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MSc Sustainable Aquaculture

Explore the principles of sustainable aquaculture and the key factors influencing the viability of aquatic animal farming and food production systems.

Key facts

  • Award Masters / MSc, Postgraduate Certificate, Postgraduate Diploma
  • Start date September 2024
  • Duration MSc full-time: 12 months, MSc part-time: 27 months
  • Mode of study full time, part time
  • Delivery on campus

Overview

Study at the world-renowned Institute of Aquaculture – a leading Institute for sustainable aquatic food production and the largest of its kind in the world. The Institute brings together world-class, cross-disciplinary researchers to address a wide range of global challenges facing industry and society.

Our Masters in Sustainable Aquaculture explores the principles of aquaculture and the key factors influencing the viability of aquatic animal farming and food production systems. You’ll develop an understanding of aquatic animal biology, environmental issues, nutrition, reproduction and genetics, disease and health management.

With practical application at the core of your studies, you can choose to focus on specific aspects of sustainable aquaculture, including:

  • advanced broodstock management
  • aquaculture policy and planning
  • livelihood analysis
  • environmental management and biodiversity
  • feed formulation and resources
  • aquatic animal health control
  • epidemiology
  • ecotoxicology

You can also explore the commercial business of sustainable aquaculture, with optional modules covering marketing, business studies and economics. You’ll learn the skills necessary to establish, manage and appraise aquaculture enterprises and development projects from within the industry or public sector.

A flexible course

This modular course is designed to offer considerable flexibility for learning while maintaining a high standard of training. This structure lets you make more subject choices which will benefit your future career.

There are a number of degree outcomes available. These differ primarily in their defined path of required modules - specialised outcomes have more compulsory modules where the Sustainable Aquaculture degree has greater choice. The degree outcomes are:

  • Master of Science in Aquaculture
  • Master of Science in Aquaculture (Environmental Management)
  • Master of Science in Aquaculture (Breeding and Genetics)
  • Master of Science in Aquaculture (Aquaculture Nutrition)
  • Master of Science in Aquaculture (Aquaculture Development and Food Security)

The course is also available on a block-release basis (by selecting individual or a series of modules) over a period not exceeding five academic years.

Queen’s Anniversary Prize 2019

The Institute of Aquaculture has received the UK’s most prestigious academic honour – the Queen’s Anniversary Prize 2019. The honour recognises outstanding work that shows quality and innovation, and delivers real benefit to the wider world through education and training. It recognises our pioneering work in the world’s fastest-growing food production sector and our bid to tackle global hunger.

Top reasons to study with us

Course objectives

The Institute of Aquaculture has been closely associated with the global expansion of aquaculture, initially through developing and improving the existing production systems and the development of new farmed species.

In recent years our research has focused on increasing the sustainability and security of aquaculture development and practice, and on improving the efficiency of utilising natural resources. You’ll have the unique opportunity to be associated with these activities and get an insight into all aspects of aquaculture sciences and development worldwide.

Our students

Our students come from a wide range of backgrounds. Many have first degrees in natural sciences; others have qualifications in agriculture, engineering, business and finance or information technology. Many have some prior work experience and we welcome more mature applicants looking for a step-change in their career. The diversity and experience of students on the course contributes substantially to everyone's learning and ensures the course is relevant to, and connected with, the global aquaculture industry.

Study abroad

The MSc Sustainable Aquaculture involves a research project lasting approximately three months. This can be carried out in Stirling, or with partner organisations in Scotland and other countries, which include both academic and industry partners. In recent years, student projects have been hosted in China, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Kenya, USA and New Zealand.

Flexible learning

If you’re interested in studying a module from this course, the Postgraduate Certificate or the Postgraduate Diploma then please email Graduate Admissions to discuss your course of study.

Faculty facilities

The Institute of Aquaculture aims to provide the highest standard of facilities in an ever-changing commercial, academic and regulatory environment. We have freshwater sites in Central Scotland, tropical and temperate freshwater recirculation systems in Stirling and marine facilities in the West of Scotland.

The Institute provides analytical laboratories in all the key priority research areas, including:

  • Genomic, molecular and bioinformatics.
  • Microbiology and immunology.
  • Imaging facilities.
  • Nutritional analytical services.
  • Water quality services.

Research overview

In REF 2021, we were ranked 1st in the UK for impact and 9th overall for research in Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Sciences, with 100% of the University's Institute of Aquaculture research having outstanding impact, the highest possible rating. 100% of our research environment is world leading or internationally excellent. You will benefit from our focus on research-led teaching in key areas such as sustainable aquaculture, health, breeding and genetics, welfare and behaviour, and nutrition.

Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a second class honours degree or equivalent in a relevant subject. Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.

Other routes of entry

If you don't currently meet our academic requirements, INTO University of Stirling offers a variety of preparation programmes that can earn you the qualifications and skills you need to progress onto some of our courses. Explore INTO University of Stirling to see the pathway and pre-masters routes available.

International entry requirements

View the entry requirements for your country.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS Academic or UKVI 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each sub-skill.
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic) 60 overall with a minimum of 59 in each sub-skill.
  • IBT TOEFL 78 overall with a minimum of 17 in listening, 18 in reading, 20 in speaking and 17 in writing.

See our information on English language requirements for more details on the language tests we accept and options to waive these requirements.

Pre-sessional English language courses

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Find out more about our pre-sessional English language courses.

Course details

The full Masters course for each degree outcome is divided into six taught modules, and a single research project module. The overall course is divided into three parts.

Foundation modules (September to November)

There are two compulsory modules taken consecutively, which give a broad introduction to aquaculture science and practice. The first focuses on aquaculture species, systems and environments and their interaction whilst the second considers aquaculture as a commercial activity, its governance and insights into aquaculture in practice. Successful completion of the foundation modules plus one advanced module will qualify you for a Postgraduate Certificate in Sustainable Aquaculture.

Advanced modules (November to April)

You must choose four advanced modules from the five offered. The advanced modules are sequential and there is a choice of two modules for the last of the four timetable blocks. Successful completion of the two foundation modules plus four advanced modules will qualify you for a Postgraduate Diploma in Sustainable Aquaculture.

Research Project module (May to September)

The Research Project module is completed in a subject area which complements the chosen course of advanced study or your named degree outcome. These projects can be lab based, field based, or involve a desk study analysis/report. Successful completion of the module, subsequent to foundation and advanced modules, will qualify you for an MSc in a selected degree outcome.

Modules

The module information below provides an example of the types of course module you may study. The details listed are for the current academic year (September 2023). Modules and start dates are regularly reviewed and may be subject to change in future years.

Course Details

Teaching

A variety of teaching approaches is used in the course. Our teaching makes use of both our campus-based teaching facilities and online learning environment. In addition to lectures, online materials, workshops, seminars, case studies, field and laboratory exercises, and a number of minor projects are assigned throughout the course. These are an integral part of the teaching and will involve the students working alone or in groups. These projects may require a written outcome or a presentation to peers and other staff and students. 

Fieldwork

There will be a number of field exercises throughout the course. Some trips may involve several nights away from Stirling.

Assessment

Taught module assessment is continuous, involving short tests, seminars, essays, practical reports, critical and computational analysis, field assignments and set project reports. The Research Project module is examined through a written dissertation, a press release and seminar presentation which is delivered to peers, supervisors and the external examiner.

Classroom hours

The course involves intensive teaching and study. A standard day involves lectures, practicals, tutorials or group work between 09:00 and 18:00, with assignments taking additional time in the evenings or weekends. There are sometimes field trips which may start earlier or return later or involve several nights away from Stirling. 

Key staff

Teaching on the Sustainable Aquaculture postgraduate course draws on the wide range of expertise available within the Institute of Aquaculture. Module and topic leaders include:

Fees and funding

Fees and costs

2023/242024/25
Students from the UK and Republic of Ireland£10,350£10,900
International (including EU) students£23,825£25,000

University of Stirling alumni will automatically be awarded a fee waiver for the first year of Masters studies through our  Stirling Alumni Scholarship.

Applicants from the UK or Republic of Ireland who hold a first-class honours degree or equivalent will automatically be awarded a £2,000 scholarship through our Postgraduate Merit Scholarship

Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course. 

If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for additional fees. 

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry. 

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Eligible students could receive a scholarship worth between £4,000-£7,000. See our range of generous scholarships for international postgraduate students.

Fees shown are for a full-time, one-year Masters course. 

If you need to extend your period of study, you may be liable for additional fees. 

If you are studying part time, the total course fee will be split over the years that you study. The total fee will remain the same and will be held at the rate set in your year of entry. 

For more information on courses invoiced on an annual fee basis, please read our tuition fee policy.

Postgraduate tuition fee loans

The full-time option for this course is eligible for a postgraduate tuition fee loan from one of the UK’s governments. See the section, below, for more details.

