020  Genetics and the Marine Environment (5 credits)
  • BL6026  Introductory Quantitative Skills for Biologists using R programming (5 credits)

Part II

  • BL6017  Dissertation in Marine Biology Research Project (30 credits)

Academic Programme Catalogue

See the Academic Programme Catalogue where you can search for the complete and up-to-date content for this course. Note that the modules for all courses are subject to change from year to year. For complete descriptions of individual modules, see the Book of Modules.

Course Practicalities

This full-time 12-month course is split into two parts. Part I comprises taught modules which are taught from September to April followed by a four-month research project for students passing Part I.

The course includes ship-time experience aboard the Irish State research vessel, RV Celtic Voyager, and fieldwork day trips to various locations in County Cork as well as a week-long residential field course in the West of Scotland in March. In addition, students undertake professional certificate courses in January at the National Maritime College of Ireland in Ringaskiddy, Cork, and the Kinsale Outdoor Education Centre.

The taught modules in the course are assessed by a combination of written examinations and continuous assessment elements (including essays, practical reports, critiques, seminars, dossiers, and analytical elements). The four-month research project is assessed by a dissertation, project seminar, and an assessment of your practical ability throughout the duration of the project.

Why Choose This Course

Students graduating from this course are equipped with both academic and practical skills in a range of subjects relevant to employers’ requirements both here in Ireland and the wider world. In particular, the compulsory professional certificate courses in Sea Survival, Powerboat Handling, and Marine Radio are a significant addition to any marine biology graduate’s CV, making you immediately employable with no delay in having to do these courses at significant additional expense elsewhere. 

The core teaching team on this course is from the School of BEES and includes researchers with expertise in marine mammal biology, fisheries and aquaculture, intertidal and subtidal ecology, seabird ecology, marine conservation, shellfish disease, and immunology. The core team is supported by occasional visiting and guest lecturers.

Connected Curriculum

Our learning approach reflects our commitment to the Connected Curriculum where we emphasise the connection between students, learning, research and leadership through our vision for a Connected University. Our staff are at the forefront of this integrative approach to learning and will support you in making meaningful connections within and between disciplines such as biology, ecology, and marine conservation.

 Available Scholarships

We support our postgraduate community by offering scholarships and bursaries to prospective and current students. Please see the SEFS Scholarships and Funding PG page for more information.

Placement or Study Abroad Information

A number of recent graduates in this course have undertaken their Part II research project either abroad or with significant research cruise time in their projects. Overseas locations have included Holland, UK, Singapore and Portugal as well as on placements at various locations within Ireland (Marine Institute, NUI Galway, BIM, NPWS). Others have spent significant time at sea aboard research vessels from Ireland, Holland and the UK.

Skills and Careers Information

As well as a number of professionally certified courses that will be provided throughout the course, students will also gain a variety of technical skills associated with research and computer skills (GIS in particular). Many transferable skills are also fostered through different learning approaches, including critical thinking, problem-solving, report writing, oral presentations, statistical analysis, independent research, and time management.


  • A candidate for the MSc in Marine Biology must have obtained at least a Second Class Honours Grade II in a primary honours degree (NFQ Level 8) in any Biological Science or relevant equivalent area.
  • In addition, under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL), NFQ Level 8 graduates with relevant professional qualifications or relevant experience but not the relevant degree classification may also apply for entry and each case will be judged on a case-by-case basis as to their suitability for the programme, subject to the approval of the College of Science, Engineering and Food Science.

For Applicants with Qualifications Completed Outside of Ireland

Applicants must meet the required entry academic grade, equivalent to Irish requirements. For more information see our Qualification Comparison page.

International/Non-EU Applicants

For full details of the non-EU application procedure visit our how to apply pages for international students.

  • In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments.
  • Note that not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file above. For more information contact the International Office.
English Language Requirements

Applicants who are non-native speakers of the English language must meet the university-approved English language requirements. Visit our PG English Language Requirements page for more information.

Fees and Costs

Postgraduate EU and International Fees 2024/2025

See our Postgraduate EU and Non-EU (International) Fee Schedule for the latest information.


If your course requires a deposit, that figure will be deducted from your second-semester fee payment in January.

Fee payment 

Fees are payable in two equal instalments. First payment is at registration and the balance usually by the end of January.

How can I pay? 

See different options on our How Do I Pay My Fees? page.

Any questions? See the 'Contact Us' section on the Fees Office page.

Bench Fee

There is an additional bench fee of €2,500 to cover the costs associated with undertaking the professionally certified courses (Sea Survival, Boat Handling, and Marine Radio Use) as well as an introductory fieldwork first aid course and all field work (including a residential course in Scotland) undertaken as part of the taught component of the course.

How To Apply

1. Check dates

Check the opening and closing dates for the application process in the fact file boxes at the top of the page.

2. Gather documents

Scanned copies of supporting documents have to be uploaded to the UCC online application portal and include:

  • Original qualification documents listed on your application including transcripts of results from institutions other than UCC.
  • Any supplementary items requested for your course if required.

3. Apply online

Apply online via the UCC online application portal. Note the majority of our courses have a non-refundable €50 application fee.

Any questions? Use our web enquiry form to contact us.

Additional Requirements 

Please note you will be required to provide additional information as part of the online application process for this programme. We strongly encourage you to complete this section as additional information will support your application. Additional information required will include the following:

  • Please enter the details of professional or voluntary positions held.
  • In addition to your previously declared qualifications, please outline any additional academic courses, self-learning, and professional training relevant to this programme.
  • Please detail your current occupation/specialty.

The closing date for non-EU applications is Closed for applications for 2024 intake

Apply Now

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact