Diploma in Marine Biology


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Diploma in Marine Biology

Why Oxford Learning College


Marine Biology is basically the study of the organisms found in the sea and this course aims to give a comprehensive grounding in the fascinating subject of life in the sea. Throughout the 10 fully illustrated modules, the learner will experience and learn about many aspects of oceanography and marine biology such as how oceans are born and die and how life began and evolved in the sea over the past 4 million years. The ocean is looked at as an ecological habitat and the amazing evolutionary adaptations of aquatic animals to the harsh marine environment. The ocean habitats from the poles to the equator and from the sunlit surface of the sea to the dark depths of the deep ocean are explored. Finally the human impact and influence on the marine ecosystem is discussed.


Course Content

Module 1 - Ocean formation


The Oceans cover over 70% of the world’s surface and contains an array of rich life, adapting to its range of climate and weather systems. The ocean has a range of habitats, and it is believed there is still much to discover about its content. This module sets the scene by looking at how the oceans are created and destroyed by sea floor spreading and plate tectonics. Continental drift and the configuration of the oceans and continents through geological history is discussed with a speculative look into the possible future configurations should the continents continue to move as predicted. The major oceans of the present day with their geological features are studied, and the path of an ocean as it progresses from birth to death is followed.


Module 2 - The Ocean as a Habitat


The oceans are constantly changing in terms of the way they form and are structured, and also their internal environment being affected by external factors. Some basic oceanography and the structure of the physical ocean from the continental shelf to the abyssal plain is studied, and we then descend into the deep ocean trenches. There are two distinct environments, the actual sea floor and the surrounding sea waters. The chemistry of seawater and how it gets its physical properties as well as the physics of light and sound propagation in the ocean is explored. The dynamics of tides and major currents and the large scale movements of seawater in the ocean basins is looked at. How waves are formed, and how temperature, density and salinity work together in the marine environment is discovered.



Module 3 - Biological evolution in the oceans


Fossils have been found that are about 3,8 billion years old, not that much younger than when Earth and the Solar Systems were thought to form about 4 billion years ago. Until 1961 it was thought that life formed on Earth by arriving as particles from other planets, until a ferocious debate arose when scientists were able to re-create simple molecular life forms in the laboratory from a rich soup of chemicals that are readily found in the seas today. In module three, we look at how life evolved in the ocean and uncover the fascinating hydrothermal vents which were discovered in the 1970s. The peculiar animals that live in these habitats and how they are able to live in such extreme environments is explored. The evolution of animals in the ocean from the tiniest one-celled animal to the largest marine mammals is discussed and the mass extinctions and radiations that have punctuated the geological history of life on Earth is shown, ending in what we continue to discover today.


Module 4 - Food webs in the sea


As on land, the life in the sea is maintained by a primary food producer, the phytoplankton, which is able to harness energy to makes it own food. We discover the secret unseen world of the microscopic marine phytoplankton and zooplankton and discuss the primary productivity and the trophic food webs which support all life in the sea. The incredible migration patterns of tiny zooplankton and how other marine animals exploit them is explored. How some of the smallest animals in the sea support some of the largest such as the great whales is discussed. Finally we look at the global distribution patterns of the tiniest organisms in the sea since they impact upon and influence the survival of all the organisms in the food chains and food web in which they form the base, yet crucial level.


Module 5 - Adaptations to life in the sea


In this module, how diverse life adapted to the harsh marine environment by forming a cyclic relationship is explored. The way animals from the smallest single-celled organisms to fish and the largest whale are able to live in the ocean, whilst others moved to the land is discussed. Biological systems such as osmoregulation, thermoregulation, locomotion, respiration, reproduction, sensory systems, diet and foraging strategies are investigated. The variety of the life in the oceans (and the land), its survival, how it is named and its evolutionary path is discovered. As a case study, the extraordinary evolutionary adaptation of the whales and dolphins as they evolved from being land animals, 50 million years ago to the fully adapted marine creatures seen today is studied.



