Marine Biology major: Bachelor of Science

Marine biology is an exciting and extremely rewarding area of science in New Zealand. With 71 percent of the earth’s surface covered by ocean, marine life is critical to our existence, making it one of the world’s most valuable sources of resources – food, medicine, and raw materials. New discoveries are occurring daily in the areas of marine biology and ecology, making this an exciting and dynamic career choice with endless potential. With this major you will gain the skills and knowledge required in this profession. This major covers both marine biology (the scientific study of organisms in the ocean) and marine ecology (the study of how marine organisms interact with each other and the environment).

In addition to learning pure marine sciences such as the biology of fish and aquatic plants and marine invertebrates, you also have opportunities for field trips out on boats investigating marine life, or learning about aquaculture techniques, coastal processes, oceanography, management and conservation theories and practices.

Bachelor of Science: degree outline

Want to enrol in a programme: Apply online


Below is a summary only. For a comprehensive overview of this qualification, please refer to the Academic calendar.

Year 1

In your first year you take five compulsory papers. These papers provide a general scientific grounding that is important for students:

555301 Knowledge, Enquiry and Communication
555401 Health and Environment
775318 Plants and Animals
775317 Ecology and Evolution
BIOL501 Biological Sampling and Interpretation

Plus three elective papers.

Year 2
776313 Environmental Law
776325 Research Techniques
776326 Fish and Aquatic Plants
776330 Marine Invertebrates
Plus four electives.

Year 3
777811 Marine Ecology
777311 Ecosystem Management
777316 Oceanography
Plus five electives.

Research project
In the final year of your degree you will have the opportunity to enrol in the Research Project paper (30 points) if you had a B grade average in 60 points at level 6. This may involve a placement in an employer organisation related to your major, and undertaking a mini research project.
777003 Research Project


The School of Applied Sciences offers competitive fee-only scholarships for the first year of Bachelor of Science (one for every major). Some of these scholarships are for the full three years and are co-funded by external institutions, such as the Department of Conservation.
Visit the scholarship website to find out more

Career opportunities

  • Aquaculture business owner
  • Marine scientist
  • Marine technologist
  • Farm/hatchery manager
  • Production supervisor
  • Science teacher*

*Upon completion of the Graduate Diploma in Secondary Teaching (one additional year of full-time study and training in how to teach, subject to meeting entry and selection criteria).

Graduates and students of science

Other majors and pathways in the Bachelor of Science

Other courses you may be interested in

Last updated: 22-May-2015 10.21am

The information on this page was correct at time of publication. For a comprehensive overview of AUT qualifications, please refer to the Academic Calendar.