Education & Awareness

Academic Programmes


Marine Sciences Curriculum


Heading up an Education centre at a school outing destination such as an Aquarium, leads one to ask many questions. How can one produce programmes of the greatest value? How can one address the challenge in the South African education landscape where the disparity between schools is huge? How can an informal Education Centre support schools, our clients, positioned in the formal education sector? Our response was to visit schools and speak to children, parents, school principals, district officials and curriculum specialists in the Department of Education and at Universities. Our research established that one of the most meaningful offerings that an Aquarium could make is to offer enrichment programmes and courses. That was the embryonic phase of the South African Marine Sciences Curriculum which the teaching staff of the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation has written.


When seeking content for these courses, we looked at what schools needed, and the gaps universities were experiencing among their marine zoology and oceanography students at a first- and second-year level. Over time, these courses were refined, resulting in the content making up the Aquarium’s Marine Sciences Academy. Our Academy is made up of a series of courses offered from Grade six to 11. Content is scaffolded from one year to another, with each component integrating with the other in a transdisciplinary manner. For example, studying an animal living in the sea requires an understanding of the physical water quality of its habitat, be it temperature, pH, sediment load or salinity.

After successfully running courses for a couple of years we were approached by officials of the Western Cape Education Department to use the content from the Marine Sciences Academy and write a formal subject. The subject is made up of four pillars: Marine Biology, Oceanography, Ocean Ecosystems and Humans and the Ocean. The subject is made up of 85 topics including marine phyla, the chemistry of water, gas laws used for diving science, sustainable seafood, aquaculture and marine protected areas (MPAs). After working with South Africa’s curriculum quality assurance body, Umalusi, and the Department of Basic Education, the curriculum was approved to be offered for Grade 10 to 12 students as a school leaving Matric subject. In January 2020, six schools included the subject in their school programme during school hours for Grade 10 students. The Aquarium teaching staff supported the schools with teaching resources and content with the aim of using online content, not textbooks, as a teaching resource.

It is with this curriculum that we believe that the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation can offer the most value and make the greatest contribution to supporting South African and international education.

Please see below how you can get involved, whether you are an individual or a school.


What does Marine Sciences entail?

Oceanography: Marine geology, geography, chemistry and physics
  • chemical composition and properties of sea water, and the effects of pollutants on ocean life
  • ways in which the ocean acts as a driver of weather and climate
  • diving science, waves, tides and currents
Marine biology
  • investigates classification, fundamental biology, marine biodiversity, evolutionary processes and organism adaptations to their environments
  • explores ecosystems such as rocky shores, kelp forests and sandy beaches through ecological concepts including nutrient cycles and food chains


Humans and the ocean
  • Marine careers
  • Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as a model for sustainably managing ocean resources
  • Harvesting of renewable and non-renewable ocean resources
  • The importance of research in understanding the ocean and the effects that human activities
  • Climate change and ocean acidification

Study Marine Sciences in 2023

The Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation will be offers a three-year online Marine Sciences curriculum course for children from Grade 10-12. Applications for our next intake of 2023 Grade 10 students open 25 August 2022. 

3How it will work

Format: online teaching via Zoom and our own e-learning platform

Time commitment: four hours a week, broken down into two two-hour online teaching sessions, during South African public school terms

Times & dates: online lessons will take place in the afternoons (exact times to be confirmed) on Tuesdays and Thursdays

Practical learning: arrangements will be made to do practical learning during South African public school holidays

Exams: any examinations will be written at the students’ local school or official examination centre

Subject registration: anyone who is interested in signing up for our course must register Marine Sciences as one of their subjects at their school for 2023

Start date: January 2023

Cost: R7350 for 2023, with slight increase year upon year

This course is also available to adults and we welcome mature students to sign up. Examinations and assessments will be arranged with each adult participant individually, depending on whether they are interested in pursuing a NSC certificate, or are happy to receive a certificate from the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation.

You can contact us on education@aquariumfoundation.org.za, if you have any questions.



