Marine and Coastal Tourism BA (Hons)

UCAS code F7N8

What is special about this course?

This unique course, the first of its kind in the UK, focuses on the many uses of the marine resource and how tourism interacts with these. You will consider many aspects including activities, climate and environment, community, customers and policy from both a UK and international perspective. The degree integrates theory and practice to develop the skills and academic knowledge you will need as a tourism professional working in the marine and coastal sector.

This integrated,  practical programme gives you the opportunity to gain experience and National Governing Body awards in activities including sailing, sea kayaking and SCUBA diving. This is supplemented by a programme of guest speakers, visits to shows and conferences, student expeditions and field courses. You will be ideally placed to get involved in a number of very real local development projects, working alongside and learning from the professionals.

We are based in Fort William, the 'Outdoor Capital of the UK', one of the finest UK locations for marine and coastal tourism. The natural heritage and culture of the West Highlands, its coasts and islands, provides our context and settings.

Special features

  • Strong links with many marine and coastal-based businesses in Scotland and throughout the UK
  • Applying cutting edge theory and research to the exciting and dynamic tourism sector
  • Excellent, optional work-based placement opportunities around the UK and abroad
  • Integrated practical programme to enhance your skills and experience in marine and coastal activities
  • Possibility to gain instructor qualifications endorsed by National Governing Bodies
  • Opportunity to plan and carry out significant expedition, with a discovery and research focus (previous destinations include the Lofoten Islands, off Norway, and to Iceland in 2018). Fundraising and gaining sponsorship are part of this process.
  • Be part of a vibrant and active student community of outdoor enthusiasts based in Fort William – within the Outdoor Capital of the UK
  • You will have access to outstanding facilities set amongst some of the most beautiful scenery in the UK


We offer modern student accommodation at a number of our locations.

Entry requirements

  • 3 Scottish Highers at grade C or above OR
  • 2 A levels at grade C or above
  • You will also need to have Standard Grade, National 4/5 or GCSE English and Mathematics, and be able to demonstrate your commitment to marine and coastal activities
  • Applicants with significant industry or activity experience will be considered providing they can demonstrate sufficient academic potential
  • You may be required to attend an interview
  • Successful applicants will be required to complete a PVG Disclosure Check and become PVG Scheme Members in order to undertake this course

Access routes

Students eligible to undertake Scottish Wider Access Programmes (SWAP) will be able to apply for entry to BA (Hons) Marine and Coastal Tourism with a grade profile of CCC in one of the below courses and 8 units passed at SCQF level 6:

  • Access to: Arts and Humanities (Newbattle Abbey College)
  • Access to: Arts, Social Sciences and Primary Teaching (Edinburgh College)
  • Access to: Arts, Social Sciences and Primary Teaching (North East Scotland College)
  • Access to: Celtic Studies incorporating Primary Education with Gaelic (Newbattle Abbey College)
  • Access to: Community, Education and Humanities (Dundee & Angus College)
  • Access to: Degree Studies (Forth Valley College)
  • Access to: Humanities (Arts, Social Sciences and Primary Education) (Fife College)
  • Access to: Humanities (Fife College)
  • Access to: Humanities (Perth College UHI)
  • Access to: Languages with Business (Edinburgh College)
  • Access to: Languages, Arts and Social Sciences (Edinburgh College)
  • Access to: University Study (Dundee & Angus College)
  • NQ Access to: Social Sciences (West Lothian College)
  • NQ Access to: Teaching (West Lothian College)

Year 1 - CertHE

Core modules are:

  • Marine and coastal tourism in the UK
  • Introduction to adventure tourism
  • Introduction to the customer-centred business
  • Adventure industry: products and services
  • Adventure education journeys

You will also choose one option module which may include:

  • Introduction to enterprise and marketing
  • Introduction to global environmental issues
  • Introduction to sustainable development
  • Adventure geography: the Scottish perspective

Year 2 - DipHE

Core modules are:

  • Marine tourism field course
  • Adventure operations and risk management
  • The contemporary workplace
  • Marine environments

You will also choose one option module which may include:

  • Applied coaching and leadership
  • Work placement
  • Atmosphere, weather and climate
  • Contemporary marketing
  • Society and culture of mountain regions (also covers island and remote coastal areas)

Year 3 - BA

Core modules are:

  • International marine and coastal tourism
  • Research skills
  • Planning international expeditions
  • Management of the marine resource

You will also choose two option modules which may include:

  • Archaeology and interpretation
  • Climate change
  • Developing entrepeneurial effectiveness
  • Sustainable tourism and the environment
  • Work placement
  • International expedition leadership

Year 4 - BA (Hons)

Core modules are:

  • Critical perspectives of marine and coastal tourism
  • Emergent tourism trends

You will also choose two option modules which may include:

  • Cold island tourism
  • Maritime archaeology and heritage of northern Scotland
  • Inclusive adventure
  • Work placement, professional practice

You must also complete one of the following: dissertation; research and plan a new business; or a professional project

How will I study my course?

  • Full-time
  • Part-time (structured)
  • Part-time (unstructured)
  • You will learn through a combination of face-to-face lectures and tutorials in the classroom, with some teaching by video conference from other university campuses, and online study via the university’s virtual learning environment (VLE)

  • You will also have the opportunity of increasing your skills through practical experiential learning. The main practical disciplines included are snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing (dinghy and yacht), power boating, paddle sports (sea kayak and surf), surfing and coasteering, with a wide range of progression and application of theories at all 4 year levels

  • We have an extensive equipment stores for use by students on session, but do not provide personal clothing, excepting wetsuits

  • For some field trips, we may expect you to cover your own food while away.  Transport, instruction and entry fees are usually covered

  • The optional International Expeditions module is a major undertaking, and will usually involve either fundraising, or personal contribution, beyond college funding.  Cost will depend largely on your destination and ambitions. How to finance an expedition is part of the taught content, and you will be supported through the process

How long will my course last?

