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Marine Biology

Standard Program for the ScB Degree

This program is replaced as of the Class of 2016 with the MARine Track in the ScB Biology program. Class of 2016 students may be grandfathered if they have already declared the former program.

Marine biology encompasses the study of living organisms in the ocean or other marine or brackish bodies of water. Marine life is a vast resource, providing food, medicine, and raw materials. At a fundamental level, marine life helps determine the very nature of our planet. Marine organisms contribute significantly to the oxygen cycle, and are involved in the regulation of the earth's climate. The habitats studied by marine biology are diverse and may include coral reefs, kelp forests, tidepools, muddy, sandy and rocky bottoms, and the open ocean.

It is understood that the biology of marine organisms and other organisms (including humans) are linked in very fundamental ways, with interfaces in every sphere of ecology.

In this program, students take a broad range of courses germane to understanding marine systems, and are encouraged to obtain hands-on research experience at Brown or marine field stations elsewhere. The field experience is a key feature of this program and provides scholarly interaction with leaders in the field so that students are mentored at the cutting edge.

The Marine Biology concentration prepares students for careers in marine and coastal ecology, environmental science, conservation research and education, even medicine.

Program Requirements

Students must take all of the following courses.  

  • Equilibrium, Rate, and Structure (CHEM 0330) or equivalent placement
  • Basic Physics (PHYS 0030) or equivalent placement
  • Basic Physics (PHYS 0040) or equivalent placement
  • Introductory Calculus, Part I (MATH 0090) or equivalent placement
  • Introductory Calculus, Part II (MATH 0100) or equivalent placement
  • Two additional courses in physics, chemistry, mathematics, applied mathematics, computer science, engineering, or geological sciences, as approved by advisor

Biology Courses

Students must select four courses from the following.

  • Invertebrate Zoology (BIOL 0410)
  • Principles of Ecology (BIOL 0420)
  • Principles of Physiology (BIOL 0800)
  • Comparative Animal Physiology (BIOL 1180)
  • Marine Biology (BIOL 1440)
  • Comparative Biology of the Vertebrates (BIOL 1880)
  • Environmental Science in a Changing World (ENVS 0490)

Students must also select three additional biology courses: highly recommended are:

  • The Foundation of Living Systems (BIOL 0200)
  • Microbes in the Environment (BIOL 0415)
  • Genetics (BIOL 0470)
  • Evolutionary Biology (BIOL 0480)
  • Cell and Molecular Biology (BIOL 0500)
  • Comparative Animal Physiology (BIOL 1180)
  • Analysis of Development (BIOL 1310)
  • Evolutionary Genetics (BIOL 1410)
  • Experimental Design in Ecology (BIOL 1420)
  • Conservation Biology (BIOL 1470)

Related Science Courses

Students must take two out of the following group of related science courses (or substitutions as approved by the concentration advisor)

  • Introduction to Scientific Computing and Problem Solving (CSCI 0040)
  • Introduction to Oceanography (GEOL 0070)
  • Fossil Record (GEOL 0310)
  • Global Physical/Descriptive Oceanography (GEOL 1100)
  • Estuarine Oceanography (GEOL 1110)
  • Paleoceanography (GEOL 1120)
  • Ocean Biogeochemical Cycles (GEOL 1130)
  • Ocean Biogeochemical Cycles (GEOL 1240)
  • Global Environmental Remote Sensing (GEOL 1330)
  • Quantitative Elements of Physical Hydrology (GEOL 1580)
  • Organic Chemistry (CHEM 0350)
  • Organic Chemistry (CHEM 0360)
  • an approved course in statistics

Directed Research Courses

  • Directed Research: BIOL 1950/1960, conducted at Brown or an approved marine lab or field station. A summer or semester at a field station is recommended. Please note that some recommended courses are offered every other year; others have limited enrollment and require early sign-up