Additional costs

There are some instances where additional fees may apply. Depending on your chosen course, you may need to pay additional costs, for example for field trips. Learn more about additional fees.

Scholarships and funding

Funding 

Eligible international students could receive a scholarship worth between £4,000-£7,000. See our range of generous scholarships for international postgraduate students.

University of Stirling alumni will automatically be awarded a fee waiver for the first year of Masters studies through our Stirling Alumni Scholarship.

Applicants from the UK or Republic of Ireland who hold a first-class honours degree or equivalent will automatically be awarded a £2,000 scholarship through our Postgraduate Merit Scholarship.

If you have the talent, ability and drive to study with us, we want to make sure you make the most of the opportunity – regardless of your financial circumstances.

Learn more about available funding opportunities or use our scholarship finder to explore our range of scholarships.

Postgraduate tuition fee loans

Scottish students who study this course full-time may be eligible to apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) for loans of up to £11,500 to cover tuition fees and associated living costs.

English students can apply for a loan of up to £12,167 each year as part of the Postgraduate Masters Loan Scheme.

Welsh students can apply for financial support of up to £18,770 as a combination of grant and loan from Student Finance Wales.

Northern Irish students can apply for a postgraduate tuition fee loan of up to £5,500 from Student Finance NI.

Commonwealth Shared Scholarships

These scholarships are for candidates from developing Commonwealth countries, looking to study selected postgraduate Masters courses. Find out if you could be eligible for a Commonwealth Shared Scholarship.

Other scholarships

Scholarship awards are available from the Ronald Miller Scholarship and the Mister Gees Foundation Scholarship.

Cost of living

If you’re domiciled in the UK, you can typically apply to your relevant funding body for help with living costs. This usually takes the form of student loans, grants or bursaries, and the amount awarded depends upon your personal circumstances and household income.

International (including EU) students won’t normally be able to claim living support through SAAS or other UK public funding bodies. You should contact the relevant authority in your country to find out if you’re eligible to receive support.

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

We aim to be as flexible as possible, and offer a wide range of payment methods - including the option to pay fees by instalments. Learn more about how to pay

After you graduate

This course has run for over 30 years and we’ve trained over 700 students from all over the world. The comprehensive nature of the course and our close links with UK and international industry allows good potential for employment in any aspect of commercial aquaculture. Approximately 30 percent of our students follow a direct route into the industry, including production, the supply sector (feed, health, equipment and systems), or post-harvest (processing and marketing).

The course is also an excellent grounding for research and further education, often building on the dissertation, and about 30 percent of graduates choose this route. Links with government departments throughout the world allow many of our graduates to establish careers in aquaculture development and aquaculture management in developing countries.

Employability skills

We have designed our postgraduate taught courses so that, in addition to learning about your specialist discipline, you’ll be exposed to, and trained in, a number of skills which are not specific to aquaculture but which employers increasingly expect. During your course you’ll develop capabilities in the following areas:

Academic

  • Researching information
  • Information retrieval
  • Evaluative and analytical skills
  • Problem solving
  • Experimental design and statistics
  • Computing modelling

Communication skills

  • Oral presentation skills
  • Scientific and business report writing
  • Presentation of reports and research findings
  • Writing for a range of readers
  • Dealing with people, interviews
  • Teamwork, group-work, leadership

Personal management skills

  • Time management
  • Organisation, planning and prioritisation
  • Working under pressure
  • Working to deadlines

Companies we work with

We work closely with the aquaculture industry in more than 20 countries, including every major company in Scotland, giving many of our students an opportunity to carry out industry-based research projects. During the course there are visits to various companies. Lectures and workshops in a number of modules are given by aquaculture professionals from Scotland.

What our students said

Ekemini Moses Okon
Nigeria
MSc Sustainable Aquaculture
After much research, I decided to go for the University of Stirling. What I liked about my course was that it's very practical. It will teach you the reality of the outside world, it's not all theory. This practicality will make it easy to put what you learn into practice.
Read Ekemini Moses's story
Chong Liu
Chong Liu
China
MSc Sustainable Aquaculture
At the end of the day, it's not what we have learned in lectures that matters, but how we are going to use it to make a difference to the world.
Read Chong's story
Pedro Munoz
Spain
MSc Sustainable Aquaculture
The Masters at Stirling is one of the most recognised Masters courses in Europe. Companies would visit just to see the new talent coming out of the course.
Read Pedro's story

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