The Master of Science (M.Sc.) program “Biological Oceanography” is arranged in 4 semesters providing knowledge and skills in a number of disciplines that address various areas of the global ocean as a complex system. The curriculum is focused on biology and imparts knowledge in chemistry, geology, physics and mathematics.


First semester: The first semester covers the theoretical and practical fundamentals for the systemic analysis of the marine environment. All first semester modules are compulsory.

Second semester: Building on the first semester's knowledge, students begin to form their individual focus within the curriculum in compulsory/elective and elective modules. Students also take part in the theory and practice of running research projects.

Third semester: This semester is devoted to further specialization (including a 9 day research cruise), first contacts to the research group where the individual students plan to do their master's thesis and an introduction to cutting-edge research, instrumentation and literature.

Fourth semester: Here, students apply the knowledge they have gatheres in the first three semesters toward work on the master's thesis as part of ongoing research projects (how to start your master thesis). Most students perform their thesis in one of the research groups within FB3 (marine ecology) or within FB2 (Marine Biogeochemistry). The master thesis comprises of the written master thesis and an oral defense.

Occupational fields/employments: Graduates are especially qualified for work in the fields of research and teaching, for example of marine science institutes, universities etc., but also in areas as:

  • Marine environmental monitoring for environmental authorities and fisheries research institutions
  • Environmental Management: Assessment and monitoring of existing biological, energy and mineral resources and their environmentally friendly use
  • Private sector: e.g. environmental analysis, marine consultants, maritime technology (shipping, pipeline projects, offshore wind farms, etc.) 
  • Food industry (marine food supplements) 
  • Pharmacy and medicine (biologically active substances from the sea) 
  • Science journalism, science publishers
  • etc.

Some of the optional modules are planned for second (summer) or third (winter) semester but are given in summer AND winter semesters. Have a look at the module description and ask the person in charge.

The most recent list of modules can be found here.

For information about actual official regulations click here "Prüfungsordnung(German only) - English version (not official) and "Prüfungsverfahrensordnung" (German only).

For further information, contact the study advisor.

Actual modules (previous and current semester)

List of modules in summer semester 2023 (CAU UnivIS).

List of modules in summer semester 2022 (CAU UnivIS).

List of modules in winter semester 2022/2023 (CAU UnivIS).


Designation of modules


First number: semester (first semester: MNF-bioc-1xx, second semester: MNF-bioc-2xx, third semester: MNF-bioc-3xx)

Second/third number: section (compulsory: MNF-bioc-x01-20, compulsory elective:MNF-bioc-x21-39, optional: MNF-bioc-x40-99)


MNF-bioc-10x: first semester (winter), compulsory

MNF-bioc-23x: second semester (summer), compulsory elective

MNF-bioc-36x: third semester (winter), optional

Complete module handbook M.Sc. Biological Oceanography (currently in revision process).

For optional modules within Biological Oceanography look at the module list and for courses outside of our curriculum look here (Optionals outside of Biological Oceanography).

Information regarding German research vessel fleet operations: Portal deutsche Forschungsschifffahrt


Foster Young Ocean Researcher Development (FYORD)

The FYORD program is a jointly organized interdisciplinary and inter-institutional program of the Kiel Marine Science Research Center at Kiel University and GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel. As both institutions are committed to the promotion of young researchers and offer attractive opportunities for young scientists, they set up a joint program with FYORD. It is aimed at young scientists in marine research, from master's students to PhD students and postdocs, to build a cross-institutional scientific community within and outside Kiel.

FYORD provides permeability between training programs for each status group and at each institution, and also offers its own status group overarching courses and events. In this way, FYORD links two institutions and their youth development programs and fills any gaps in offerings. In addition to offering career guidance within and outside of academia for all status groups, the program offers needs-based courses focused on interdisciplinary scientific approaches to marine science and funding opportunities.

Master students are the first status group addressed by the FYORD program. For students in this phase, orientation is of utmost importance, both in scientific terms, which research topics are interesting for future studies and individual scientific development, and in terms of options on the labor market.

For many students, the career path is not clear during their studies. FYORD aims not only to help clarify this with career guidance events, but also to connect Master's students with other young marine scientists, i.e. PhD students and postdocs. Through contact with senior and advanced colleagues, Master's students can benefit from their experience in finding the right research topic or in successfully applying to the (scientific) job market. In addition, PhD students and postdocs can share their expertise on what a PhD and research mean for a career and what master students should expect in these early stages of an academic career.

interdisciplinary Master School of Marine Sciences (iMSMS)

The interdisciplinary Master School of Marine Sciences (iMSMS) is a cross-faculty and cross-institutional platform for Master students of all disciplines. It promotes ocean literacy and an interdisciplinary approach to marine science education and collaboration at the Master student level. 

