Career Choices

Marine Biology is the study of life in the sea in all it's aspects. The Marine Biology course encompasses learning about marine life in all it's forms, from viruses to whales, and about the structure and function of various marine ecosystems, ranging from coral reefs to polar seas and from estuaries to the abyssal depths.

Oceanography focusses on understanding the physical attributes of the ocean and its interactions with the atmosphere which determine the weather and climate patterns we experience. The Ocean & Atmosphere Science course encompasses the extent of the oceans, the physical, chemical and biological properties of sea water, various atmosphere-ocean interaction and biogeochemical cycles in a variety of regions from the tropics to the polar seas and from estuaries to the abyssal depths.

To apply for these undergraduate courses at UCT, you would need to have the minimum admission and subject requirements:

  • Mathematics 70% and Physical Sciences 60%
  • *Life Sciences and Geography would also be very useful subjects to get into this field of study.
  • NBT in Mathematics, AL & QL to be written.
For more information, please read the leaflet below: 

Or you could have a read through the UCT Science Faculty Undergraduate Handbook Guide and Postgraduate Handbook Guide



You could contact the UCT Biological Sciences Department and send your query through to the marine researchers based in the department. 

There are also apps and resources that one can use to find the name and type of organism found washed up along the shore or while you're out in the water. You can find more information on marine species and many others in these field guides:


    N.B: If you are not too sure where you would like to place the washed up organism, you can contact the Marine Wildlife Management Programme at the Two Oceans Aquarium Foundation if the organism is injured or if it's a smaller organism and you're able to pick them up (beware, rather wear gloves and store in a container) you can contact the Iziko Museum via email and organize to either drop off or have the Iziko Collections team collect them from you, in case they would like to store them in their collections for display or for further studies.
    If you have time, it would be great for you to share this finding on an app called iNaturalist where you can contribute to citizen science and assist South African scientists with recording the distribution of these organisms and note other important information to your finding, i.e., “you found this mussel washed up at Muizenberg Beach shortly after the storms occurred”. We encourage you to share your findings on this App, including land and marine plants and animals!

    UCT-MARiS convenes a one-year coursework (full-time) Masters in Applied Ocean Sciences, which is joint between the Department of Biological Sciences and the Department of Oceanography at the University of Cape Town. This course provides interdisciplinary training in treating the most applied aspects of oceanography and marine biology, with the aim of becoming future ocean professionals. It is designed for both recent graduates as well as those with some years’ experience and who wish to gain skills to operate in the ocean services sector, with a focus on operational and conservational activities, food, water quality and recreation, preservation and other aspects of the Blue Economy.

    AOS BIO5012W

    Pre-requisites for admission

    • 4 years Bachelor degree (with research project) or Honours degree.
    • Previous specialised knowledge of oceanography or marine biology is not essential.
    • Students from both the natural and social sciences/humanities (+hons) students are eligible, with a preference for students with a Science background and those who have a demonstrated numerical skills.
    • An average of 65% in science subjects or >70% in other pertinent subjects
    • Non-science students are required to write in their motivation letter how they will compensate for knowledge gaps in science subjects and numerical skills.


    Applications usually open around April/May and are due before the end of August. The AOS programme usually commences in late-January of the following year. Find out more about the course here.