What’s it like to do a PhD in Marine Biology?
As a Marine Biology PhD student, you’ll develop skills in a range of areas, from field work to in the laboratory. Depending on your exact project, you’ll spend more or less time in the field, but almost every project includes the opportunity to gain at least some field work experience.
Some typical research topics in Marine Biology include:
- Studying microplastics in the ocean
- Developing methods of promoting ocean sustainability
- Improving current methods of tracking sea life
- Studying an organism from the ocean in detail
- Investigating the effects of pollution on sea life
- Studying how organisms adapt to environmental change
Almost all Marine Biology PhD programmes are advertised projects with attached funding. The additional cost of fieldwork or bench fees makes it challenging to self-fund either an advertised project or one you have proposed. This cost, as well as the difficulty finding an institution and supervisor with the expertise and equipment suitable for your research, makes proposing your own research uncommon in Marine Biology.
A general field day will consist of either sampling, measuring, or observing organisms or their environment. This may include tagging individuals from a certain species or counting their population. Other days will involve analysing previously collected data, either in the laboratory or using techniques from data science and statistics.
Upon completion of your final year, you’ll write a thesis of roughly 60,000 words that will contribute to the knowledge of your field. During your viva exam you’ll then defend your work and if successful, be awarded your PhD.