The information and offers of the following sites address:

  • Students of the marine science master's degree programs at CAU and associated institutes, who in addition to their disciplinary training would like to acquire interdisciplinary knowldege and skills on marine topics; who are interested in current approaches to (marine) sustainability research, international mobility options during their marine studies or in networking activities in support of their career orientation and development.
  • Master students from all disciplines and study programs, who are interested in the ocean and complex research topics on the development of a sustainable human-ocean-interaction from the perspectives of the natural sciences, law, economics, social sciences, informatics and philosophy. 

This is what the iMSMS organizes and offers at a glance. 

About the iMSMS

The interdisciplinary Master School of Marine Sciences (iMSMS) is a model concept for cross-faculty and cross-institutional collaboration in research-based marine science education. In cooperation with all faculties of Kiel University, with associated institutes such as GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel, the Research and Technology Center West Coast (FTZ Büsum), the Kiel Marine Science priority research area (KMS), and the Future Ocean Network the iMSMS pools and provides access to a wide range of marine-focused educational and networking offers. Both students with a marine science background and students from all other disciplines can join and learn about fundamental and current marine research topics from the perspective of the natural and social sciences, law, ethics, informatics, theology, and economics.

The key objective of the iMSMS is to advance marine scientific learning and collaboration beyond disciplinary boundaries, to promote ocean literacy and to create awareness about inter- and transdisciplinary approaches to a sustainable ocean development, to foster student mobility and to support career orientation in the marine sciences. 

Central bodies for the management and development of the iMSMS are the directory, the advisory board and the project coordination. The directory is formed by the Faculties' Deans of Study or their representative, one representative of the steering committee of the priority research area KMS, and two student representatives. The advisory board includes the coordinators of the marine science study programs, teaching scientists engaged in the iMSMS, one representative of the Center for Ocean and Society (CEOS) at CAU and one representative of the Ocean Education & Careers network. 

Please find here the statutes (pdf) of the interdisciplinary Master School of Marine Sciences.

On the iMSMS website, these are the offers and information at a glance:

  • Registration, participation, and recognition of achievements

Optional courses outside of Biological Oceanography

Within the optional courses or free choice section you can choose either one of the modules within your M.Sc. Biological Oceanography curriculum - have a look on the module list - or any other module out of B.Sc.- or M.Sc.-curricula at the CAU.


Read instructions below! 

Here you find a list - (incomplete and not regularly updated) - of ideas of study programs, modules, courses etc. outside of the M.Sc. Biological Oceanography which might be of interest for you to include into the optionals sector.

Before attending contact the person in charge of the respective course, module etc. AND the M.Sc. Biol. Oceanogr. study advisor AS WELL AS "our" Office Examination Board (Prüfungsamt Biologie, Tel. 0431-880-3724; -4157) AND the external Office Examination Board!



All of those courses, lectures, seminars etc. you want to attend have to be organized and classified as modules with assigned credit points. A number of lectures etc. e.g. within the old programs (like diploma programmes) are not yet modularized - which means you can't get any credit points!


Single courses, lectures, seminars etc. as part of a module will not be used for calculation of your workload and will not be used for your final marks!


Make sure in advance!

Ocean Education Initiative

Ocean Education is an initiative of the Kiel Marine Science priority research area (KMS), the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences at CAU and the Future Ocean Network. We invite and encourage students from all disciplines to gain and expand competencies in interdisciplinary ocean knowledge and collaboration and to tackle the complexity of solution-oriented (ocean) sustainability science. Together with the faculties of CAU and associated institutes such as GEOMAR Helmholtz Center for Ocean Research Kiel, Ocean Education compiled a catalogue of open elective modules on current marine and environmental topics. In most modules, students enrolled in Master programs can earn ECTS for the optional component of their curriculum. Learn more about us and find interdisciplinary courses currently on offer at


As the links below are external, they might be outdated. In this case use the data to search within UnivIS.

 List of curricula with English as general language of instruction

  • Exam registration: If you encounter exam registration problems please contact exam office biology (Office Examination Board (web)).

    Generally: for imported courses and courses outside of M. Sc. Biological Oceanography please always contact the person in charge of the module you are attending and the corresponding exam office.


  • OLAT is the central online learning platform of CAU. On OLAT you always find recent material for lectures, seminars etc. 

  • PD Dr. Frank Melzner
    Curriculum Coordinator
    Hohenbergstrasse 2
    Room 13
    Phone: +49 (0)431 600-4274
    E-mail: fmelzner(at)

    Dr. Jörg Süling
    Study Coordinator
    Wischhofstr. 1-3
    Room 4.115
    Phone: +49 (0)431 600-4454
    E-mail: jsueling(at)
    Consultation Tuesday 2-3 pm and Thursday 8-9 am - currently via zoom

    Annegret Stuhr
    Room 323
    Phone: +49 431 600-4028
    Email: astuhr(at)

  • Next application period: March 1 to April 15, 2024

    More information at "how to aply"