Marine Biology Major - Bachelor of Science

Love the ocean and marine life? In the Marine Biology major in the Bachelor of Science you explore marine sciences, including the biology of fish and aquatic plants and marine invertebrates.

With 71 percent of the earth’s surface covered by water, marine life is critical to our existence. It’s one of the most valuable sources of food, medicine and raw materials. New discoveries are made daily in marine biology and ecology, making this an exciting and dynamic career choice with endless potential.

This major covers marine biology (the scientific study of organisms in the ocean) and marine ecology (how marine organisms interact with each other and the environment). Field trips are a key part of this major – you frequently go out on boats to investigate marine life or learn about aquaculture techniques, coastal processes, oceanography, management and conservation theories and practices.

This is part of the Bachelor of Science.

Year 1

Complete the following courses

HEAL506 Knowledge, Enquiry and Communication
HEAL507 Health and Environment or MAOH501 Hauora Māori and Environment
BIOL502 Plants and Animals
CHEM501 Principles of Chemistry
ECOL501 Ecology and Evolution
BIOL501 Biological Sampling and Interpretation

And three of the following

CHEM502 Biological Chemistry
ENVS501 Biodiversity
ENVS522 Our Dynamic Earth 
MICR501 Microbiology

Year 2 and 3

Level 6 courses

Complete the following courses:

ENVS601 Environmental Law
SCIE602 Research Techniques
BIOL602 Biology of Marine Organisms
BIOL603 Marine Invertebrates

Level 7 courses

Complete the following courses:

BIOL701 Oceanography
BIOL702 Estuarine EcologyMarine Ecology
ENVS704 Ecological Management and Modelling

Plus five elective courses, or three electives and the Research Project course.

Level 6 & 7 elective courses

Choose nine of the following, or seven and the Research Project course (SCIE701, runs across two semesters).

Asterisk (*) indicates recommended electives for this major

Workplace experience

In your final year you can enrol in the Research Project course (30 points) if you have at least a B grade average in 60 points at level 6. This may involve working on an industry-related project related to your major.

Companies or research organisations involved include

  • NIWA
  • New Zealand Premium Whitebait
  • OceaNZ Blue

SCIE701 Research Project

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

*After completing a graduate diploma in education.


Find out more about industry trends, job descriptions and what employers may be looking for.

Marine Biology Careers

Other majors in the Bachelor of Science

You can combine this major with other majors like Environmental Sciences, Geospatial Science or Applied Conservation, and complete your Bachelor of Science within three years without doing more than the standard eight courses (120 points) per year.

Postgraduate study options

Key features
  • Dynamic industry with regular new discoveries
  • Hands-on learning in marine environments, using AUT’s custom-built boat
  • Opportunity to complete a research project and industry placement
See yourself as
  • Enquiring, observant and patient
  • Motivated and persistent
  • Someone who enjoys the outdoors
  • Passionate about the ocean and the life within it
Antony Vavia
Elianna Zoura
Ashleigh McNie
Tanayaz Patil
Dannie Cullen

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

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