Study Marine Biology Abroad

Study Marine Biology Abroad

From global warming and overfishing to pollution of the oceans and the preservation of biodiversity – marine biologists deal with highly topical issues and keep their finger on the pulse.

The first oceanographic expeditions took place as early as the 17th century. Nevertheless, the sea remains a largely unexplored habitat to this day. Scientists estimate that only about five percent of the seas explored are. So it pays to get to the bottom of the sea – that’s exactly what happens when you study marine biology.

Marine science disciplines

In today’s marine research, a wide variety of scientific disciplines are intertwined, which are often summarized under the heading of oceanography . Instead of a course called oceanography, there are various sub-disciplines that have a physical, chemical, biological or geological orientation.

In German , two general disciplines can be distinguished that pursue different questions:

  • Oceanography: Oceanography, also known as physical oceanography, deals with the physics of the oceans and researches the physical and chemical phenomena in the sea. To do this, it uses physical parameters such as temperature, density, ocean currents, pressure or salinity. In the English-speaking world, on the other hand, the term oceanography is often used synonymously with oceanography and therefore has a broader meaning.
  • Marine biology: Marine biology or biological marine science is primarily devoted to the biological phenomena of the sea. She researches living organisms and examines how they interact with other organisms and their environment. In a sense, it is the science of marine life . The term marine biology appears frequently in English .

The marine biology degree – course and structure

According to, the subject of marine biology as a separate course of study is primarily offered as a master’s degree at universities in Germany . Therefore, many students first decide on a bachelor’s degree in biology or biosciences . There they learn the basics of various subjects, including marine biology. With a bachelor’s degree in biology, students can qualify for a subsequent master’s degree in marine biology.

In general, the marine biology course is very varied . On the one hand, the students get to know the theoretical basics of (marine) biology in lectures. They attend courses such as “Regional Marine Ecology”, “Sea Habitat” or “Marine Mammal Research”.

On the other hand, the course is extremely practice-oriented. The students spend a lot of time in the laboratory, for example examining animal and plant samples. Also, laboratory courses are often part of the course. There are also regular excursions , for example to the North or Baltic Sea coast or to exciting places abroad.

Bachelor’s degree in marine biology

Marine research is fundamentally interdisciplinary . As part of their three-year bachelor’s degree, students receive an introduction to all areas of biology. They are basic knowledge in biology, chemistry , physics and mathematics at. With some courses there is the option of taking marine biology as a major at a later stage . In addition, it makes sense to write the bachelor thesis on a maritime topic. This can increase the chances of getting a master’s degree.

Master’s degree in marine biology

From Marine Biology to Biological Oceanography to Marine Microbiology – there are many different types of master’s courses in marine biology at German universities. You can choose between German and English-language study programs. While Bachelor programs aim to impart a broad basic knowledge, the Master in Marine Biology is research-oriented . It usually lasts two years and is primarily aimed at scientific training .

Also in the master’s program are subjects such as biology, chemistry, geology and statistics on the curriculum, but with marine biological focus. In addition, there is usually the option of choosing one of several key areas. The following specializations are common :

  • Maritime Technologies: an application-oriented master’s degree with a focus on engineering, in which the technological use of the sea is in the foreground. During the course, the students acquire knowledge in the field of technology and management of wind energy. They also deal with topics such as biotechnology and the importance of maritime technologies for the economy.
  • Biological Oceanography: a specialization that focuses on the creatures living in the ocean and their relationships with the environment. The focus is on topics such as fish ecology and marine environmental monitoring. Students also look into the question of how increasing human use of the oceans affects the ecosystem and what influence environmental changes have.
  • Marine ecosystem and fisheries sciences : a focus that combines basic and applied research and combines the sub-areas of biological oceanography and fisheries sciences . The students learn how marine ecosystems work. They research how climate affects lower trophic levels such as plankton. They also investigate to what extent fishing changes the role of fish in the marine ecosystem.
  • Marine microbiology: In marine microbiology, everything revolves around the microorganisms that live in the water, such as bacteria and fungi. The occurrence and diversity of microorganisms in the sea, the metabolism and the functional importance of microbes are examined.

Many marine biologists follow up their master’s degree with a doctorate in order to improve their career opportunities. For a career in research one’s doctorates essential.

Marine Biology – Requirements

One of the most important foundations for studying marine biology is a keen interest in scientific contexts and in subjects such as biology and chemistry. Applicants should also have a fascination for the sea and aquatic life.

When applying for a bachelor’s degree, the Abitur grade plays a primary role. For a master’s place, on the other hand, a bachelor’s degree in biosciences, ecology or a related discipline is required. The study of marine biology is attested with a numerus clausus. Therefore, a good bachelor’s degree can improve your chances of getting a university place. A selection process also takes place at some universities . For English-language courses, proof of language skills is often required through a standardized language test such as the IELTS or TOEFL .

Professional fields of marine biologists

The classic area of ​​application for marine biologists is scientific research at universities, state or private research institutes. However, many graduates also gain a foothold in business and industry . You work for manufacturers of wind turbines, in fisheries, in the field of marine biotechnology or for the oil industry.

Marine biologists also find work at press offices of environmental associations such as Greenpeace or the WWF or as scientific experts at environmental ministries. Activities in marine museums, zoos or aquariums are also conceivable. There is also the option of working as a science journalist for a publisher or in an editorial office.

It is important that students think about whether they want to work in research or another industry in good time. In any case, it makes sense to specialize during your studies and gain practical experience through internships, for example . These can have a door opener function when looking for a job later. Another option is to work in research first and then to re-orientate yourself professionally.

Study of marine biology abroad

About 71% of the earth is covered with water. It is therefore not surprising that marine biology is also available as a subject in other countries. In Australia , New Zealand and the USA there are universities that have their own research stations for marine biology or have several research vessels .

Studying marine biology abroad makes it possible, on the one hand, to access the excellent infrastructure of the universities. On the other hand, the individual universities offer regionally specific Bachelor and Master programs that do not exist in this form in Germany.

For example, an Australian university specializes in tropical areas, while marine biologists in Hawaii are studying endangered species in the United States. Students in Canada gain a completely different professional perspective. There you can study marine mammals such as whales and seals and their habitat up close. Studying marine biology abroad offers the opportunity to enormously broaden your professional horizons .

In addition, international students can improve their own English skills abroad and train their intercultural skills. Also, the stay abroad can serve contacts to the university to socialize or meet research institutions. As a result, students may find out about international research projects at an early stage and can participate in them if necessary.

Study Marine Biology

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