A Survey of Coastal Scotland

Duncansby Head, Northern Scotland


Scotland is a country of dramatic coastal features that is steeped in a long history of marine research. Join us as we explore some of the most amazing coastal towns and learn from researchers associated with the Scottish Oceans Institute at the University of St Andrews, and the Scottish Association for Marine Sciences affiliated with the University of the Highlands and Islands.

Three OCC Marine Science courses for a total of 5 units are offered as part of this study abroad experience: A Survey of Coastal Scotland (MRSC A199: Directed Studies, 3 units), Marine Intertidal Ecology (MRSC A121, 1 unit), and Marine Mammal Field Studies (MRSC A188, 1 unit).

Scotland Course Contact
If you are interested in getting additional information about this opportunity, please fill out the Scotland Study Abroad Interest Form. You will be contacted in the Fall semester with information regarding the Summer course.

Scheduled Itinerary*

St Andrews, ScotlandWe begin our journey in historic Edinburgh where we will meet for an optional group transport to the town of St. Andrews. Here, we will stay in the dorms at the University of St. Andrews, Scotland’s oldest university, and dive into our studies with support from the Scottish Oceans Institute. The first two weeks will be packed with a mix of traditional classes, guest speakers, tours, intertidal field work, a visit to the Isle of May, a seaside hike along the picturesque Fife Coastal Path, a variety of cultural and historical site visits, and many other activities. At least one weekend off will allow time for students to visit additional sites on their own, or relax in the historic town of St Andrews.

People watching dolphins at Chanonry PointWith a solid foundation in much of our academic material, we travel to the capital of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness. We visit a variety of historical sites ranging from prehistorical burial site of Clava Cairns to the famous battlefield of Culloden, the Pitlochery dam and fish ladder to learn about sustainable energy and fisheries, Loch Ness, and Chanonry Point where it is common to see dolphins feed on fish concentrated right off shore by tidal currents. We then continue up the coast to explore the ruins of Castle Sinclair Girnigoe that was built into the coastal bluffs on a dramatic sedimentary rock formation, and the massive Duncansby Stacks near the northeastern coast. The weekend allows for free time to tour the highlands on your own, or visit the Orkney Islands or the Isle of Skye.

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe For the final leg of our journey, we travel to the west coast of Scotland to the resort town of Oban. Here we work with the Scottish Association for Marine Sciences to learn about their efforts in sustainable aquaculture, demersal inshore ecology, and ongoing cetacean research. Students will gain experience with beam trawls, and get an opportunity to visit a seaweed farm. Sustainable aquaculture and industry partnerships will be a significant focus on this portion of the trip. Everyone has one last opportunity for free time to explore western Scotland before wrapping up our journey back in Edinburgh.

*While this itinerary reflects our target schedule, unforeseen circumstances including, but not limited to, inclement weather, partner institution schedule changes, or availability of provider resources may require changes to the itinerary at any time.

Explore Coastal Scotland