Field courses with marine biology

First year

Field week

Plymouth really is the place to be for Marine Biology. Its superb coastline has attracted marine scientists for centuries, and the University of Plymouth has outstanding facilities to explore it. You will start your course with an intensive non-residential field week, during which you will become familiar with a wide range of coastal habitats including estuaries, sandy beaches and rocky shores. You will work at our Marine Station, located right on the waterfront, and become familiar with our fleet of boats, aquaria and laboratory facilities. This field week aims to allow you to experience marine biology right from the beginning of your course and to start to develop field and taxonomy skills, as well as safe fieldwork practices.

Residential marine biology field course in Roscoff, France

The Brittany field course provides your first introduction to residential field work in Marine Biology. With direct access to amazing coastal habitats, during the first part of the course you will become acquainted with the ecology and the diversity of marine organisms found there. In the second part of the course you will work in small groups, with the guidance of staff, to conduct your own projects. During this field trip you will learn how to conduct scientific research, collect and report on data and to identify the marine species associated with each habitat. Your project might even lead to a new discovery about marine life!

The cost of this field course is covered entirely by your University fees.

Second year

Residential field course in South Africa

Biodiversity is declining rapidly throughout the world, and dealing with this crisis requires both political will and solid scientific knowledge. This field course aims to teach you how scientists study patterns of biodiversity, and for you to engage in your own research projects. 

You will spend one week in the West Coast National Park, in the Western Cape Province of South Africa. Set within the Cape Floristic Region, this is one of the most unspoiled coasts in the world. The upwelling of the nutrient rich Benguela current fuels one of the most productive marine ecosystems on the planet.

This course is designed for Marine Biology and Coastal Ecology students. Students are expected to book their own flights; all other costs are included. The University provides a Financial Support Fund, which helps students continue their studies in spite of financial difficulties. We also run a zero-cost alternative to this field course if required.

Experimental marine biology residential field course in Portugal

This field course gives you the perfect opportunity to experience what is like to be a marine biologist. It allows you to put into practice everything you have learnt in lectures and practical sessions to study marine life in a way that is quantitative, addressing the best questions possible and coming up with satisfying answers.

You will spend a week on the Algarve, Portugal. Over the first few days you will be introduced to the inhabitants of different marine habitats; numerous lagoonal fish species, sandy shore invertebrates, rocky shore animals living on human made structures in soft sediments and the wonderful creatures of the saltmarsh. Many are species you do not find in the UK. From this introduction you get to formulate, chase and answer your own research questions. 

This course is designed for BSc Marine Biology students. All costs are covered by your University fees.

Residential field course in Sweden

You will live and work in one of the oldest marine stations in the world, the Sven Lovén Centre for Marine Sciences in Sweden. Situated on the Gullmar fjord, you will have access to deep sea species usually found far offshore.

You will spend a week living the life of a biological oceanographer. You’ll spend half of every day on a research vessel taking measurements of the physical properties of the fjord and sampling the organisms that live there, which you will learn to identify and record. This will allow you to investigate how the unique physical environment of the fjord drives biological communities.

This course is designed for BSc Marine Biology and Oceanography students. There is a small financial contribution towards flights; all other costs are included. The University provides a Financial Support Fund, which helps students continue their studies in spite of financial difficulties. There is a zero-cost alternative to this field course.

Methods in marine biology boatwork

The oceans cover around 70% of the earth’s surface, so marine biologists need to be familiar with techniques for biological sampling from boats. This non-residential field course aims to introduce the grabs, cores, trawls and dredges used by marine biologists when sampling at sea. You will learn to use these sampling methods, and then use them to collect data to address a scientific question relating to the marine diversity of the Plymouth Sound and Estuaries Special Area of Conservation.

You’ll spend all week at the University of Plymouth Marine Station, located on the shores of Plymouth Sound. As part of our fleets of boats, we have two vessels (Wavedancer and Falcon Spirit) both purpose built as flexible platforms for oceanographic and biological teaching and research. When you’re not out on the boat, you’ll be using the seawater aquarium and wet labs for sample examination and analysis.