Please read the below questions and answers if you have specific questions around the Marine Sciences Curriculum subject. If you have questions that are not covered below, please contact education@aquariumfoundation.org.za.


What is the cost?

R 7000

What other subjects do I need to take with Marine Sciences? 

There is no need to take any other Matric Subjects.

Do I need to take Maths and Physical Science with Marine Science? 

No, you do not need to take either. However, if you want to study science at a university, they require both of these subjects for you to be considered.


What do I need to qualify to do Marine Sciences at the Aquarium?

Minimum 60% in Natural Sciences

Minimum 50% in Maths


Will the lessons be recorded?



Do I have to attend all the live sessions?

We prefer that but if you have sport or other extra murals, such as art, sports or debating, then we understand that you can catch up on your own.


Will Marine Sciences get me into university?

The development of the curriculum was done with the guidance of an Advisory board from UCT, UWC, CPUT and Stellies.  These advisors have supported us and indicated that having Marine Sciences as a Matric subject is a definite advantage to get into their faculties.

Bottom line for getting into UCT Science  is to get adequate points as determined by their faculty, with Maths and Physical Sciences as compulsory subjects. One needs at least 640 points. But they get enough people with enough points and so it is advisable to get more. 


How does UCT calculate points?   

Take the sum of all your subjects, for example: English 80%, Xhosa 85%, Geography 81%, Marine Sciences 84%, Maths 75%, and Physical Sciences 79%.

Sum up all of the percentages, exlcuding maths and physical sciences, i.e. 80+85+81+84 = 330. Then double the results for maths and physical sciences, i.e. 70×2 = 140 and 79×2 =158. The total points for the above results are: 628. Thus this set of results is 12 points short of being able to be admitted to UCT Science faculty.


How do we deal with Practicals?

This is under review as due to Covid-19. Our orgional plan of having practicals at the Aquarium fell away.  We currently do an assessment of a theory of practical skills.

Watch the recording of the information session that we hosted 24 August below.


Offer Marine Sciences at your school

Your school can start offering Marine Sciences as an official subject. Please read below the steps that are needed to start this process. 


Selection criteria to become a Marine Sciences node school

  1. Functional, stable and enthusiastic SMT & SGB, as recommended by District.
  2. Principal needs to be enthusiastic about introducing Marine Sciences,
    understand proper implementation of the subject (staff backup, parent body
    support), be willing to engage with the marine biological and oceanographic
    industry to develop opportunities with these industries and be willing to participate
    as part of the Marine Sciences principals working community in schools.
  3. The school needs to be in close proximity to the coast and there should be the
    capacity to transport students to the coast.
  4. Pilot schools must add to the diversity of students studying Marine Sciences as
    a subject.
  5. A Marine Sciences classroom/lab needs to be available to be equipped over
  6. The school should have the capacity with Marine Science qualified teachers –
    qualified at university level in some of the following subjects: zoology, botany,
    oceanography, marine ecology
  7. The school needs to be in good standing with their
    district based on a high level of trust and a positive working relationship.
  8. The school should have a positive relationship and track record of working
    together with the Two Oceans Aquarium Education Foundation.
  9. The chosen Marine Sciences teacher should display a ‘lifelong learner’ attitude. The teacher needs to
    be excited about inquiry based and outdoor methods of teaching, and should have a proven record of outdoor activities.
  10. The school requires a good academic track record as Marine Sciences is an
    academically orientated subject. In addition, the introduction of Marine
    Sciences as a subject must not lower the academic performance at the
  11. The school needs to operate an extra mural Marine Sciences node to which
    students from neighbouring schools are invited and can attend to take
    Marine Sciences as an 8th FET subject.

Any school where the school principal and School Governing Body that is committed to the above and wishes to establish themselves as a Marine Sciences Node, should contact russell@aquariumfoundation.org.za to discuss the above and assist with the application with the provincial Department of Education. In the subject of the email please place Application Marine Sciences Node School.