Take the plunge
Stretching over 30° of latitude, New Zealand’s coastline is more than 15,000km long, and its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) is one of the largest in the world. And yet our understanding of our own big blue backyard, and our impact on it, is extremely limited.
The physical and biological processes that power the Earth system unite in the ocean, determining Earth’s climate, supporting life and sparking our curiosity. Whether it’s finding new species, protecting sensitive habitats or solving our climate change problems, the University of Otago is uniquely placed to study these interlinked processes, and their effects on our lives.
Understanding our ocean planet is essential for meeting the challenges of our collective future.
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Why study Marine Science?
The world is waking up to just how important the marine environment is to the survival of our planet. And when your office extends to the seashore and beyond, every day is a new challenge! A qualification in Marine Science from the University of Otago is internationally recognised, and its multidisciplinary nature opens up an ocean of opportunities.
Marine scientists are valued, not only in learning institutions, but also by governments and large corporations. Many organisations need people with analytical minds on their team. Over 90 per cent of Marine Science postgraduates from Otago go on to find marine-related jobs.
Graduates with a Marine Science qualification find employment in a wide variety of areas, including:
- Government agencies
- Applied/Industry research
Marine research can take you from the poles to the tropics, Antarctica to Fiji and from regional councils to government agencies, such as the Department of Conservation, NIWA and the Ministry for Primary Industries.
Careers have also been launched in private consultancy firms, within the IT industry, the media (e.g. Dunedin’s Natural History New Zealand Ltd) and government science policy groups. Other graduates continue their marine science careers within the educational system, through teaching, community engagement, or research.
Students from a wide range of backgrounds are welcome to study Marine Science. You will need an interest in the marine environment and a solid foundation in science to Year 13 level. We particularly recommend Biology, Chemistry, Physics, and Statistics or Calculus.
What will I learn?
Marine Science (MARI) is a highly flexible study option with a group of core papers that provide a solid background in the marine sciences, allowing students to add other science papers according to their interests (from subjects such as Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Ecology and Geology).
You start by enrolling in:
- EAOS 111 Earth and Ocean Science
- MARI 112 The Living Ocean
Health Science students may enrol in MARI 112 as their optional eighth paper, allowing them to continue in Marine Science if they wish to do so.
Study of marine animals and plants, conservation, and management strategies.
BSc in Marine Science, minor in Zoology, Botany, or Ecology.
Aquaculture and Fisheries
Study of marine farming and fishing, learning both how to conserve, manage and improve sustainable production and practices.
BAppSc in Aquaculture and Fisheries. A minor or second major is essential from an approved list.
Marine Physics and Modelling
Study the sea and how it moves: waves and tides, energy, climate, and global physical processes.
BSc in Marine Science, minor in Maths, Physics or Computational Modelling.
Marine Geology and/or Geography
Study the whole planet! Understanding the past helps us to plan for the future. This is where climate research really hits the road.
BSc in Marine Science, minor in Geology or Geography.
Study the complex chemical soup of elements, nutrients, and compounds that is the sea.
BSc in Marine Science, minor in Chemistry.
How will I study?
Marine Science is very much a hands-on discipline. Apart from attending lectures and tutorials, you will also have practical laboratories and field trips at sea. The Department of Marine Science has research and teaching facilities on the main campus in Dunedin, a major research laboratory at Portobello on the Otago Peninsula and field stations on Stewart Island and in Doubtful Sound. A fleet of research vessels, including the expedition vessel RV Polaris II, provides access to all the local marine habitats.
Can I combine my Marine Science study with other subjects?
Students majoring in Marine Science can include a minor from a different subject. It is most easily combined with other sciences (e.g Ecology, Botany, Zoology, Chemistry and Geology) but adding it to other disciplines (e.g Education, Law, Geography or Tourism) would lead to interesting job opportunities.
Marine Science is also available as a minor in any undergraduate degree from Business, Humanities or Sciences.
What about further study?
The Department of Marine Science offers research opportunities in diverse fields, including: behavioural ecology, ocean physics, Antarctic science, coastal processes, ocean acidification, climate change, remote sensing, marine geology, and marine mammal biology and conservation.
Explore your study options further. Refer to enrolment information found on the following qualification pages.
Bachelor of Science (BSc) majoring in Marine Science
EAOS 111 Earth and Ocean Science
MARI 112 Global Marine Systems (new title in 2022 - Marine Biology: The Living Ocean)
MARI 201 Oceanography: The Physical Ocean
MARI 202 Marine Invertebrate Ecology and Biology (new title in 2022 - Ecology and Biology of Marine Invertebrates)
AQFI 301 Field Methods for Assessment of Fisheries and Aquatic Habitats (new title in 2022 - Field Methods in Applied Marine Science)
198 further points; must include 36 points at 200-level or above
Up to 90 points may be taken from outside Science
Note: Students who have passed at least one of COMO 101, MATH 160, STAT 110 or STAT 115 as part of another subject’s requirements do not need to pass another one of these papers to fulfil the Marine Science minor subject requirements.
Postgraduate Diploma in Science (PGDipSci) in Marine Science
Master of Science (MSc) in Marine Science
|Papers and Thesis|
Minor subject requirements
Marine Science as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BAppSc, BCom, BHealSc, BACom, BASc or BComSc degree
Available as a minor subject for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA), Bachelor of Theology (BTheol), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Health Science (BHealSc), Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom), Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) or Bachelor of Commerce and Science (BComSc) degree
EAOS 111 Earth and Ocean Science
Note: Students who have passed at least one of COMO 101, MATH 120, MATH 130, MATH 140, STAT 110 or STAT 115 as part of another subject’s requirements do not need to pass another one of these papers to fulfil the Marine Science minor subject requirements.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a selection of on-campus papers will be made available via distance and online learning for eligible students.
Find out which papers are available and how to apply on our COVID-19 website
Key information for future students
Department of Marine Science