Module 6 - Tropical environments


The tropical seas are generally considered to be much less productive, so the organisms found here are much more rigorous in the amount of primary productivity, between 30-250 times that of the open oceans. The specific conditions of the tropical oceans are explored. The beautiful coral reefs and mangrove swamps of the tropics are studied in terms of coral anatomy, growth, adaptation and their global distribution and ecology. The geological aspects of coral reef formation and how the simple coral animals evolved throughout their geological history is explored. The delicate symbiotic relationship between the tiny reef organisms and their coral hosts is assessed, and the marvellous array of coral reef fishes and their ecology is discovered and explored.


Module 7 - Polar environments


The physical environment of the polar regions appear similar, and yet there are fundamental geological differences in the Arctic and Antarctic. The Arctic is a sea surrounded by land, and the Antarctic is a continent surrounded by sea, so they contain very different organisms. The ecology of polar environments and the different species found in the Arctic and Antarctic is studied, along with the extraordinary evolutionary adaptations of the life in such extreme environments. Animals such as the fish with antifreeze in their blood form specific case studies that and the way that warm blooded animals have adapted and are able to survive in such extreme cold, will be studied.


Module 8 - The intertidal


The intertidal area or the littoral zone is the small area in the ocean affected by the rise and fall of the tides. The physical environment such as how long the waters are exposed to air, their depth and height, and the animals of rocky shores, sandy beaches and muddy estuaries affected by these changes are looked at. They are very different environments affected by the tides, yet are all at the mercy of the daily and seasonal tides. Thus, the animals have amazing adaptation such as desiccating intertidal environments and physical and biological factors for zonation of animals and plants on the shoreline. As a case study, the biology of a rock pool and the array of fascinating animals that are found there are explored.


Module 9 - Beneath the tides


It is said that scientists know more about what is found on the moon than in the deepest waters of the ocean. The abyssal areas of the deep ocean reveal new organisms in every deep scientific exploratory sea dive. The deep waters are dark, have high pressure, are cold, often have extreme conditions and appear void of life, yet show a remarkable diversity and richness of organisms, adapted for this environment. The energy transfer, food web and the surprisingly abundant animals of the deep sea are studied. The strange looking deep-sea fishes and invertebrates that are adapted to such incredible pressures exerted by the water column in this harsh environment and the animals, which create their own light: bioluminescence is investigated. The study of the ecology of a kelp forests in Alaska with its vitally important keystone species provides an in-depth study in this area of the oceans.


Module 10 - The human impact on the sea


Humans have done enormous damage to the oceans with over-fishing, oils spills and even testing Nuclear weapons upon our precious waters. The oceans have been discovered not to have unlimited food as was once thought, especially in line with the exponential rise in world population. It cannot continue to meet demands in the way we are exploiting it today. This final module looks at fisheries, the impacts of over-fishing and the main food species we obtain from the sea. The ocean pollution such as toxic pollutants, sewage and marine debris which are degrading the ocean are discussed, and how the animals of the sea are coping with it all. The history and damage of oil spills and their aftermath, and whether our well-intended clean-up operations do any good are discussed. The impact on global warming and its implications for life in the sea by looking at the geological history of climate change over millions of years and comparing it with the predictions of some of the climate models for the future is explored, and ends this course.

Entry Requirements

All students must be 16 years of age and above.

Level 3 Diploma courses require a minimum prior learning to GCSE standard in order that students can manage their studies and the assumed knowledge within course content.

Study Hours

Approximately 20 hours per unit

Assessment Method

Final online multiple choice examination.

Please note that you can enrol on this course at anytime.


Diploma in Marine Biology

This course is Quality Assured by the Quality Licence Scheme
Quality Assured by QLS

At the end of this course successful learners will receive an e-Certificate from Oxford Learning College. There is also the option to purchase an Embossed Certificate and also a certificate from ABC Awards for the qualification.

The course has been endorsed under the ABC Awards Quality Licence Scheme. This means that Oxford Learning College has undergone an external quality check to ensure that the organisation and the courses it offers, meet certain quality criteria. The completion of this course alone does not lead to an Ofqual regulated qualification but may be used as evidence of knowledge and skills towards regulated qualifications in the future.

The unit summary can be used as evidence towards Recognition of Prior Learning if you wish to progress your studies in this sector. To this end the learning outcomes of the course have been benchmarked at Level 3 against level descriptors published by Ofqual, to indicate the depth of study and level of demand/complexity involved in successful completion by the learner.