  • Full-time: 4 years @ 40 hours per week
  • Part-time (structured): 8 years @ 20 hours per week
  • Part-time (unstructured): variable

Where can I study my course?

  • West Highland College UHI

Start date

  • September 


For students normally domiciled in Scotland or the European Union/EEA (outside of the UK) and with a term time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

Full-time (120 credit modules) per year £1,820 £1,820
Part-time (structured) (3 x 20 credit modules) per year £645 £645
Part-time (unstructured per module) (per 20 credit module) £215 £215

Rest of UK students

For students normally domiciled in the rest of the UK (England, Wales and N. Ireland) and with a term time address in Scotland studying this course full time, the following fees apply:

    Full-time Full-time
Year 1 CertHE £9,000 £9,000
Year 2 DipHE £9,000 £9,000
Year 3 Degree £9,000 £9,000
Year 4 Honours free** free**

**4th year free only for students studying full-time who have paid for the previous 3 years at the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Part-time (per 20 credit module) - £1,500 (2018-19 and 2019-20).

Fees are payable in advance each academic year unless otherwise agreed.

There are a number of funding options available to UK and EU students to help you pay for your studies and your cost of living whilst studying.

International students

For students who do not normally reside in the UK or European Union and with a term-time address in Scotland, the following fees apply:

  2018-19 2019-20
Full-time (120 credit modules) per year £11,100 £11,650
Part-time (structured) (3 x 20 credit modules) per year** £5,550 £5,820
Part-time (unstructured per module) (per 20 credit module)** £1,850 £1,940

**There is no part-time study option for Tier 4 sponsored international students.

Further information on international course fees.

A no fee increase guarantee is available for self-funding full-time and structured part-time RUK and International undergraduate students for continuous and contiguous study for the same award, up to the permitted standard time limit for the relevant award.


External scholarships and financial support may be available. Contact the relevant university partner college for more information.

What can I do on completion of my course?

Once you have successfully completed this course, you might like to consider careers in:

  • Guiding, coaching and instructing marine and coastal outdoor activities
  • Work in any of the various aspects of the marine and coastal industry – marinas, marine wildlife tourism, adventure tourism, outdoor education, leading tourist experiences in the UK or internationally
  • Working in product and strategy development, from company or community level, up to national and international level
  • Setting up your own small business
  • Driving the change within national tourism boards or government

Can I progress into further study?

You can progress from the BA (Hons) Marine and Coastal Tourism to the following university postgraduate course: 

Is there more information available online?

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What our students, graduates and staff say

I chose to come to Scotland, and specifically Fort William, as I enjoy an active, outdoor lifestyle and the mix of coastal and mountain scenery inspired me. The marine and coastal tourism degree is a perfect opportunity to be a part of the growing Scottish tourism

I chose this course as there is no other like it! I think this will be an advantage in a growing sector where there is plenty of opportunity for new ideas and change. I've been lucky to gain experience through my work at the Ben Nevis Visitor Centre and my placement with a local project to establish a new marina in the area.

Euan Fundingsland moved from Norway to study on the BA (Hons) Marine and Coastal Tourism and is now studying in his second year at our West Highland College UHI campus in Fort William.

Kara: I've always loved the sea and this degree combines marine science with practical activities, which I knew I would enjoy. I really liked the combination of relevant science with water-based skills.

The course opened my mind to many new employment paths - I want to work with communities on marine conservation projects and plan to connect with people I've met through the course. I've loved my time in Fort William and would really recommend the experience.

Angus: There are four degrees, including this one, that share a selection of modules - this offered flexibility and gave us the opportunity to interact with students from other specialties. I developed more of an interest in conservation, eco systems and the marine environment as my studies progressed, however I still love getting out on the water: our practical tokens system has meant that I can do RYA and MCA certificates, which are fantastic when applying for jobs.

I've really enjoyed my four years here. I’ve had the chance to meet people in the outdoor sector and have worked with the Fort William based organisation, 'Outdoor Capital of the UK', and John Ormiston of Stravaigin Yacht charter, based in Oban.

Kara Scott and Angus Jenkins completed our BA (Hons) Marine and Coastal Tourism at our West Highland College UHI campus in Fort William.

This is a very exciting time to get involved in Marine and Coastal Tourism.  Over the next few decades, how these resources are managed will make all the difference.  As the demand for tourism activity increases, we have an opportunity, but we also have a great responsibility: sustainable practice can enhance lives, protect environments, and develop a thriving tourism economy.  Get the big picture, and make yours an informed voice as you enter this exciting sector.  Study with us in the Outdoor Capital of the UK, where real development is happening right now, and graduate with a BA (Hons) Marine and Coastal Tourism.

Alex Williams, Programme Leader.

Apply for Marine and Coastal Tourism BA (Hons)

I want to start in Aug/Sep 2020

We are delighted that you are thinking about studying at the University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI). UHI operates a fair and open admissions system committed to equality of opportunity and non-discrimination. We consider all applications on merit and on the basis of ability to achieve, without discrimination on grounds of gender, age, disability, ethnicity and socio-economic background. We welcome applications from all prospective students and aim to provide appropriate and efficient services to students with disabilities.