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The survival of humanity is linked to the health of our coasts and oceans. However for those of us passionate about our oceans, there are hardly any resources that share which are the top Universities and courses to study Marine Biology, or Oceanology. Don't worry- OPP has you covered! Take your studies beyond the books and deep dive into the available courses to develop the practical skills & experiences to thrive in this industry and hopefully, directly contribute to the future of humanity and the survival of the ecological world.

Wide range of research functions in the Marine Biology sector (Source: Ocean Purpose Project)

What do Marine Biologists do? They study marine organisms, their behaviour, the effects of human activity on those animals, and everything in between. Many Universities offer Marine biology as a course and similar courses related to the ocean. To be a marine biologist you need to work hard and work smart. This article will help you navigate that.

Before we share the top universities to consider, it's important for us to introduce the difference between Marine Biology and Oceanology as academic disciples. Marine biology is not the only course that Universities offer, as marine science has a wide range of disciplines. Here are some of the variations.

Marine Biology / Environmental science

Marine science / environmental science is imperative to understand and respond to important issues that plague our planet, like global warming, tourism and pollution on our oceans. Under this course, you are able to learn marine biological systems in great detail, and the application of ecological principles and environmental management strategies.


Oceanography is the interdisciplinary study of the global oceans, coastal areas, ocean trenches and many more. Oceanography is slightly different from Marine Biology, but is generally more focused on the interactions of specific parameters within the marine environment. For many universities, Oceanography is divided into four sub-disciplines:

  1. Chemical Oceanography -- the study of the composition and properties of seawater, pollution, the atmosphere and ocean life.

  2. Physical Oceanography -- the study of waves, currents, tides etc.

  3. Geological Oceanography -- the study of sediments, rocks and the structure of the seafloor etc.

  4. Biological Oceanography -- the study of marine organisms and their behaviour.

Overall, it is a versatile degree that offers you a foundation of the physical and biological sciences, as well as the understanding of how marine systems interact with each other.


1) James Cook University, Queensland Australia & James Cook University, Singapore

Course offered: Marine Science, Marine biology and Aquaculture

Degree: Undergraduate, Masters, Phd

These courses at JCU (James Cook University) provide you with the access to a unique learning environment with research stations, laboratories and the Great Barrier Reef right at your doorstep. Under this course, you will develop an expert understanding of how to protect and manage marine resources, as well as learning innovative ways to maintain sustainable fishing industries. Ocean Purpose Project also signed a historic agreement and MOU with JCU to further research into marine research, seaweed specifically so you can work with us as interns if you like!