The course itself has been designed by Oxford Learning College to meet specific learners' and/or employers' requirements which cannot be satisfied through current regulated qualifications. ABC Awards endorsement involves robust and rigorous quality audits by external auditors to ensure quality is continually met. A review of courses is carried out as part of the endorsement process.

ABC Awards is a leading national Awarding Organisation, regulated by Ofqual, and the Welsh Government. It has a long-established reputation for developing and awarding high quality vocational qualifications across a wide range of industries. As a registered charity, ABC Awards combines 180 years of expertise but also implements a responsive, flexible and innovative approach to the needs of our customers. Renowned for excellent customer service, and quality standards, ABC Awards also offers Ofqual regulated qualifications for all ages and abilities post-14; all are developed with the support of relevant stakeholders to ensure that they meet the needs and standards of employers across the UK.

How can I progress

For more information on how to progress after completing this course, please click here

Additional Information

You will receive a certificate from the College. A digital version is included in the price and will be emailed to you within 5 days of taking your online exam.

Should you require an embossed hard copy of your certificate to be sent to you by Special Delivery post, you can order this separately after taking your exam.

The course can be enrolled upon by students Internationally. There are no deadlines for enrolments.

To view the differences between our qualifications, please click HERE

What's Included

Online study materials to enable the student to successfully complete the Diploma. Support is provided by the tutor department for the duration of the course (1 year). Certification upon completion. All examination fees.

Course Fee


Payment by Instalments

Students are able to pay course fees in monthly instalments. Click here to download our instalment plan.

Further Information

The Quality Assured Diploma is a Level 3 equivalent on the National Qualifications Framework. The Diploma is a 1 year course which is self study and is examined by online examination. The Diploma is awarded by Oxford College. Upon completion of the course you will receive certification awarded by Oxford College.

The Level 3 Diplomas require a minimum prior learning to GCSE standard in order to for students to manage study and the assumed knowledge within course content.

They provide an ability to gain and apply a range of knowledge, skills and understanding in a specific subject at a detailed level. Level 3 qualifications such as A levels, NVQ3, BTEC Diplomas etc. are appropriate if you plan to progress to university study.

Level 3 Diploma courses can assist you in career development, continued professional development, personal development, and provision of a basis for further study.

Progression from Level 3 is to specialist learning and detailed analysis of a higher level of information (for example university level study, Diploma Level 5 study).

Your course is delivered online via the Oxford Learning On Campus website.

This is a flexible learning course, so the more time you have to commit to your studies, the sooner you are able to complete.

In the student 'On Campus' you are also able to take part in the student chat room and forums as part of our online student community.

After enrolling online you will receive your username and password to access the On Campus area within 3 working days.

Materials and support provided by Oxford Learning. Oxford Learning

For more information please visit our FAQ page.

Overall rating 5 out of 5 based on 4 student reviews

I have loved this course. I was told that I\'d never achieve my dream of being a marine biologist and had given up. I found this online and thought I\'d try. Amazing value for money, the course teaches you so much and the course tutors are supportive with the service they provide. Completed today and would recommend this to anyone wanting to study the field. Zero faults.

Rating: 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
Hi,I have recently taken my level 3 Diploma in Marine Biology and passed with distinction. I would just like to say that my Tutor Rosemin was very helpful and I appreciate all of her feedback throughout. She was very supportive and I couldn't ask for anything more. She was always very quick to respond on the odd occasion I needed to contact her. Overall i am extremely happy with the Marine Biology course at Oxford Learning college and would recommend it to others. I can now start my degree in October feeling more confident in studying again (28 years old). Thank you

Rating: 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
I have not studied for many years so was not sure what to expect. I thoroughly enjoyed the Marine Biology course, the online material was well structured and easy to use. The tutor comments were helpful and kept motivation up. The assessment was harder than I expected, but a good test of knowledge and understanding of the subject. Overall this has been a great reintroduction to studying and I will continue to do more. Thank you.

Rating: 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]
I really enjoyed this course and although very challenging at times I feel more educated in issues surrounding this subject. It has also encouraged me to learn more and take my education further.

Rating: 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]

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This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 13 August, 2009.

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